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] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Riders aka Steal (2002)


I first came into contact with this film at 3am on Spike TV. I fell asleep for a bunch of it, but I had intended to put it on the blog back when I started it a year and a half ago. I was reintroduced to it recently by the women at Bruce's Angels (you can find a link to their site under the section Other Great Sites), because it starred their homeboy, Bruce Payne. It was definitely better when I watched the whole thing.

Steal has Stephen Dorff as a guy who leads a band of extreme adrenaline junkies in committing some major cash heists. Bruce Payne plays a police lieutenant on their trail, and Natasha Henstridge is on his task force. As you can imagine, whenever Payne's involved, things aren't what they seem, and to make matters worse, Dorff's gang has stolen twenty million dollars in untraceable bonds. Now they've got Payne and the people whose bonds they stole after them. They may be in a little over their head.


This was a pretty sweet flick. The action was almost nonstop, which I'm sure most of you know is something I need in my bad movie. The plot was sufficiently nuanced without getting in the way: a rare find in a movie of this caliber. The car chases and explosions were really solid, again proving to these Hollywood blockbusters that you don't need a lot of CGIs to entertain us. Give me a rig driving on the side of it's wheels in slow motion, or some Rollerbladers jumping a police car, or an armored vehicle exploding in flames with Bruce Payne saying "That had to hurt", and I'm plenty happy.

I've always dug Stephen Dorff, especially when he was the head baddie in Blade, one of the best vampire movies ever (along with its two sequels). I think Dorff would've made a better Dracula in the third one, to be honest. Anyway, as far as this film goes, he fit his role perfectly. Cocky, smooth talking, calm under pressure, but willing take care of business without a moment's hesitation. There was some question as to whether he or Natasha Henstridge is the protagonist, and the ending clears it up for you. I won't give it a way. What I will be doing is looking for more Stephen Dorff films to post.


Something must be wrong if Dorff beat out Bruce Payne for the coveted paragraph after the What I Thought paragraph. I'm sure my friends at Bruce's Angels know what that is without me saying it, but I'll let everyone else in: no English accent again. Come on! Really? Lt. MacGruder worked better as a character with a bad Brooklyn accent than he would've with a too sweet British one? In my mind, that horrible accent he tried to perpetrate did more to ruin the impeccable pin-striped suit he was wearing than if I'd emptied a mustard container on it. It just made him look abominable. This is my deal: how can you cast Bruce Payne, and not realize how awesome he was in Warlock III and Highlander: Endgame? What do you think makes him so awesome in those movies? His accent!

What makes this all the more frustrating is Payne's character was actually a pretty cool baddie for a pretty cool movie. The accent would've worked if Harvey Keitel was playing the role. But he wasn't, and I feel that using the fake Brooklyn accent diminished what would've been such a home run. Instead it was a ground rule double, and the runner was stranded on second. Don't get me wrong, a double is way better than a lot of the strike outs and weak grounders back to the mound that I review here, but it's hard to take when what seems like so simple an error to avoid was committed.


This is only the second film of Natasha Henstridge's I've reviewed, the other being the Albert Pyun/Christopher Lambert sci-fi flick Adrenaline: Fear the Rush. Looking at her imdb profile, she actually hasn't done that much that qualifies for a spot here at the DTVC, which is kind of surprising to me. I guess having watched her in She Spies back when I was up late doing grad school work, I figured DTV was right up her alley. I'll see if I can get Species III up, but there ain't much after that. Kind of too bad. As far as this goes, she's not in it that much, so if you're watching it for her, you can take it or leave it.

I'd say rent this. If the only real issue I can take with it is Bruce Payne's bad Brooklyn accent (and believe me, that's a REAL issue), then there's probably not much to stop anyone without that particular hang-up from having a good time with it. It tends to pop up on places like Spike late at night, and if you see it there, you could do a lot worse at that time. To quote Depeche Mode "Just like a rainbow, you always set me free."

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