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

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

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Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Black Dog (1998)

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Initially I was going to end my week long tribute to Patrick Swayze with the post apocalyptic sci-fi goof fest Steel Dawn. I just figured it would be the most fitting for that to end a DTVC tribute. My plan was to then throw Black Dog in as a bonus for one of my readers, RepoGenetic, who requested it. Unfortunately, Netflix wasn't able to give me Steel Dawn, so Black Dog is stepping in as the fourth post. I look at it as Steel Dawn was our keynote speaker for our symposium on Swayze, but since he couldn't make it due to inclement weather, Black Dog, who was only supposed to give a small talk, now has to pinch hit and give the speech, and we'll just have Steel Dawn back to talk at another time.

Black Dog has Swayze as a former rig driver that's just been released from prison after serving time for vehicular manslaughter. His first job while on parole is as a truck mechanic, and his bad guy boss decides he might serve him better by driving a load from Georgia up to New Jersey, where they live. Swayze wants to say no, but when he finds out their house is in foreclosure, he knows he needs the money. That's when things go crazy. The guy he gets the load from in Georgia, Meat Loaf, wants to hijack the cargo, and the FBI is after it, but he can't give up, because if he does, his wife and daughter will be killed by his boss in New Jersey. The only thing to do: go Swayze on their asses.

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This is a great movie. If we couldn't have Steel Dawn, we definitely made out fine with Black Dog. The best way to describe it is that feeling a three-year-old has when he sees a big rig on the highway, and gets him to pull his horn. You know, like when we were all young, and we were so excited to see inside a big rig, because it was so cool and big. This movie is like that, but made for us adults. Just a bunch of big rigs crashing and exploding all over the place. And Swayze. Don't forget Swayze. Just an all around fun time.

It's hard to find the perfect four movies to really celebrate a career as big as Swayze's, but I think we did a pretty good job. There were some others that could've been included: Dirty Dancing, Ghost, Too Wong Foo..., and Waking up in Reno were all indicative of his range, but probably not appropriate for what the DTVC is all about. Next of Kin was another suggestion, and though I haven't seen that in forever, I think that fits in right behind Black Dog. I also think Steel Dawn and Next of Kin could have been reviewed on their own, outside of a Swayze tribute, because they pretty much are DTV, in the sense that an American Ninja is. There's also his great supporting role in Donnie Darko, but I felt to really do a Swayze week justice, they had to all be movies that he was on the cover of.

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So we started with Road House, probably his best work in the action genre, and maybe some of the best work of all time. From there we only took a step down one rung of the ladder to Point Break. Then we went to the classically bad Red Dawn. Anything after those three was going to be a drop off in terms of memorability and iconic status, but I think ending with Black Dog, we at least were able to showcase a role that's indicative of what we expect out of Swayze the action star. He has this larger than life quality packaged as a regular guy. Even Bodhi has a way of coming off as down-to-Earth while he's preaching to us his Zen philosophy that even he doesn't really believe in. We know the moment we hop in that rig with Swayze, that he's going to take care of business, no matter what.

Let's just talk about the movie itself quickly. Randy Travis was great. This is the second film of his we've done, and he's been great in both. Gotta love Charles S. Dutton as the FBI agent too. Meat Loaf is a different story. I don't understand why anyone would have him in a movie. He can't act. He always overdoes it, which I guess works when you're writing 11-minute songs with paragraph long titles, but in an action film, it's a little too much. I was kind of annoyed that he reinserted himself at the end of the film, because it would've been better if he'd just disappeared. I was more excited to see a Waffle House in one scene than I ever was to see the Loaf.

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Looking at Swayze's imdb resume, this is the last role he had as the lead in an action film, so maybe it is more fitting that this would be the last in the four films we covered this week. It's probably the simplest in scope, but no less fun. Sure, I loved the idea of doing Steel Dawn as the last one, just because it is a DTV movie, but as I was watching exploding rig after exploding rig in Black Dog, I understood that it all worked out. Black Dog was the perfect fourth film.

As I said above, this won't be the end of Swayze's time at the DTVC, because eventually I will review Steel Dawn, and there's also Next of Kin. Just the same, I had fun this week going outside the usual realm of DTV films into some more mainstream pictures (if you can consider Road House mainstream!), and I'm glad we could celebrate in this small way what made Patrick Swayze so great to all of us. It's hard to think that we won't have any new movies from him again, but at least we'll always have the great ones he already made for us.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120610/

4 comments:

  1. You, Matt, are good people. I just got back from a long internet free trip to Seattle and jumped on before crashing to see how the Swayze retrospective wrapped up. To say I am pleased is an understatement. I think your analysis is spot on, and although a tad biased, truly did feel Black Dog was a perfect round out to your work this last week sending off the great Swayze. You know I'm a fan of the site, but I would honestly put this up against anything as the most real and legit tribute out there. These gems will get many plays in the future, and hopefully your reviews will open more eyes to some of them.
    On another note, you mentioned Kilmer coming along for a potential impending DTV career, and I agree. I'm still hoping for some future goodness from Cuba Gooding Jr. also. And I wish if Christian Slater was going to continue doing DTV dreck, he would at least embrace it and bring back the old manical edge from the 80's/90's. I love that guy, but his last 5 years plus of DTV output has been unbearable.

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  2. I'm glad you liked the Black Dog post, and I have to thank you again for suggesting it. Had you not, I would've been stuck without a fourth film, and probably had to settle on Dirty Dancing or The Outsiders, because I only put Black Dog in my queue along with Steel Dawn so I could review it for you as kind of a bonus. It's cool how it all worked out, though.

    I'm looking to do a little Cuba Gooding jr. soon. He and Kilmer have a film coming out together in November called Hardwired, so that should be cool. As far as Gooding jr. and Slater, what are your thoughts on Lies and Illusions? Have you seen it yet?

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  3. Meatloaf is never good in any movie he is in. He isnt a good actor at all, I dont understand why a director would put him on a film anyway.

    Ever seen him BloodRayne? That awful awful Uwe Boll video game adaptation? You should see him playing a vampire. Its beyond bad and back again!

    This was Swayze's last big movie, I would say that he went out with a bang, though its far from his glory days, its still an enjoyable action flick.

    How bout that guy who would sing country songs all through out the whole movie? He was a professional country singer wasnt he?

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  4. I did see BloodRayne, and yeah, totally agree. I reviewed part 2 on 11/12/2007, and it was even worse, I can't even begin to tell you. No Meat Loaf in that, though.

    The country singer is Randy Travis, and he was also in a movie I reviewed on 4/20/2009 called Deadly Shooter, which also had Michael Dudikoff and William Smith. I'm usually not a fan of country, but as an actor he does all right.

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