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.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Circuit 2: The Final Punch (2002)


I had planned on posting this later and putting up a different Gruner film, Automatic, in this spot. The issue wasn't with Gruner, but Lorenzo Lamas, who's also in the film. I didn't want to have too much Lamas in too short a span, and I was excited about the prospect of Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus. But that's stuck with the label "Very Long Wait" in my Netflix queue, and who knows when I'll get it up now.

The Circuit 2 takes place sometime after part one. Gruner is engaged to the hottie Australian reporter he had been hooking up with, and life looks good. But reporters in action movies always end up where they shouldn't, and Gruner's woman is caught investigating a prison fight ring. The guards and a beast of a prisoner work her over and leave her to die. Lamas, Gruner's woman's colleague at the paper, gets Gruner in at the prison, and he makes his way through the ranks to get the proof he needs against the warden.


If the first one was silly, with Gruner punching bottles into the ground and whatnot, this one did it one better. The jail made no sense. If I'm a Californian, I'm less than stoked that my tax dollars are going to that place. Gruner came in as angry as he was in part one, but he replaced the punching bottles with a knit cap and cigarettes. The addition of Lamas was good, but I think I would've liked more. He's just above the cameo level. Gary Hudson was a solid addition as a prison guard, but nothing was done with him either.

This is good Gruner. It was nice watching him beat the crap out of person after person in that jail, but that's really all it was. There was nothing in the jail for him to overcome. All he had to do was show up and fight. His final fight with the baddie was poorly choreographed and went on forever. The problem was they had a dude who was just too big to make the fight look exciting on screen. Best of the Best 2 had the same problem, but they rectified it using sticks. A movie fight needs speed.


Lamas is the resident Hall of Famer here, but it's certainly not his movie. He plays a newspaper editor trying to quit smoking, who occasionally ends up in situations where we see him fight. In one some thugs meet him at his car with a beef over an article he wrote, and he and Gruner beat the crap out of them. It sucks right now that Mega Shark is stuck in Netflix limbo. They need to get their shit together toot-sweet (tout de suite).

We've reviewed quite a few prison films here at the DTVC. The two best, as far as I'm concerned, are Live by the Fist and Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite. The first one was amazing because it had Jerry Trimble and George Takei. The second one was great because the premise was Ben Franklin running a fight ring in a New York that resembled Romania. This film was nowhere near as good as that. I'd put it right behind Bloodfist III. It wasn't as bad as In Hell, but how much of a compliment is that. This was essentially Bloodsport 4 without Ben Franklin, and had it featured him or another Founding Father (Framer), this paragraph would've been different.


I think this film might have been afraid to use Gary Hudson. He started out so promising. Why he wasn't running the show as the head baddie is beyond me. I considered actually doing this entire post about Hudson, but I wasn't sure if I could write 8 paragraphs on him, or even five if you take out the opening, synopsis, and closing paragraphs. But I can do one, and that's what I'm going to do. He can't carry a film on his own like a Lamas or Gruner, but when you give him that secondary role as baddie or hero's partner, he's got it. We'll explore a film where he used better later on with Martial Law.

So this is a good deal. It's not Gruner's best, and it's scant on the Lamas, but it's serviceable. I wouldn't plan your night around it, but if it's on late at night or something, you could do a lot worse. If you've seen everything else by Gruner, give this one a try.

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