The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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--Matt

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Piano Player aka The Target (2002)

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I can't remember where I first heard about this film. It may have been through a Netflix search, or looking over Christopher Lambert's bio on imdb, or a friend having seen it before. Anyway, I saw it with some friends recently. It made an interesting double feature paired with Wings Hauser and Brion James in Nightmare at Noon.

The Target takes place in South Africa and is about a money launderer played by Dennis Hopper who decides to testify against a bad ass killer crime boss, and needs protection. So he hires hit man Christopher Lambert. Not a bad choice. The two escape the city with Hopper's daughter, leading to a 45 minute interlude filled with Hopper doing tribal dances, fishing with Lambert, and telling goats he wants to drink their urine for its psychedelic properties. After the interlude Lambert has a showdown with the baddie, only to be hit in the head with a rock and find himself chained to a tree and about to be set on fire above a pyre of burning dolls and stuffed animals. Surprising no one, Hopper saves him, then confesses that as a young gangster he killed Lambert's parents.

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What? Can someone tell me what's going on here? Even Netflix had no idea. Their synopsis read that Lambert and Hopper were adversaries. That definitely wasn't the case. Hopper was almost Lambert's surrogate dad. It started off all right, but the extended interlude was ridiculous. No action, just a series of things that, I can only assume, were dream situations the director wanted to put Dennis Hopper and Christopher Lambert in. How else do you explain Hopper telling a goat he wants to drink its urine for the psychedelic properties? Or the tribal dance? Or the paternal scene of Hopper showing Lambert how to fish? It was just randomly inserted into the film, and though funny, also dragged on and frustrated me.

Even though Lambert gets top billing, this is more of a Hopper vehicle. Lambert's felled right before the interlude with a serious bullet wound, and is out of action for a chunk of it. Some of the scenes of him dispatching goons and driving recklessly were cool. Probably the best was just watching him try to make sense of Hopper. They'd never worked together before, and haven't since. His reaction to Hopper asking the goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties seems genuine. Looking on imdb, Lambert hasn't done any big action roles since Day of Wrath. He's done a couple things in Europe and had a small role in the indie hit Southland Tales. Come on Lamby baby, give us another bad actioner!

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Hopper was too sweet for words here. First off, he wears this obnoxious wig for a good portion of the film. He matches the wig by applying Grecian Formula to his beard. For some reason, when he loses the wig, the Grecian Formula wears off. If I were them, I'd sue the makers of this film for saying their product sucked. Anyway, beyond the look, he has another scene where he gets drunk and has Lambert drive him and two hookers out to his wife's grave. He's like stumbling over the headstone introducing them to her. Then he throws up in Lambert's car, finds out his daughter was kidnapped, and sobers up. Then you've got the tribal dancing, the fishing with Lambert, and, of course, the asking a goat if he could drink its urine for the psychedelic properties. That's gotta be one of the greatest things I've ever seen done in a movie. Who thinks of that? Whoever it is, I've got to shake their hand, because that's awesome.

Hopper's daughter is played by the chick from Troy and National Treasure. She's hot, German, and stars in bad movies so her English isn't an issue. She's barely listed on the imdb cast, and I almost forgot to mention her in the post. How she went from barely credited in this to a major role in Troy is anyone's guess. Or, it might just stem from the fact that she's extremely hot. Out of the four movies, Troy, this, and the two National Treasures, I'd say Troy is number one, then this, then the two Cage pain rides.

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Out of all the weird things in this film, including the part where Hopper asks a goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties, one scene stood out in my mind. The daughter's girlfriend is captured by the baddies and beaten to death. The video is sent to Hopper to scare him. In the video, the captors force the guy to eat spaghetti with chop sticks. What? Then the video ends and Hopper's like "What, they make a guy eat some spaghetti then beat him to death. What's this go to do with me?" Then they tell him it's the boyfriend, and he looks distraught. Made no sense at all.

Is it worth it to rent this just to see Hopper ask a goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties? I don't know, you tell me. I got it on Netflix. You may see it as either The Piano Player or The Target, but on Netflix it's definitely listed as the latter. I can say this about it, though: other than Hopper asking a goat if he can drink its urine for the psychedelic properties, the bulk of this is a snooze fest.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0293509/

1 comment:

  1. I watched the first 20 minutes then went to fast forward. I did enjoy seeing all the fast driving over the dirt roads (beautiful countryside) and the fighting. I didn't bother to look for the goats...I think Dennis Hopper was already stoned on something and due to South African drug laws couldn't tell the truth. Talking about goat urine was just off base enough that it wouldn't offed the censors.
    I wonder if they got money from the SA film board to film there...
    Watching it in fast foward made Christopher Lambert (yes, the reason I got the video from Netflix) walk very funny...
    He was in 6 episodes of NCIS Los Angeles as 'the Chameleon) (Marcel Janvier) but it was quite evident that he'd had plastic surgery and not very flattering.
    He is partners in a vineyard in the south of France, Les Garrigues de Beaumard-Lambert.
    Lambert is in a Coen brothers film to come out in 2016, Hail Caesar...a comedy. He also did a comedy in France Un plus Une by Claude Lelouch (writer, director, producer)
    I found your site trying to get info to make sense of the first 20 minutes of the film. Really enjoyed your review. Just stay away from the goats.

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