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.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Tournament (2009)


You may have seen in the comments section last week that RepoGenetic suggested I check out The Tournament, which was released last Tuesday. Ving Rhames and the always hot Kelly Hu? Where do I sign up?

The Tournament is about a competition every seven years involving 30 of the world's top assassins fighting each other to the death. Ving wins the one that opens the film, and plans on retiring champion, but when his wife is murdered by another assassin, he signs up for revenge. There's also Kelly Hu, a Chinese killer, who stumbles upon a priest (the guy who played Begbie in Trainspotting), thinking he's another player. Turns out he's mistakenly swallowed one of the trackers all the assassins have in them so they can recognize each other, and so the people who run the game can keep an eye on them. She takes him along and protects him until he can pass the tracker through his system. The problem is, she protects him at her own peril, because after 24 hours of playing, if there isn't a winner, the tracking devices explode, killing all the remaining players.


This is pretty hot. It's very violent, so be careful if you get queasy easily. I had trouble with the finger amputations. I think the director had a fetish for that, because it happened like three or four times. That's my own personal issue, though, and it's hard to justify hating a movie for it when I had no problem with people exploding all over the place. The martial arts and shootouts were pretty sweet; Rhames, Kelly the Hottie Hu, and Begbie all turned in great performances; and the concept of a competition of assassins played out really well. An all around solid film. Thanks go out to RepoGenetic for recommending it.

Reviewing this film after Battlestar Galactica: The Plan works to provide some context for what I look for in a movie. I'm not saying I can't appreciate a great thought provoking film-- District 9 certainly was that-- it's just that Battlestar Galactica didn't do the job District 9 did, and if I have a choice between over the top action or mediocre sci-fi, I'll take the over the top action every time. Especially if it's got Ving Rhames and Kelly Hu in it. Don't get me wrong, Grace Park is hot, but she's no Kelly Hu.


Speaking of Kelly Hu, this is only the second film of hers we've reviewed, the other being the lack luster Succubus: Hell Bent. I looked at her bio, and realized she doesn't do a lot of DTV work, which would explain her absence here. That's too bad, because she's one of the hottest chicks of all time. I've rounded up a few others, and I'll try and review them sometime soon, but I think she needs to reevaluate her career path. Fewer USA Original Series and CBS Crime Dramas, and more Dolph Lundgren films.

Pulp Fiction is a big deal for anyone from my generation. It had such a huge impact on popular culture at the time, and has influenced so many films since. I have it as the second best film of the 90s, after Schindler's List. (If you're curious, Roger Ebert has Pulp Fiction second too, only he has Hoop Dreams first and Schindler's List 6th.) Anyway, after reviving the career of John Travolta, making Samuel L. Jackson a marquee name, reminding us why we think Bruce Willis is so cool, and introducing us to Uma Thurman (unless you count Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, but I don't), it also took a character actor by the name of Ving Rhames and made him larger than life. I think, fifteen years later, at least for people of my generation, that feeling remains, and I felt it the whole time Rhames was in this film. He was such a cool casting decision as the best living assassin, and I hope he does more DTV actioners.


This film is set in Middlesbrough, a city in the north of England. What a cool place to set a movie, even if some of it was filmed in Bulgaria. My buddy is a Sunderland fan, which is the working class neighbor to Middlesbrough, and both cities are right near Newcastle. Anyone who watches the EPL knows that both 'Boro and Newcastle went down last year, leaving Sunderland with no derby games. I'm an Arsenal fan, and I told my buddy he could borrow West Ham for the season if he wanted a rival. I still have to watch that Arsenal West Ham game from the weekend by the way. I know, I suck as a Gooner.

If you dig action, you'll like this. It's everything that Wanted wasn't, and everything Wanted was sold to us as being. Hu is hot as usual, and Rhames is as awesome as you'd imagine him being. It's a little gory, so you may want to check the tags on imdb to see if it has anything you have trouble with. I will say the "burnt face" tagged wasn't really that bad, so don't worry about that one if you don't like burnt faces (and I don't).

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