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, March 9, 2009

Savate (1995)


Back in grad school, about three years ago, one of my buddies and I were having a conversation about bad movies and TV shows we liked. I talked about Highlander, and he told me how he annoyed his roommates with Walker: Texas Ranger. While we were supposed to be doing research on the PoliSci department computers, he was showing me the entry for this movie on imdb. It looked simply amazing, and I had heard of it. He and his friends loved it, it was like their Showdown in Little Tokyo.

Savate has French action star Olivier Gruner as a dude traveling through antebellum Texas looking for revenge. He runs into Ian Ziering and his hot sister-- the heroine from Warlock III-- and he learns how they're being squeezed by the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket into selling their land or paying a hefty tax. One way he can save them is to sign up for some fight tournament in the town. Just so happens the guy he wants revenge against, Marc Singer aka The Beastmaster, has been called into town by the drill sergeant to deal with him, so he can have his cake and eat it too.


I can totally see why someone would latch onto this gem. Gruner is great as a low-rent Van Damme. I'm not saying he is one now: he was great in Soft Target aka Crooked; but he delivers his lines like a young Van Damme did. He actually does poor man's Van Damme better than Bernhardt does. This also has your run-of-the-mill paint-by-numbers script that hits all its spots, which makes for great heckling. And the sheer volume of cameos and recognizables makes this a can't miss.

On the other hand, this is really bad, and if you can't see the charm in its badness, you could be in for a snoozefest. The fight scenes are not always the best choreographed, the bad Southern accents get difficult to listen to after a while, and the predictability, though good to mock, is still a tad hard on the soul. If you're going to tackle this, make sure you have some like-minded friends around.


This is the second Gruner film we've covered, and I must say I should be trying to get some more. He's a pretty solid action star. His imdb bio doesn't read like a potential hall of famer, but he could slot himself in on that Jerry Trimble/Evan Lurie level of guys we love. His final fight with Marc Singer wasn't too bad, especially when he stabbed Singer in the eye-- man's game, Gruner. Let's see how his next movie does.

I always got a kick out of 90210 when I was younger, and I still do. I'm just kind of a prime-time drama kinda cat. Don't ask me why, it's not something I can defend legitimately, and I'm plenty willing to be raked over the coals for it. Along with greats like "Donna Martin Graduates!" and "This is Dylan, you know the drill. Beep", I was always a huge fan of Steve Sanders. For me, he was always too ridiculous not to love. Now I'm questioning the validity of that opinion. Ian Ziering was pretty annoying in this movie. I do think that that was part of his character, but if that was so, then I was pretty stoked when his character was killed off, because I'd had enough of him. I'm afraid to go back to SOAPNet and watch the 90210 reruns, because if Ian Ziering annoys me as Steve Sanders, everything I thought I knew would be wrong.


Marc Singer in the house. The frickin' Beastmaster. Gotta love it. 61 years young. And I'm bitchin' about turning 30 in 22 days. Incidentally, he has a movie coming out the day before my big 3-0 called Dragonquest. It also stars Brian Thompson. You know I'll get to that as soon Netflix lets me. Rock on Marc Singer. And what about his cameos on The Beastmaster syndicated TV show? That show was the last bastion of great syndicated action. You just can't get crap like that at 2 AM on a Saturday night after getting a decent snap on anymore. If it was on DVD I'd buy it just for those occasions.

This is definitely worth it. I watched it on my Netflix player for my TV, so if you have Netflix, it's available to watch instantly. The problem is I'm not sure I'd call this a "kill some time on your computer" movie, as opposed to an "attack it with the support of your friends" kind of movie, so unless you have a way to watch your Netflix movies on your TV, you better get it on DVD or VHS.

For more info:


  1. If you like Grunner in this, I wholeheartedly recommend Albert Pyun's 'Nemesis.' That was, I think, one of Grunner's first movies back in the day, and one of his and Pyun's best. You would totally get a kick out of ripping it apart. I still have my old vhs copy if you still have a vcr.

    I also recommend 'the Circuit' movies, which for the most part suck, but have the distinction of being made by TWO poor man's Van Dammes-Grunner and Jahlil Merhi (the guy who did the Tiger Claws movies with Cynthia Rothrock and Bolo). I prefer Bernhardt myself, but Grunner was technically the first second-hand JCVD, so that deserves some kind of recognition... I guess. LOL

  2. The Circuit is one I've been meaning to get to for a while. Nemesis I've been waiting for Netflix to get, and they may never do it, so I may need to take you up on the vhs thing. What do you know about Guaranteed on Delivery, a film with Gruner, Mehri, and David Carradine? I got it on my Netflix queue as we speak. Looks interesting.

    What makes Bernhardt the perfect poor man's JCVD are the sounds he makes. Compare Bernhardt being stretched apart in Bloodsport 3 with Van Damme in Kickboxer. The sounds are the closest thing we have to Van Damme's buttcheeks, which really are his signature thing. I'm glad Gruner and Mehri haven't tried to one up Bernhardt by showing their buttcheeks in a movie.

  3. G.O.D., if I remember, is with Jahlal Merhi in the lead or something as a bank security guard, and Grunner is the bad guy. It's got a Transporter-type plot-line, and was a huge let-down for me.

    It had great potential because you had two poor man's Van Dammes in the same movie (now if someone can just shell out some cash to put Bernhardt in a movie with Gruner and Merhi, that would be Point Break explosive) and Gruner doesn't kick anybody in the face, and Merhi is THE LEAD?

    Man, I saw that piece of crap awhile ago- back then, Gruner movies often were less memorable for me than some of Don Wilson's late-90s stuff (like 'Night Hunter' and 'Virtual Combat'-totally forgettable), so I don't remember that much.

  4. I'll push that one down on my queue then and give it a lesser priority. The Circuits are definitely up there, though.