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.

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.

--Matt

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008)

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This movie came out in August of last year, and I'm not entirely sure how it escaped my radar. I'm definitely better now at getting to newer DTV films when they're released, but what's great about a site that reviews films people find at the video store or on Netflix, those movies are still there, and my reviews of those films are still relevant, even a year later.

Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior is a prequel to the earlier film that had The Rock in it. A young Scorpion King, before he learns to fight, is the son of a great warrior, who is killed by some black magic unleashed by the Evil Randy Couture (I know, it's weird to say). He's enrolled in the Scorpion King Academy, and comes back a fierce warrior, ready to avenge his father's death. Problem: Couture's magic is too strong. I smell an adventure! The young Scorpion King now must venture into the dreaded Underworld and retrieve a sword that will counter Couture's magic, thus helping him win his revenge.

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Wow, was this long. 108 minutes, of which 35-40 minutes was superfluous filler. Why did the evil goddess of the underworld speak in long, breathy tones? To fill time. Why did two members of the supporting cast have trouble getting the spinning sword we knew they were going to get eventually anyway? To fill time. Why did our hero fight Couture at the end, only to have Couture lose and turn into a scorpion so our hero would have to fight him again? You guessed it, to fill time. This had roughly the amount of material of a Hercules or Beastmaster episode, but it was stretched into something over twice as long.

And that's too bad, because, other than some dubious casting decisions, this could've been pretty fun, like in that Beastmaster/Hercules kind of way. It had a cute story, cute characters, and some action. I didn't like Randy Couture cast as the baddie, or the CW heartthrob cast as the hero, but I could've gotten past those things. Using annoying cinematic devices to keep the story from moving at an entertaining pace in order to make the movie longer, though, I couldn't get past.

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The main character's female cohort was a total hottie named Karen Shenaz David. She had a very small role in another DTVC film, Flight of Fury, which also starred Steven Seagal. I think her fight scenes were better done than the CW heartthrob's, which makes me wonder why the film wasn't centered around her. What if it was a real Scorpion King prequel, where she played the Scorpion King's mom before he was born? Would've made for a better movie.

Randy Couture would've made a great baddie, except for his voice. He sounded too nice. I know he could kick my ass any day, and when he stares, he looks menacing, but the voice just reminds me too much of the guy I root for in the UFC. We've done a lot of UFC fighters in movies lately, and I would put Randy right behind Rampage as far as the best goes, but this just wasn't a great role for him.

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I was going to put two pictures of Ms. David on this blog, because she was so hot, but I felt that might not be fair to my female readers (if I have any). I'm also not always good at determining which members of my gender women or gay men find the most attractive, so forgive me if I've made the wrong decision. My options were the CW heartthrob hero, or the precocious English poet guiding the hero on his way. Knowing the tastes of the women I know who like bad action and sci-fi, they usually go for the precocious Englishman, so that's who I chose, one Mr. Simon Quaterman (very guest on the new Dr. Who sort of name, don't you think?)

I would recommend this movie if it wasn't so long. I found it really tedious when it should've been fun. You'd be much better off going through your old Hercules DVDs. I've always personally gone for the episodes that have Bruce Campbell in them, but that's just me.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1104123/

7 comments:

  1. The only reason why I wanted to see this movie was because Russell Mulcahy directed it.

    He is the director of the first two Highlander movies, both of which I enjoy a lot. Dont care what most think about Highlander 2, I find it amusing. Plus Mulcahy recently directed Resident Evil Extinction as well, which I thought was better then it should have been.

    I just never got around to renting this one precisely because it went straightt to video, which always makes me a bit suspicious. That plus I didnt really like the first Scorpion King movie.

    Though there are many good straight to video movies out there (and some enjoyably cheesy ones!) most of the time it just means they werent good enough for theatrical release. Either that or they were too violent or graphic for theaters.

    But when a commercial franchise goes straight to dvd (like this one did) you know things are probably not going to be good.

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  2. I was going to do a paragraph on Mulcahy, because this is the third film of his I've reviewed (Resurrection and Silent Trigger), plus he's directed some of my all time favorite music videos ("True", "Rio", Hungry Like the Wolf"), but I forgot all about it, so I'm glad you brought that up.

    Why would Direct to Video make you suspicious? I wonder if you get what we're doing here at the DTVC? Obviously this is what we call a DTV Cash Grab, where a popular franchise is traded on with a series of DTV titles. See Starship Troopers, Species, Road House 2 (I've only covered the first of those so far).

    Believe me, we know all the reasons why movies go Direct to Video, and there are plenty more than the few you offered as "most of the time". Also the landscape is changing, and what you think DTV should be isn't what it was in 1993, even though it was awesome then too. Plus, which is worse, Saw 37, or another Dolph Lundgren action flick shot in Bucharest? I'd say the former without hesitation.

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  3. I believe Mulcahy also directed "Princes of the Universe" for Queen. He is a good director, but he is also a hit and miss type of director in my book. I guess some films he really wants to make, others, he just makes to cash a check I guess.

    Yeah, I get what your doing here, didnt mean to bring down direct to video market Matt.

    I have to admit, I am guilty of having that old mentality of "direct to video = bad movie".

    It used to be the case back in the 80s, but really, things have changed in the direct to video market. Ive seen so many great straight to video movies.

    What I was referring to with my previous comment was that when a film thats been released theatrically suddenly goes straight to video, it means it goes down in budget, quality and actors.

    An example of this were the Addams Family movies. Where the first two had an excellent director, a memorable cast and a respectable budget, when they did the straight to video sequel "Addams Family Reunion" you could feel the series going down in quality. Thats just an example of when DTV goes bad.

    But Im not saying this is the case with all direct to video films, dont take it the wrong way. I enjoy DTV movies on a daily basis and will continue to do so till the day I die.

    Long live DTV!

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  4. Yeah, believe me, I know plenty of DTV films are just crap. I think what you're talking about with this film, and the Addams Family, is throwing a low-budget production together, slapping the franchise name on it, and throwing it on the shelves. Road House 2 is the one that irks me the most, but there are plenty.

    I will say, a lot of what I do is tongue and cheek, including the name of the blog. I was trying invoke an image of an Alistair Crowley doing Masterpiece Theater, while watching Dolph Lundgren blow shit up.

    I didn't mean to come off as defensive, because this is supposed to be silly and fun, but I do get annoyed at that concept of "National Treasure is good" and "Direct Contact is bad" because one has Nicolas Cage and is in the theater, and the other has Dolph and shows up on the video store shelves with no fanfare, and I guess that comment you made about "most STV movies" struck a chord. I mean even those ones from the 80s and 90s were better movies than say National Treasure, it's just one's packaged better. I would take American Ninja over Pirates of the Caribbean any day. Though there are a lot of quality films being made in the DTV market, I guess my point is that the crap from the 80s and 90s is better than a lot of what's out in theaters today too.

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  6. Totally agree with you man, theres tons of crap on both fronts, Im not one to defend big budget hollywood 90% of what they do is crap. I havent even seen the National Treasure movies! Ive lost all faith on Nicolas Cage!

    I was looking through your Dolph Lungdren reviews, your missing some of his movies like Punisher, which by the way is far superior to that crappy Thomas Jane one. At least in my book. Its one of Lungdrens best films if you ask me! It stars Lungdren along side Louis Gosset Jr., that movie is a diamond in the rough!

    Awesome action movie and Lungdren is a total bad ass drepressed dont mess with me kind of dude who hates his life and will have no problems letting you know it. Seen it?

    Also: Johnny Mnemonic, where he plays that crazy preacher who uses a crucifix that is also a knife!

    Masters of the Universe is also a good one!

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  7. http://www.mattmovieguy.com/2007/05/punisher-1989.html

    That's why I'm working on a clickable, alphabetical database, so those movies will be easier to find.

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