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.


Friday, August 14, 2009

The Art of War III: Retribution (2009)


I saw an ad for this on imdb, checked it out on Netflix, and figured I'd get it and review it the week it came out. I tried to do this with Direct Contact, and it didn't work out so well. Luckily I was on the ball this time, and had all my DVDs back the day before it was released. I might be the first person in Portsmouth, NH to watch it. Yay!

The Art of War III: Retribution has a very unconvincing Treach from Naughty by Nature taking over for Wesley Snipes in the role of Shaw, UN Enforcer. Does the plot really matter after that? He goes to South Korea, aka Korean parts of LA that don't even pass as Seoul, trying to break up an arms deal between the North Koreans and the Russians. Things go bad, though, and now Treach is wanted for murder, and the only people he can trust are his green partner, and this hot Korean chick he picked up who he thinks is his link to the players. That's pretty much it.


Wow, was this God awful. It starts with Treach doing a voice over, reading from The Art of War. I don't want to be too mean, but he sounds like the kid in class that the sadistic teachers would embarrass by making them read out loud when everyone knew they were functionally illiterate. His Ebonics didn't work either, and he had no ability to code switch into standard English to make him believable as a secret agent. On top of that, his fight scenes were so bad I cringed watching them. It looked like a bunch of high schoolers making a movie on YouTube. Even Ice Cube was better as XXX, which isn't saying much.

The biggest issue with Treach is he doesn't have the chops a Wesley Snipes has to pull something like this off. Snipes is smooth, precise, and fun to watch. Treach is uncouth, unwieldy, and a train wreck to watch. Had the plot been more fun, or the cast had better supporting actors, it might have been fun to make fun of him, but this movie didn't even have that going for it. That being said, compared to Treach, the other actors looked like Oscar contenders. I felt like when he spoke, I was watching a TV with bad audio, and when they spoke, the audio was back to normal. He was so bad I couldn't even enjoy how they tried to pass LA off as Seoul.


I just don't get this idea that Treach is a potential leading man, even of the DTV action variety. He was good in support in the Seagal flick Today You Die. Being good in support does not make one good in the lead, though. His martial arts skills, for one thing, left too much to be desired. And listening to him talk strategy with his fellow operatives made me laugh out loud. How did anyone not see how ridiculous this was? He's just not a secret agent.

One issue that came up when I was studying anthropology at UMaine was the question of whether or not Ebonics was a full-fledged dialect of English, or just a bunch of slang. I don't know enough about the distinction to go one way or the other, but a case could be made based on Treach's performance that it is a dialect, and that if children aren't taught standard American English at a young age, they won't be fluent enough in it to compete for higher paying jobs. Again, I don't know enough about the subject to give an informed opinion, but at the very least, Treach does not sound fluent in standard American English.


You may notice that all the pictures are of Treach's Korean co-star, Sung Hi Lee. I decided that one, I didn't want any pictures of Treach up here because he was so bad in this movie; and two, when I looked up Sung Hi Lee's imdb bio, I saw that she was born on April 1st, 1970. That's the same day I was born, only nine years earlier. It was the one cool thing in the movie for me.

Skip this. If it's in your Netflix queue, delete it. If you like pain that badly, try eating soup that's really hot. There's no point in enduring this film. I only did it so you wouldn't have to.

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