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.

Announcement

Announcement

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.

--Matt

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Foreigner (2003)

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Steven Seagal is definitely rising fast on the DTVC. He may never catch Dolph, but I think I can say he's caught Van Damme and Lambert to take the spot right behind Lundgren. That's a bold statement, I know, but his body of work has been undeniable. Don't get me wrong, I liked 2008's The Shepherd: Border Patrol, but for Van Damme that was after a string of off films; and Lambert has fallen into more "respectable" roles in European films. I'm not knocking either Van Damme or Lambert, I'm just giving Seagal his due.

The Foreigner has Seagal as Jonathan Cold, a former US agent working freelance in Europe. He gets involved with picking up a package and is almost killed in the process. Holding the package, which a lot of people want, he has to fend them off while at the same time find out what this package is and who should get it. Double crosses abound, and all we know for sure is we can trust Seagal.

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This was amazing. Probably his best, and one of the best DTV films I've seen. It had that Film Noir/Neo Noir feel to it, and was especially reminiscent of Le Samourai. I loved Seagal and his conflicts with other secret agents. The mystery, the screen shots, the lighting, it was all there. Yet, at the same time, it hit all the classic action movie beats, with solid martial arts, amped up music, and plenty of ridiculous explosions. This was better than a lot of films that were being produced for major theater release at the time.

And you probably couldn't make this kind of film with anyone but Seagal. Maybe Dolph or Lambert or Wesley Snipes. He had just enough Robert Mitchum to pull off that Noir lead, but retained plenty of Seagal to remind us we were watching an action movie. Looking at his filmography, and considering there are still a few I haven't seen, I'd have to say this is by far his best, bumping Above the Law, his first feature, from the top spot. Simply amazing.

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Speaking of Le Samourai, Seagal's main rival, played by a dude named Max Ryan, looks a lot like the main character from that French Neo Noir classic. His character doesn't act at all like that character, being much more crazy and loud. There's one scene where he and Seagal have to team up, even though they're rivals, which was a pretty sweet scene. The spy versus spy thing works when done with cool characters, and it works even better when they have to join forces temporarily.

I couldn't get over the surreal sets in this film. Hotel rooms that looked like they were from another time, yet with a modern touch. There's this great scene where Seagal is talking to a woman in a bathtub, and we get this one frame of him, her, the bathtub, and this 18th century backdrop that just looked amazing. I hadn't seen settings that nice since Miami Vice in the mid-80s.

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That doesn't mean this didn't have its silly moments. When Seagal and his rival first try to retrieve the package, they're attacked by two men, and they barely escape. They try to figure out who the guys might be, and Seagal says "They were definitely speaking Danish." I had to rewind it and put on the subtitles to make sure that was what he said. In fact, they were Danish. Why, I have no idea. The only thing that would've been better, from my stand point, is if they had been Finnish. I know, I might be one of only a few Americans that finds Scandanavians as funny as I do.

If you haven't seen this, you gotta check it out. It's not just a bad action movie kind of thing. This is really good, and maybe one of the best I've reviewed on here. I mean that. I'm not just messing with you, this Steven Seagal DTV flick is really good.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0312700/

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