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.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Freedom Strike (1998)


This movie was suggested to me by my friend at Movies in the Attic. I also vaguely remembered renting it with a buddy of mine about ten years ago, because we were on a kick to watch every Dudikoff film with two-word titles. Tone Loc, just so you're wondering, makes a movie like this a must rent when I see him on the cover.

Freedom Strike takes place in a near future where there's a war in the Middle East that the US is actually just a spectator in. Syria also has amazing radar busting technology and nuclear capability, and it's up to Freedom Strike, an elite special forces team, led by our own Michael Dudkioff to shut them down. Then a ceasefire is reached, and as the agreement is almost signed, the Syrian president is shot in an assassination attempt plotted by one of his military officials. Now the Freedom Strike crew has to take him down before the US nukes him, because they don't want him nuking us first.


This was probably one of the best films we've covered here at the DTVC. Okay... maybe not. But it wasn't all that bad. If American Ninja is the gold standard by which a Dudkioff film is judged, this was a bronze. There was enough action, I think, and though it could've been better, the movie was fun. Fun is not such a bad thing, and after seeing something as bad as Never Surrender, I'll take all the fun I can get.

It's good to have a decent Dudikoff flick again. Crash Dive was such a stinker, we needed something uplifting. I'm now trying to figure out where to go next. One thing I considered was revisiting American Ninja 2. When I originally posted it, I was just starting out, and hadn't instituted the policy I have now of watching the films I review again before I post, no matter how many times I've seen them. That American Ninja 2 post was from memory, but I hadn't seen the film since high school, so it was a foggy memory. I'm planning to do American Ninja 3, and 2 and 3 come packaged together, so that will give me a great opportunity to revisit both. As far as Freedom Strike goes, not a bad deal. Again, a bronze medal film from him.


The DTVC is no stranger to rappers. We had Treach in Art of War III; Flavor Flav in Confessions of a Pit Fighter; Snoop Dogg, Master P, et al in Hot Boyz; the Cash Money Millionaires in Baller Blockin'; Kid from Kid N' Play in War of the Worlds 2; and Mystikal in 13 Dead Men. There's also the seven films that had Ice-T in them. All that being said, we've never had a rapper as great as Tone Loc. "Wild Thing", "Funky Cold Medina". Do I need to say anymore? The only thing better would've been Young MC-- okay, no, the only thing better would've been Snow, remember him? Informer... I licky boom boom down. The key thing to keep in mind here is that Treach failed miserably as a special forces secret agent, but Tone Loc totally pulled it off. Don't get me wrong, he was still Tone Loc, and it was still hilarious, but he was more believable than Treach was.

Freedom Strike featured some aerial dogfights. I'll be quite frank, I'm not a big fan of them. I don't know, stock footage of fighter jets edited into shots of guys in cockpits saying someone's locking onto him, or he's got a lock, just doesn't do it for me. I'd rather have Dudikoff sneaking behind five Syrian soldiers and taking them out Apache style. Or maybe just having him duke it out with someone. The idea of the dog fight sounds great in theory, but when does it ever really work? Top Gun? I don't think so. Don't confuse silly with awesome.


I'm trying to remember, but I know I've seen the fake Tv news channel ZNN used in other films I've reviewed on here. Am I going crazy in my old age? Has anyone else seen ZNN in other DTV actioners? I want to say it was a Dolph film, but I can't be sure.

You could do a lot worse in the Dudikoff department than this one. If you like silly military action films, you're in the right place. I was a tad bored by the dogfights, but overall it wasn't bad. Plus, you can never go wrong with Tone Loc. That's what I always say.

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Tsotsi (2005)

I just saw Tsotsi today, and because it came out in 2005, and won the Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2006, I hadn't planned on reviewing it here, because it's not all that current anymore. I even mentioned in my X-Men Origins: Wolverine post that Gavin Hood directed both films. That's what drew me to it: I wanted to know how a guy who won a best Foreign Film Oscar could make something so silly and blockbuster-y. Well, now I've seen it, and I'm stunned. Tsotsi was one of the most thought provoking films I've seen in my entire life. I'm not sure there was a comfortable moment in the whole thing. It just amazes me that a director can create something with so much depth and can move me so much, and then go ahead and create something so bad and so mind numbing. The best analogy I can make would be reading a Harry Potter book, and finding out Salman Rushdie wrote it.

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