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.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Hidden Agenda (2001)


I've seen this movie like three or four times, and every time I don't pay well enough attention, and I end up missing what the hell it's about. Not that it matters that much, but I needed to find out so I could write a decent synopsis paragraph. So I got it from Netflix recently and hunkered down and paid attention.

Hidden Agenda is a movie starring Francis McDormand directed by Ken Loach that takes place in Ireland. It's pretty much a-- whoops, wrong Hidden Agenda. Sorry. Hidden Agenda has Dolph as a former NSA agent who created a program called Daedalus that hides agents from baddies. He now owns a restaurant that's failing, and in order to make money, the NSA will hire him from time to time to hide another agent. Anyway, some dude who's into the mob for a bunch comes to Dolph for a huge payoff if he's hired. But things aren't what they seem, and Dolph's system appears compromised. It looks as though everyone has hidden agendas.


This is great, but only for the Dolph factor. Right off the bat he's dressed like someone out of the "Sabotage" video, and he pulls an airport worker out of his car while the guy's eating, and he says "Eat and run." Why he would say that, and what that means, I have no idea, but it's awesome. There are plenty of Dolph fight scenes, which I like, and the final gun fight isn't bad either. All in all solid DTV actioner from Dolph Lundgren-- again.

This is the 27th Dolph film we've covered at the DTVC. That's by far the most of anyone. Of course, that also means we're running out of them. As far as I can tell, I have two more of his older ones: Storm Catcher and Cover Up, and then on June 2nd Direct Contact is released. Wow, to think we've really covered that much Dolph on this site. It really is a beautiful thing when you take in the entirety of it's scope. This isn't the best Lundgren film, but it's not that bad either.


Recently I covered another spy thriller, Michael Dudikoff's The Silencer, which I wasn't all that enamoured with. Here's what that one lacked that this one delivered: action. Also, I liked the plot of the Dolph film better. The plot twists were less predictable, and the story was better thought out. The Silencer's only real unforeseeable element was the whole J. Edgar Hoover assassination squad, which was borderline slanderous anyway. This film had a really cool twist that was believable and I didn't see it coming. And the film was also able to maintain this plot, yet not get bogged down in it. Plots are good, but we're not talking Bergman here: if you're a DTV scriptwriter, chances are you aren't as good as you think, ergo you need to pad your poor plot skills out with some good fight scenes, and Hidden Agenda did that.

One thing I always found interesting about Seinfeld was how the episode where they all miss each other at the movie theater couldn't be done now in the age of cell phones. They'd just call one another and find out where they're at. This movie has a similar element, in that it too couldn't be made today either. That's because Dolph would have no reason to hide the guy he does in order to make money to save his restaurant-- instead he'd sign up for Gordon Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares. Can you imagine Ramsey yelling at him? Dolph would probably throw him in the Chesapeake and say something like "Now that's what I call a Boston Tea Party" or "You're fish n' chips".


I watched this at my apartment with my roommates, and one of them questioned why a guy holding a gun on Dolph at point blank range would shoot and only hit him in the left arm. I had to explain to her that it wasn't the guy who missed, but that Dolph always gets shot in the left arm. Some movies, like Detention, get it out of the way early, while others, like this, squeeze it in at the end. I'm not sure how it works: if Dolph demands it in every film, like his own inside joke; or if it's just a coincidence. But it happens in almost every DTV film of his that he's shot in the left arm. Simply amazing.

If you're working your way through the Lundgren catalog, this is one you should keep till later. You really need to have a sophisticated Dolph palate to be able to appreciate it fully. Put it in the glass, swirl it around, let it breathe a bit, then taste a little of it. Swish it around in you mouth, and enjoy the hints of pear and passion fruit. It's not a 2000 Bordeaux, but it's not a two-buck chuck either.

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