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.


Monday, September 14, 2009

China O'Brien (1990)


It's taken me forever to get a copy of this. First Netflix said they had it, but then it went from Very Long Wait to Unavailable. So I went to Amazon, but it was too expensive both on DVD and VHS. Finally, after months of waiting, someone put it up for sale used on Amazon at a price I could handle, and I snatched it up. The whole process has been slightly disconcerting, because I have a DTV movie blog, and I have Cynthia Rothrock in the Hall of Fame, but I didn't have a review for her seminal film.

China O'Brien is a Walking Tall remake with Cynthia Rothrock as a big city cop who goes back to her small home town and finds it taken over by a gang of criminals that own the judges and fire department. They also have a guy in the sheriff's department, and when the sheriff, Rothrock's dad, dies, this guy wants his job. Rothrock runs against him in order to take the town back in the name of law and order.


This movie's amazing. I don't know where to begin. Spectacular martial arts. Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton at their best. Amazing music. Action almost non-stop. In places where you can't imagine a fight scene, a fight scene happens. They just don't make movies like this anymore. Why remake Fame when you can remake this? This is what the art of film is all about.

We finally did it. This is the film that, more than any other, got Cynthia Rothrock into the Hall of Fame. She's just utterly fantastic. She's also pretty hot. In one scene, she beats the crap out of a guy who grabs her ass. I wonder how many times that's happened to her in real life. I'd love to see some guy grab her butt, and watch her kick the crap out of him. I have no time for random butt grabbers. Do those guys think women enjoy that? Do they somehow think they aren't the biggest losers ever when they do that? Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Pretty much everything else I do from Rothrock will be a step down from China O'Brien, but that's okay. She still has many more films to look at, and I'm just glad we finally got her best one up here.


Richard Norton stars with her again. I think this might be one of his best roles too. What I loved was the movie cast him, despite his Australian accent, in the role of a guy who grew up in the same small town Rothrock did. They didn't try to explain it, they didn't try to hide it, they just did it. More movies need to do that. Jean Claude Van Damme does not always have to be from New Orleans to explain his accent. Just have him grow up in a small country town too. Norton is looking to join Rothrock in the Hall of Fame this October.

The Walking Tall paradigm pops up often in DTV films. I would say this version of it, then Gary Busey's Eye of the Tiger, are the two best. Road House is close, but it lacks two elements: one, Swayze comes from out of town, he's not a native come home; and two, he never becomes sheriff, he remains a legendary bouncer. Personally, I prefer the Road House paradigm more, even if it's never been used by another movie (Road House 2, I guess). China O'Brien would've been better had Rothrock returned home after making her name as a famous bouncer in the big city. My only qualm with the film, if you can call it that.


Now that I have software that captures images from both DVD and VHS, I only have to search the Internet for images of the cover. Usually I find them from sites selling them or from fellow reviewers. This time, though, I found a site that had covers from a whole slew of Imperial Entertainment VHS's. It was really cool, and it brought be back to my earlier days of watching DTV films. Check it out:

This is a must for any action film fan. It doesn't get any better. I didn't tag it as VHS only, because it was available at one time on DVD. I have no idea why it's out of print, or if there are any plans to rerelease it, but it's a travesty that this movie's not at places like Netflix. Considering some of the films available on DVD, a classic like this one should be a no brainer.

For more info:


  1. Thanks for the sweet review. This was one of my favs growing up in DTV land. Brings back some good memories. :)

  2. I'm glad you dug it. I'm sure you'll agree it was a long time coming, but better late than never.

  3. Damn, I saw this ages ago! Nice to see somebody unearth this woman cop kicking ass classic!