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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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Midnight Ride (1990)

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This movie was suggested to me by my friend at Movies in the Attic. I liked the idea of a Hitcher remake with Mark Hamill as the baddie and Dudikoff as the hero. It's not available on DVD, so I had to scoop it used on Amazon.

Midnight Ride has Dudikoff as a cop in California whose wife needs a break from him because she thinks he loves his job more than her. While running from him, she picks up Mark Hamill. Funny thing is, Hamill's a psychotic killer, and he's taken a shine to her. His plan, after the killing spree, is to take her to his shrink, played by Robert Mitchum, so she can get some electroshock therapy. Now Dudikoff's not only chasing his wife to get her back, but to save her from Hamill.

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This isn't that bad. I'm kind of a cat who, when I'm looking for a Dudikoff flick, I want him beating the crap out of a lot of people, and I didn't get that here. This definitely isn't American Ninja meets The Hitcher, even though it should've been. Hamill was surprisingly good as a deranged killer, but Dudikoff was extremely poor as the average Joe cop that takes heroic risks, but can't kick mad ass the way he could in some of his other films. That was a huge issue for me, because Hamill holds Duds at gunpoint early on, and then ties him to the hood of a car and drives him around. What? Dudikoff can't let that happen, I don't care what kind of character he's playing, and certainly not to a Mark Hamill.

I think what made this worse was the back of the box, which told me "Michael Dudikoff's at the wheel. And all roads lead to action!" Forget the grammatical issues with separating "wheel" and "and" with a period instead of a comma, the line signifies to me Dudikoff kicking some ass. In one scene he's in a diner, and bikers are making fun of him. One of them needed to throw a punch, leading to him taking out like five of them. Instead, he just walked out and nothing happened. Hey, I'm all for a good suspense thriller, just don't tell me I'm getting a Dudikoff beatdownfest when I'm not.

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Michael Dudikoff is an interesting figure in the DTVC Hall of Fame. He's not the star Dolph, Van Damme, Seagal, and Lambert are. But for a lot of us, especially the cats who really cut their teeth in bad movies by watching action films of the late 80s early 90s, Dudikoff almost eclipses those other four. They were making mainstream films at that time (I guess not Dolph, but definitely the other three), while Dudikoff was earning a living in DTV. I think that's a good thing, in that when I review his films, the old guard feel like I'm meeting their bad movie needs; but also the new comers to bad movies can be given a road map to explore a real king in the industry that they may not know about.

Mark Hamill was pretty solid as the psycho. I mean, he was pretty creepy and scary, which is what you want. I'm not sure I get the new wave of horror films that go for gore over fear, yet at the same time think they're delivering fear, but this is the kind of movie they should look at when making the Saw 316 or whatever. There's one scene where Hamill offers a girl whose abusive boyfriend he just scared off a ride home. Dudikoff's wife already knows Hamill's a psycho killer, and she's trying to warn the girl. It was just really freaky knowing on that whole ride home that that girl was going to die, and a big part of it was how realistic they made it. I'm generally not a Mark Hamill guy, and I was really hoping for a Dudikoff beatdown of him that didn't happen; but he was good in this film.

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As I mentioned above, Robert Mitchum's in this picture. One of my all time favorite actors. Of all the genres he excelled in, I'd say his best were his Film Noirs. If you haven't seen Out of the Past with he and Kirk Douglas, you should. He's only in this at the very end, but he's perfect as Hamill's psychiatrist. He just spoke in this cool, monotone, and it brought me back to some of his older films.

If you're looking for a Dudikoff beatdownfest, like I was, you'll be sorely disappointed. But if you want a decent Hitcher remake, this works. Hamill's no Rutger Hauer, but he doesn't try to be, and he comes off pretty creepy in his own way. Dudikoff, though, was hard to watch considering he didn't deliver the bone-crushing action I'm used to from him, so on that end I can't give it a full recommendation. I'd say if you see it in a VHS bargain bin for a buck or two, go for it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100148/

2 comments:

  1. I dig this picture, but had a hard time figuring out whether Dudikoff or Hamill was the bad guy @ the beginning,mostly because Duds comes off as really creepy, obsessed yelling husband chasing his wife and Hamill was a big cornball. That would've probably been a bigger stretch and interesting to see: Hamill as a goofy guy with a camera in a Russian mail order wife's car being chased by a crazy Dudikoff.

    I too was disappointed with the lack of Dudikoff beat downs- and that Hamill kicks his ass pretty royally a few times, but it was still solid. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on 'Platoon Leader.'

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  2. Yeah, or maybe another track would've been the Lifetime movie it's her against the world scenario, where Dudikoff is the abusive hubby, and Hamill's still the psycho serial killer. The female lead would've had to be replaced with Meredith Baxter-Birney, though.

    "Platoon Leader", huh? That's deep in the Dudikoff catalog. I like it. The next one I have for him is Crash Dive, but after that all bets are off, so Platoon Leader's as good as any. The only impediment I see is the price, because I'll have to buy it on VHS.

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