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.

Announcement

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

Black Eagle (1988)

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One of my favorite readers, Jill, is also a huge Van Damme fan, and she warned me that this is a dull film. "I know," I said, "but I still need to do them all for my blog." So I watched the trailer while Ian (another one of my favorite readers) was checking his mail, and I must confess, based on the trailer, it looked pretty hot.

Black Eagle is a Cold War spy vs. spy yawn fest starring Van Damme as a bad guy hatchet man for the Soviets who are in Malta trying to get some kind of weapon. Shô Kosugi is called in by the CIA despite his vacation to make sure this weapon or whatever is kept in safe hands. Stuff happens, Kosugi and Van Damme have a disappointing fight, and that's it.

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Okay, so she was right, and it was dull. Very dull. But, at the DTVC, our job is to review everything, good and bad... and this was bad. First off, Kosugi was wasted. He had some good fight scenes, but his hair looked ridiculous and his clothes were worse. In one scene he was supposed to be this cool spy playing roulette with the hot chick spy working with him, in one of those tense Bond-esque scenes where the Soviets are at the same table, making small talk. The problem is, Kosugi looked like Ernie from My Three Sons. "Hey Uncle Charley, can we take out some Commies today?" And that fight at the end with Van Damme, what the hell was that? Two great martial artists, and you give us a boring stalemate? It looked like a couple karate guys on the local news advertising their dojo, only they weren't wearing their Gi with the company logo on the back. Lame, lame, lame.

You could see, though, in this effort in total lame-itude that Van Damme had talent. He was going to be somebody. I was looking for images of this on YouTube, and someone put a video of his first kill, which is in this movie. Why is that a big deal? I'm serious, who gives a shit who the first guy he faked killed in a movie is? Anyway, Bloodsport came out the same year as this, and Cyborg came out a year later, so he didn't have long to wait for his eventual fame. My friend at Movies in the Attic mentioned that Van Damme really came from the DTV world and made it big, as opposed to Dolph and Seagal, who started in the mainstream. It's something I never considered before, but it explains why he's been so reluctant to come to terms with his fall from the Big Time. He doesn't want to make another Black Eagle, and he feels like he's one Cyborg or Bloodsport away from making it back. He needs to be more pragmatic. If Val Kilmer and Cuba Gooding jr., are joining him in the ranks of the DTV, it means that's probably where he's fated to remain as well.

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Shô Kosugi is someone I need to have more of up here, and I've known that for some time. Next week, when I do my Golan-Globus tribute, he'll be there with Enter the Ninja, so that should be good. If you're someone that's a fan, or looking to get into Kosugi, this isn't a great place to start. I am curious to see how he does in the new film Ninja Assassin. I'm kind of surprised it's taken this long to bring back Ninjas, since everything else from the 80s has been.

This film took place in Malta. I guess it's like a poor man's Sicily. That was the impression the film gave anyway. Good thing the Iron Curtain fell and Eastern Europe is becoming a part of Europe now, because I'd much rather have my low-budget actioners in Sofia or Bucharest. Malta, at least in this film, seems like the tired old country store of Europe, where people stop, look around, and then sigh and say "Geez, we better get back on the road.", and walk quickly to their cars and drive off, probably a little faster than necessary.

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I don't really have a seventh paragraph for this movie, but I thought since I was bashing a Van Damme film, I might bring up some good news regarding him. In two weeks, when I hit my 400th post, I'll be celebrating by outlining a Jean-Claude Van Damme film fest. I'll go over 8 of my favorites from him, most of them not DTV. It should be a fun time, much more fun than this snoozefest.

I'd almost go as far as to say even if you're a Van Damme completist, stay away. I probably should've skipped it for the review, despite the fact I want all of his DTV films up here. We still have No Retreat, No Surrender to do, and it looks like after we do that that will be it for a while, because The Eagle Path looks like it's coming out next never.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094750/

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