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.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Max Havoc: Ring of Fire (2006)


I found this on Watch Instantly, and since I'd already seen the Albert Pyun directed Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon, I figured I'd give it a try. This isn't directed by the DTVC Hall of Fame director, but does have a star studded cast, including Dean Cain, Rae Dawn Chong, and Martin Kove.

Max Havoc: Ring of Fire takes place I guess after Curse of the Dragon, but it's not really apparent. Anyway, Havoc is in a Seattle that doesn't look like Seattle, staying at a hotel owned by Dean Cain to take pictures of a tennis star who is on her comeback. He's still running from his past as a kickboxer who killed a guy in the ring, but he's been pressed into action after he tracks his stolen camera equipment to a mission in a poor district run by Rae Dawn Chong. The mission is attacked by some local toughs, Havoc beats them off, and finds out things are deeper than just gang violence. The more he digs, the more Dean Cain and police lieutenant Martin Kove look like they might be as innocent as they seem.


I don't know how to play this one. It worked for me, but strictly in terms of bad action. There isn't much else to it. The dialog is atrocious and the plot is pretty standard, so you're really only in this for Mickey Hardt beating the crap out of people, which isn't bad. Based on the constant fade-outs at perfect commercial points and the way the credits didn't roll at the end, but rather appeared and disappeared the way they would on a TV show, I thought this may have had a previous life as a Made for TV Movie. I couldn't find any proof of that on imdb. The other thing I considered, based on the cast and pacing, was it might have been a pilot for a syndicated action show. Again, I found no proof of that. I guess in the grand scheme of things, the only reason to watch it is if you've seen all the bad action films you like too much already, and you just want to try something new.

I don't know what was up with the Dean Cain dye job. Wow. I don't know how I feel about him as a bad guy either. It's just not a good look, even more so than the bleached hair. He's one who does more Made for TV than Direct to Video movies, so we don't see him very often at the DTVC. According to imdb, among his 12 in-development projects, one is Abandoned, the last film Brittany Murphy was working on before she died.


One actress that I really liked in this was Christina Cox. Usually when we see her, she's playing a tough woman, like a member of a mercenary team or something, so a glamorous tennis star was a change of pace. Her athletic build works better in dresses and painted on jeans than it does in army fatigues. I'm not saying army fatigues aren't hot too, just that it's good to mix it up once in a while.

Though this is the fifth Martin Kove film we've done at the DTVC, it's only the second since September of 2007. A travesty, really. I mean, this guy was a staple for me growing up in the 80s and 90s, and it's surprising that in three years he's not at least into double figures, let alone only half way there. It's not anything I did on purpose either, it just sort of happened that way. Hopefully now with the big names like Dolph, Seagal, and Van Damme having complete DTV filmographies reviewed here, we'll have more time to celebrate the greatness that is The Kove.


I've only been to Seattle once in my life, for five days, one of which was spent in Portland, Oregon, so I don't know the city inside and out, but I'd seen enough of it to know immediately that this film wasn't shot there. It didn't take long to guess too that it was filmed in Vancouver, even though I'd never been there. What I don't understand is, why even say it's set in Seattle? If none of it has anything to do with famous aspects of Seattle, why not just set it in Vancouver? Or do like Highlander: The Series did, and set it in the fictitious city of Seacouver.

I can't recommend this because there's a good chance you'll watch it and say "what a useless sack of asscrack", which is fine. I kind of liked it, but in an acquired taste sort of way. That's not enough to recommend it. I like Mickey Hardt, and it's too bad these are the only two English language films he's done. It might be worth it if you're an action connoiseur to check this out for him, but that's a big might.

For more info:


  1. After the first, I wasn't expecting too much from this one either. Speaking of movies I wasn't expecting too much from, I am eating my words about Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans- one of the greatest bad movies of all time, and since it's basically DTV, I would enthusiastically recommend checking it asap if it's playing in your area: you simply can't go wrong with break-dancing corpses, rubber alligator close up/POVs, singing iguanas, Nic Cage's hair and lucky crack pipe, Faruza Balk in black lingerie, and more rubber reptile eye close ups than you can shake a stick at. We have a new classic on ours hands, my boys.

  2. I just found out from a buddy that it's playing at our local indie theater next month. Not only that, but it's playing the same day they're showing the Wizard of Oz. Quite a double feature, huh?