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.

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Announcement

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--Matt

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Best of the Best: Without Warning (1998)

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With the first three films already having been covered, I'm sure everyone knew quatro was only a matter of time. I actually saw this again recently when I got it from Netflix along with part three. They come together on one disc. A Phillip Rhee double-dip, if you like... and if you don't, well, then it's just two Phillip Rhee movies.

Best of the Best: Without Warning takes place in LA and has Rhee as a dude helping the LAPD learn to fight. He's caught up in a whole bunch of crap when he goes to the grocery store to buy stuff to make a cake, and the grocer's daughter just happens to be involved in a counterfeiting ring, and she just happens to want out, and she just happens to be trying to escape with incriminating evidence, and she just happens to have run to her father's store with said evidence while Rhee is in there and while the baddies have chased her there, and she just happens to give him the evidence just before she dies. Now he doesn't know who he can trust as the baddies want their evidence, the cops think he killed a cop, and the woman the girl told him to go to isn't who she seems. Luckily Rhee can kick massive amounts of ass.

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This was another good one. As you can imagine, once you hit numero quatro, things get a little blah, and this was no exception. But they amped up the action as Rhee kicked some major ass amid a hail of gunfire and myriad explosions. There was one ridiculous car crash in a tunnel with an explosion so huge it blew up a helicopter hovering around outside. They start the film by blowing up Union Station. I think they felt like they had to do something spectacular to justify making a fourth Best of the Best, but I'm not so sure that's true. I could've gone with more Rhee kicking ass instead of a superfluous blowing up of Union Station that did absolutely nothing to the rest of the story.

As I said above, Rhee again was awesome. I really do wonder why he hasn't made another film since this one, ten years ago. He wrote, directed, and produced it, so maybe he feels like he's done it all. I totally disagree. Bolo Yeung was 50 when he made Bloodsport, which is two years older than Rhee is now. Until Rhee has swam from China to Hong Kong to escape Communism, he can't fully say he's done it all. So I guess that settles it Rhee, you either swim or make another movie.

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This has Ernie Hudson from the Ghostbusters movies. Maybe that's why Rhee stopped making movies. Maybe Hudson was his favorite actor, and now that he's worked with him, that's enough. Or maybe Hudson told stories about working with Bill Murray and Dan Akroyd, and he didn't like what he heard. Man, I don't know how I'd feel if Ernie Hudson was the reason Phillip Rhee stopped making movies. If so, I'm going to make a special plea right now to Mr. Hudson on behalf of the DTVC and action movie fans everywhere: convince Rhee to get out of retirement. We will all be eternally grateful.

This also has that dude from all the Saw movies. I imagine Saw 263 is in post-production as we speak. Could this be the reason Rhee stopped making movies? Did this Saw guy tell Rhee about his plans to act in a series of 100-plus bad horror films in an attempt to destroy the genre? Maybe Rhee was afraid someone could usurp the Best of the Best series and make it into the Saw of bad action. Well, Rhee, if that's the case, your intentions, no matter how noble, were extremely misguided. Despite your absence, Matt Damon and The Bourne Identity movies with their overdone headache inducing quick edits have hurt the genre in ways that another ten Best of the Bests could never do. DTV action directors everywhere are using the Bourne model to shortcut great chase scenes and awesome fights by replacing them with convoluted jumpcuts so our minds can't get around the fact that the action isn't really happening.

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I was in LA recently, and I went to Union Station. We took the commuter rail to the Angels/Sox game. Now, in Boston, I've taken the commuter rail in rush hour, and it's packed to the gills. North Station is a mess. Union Station was a whole other ball game. People don't take the train there like they do on the East Coast. Is that what made Rhee stop making films? LA? Was his blowing up of Union Station a symbolic middle finger to Tinsel Town? This would make sense, when you consider Union Station is blown up, and yet there are no repercussions felt later in the film, as far as traffic and whatnot. Is he saying it wouldn't matter if the train station in LA was blown up because LA people are too tied to their cars? If that's true, then Rhee, you need to talk to Seagal and Dolph about making your films in Romania like everyone else is. You don't need LA.

This film offers many clues as to why Phillip Rhee stopped making movies, but little in the way of answers. As a movie unto itself, it's pretty sweet. I probably wouldn't watch it by itself, but paired with other Best of the Bests just so you can multiply the Rhee effect. Finding the version on DVD that's packaged with Best of the Best 3 is the optimum option.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0130370/

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