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.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Dark Angel: Psycho Kickboxer aka Psycho Kickboxer and Canvas of Blood (1997)

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I first got wind of these films after one of my readers suggested them to me in a comment he left for one of my earlier posts. He hadn't seen them yet either. I was very curious. I love kickboxing movies, so one with a psycho sounded awesome. Add the double feature aspect and the 2007 release date-- which to me signaled potential new blood in the DTV market-- and I knew I needed it on my Netflix queue.

Psycho Kickboxer is a YouTube high school video quality revenge yarn with real life kickboxing champ Curtis Bush as a dude who is after the dude who killed his dad and fiancee. Canvas of Blood is a Troma reject about a Vietnam Vet who wants revenge for his daughter's botched hand surgery.

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I put these two together in one post because A) they were packaged together, and B) they sucked so bad they didn't deserve one a piece. I like bad movies as much as the next guy, but I can watch YouTube for free, so Psycho Kickboxer's a waste, and Canvas of Blood was a Troma movie without anywhere near as much fun. Neither film was made in 2007, but rather 1997. I couldn't even get an imdb listing for Canvas of Blood, it was so obscure. These were two film school projects snatched up by some low-life distributor in an attempt to make a little money off bad movie honks like myself. It hurts.

The acting in Psycho Kickboxer was worse than my friends and I when we would get drunk and film something for a school assignment. And the production value was like a home video camera. It was kind of funny to watch, but 90 minutes is way too much. Also, we had some sweet head explosion and arm cut-off-age in the beginning, and they never did anything like that again. I might have had a different opinion of it had they kept that up. But they didn't, so I didn't.

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Canvas of Blood looked like the average fare on USA's Up All Night at 3am to 5am. It had some funny parts, but overall it just wasn't fun enough to make that Troma level for me. When it isn't fun, it's only bad, and no one wants that. Probably the hardest thing to watch was the girl's ex-lover kill her dog by feeding it hamburger with cut glass in it. Even if it's pretend, who wants to see that? Bad. Then the last ten minutes was some scene of two dudes getting lap dances at a strip club. For whose benefit is that in there? Certainly not mine.

I guess I knew I was had when I saw the Chess King outfit on the hero in Psycho Kickboxer, because there was no way a movie made in 2007 would have people dressed like they were from 1992 in it. 1997 makes more sense, because bad movie fashion is usually 5 years behind the times. I just thought I was going to see some new blood in the DTV market, and instead it was the same old same old putting lipstick on a pig.

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Just be careful with this double feature. I don't want to begrudge anyone a bad movie experience, but these two are bottom of the barrel. You won't recognize anyone in either (though Michael Mann's name comes up as producer in Canvas of Blood-- don't know what he and his lawyer think!), and I just didn't find them to be a lot of fun. Rent at your own peril.

For more info (Psycho Kickboxer): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493231/

Redemption (2002)

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Some of these movies just show up in my Netflix queue. I put them in in like December when I'm killing time and searching for actors I like, then have no clue what happened when they show up in my mailbox 8 months later. It's kind of a fun surprise-- except for when the movie sucks.

Redemption has Don "The Dragon" Wilson as a cop who's the head of some elite SWAT team. Richard Norton doesn't like him very much, but Cynthia Rothrock does. When a partner's killed, Norton takes his chance and gets Donny thrown off the force. With no money, his hooker friend gets him a job with Chris Penn, who's some big drug lord. After making an assload of cash, he's faced with the decision of continuing his life of crime, or finding redemption by righting his wrongs.

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Nope. Absolutely not. Ten kinds of wrong. Not even close. Bor-ing. Here's another excellent case of having a great cast, and doing nothing with it. Very little action. Best scenes are at the very end, where we really see D "The D" Dubs kick some ass, and a dude blows up a car with a rocket launcher. Why didn't someone just cut and paste that type of sweetness over and over until there was 88 minutes of film? Too much plot exposition, too crappy a plot, and with the talent they had, we needed more martial arts and more excitement.

Let's start with Donny. Hall of Famer as of last year. Last film reviewed, Future Kick, wasn't received too poorly. Overall, he's been kind of hit or miss. One of his major drawbacks is he's a horrible actor, so every time he reads his lines, I cringe. His upside comes in his great martial arts skills, and in films where the action's really ramped up, he's really fun to watch. If he's spending less time kicking three guys at once, and more time showing hookers his sensitive side, I feel like I've been ripped off. Also of note, he does get out on the dance floor for a second. He's not anywhere near as funny as Van Damme in Kickboxer, but he's still funny.

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Cynthia Rothrock is slated for induction into the DTVC Hall of Fame in October, making her the first female member. This is not her movie, it's Donny's, and so she's not featured too prominently. Her movies have proven a little harder than I thought to track down. Part of the problem is she hasn't done much in the past ten years, and I guess it isn't a priority for Netflix to get their hands on some of the horrible DVD translations of her earlier greats. China O'Brien and Lady Dragon are in the "Saved" section of my Netflix queue, their availability unknown.

Usually in a film starring Cynthia Rothrock, we see Richard Norton, so it was a surprise to see him in one where Rothrock only co-starred. Unfortunately, that meant he wasn't in it much, which I guess would've been all right, but we were teased with a Dragon/Norton showdown, then had it taken away. They kind of scuffle for a bit, and it's poorly choreographed, and no one wins. Are you kidding me? This is almost as bad as when Donny and Lorenzo Lamas were on screen together for two seconds in X-Treme Fighter. Who could be so dense as to purposefully cast Norton and Wilson, then not have them fight each other or together?

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Well, the answer my faithful readers, is one Mr. David DeFalco. This is the fourth film of his I've reviewed, and because of the star power he had at his disposal, it might be the most disappointing. Gangland at least made good use of Sasha Mitchell, Costas Mandylor, Kathleen Kinmont, and Vincent Klyn. I don't know why he didn't make the screenwriters and director change this to a post-apocalyptic thriller where Wilson, Rothrock, and Norton have to fight their way through all sorts of baddies to save a doctor who has the cure for a plague. DeFalco should only produce movies like that.

This is the second film of Chris Penn's I've done, and also the second where he co-starred w/ Wilson (the other being Future Kick). It's pretty obvious that as an actor he's head and shoulders above his cast mates. I loved his part in this, and wanted more. Usually David DeFalco goes with Andrew Dice Clay for this type of role (loudmouthed Italian big shot), so it was a nice to see this alternative.

I'd have to say this isn't worth the money. It's a shame, too, because there's really no reason for it. We need some laws in place that hold film makers accountable for the misuse of great star power. But until then, you have people like me here to warn you ahead of time to not waste your cash.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0303387/

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Rose Hotel (1998)

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I saw this recently after some friends bought it. None of them had heard of it, which was surprising due to the star talent. They decided to save it to see what I thought before they watched it. I hadn't heard of it either, and was intrigued. The director of Bad Lieutenant and King of New York doing a film with Christopher Walken, Willem Dafoe, and Asia Argento: just seems like a can't miss.

New Rose Hotel is a futuristic post-cyberpunk suspense yarn with Walken and Dafoe as corporate defectors. They convince valued employees to switch employers. In their sights is Hiroshi, a genius biologist and geneticist working for MAAS. Competitors Hosaka want him to lead their laboratories, and Walken sees a huge opportunity. He employs high priced escort Asia Argento to seduce Hiroshi, and the plan seems to be working. But is anything ever what it seems in these kinds of movies? Can you really trust anyone? As a guest on Jerry Springer once said so eloquently: "When you lie down with snakes, you get fleas." Yep.

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On our first viewing, my friends and I weren't paying as good attention as we should've, and we found ourselves befuddled. For them, the being befuddled left them unhappy. For me, it left me intrigued, and I wanted to watch it again to see if I could figure it out. Turns out the movie's not too difficult to pick up, you just have to watch it and listen. Once it all made sense, it wasn't as cool. Walken's kind of sweet, but he's not in it as much as he should be, and he has a limp, which is sillier than it is endearing. Also, the focus switches from Walken to Dafoe, which is disconcerting. Walken was the only character worth investing in, and even that may have been more the actor than the writing. Pretty disappointing from Abel Ferrara, considering what else he's done.

Like I said, Walken's awesome. He has some great one-liners, which makes for very entertaining viewing. My favorite went something like this: "I wrote a haiku. A dog walks into a bar, orders a scotch and toilet water. See, that's a haiku." Maybe the best scene came when he threw a party for Dafoe with four Asian prostitutes. He's supposed to be celebrating Dafoe's birthday, but the crown and robe he's wearing makes him look like the Central European Father Christmas. I guess the Walken rule is still there: he's always awesome.

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Dafoe. Cool guy. Weird seeing him naked a lot. Weird seeing him have sex with Asia Argento. Just weird. Again, cool guy, just don't need to see him naked. No offense. I'm sure he wouldn't want to see me naked either, and I'm cool with that. If I'm Abel Ferrara, next time I do more Walken saying funny things, and less naked Dafoe. The ending was a collection of Dafoe flashbacks to his nude scenes. Really? I needed that? If I'm in desperate need of an ipecac, I'll hit the drug store. At least then I have a choice of when I want to take it.

I liked Asia Argento in this. I liked her more in XXX, but she was still cool here. I can see why Ferrara cast her. She exudes this femininity that makes her irresistible. I know a lot of women who say things like "I wish I was a guy. Guys have it so easy. You don't have to do this or that. Just throw on some jeans and a polo, and maybe shave, and you're set. We have to do all this blah blah blah." I totally appreciate what these women are saying, and I don't blame them for giving up and sporting a buzzcut and wearing jeans. But Asia Argento just seems to love being a woman, and everything that means. For a role like this, you need that for her to be believable as the seducer. I just didn't need to see her making out with Dafoe so much.

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I had this problem in watching the film where I mixed Dafoe and Walken's names up incessantly. My friends thought it was funny, which was okay, but I've also caught myself doing it throughout this post, and that's really annoying. I'm not sure when I first merged the two in my head-- probably at some point far back in my youth, when I must've thought they looked similar. I don't think they look alike now, so it's interesting how some misconception made early in childhood has had such an impact on my development that I'm still mistaking the two when I talk about one or the other over twenty-five years later. I guess I shouldn't have audited Psyche 101.

I don't know if I'd recommend this. Watch Bad Lieutenant and King of New York first, just so you know how good Ferrara is. My friends have a notion that anything watched with me there for commentary is more enjoyable than with me absent. This goes for more than movies: reality shows, concerts, people watching. That being said, this movie was still a dud, even with my jokes to prop it up. That should tell you something.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133122/

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1991)

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I don't remember when I first saw this gem. I think it's always been a part of my life. The real travesty is that I don't own it. I don't know why that is. Maybe it's always been on my To Buy list. Maybe I've just never seen it at the right time. Maybe I'm just a moron. Who knows?

Kickboxer 2: The Road Back is 90 minutes of pure awesome about a kickboxer, played by Sasha Mitchell, who's the younger sibling to the two kickboxing brothers in the Van Damme movie. Cary Tagawa, playing a Thai businessman, wants revenge for Tong Po's loss, so he figures having Tong Po kick Mitchell's ass will suffice. Mitchell doesn't want to fight at first, so Tagawa has his goons burn his gym down. That was a mistake. He thought he had everything planned out, but he never planned on Mitchell being so awesome.

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God I love this movie. It's so amazing. The plot's sweet, the fights are great, and the music is insane. They have the best songs for the beginning, middle, and end. That perfect late 80s crap action give-it-all-you-got rock song with the dude over singing. One of them the guy even does some scat. Wow. And this idea of Sasha Mitchell doesn't want to fight in the kickboxing association, so they burn down his gym. Only in bad action does this kind of thing happen. Can you see Dana White burning down Randy Couture's gym because he left the UFC? But it works so well in Kickboxer 2.

Pyun was having a bad spell here at the DTVC. For a Hall of Famer, two stinkers in a row is a mini crisis. But this film was a big reason why he got in the Hall of Fame, so I was waiting for just this occasion to pull it for him. That way if his newest film, Left for Dead, sucks, he'll at least have this extremely positive review in the middle.

Sasha Mitchell is great in this, as he is in Kickboxer 4. With the strength of this performance, it's kind of a shame he doesn't do more DTV films. According to imdb, he hasn't done anything since 2005, and a DTV work since 2000's Luck of the Draw with Michael Madsen, Dennis Hopper, and Ice-T. Have to check that out, because we're running out of Mitchells to review. His kickboxing skills are sweet to watch. He's built perfectly for delivering solid knees to the face of his opponent while having him locked in the Muay Thai clinch. We need him back.

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Cary Tagawa is great as the baddie. The idea of using unlimited Thai funds to usurp Peter Boyle's upstart kickboxing federation in order to get Tong Po a rematch with the youngest Sloan brother in order to retain Thai honor is fantastic, and Tagawa plays his part without the slightest twinge of irony. He really is one of the great DTV baddies, and we need only look to two Dolph Lundgren greats, Bridge of Dragons and Showdown in Little Tokyo, for proof of that. As an aside, if you ever wanna see a softer side of Cary, check him out in the bland Disney made-for-TV flick Johnny Tsunami, where he plays the cool surfer grandfather.

This has so many people in it. Peter Boyle, the dad from Everybody Loves Raymond is the guy starting a kickboxing federation. Albert Pyun mainstay Vincent Klyn plays Tagawa's righthand man. That means with Tong Po, you have three people playing Thai characters, and none of them are Thai. Miami Vice fans will love John Diehl as the accountant/manager/whatever to Mitchell. One cameo I dug was Brian Austin Green as the young punk who Mitchell teaches a lesson to at the very beginning. You may remember Green as David Silver on Beverly Hills 90210. My favorite moment from his run on that show was the time he was working the wheels of steel with this dude from the ghetto, and the kid was surprised at how good he was. Silver's response: "I may be white, but I'm not vanilla!"

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My friend at Movies in the Attic (you can find a link to his site in the section listed "Other great sites") told me that Van Damme didn't do this film because he didn't get a long with Albert Pyun after a falling out during Cyborg. I didn't know that. I wonder what the film would've been like with the Muscles from Brussels. Don't get me wrong, I like Mitchell, and I like this with him; I'm just curious. What would be cool is if part 6 had Van Damme fight Mitchell, then team up and beat a bunch of other guys up. Can we do that?

If you haven't seen this, you can't call yourself a bad movie honk. I probably should've posted it sooner, but I wanted to save the best Kickboxer for last, and I also wanted to see it again to put all the great parts fresh in my mind. However you gotta make this happen, do it. You won't disappointed.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102202/

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chaos (2005)

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I picked this up looking for more Wesley Snipes films to review. The first two I did were kind of iffy, so I thought the addition of Jason Statham and Ryan Phillippe would boost his chances of getting a good post.

Chaos is about a disgraced hostage negotiator played by Jason Statham, who, with his partner, is found liable of negligent police work after a girl is killed in a standoff. He's pulled back into action, though, when a bank is robbed, and the ringleader of the heist (Snipes) asks the new negotiator for Statham specifically. In order to make sure he does well, he's given hot shot rookie Ryan Phillippe to keep an eye on him. But things aren't what they appear here, and as Statham and Phillippe dig deeper, they find more questions than answers.

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This was pretty sweet. One of those gems that falls through the mainstream cracks and into our DTV laps. According to imdb, the film had a limited run in Europe, but beyond that it was completely overlooked. Too bad, because it's a smart and well engineered suspense film with solid performances by Snipes, Statham, and especially Phillippe. Looking at my recent posts, there weren't too many that I recommended, so I think it's refreshing to put in an update with something I really dug.

Snipes was all right in this, but the question is: does this count? I have to give it to him as the official scorer, which gets him off the schneid and makes him 1-fer-3. The reality is, this isn't a Snipes driven action fest, and he's third billed after Statham and Phillippe. I'm still waiting for that breakthrough Snipes DTV bad action that's close to his great work in Blade, but I'll take this in the meantime.

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Statham, as always, was awesome. How can anyone not like this guy? He has like one or two other films that could make it to the DTVC, like Revolver, which grossed like $40,000 in the US, but for the most part he's too mainstream, i.e., he's too big for us. But, luckily, he signed on for a project that the major distribution houses didn't know what to do with, and he ended up here. We're glad to have you, baby, if only for a second. I gotta see that Death Race too. I skipped it in favor of Babylon AD, which I don't remember much of because I was hammered for it.

This isn't the first Phillippe film I've reviewed. You may remember 12 May 2007's Invader aka Lifeform post. Then he was just starting out as an actor in 1996, still a year off from breaking out in I Know What You Did Last Summer. This film comes at the other end of the spectrum, a year after the Oscar winning Crash. He's definitely better in this than either Lifeform or Crash, which surprised me. It just added another layer to the film's quality.

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In one scene Statham was trying to get under Phillippe's skin by suggesting the Pac-10's overrated after Phillippe admits he attended Washington University. This is a misconception that's been perpetrated by the East Coast biased sports media for decades. Having been a student for a long period of time, and now trying my hand at writing, I'm up late pretty often, and I can tell you that I'd rather watch a Pac-10 football or basketball game than another infomercial for eXtenze (sp?). I live in ACC country now (near Boston), but I'm willing to admit that the Pac-10 is head and shoulders above the ACC in football, and probably behind only the SEC and Big XII. The Pac 10 is not overrated, just on past too many people's bedtimes.

I can't really tell you anymore for fear of giving too much away. I would hate to spoil it for anyone. This is a better quality than most DTV, and though I love the Jerry Trimble 77-minute prison film as much as the next guy, it's nice to mix it up and find a hidden gem of a different quality.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0402910/

Flight of Fury (2007)

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I put this on my Netflix queue simply because it's a Seagal DTV flick I haven't seen yet. Is there a better reason to watch a movie? Maybe if it's a Dolph Lundgren film I haven't seen yet. Yeah, that's a better reason, but the only better reason.

Flight of Fury is about a B-2 bomber equipped with the "next generation of stealth", meaning it can cloak itself like a Romulan spaceship. Some dude named Ratcher takes it on a test flight, and runs off with it, putting it in the capable hands of a terrorist group in Afghanistan. The Air Force only has one man with the pilot know-how and hand-to-hand combat skills to get in there and steal the ship back. Unfortunately that man, played by Steven Seagal, is kind of pissed because the US government tried to erase his memory (?). After thirty seconds of thinking about it, he agrees to save the day. Good for him.

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This movie was decent, but could've been way better. The idea of Seagal being an ace pilot and martial arts expert sounds great on paper, but in the execution, not so much. Seeing him in the pilot's chair instead of kicking people's asses with his hands and feet felt like a waste of Seagal. Even worse, Seagal disappears from the movie for like 20 or 30 minutes. That's a big deal when he's on the cover! At no point should me or my friends be able to joke "hey, isn't Seagal supposed to be in this movie?", and we were with this one.

There were some fun parts, and plenty to make fun of, as the synopsis implies. One thing I loved was the excessive and silly use of military lingo. There's a part where this Air Force general is asking the Navy for air support, and the guy he's talking to on the phone is telling him what an imposition that is. "You'll owe me two bottles of scotch for this, single malt." to which the general replies "If you do this for me, I'll send you a whole case." Can you guess what the Navy guy said? "Copy." Copy? Do military guys have conversations like that all the time? Like at a poker game: "The bets to you at $20. You in?" "Roger that."

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This was poor in the Seagal department due to its scant nature, but when he was in it, he was pretty good. I think with each film of his I see, I bump him up another notch on my all time favorite actors list. He and I are both Aries, too. I'm not sure if that means we have a lot in common, because I know a lot of other Aries, and they all seem to be different people. Also, has anyone ever read the description of what an Aries personality is supposed to be? It makes them sound like an asshole, and I hope I'm not like that!

There were two bad guys in this: the main terrorist, and then the pilot who steals the B-2 equipped with the "next generation of stealth". They turn on each other later on, which brings up two issues for me, one bigger than the other. The first, and bigger one, is if the pilot kills the terrorist, doesn't the US owe him a debt of gratitude? Is he not in some ways the hero? Maybe his motives weren't the purest, but isn't the end result the same? This plot twist left things too gray for me, and I need black and white in a bad action film. Seagal should kill all baddies. My second issue is more just nitpicking on my part: the pilot paints himself as a dude who's only in it for the money, and I get that. Then, suddenly, he's trying to down Seagal and set off some biological weapon. Why would he give up a perfect escape opportunity to chase down Seagal? Now I know I'm talking about DTV Seagal here, and continuity is usually not its strong suit, so I guess I should back off. Like I said, it was only a small issue.

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This isn't too bad, but it's not great either. The only reason to get it is Seagal, and since he spends part of the film in the cockpit, and part of it MIA, I'd only bother with this if you've seen some of his others first. For the ones to see, check out my past reviews on Seagal's movies. This is funny enough for you and your friends to have plenty to make fun of, so if you're looking for a bad movie night pick, you could do a lot worse. Just remember my warning about the lower Seagal factor.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0783518/

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

One Tough Bastard aka One Man's Justice (1995)

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I first discovered this film through my friends at Bruce's Angels, a fan site dedicated actor Bruce Payne which I have a link to in the section Other Great Sites. The first thing that drew me to it was his too sweet mullet. The second thing was Brian Bosworth and MC Hammer. Then I saw it had one of my favorite character actors, Jeff Kober. I just didn't see how this could go wrong.

One Man's Justice is about a drill sergeant played by Brian Bosworth who has his ex-wife and child killed in a botched deal for stolen military goods by Jeff Kober. Kober is let out of jail by crooked FBI agent Bruce Payne so he can complete the deal for the goods so they can be sold to drug lord MC Hammer (just Hammer at this point in his career). Bosworth is none too pleased about this situation, and he goes down to LA where all this is happening to deliver his own brand of country justice.

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This had so much potential. The star power alone should've been enough. But a slow moving plot with limited and stupid action killed any chance this had of being great. I knew I was in trouble when I was watching it with one of my roommates, and I hit the display button, and saw I was only ten minutes in. We were both shocked, thinking we'd endured much more than that. The only action we got for most of the movie came in the form of people buying stolen this or that from other people, then killing them after the deal was done. This is a group of actors we may never see put together again, and the result was a disappointing mess.

I'm sure the ladies at Bruce's Angels will agree that it was an egregious error, yet again, to have Mr. Payne speak with an American accent. Sure, the Ape Drape and Adam Curry hosting the MTV Top Twenty Countdown circa 1991 look was awesome, but it can't overcome the lack of his native accent-- if anything, it makes it worse, because we see how much better he would've been. This is a mistake that was perpetrated in Sweepers to a similar dissatisfaction. Here, it was worse, because his character was pretty sarcastic, and we all know sarcasm sounds better when it comes from the Brits.

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Brian Bosworth: not sure where I stand. My best recollection of him came during his playing days as a Seattle Seahawk, when he was run over by Bo Jackson. I have a lot of memories of Bo Jackson doing things, like hitting a homerun one-handed while trying to ask the umpire for time. I think that's a metaphor for Bosworth's performance here: I found myself thinking of other things. It was good, but I've seen it before and better done by people like Bronson. With a huge plate full of other action stars I want to see and want to review here at the DTVC, it'll be hard for The Boz to get another shot anytime soon.

Gotta love Jeff Kober. Great character actor that in my mind has been elevated beyond the level of just a That Guy. I believe the only other film we have here of his is Desert Heat, which he did with Van Damme, and another great character actor, Danny Trejo. Here he plays a slightly higher than small time thug who tries to ingratiate himself to Hammer as a service to Payne. He also kills Bosworth's family. What I liked about this role was the volume of him in it. I'm used to seeing him for a few minutes of screen time, and here we had him for the duration.

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Speaking of That Guys, this film had a slew of them. Let's start with M.C. Gainey, a big fella, who I know best from two things: Sideways, when he chases Paul Giamatti out of his house naked; and when he played himself on Cheap Seats, advertising a fake energy bar that keeps character actors fat. Then there's Asian That Guy Leo Lee, who's been in a bunch of things as whatever baddie's henchman. Probably the best paid of the film's That Guys is Neal McDonough, a Boston man whose most recent credits include Minority Report, the new Walking Tall, and 88 Minutes. He's maybe in the movie for five minutes.

All in all, not a great time. The addition of Hammer does pretty much nothing, because he's just an angry drug lord the whole time, which is just as boring as the rest of the film. It's just a shame, that's all. To have a collection of talent like that, and waste it with a bad plot and making Payne speak with an American accent? Someone should've gotten a hold of this train before it ran off the tracks, and added superfluous explosions, more mullets, and some better martial arts. But they didn't, so you should avoid this one.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113999/

Of Unknown Origin (1983)

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An old roommate and friend who was also a huge Weller fan first came across this. He said it was pretty hilarious, and I needed to see it. So I checked out his copy from his DVD library. He and I had an extensive DVD collection, and it was kind of too bad when we parted ways that half of those films went with him. Ah, c'est la vie.

Of Unknown Origin has Weller as an early 80s businessman quickly making his way up the corporate ladder. He has a hot wife and a nice kid, and he's just bought and renovated a house in New York City. When his family goes away, he finds himself alone in the house with an uninvited guest: a nasty rat. What follows is a study on obsession and Man's struggle with the animal world. He slowly sinks into insanity as he tries everything to remove the vermin from his dwelling.

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This was an interesting film. In my mind, there wasn't enough material for a full 90 minute movie: it was probably better as a 22 minute Tales from the Crypt episode. That being said, there were some funny parts with Weller. In one scene, he tries to kill the rat, and ends up in his pantry with a sack of flour or whatever falling on his head. Little moments like that made things bearable, but only so much. The ADD kicks in around the 45 minute mark, and it's all down hill from there.

Weller is great in this, but is that saying much? He's great in everything, so it's no surprise. The film is almost a one-man Weller show, which is cute, but I'd rather have some variety. Say twenty minutes of Weller dealing with the rat, then twenty minutes of Weller as a hobo with badly sprayed on five o'clock shadow, then maybe him in jail, then remaking Animal Crackers with some other members of the DTVC Hall of Fame. Now that's a movie.

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This is Shannon Tweed's first film, or at least the first one where she receives a starring role. She's had a pretty decent direct to video career, and it's interesting that this is only the second film of hers that I've reviewed, the other being Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. In this one, she's not in it much, mostly either calling Weller from her parents' house where she's vacationing or having sex with him. I guess it's not a bad start, but I'm wondering if she saw her career moving towards Night Eyes Three or Body Chemistry 4: Full Exposure. Does anyone plan for a career like that? And if not, does one ever except that fate and decide to enjoy it? Dolph Lundgren, maybe.

While we're on the subject of rats, I must mention the film Ratatouille. I know the en vogue thing is for adults to like these Pixar animated features, and tell people like me how much I should enjoy them and how many of the jokes are meant for adults, and I think that's great. Finding Nemo was funny when I was baked (back when I did that kind of thing), and not so much when I was sober. Cars, which I've seen in parts myriad times through all my friends' children, made me uneasy, because the cars had eyes that were like all whites with small irises and whatnot, and that just looked gross. Anyway, the one I refused to see was Ratatouille, because the idea of a rat cooking is just disgusting. My friend tried to explain that the whole point was that you can be what you want in life, even if the odds are stacked against you. Fine, but I don't want rats in any kitchen that's serving me food. Blah!

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Corporate America in the 1980s seemed like the coolest place ever. I know Black Monday and the recession of the late 80s early 90s kind of ended that lifestyle, but I find myself nostalgic for it. I don't know, the music, the cars, the suits, the coke: it's all very alluring. This film is supposed to be the deconstruction of that man into his basest parts, and I guess that's cool; but I felt like something was slipping through my fingers as the movie devolved from the fast world of '83 high stakes business into one man's struggle against The Wild and his own sanity. I could've done with 90 minutes of Weller partying and engineering hostile takeovers while his wife was out of town much more than his war with the rat.

This is a No Go for me. Just not enough material to keep anyone interested long enough. If you and your friends try this for a bad movie night, make sure you have a back-up, because you might be bored. There are some great Weller scenes, so if you're an aficionado you might appreciate it. Otherwise, avoid it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086036/