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.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Circuit (2002)


With the addition of Savate recently, there has been a concerted effort at the DTVC to get more Gruner up here, and this film is a result of that effort. The film also stars Brian Genesse, the Kim twins, and the always creepy Billy Drago.

The Circuit has Gruner as a former pit fighter working as an adjunct coach to a local college's athletic department, where his younger brother is playing football. Gruner used to fight in an underground tournament called The Circuit, where he retired undefeated. The current champ, one of the Kim twins, wants a crack a Gruner to solidify his legacy, and Brian Genesse, who runs The Circuit, likes the idea of them fighting. He uses Gruner's brother as bait to lure him in, and it takes his old pal Billy Drago to train him in order to take Kim and Genesse down.


Now that's what I'm talking about. This may have been made in 2002, but other than the cars and cell phone technology, you'd have never known it. It looked and felt like something from 1992, but it was done in that tradition, not mocking it. When Gruner shows up at The Circuit in a tractor, and tells Genesse "I want to fight", and this driving guitar starts in, I feel like the world could never be more awesome.

This is kind of the problem with so many great bad action stars out there with so many films and so little time to watch them all. This is only the third Gruner film we've done, and I admit that's a travesty. This guy is too good to be ignored. But then I've got other cats I want to mix in, like Gary Daniels and Jeff Wincott and Brian Bosworth; and then there's Hall of Famers like Cynthia Rothrock who need more love-- it's a mess, but it's a fun problem to have. Oh, did I mention Gruner was awesome in this?


One of the best casting decisions ever: Billy Drago as a good guy. Never saw it coming. Still don't see it coming. I could watch this film thirty times and still not see Drago as a good guy coming. I'm not saying that makes him less creepy or gross to me, and obviously if every movie used him as a good guy it would cease to lose its novelty, but it worked here, and I dug it.

I hadn't seen Brian Genesse in anything since the Carl Weathers syndicated hit Street Justice, which was usually packaged before Renegade I think, right? Either that or Dudikoff's Cobra, but I think that was packaged with something else. Anyway, Genesse has been working steadily since then, and I even have a few of his films in my queue, like Cyborg Cop III. It'll be nice to get back in touch with an old friend like that again. Here he was a cross between JD Roth and Ryan Seacrest with a little John Mellencamp sprinkled in (not the Cougar, but the modern one sans the Cougar).


Contrary to popular belief, the Kim twins have not acted together in every role they've done. Ironically, though, they both have 18 acting credits on imdb. I was going to go through and list what four each have done without the other, and then I figured it'd be a waste of time and that you probably don't care either. What's gotta be weird is when one gets a job without the other. Does the other fear he may end up doing commercials? They might think the other one acts better? When I was a kid I thought having a twin would be cool, but now that I'm older I think I'm glad there's just me.

If you haven't seen this yet, you need to. This is an absolute. Make it happen. You won't be disappointed.

For more info:


  1. Glad to see you liked it. The fact that this felt completely like something from 1992-1993 was perhaps one of the only things that gave this one redeeming value for me. That and Gruner driving beer bottles into the dirt with his palms. I was considering the other day whether I should pony up the cash to get an hour of personal training with Oliver Gruner just to say I did it. That would be something. Still considering it.

    Also, there are a few movies that I would love to see get the DTVC treatment someday, among them being the Billy Blanks classic 'Showdown'. If you haven't seen it, you must. A Karate Kid knock off where Blanks plays a janitor/ex cop who teaches this kid how to fight his bullies- it's exactly like that movie 'Never Back Down' except a billion times sweeter and more entertaining. Also, the dude who directed the Best of the Best movies helmed it.

  2. Yeah, The Circuit was amazing. Showdown may take some time to track down, because it's only out on VHS, and Amazon has it for like $27. That's insane.