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.

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Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Drive (1997)

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When RepoGenetic requested more Mark Dacascos, Drive was one of the films he wanted. Unfortunately, the film recently went out of print, meaning Netflix didn't carry it, and with the untimely passing of Brittany Murphy, one of the film's stars, eBay and Amazon sellers were driving the price up. That didn't stop him from getting it reviewed, though, he just sent me a copy of it.

Drive has Dacascos as a cop from Hong Kong who has been implanted with some device that amps up his adrenaline, which combined with his top notch martial arts skills, makes him unstoppable. Problem is, he's decided to sell the device in LA to a private technology firm. Now, in San Francisco, he's being chased by men working for the Hong Kong company that originally created the device, and when they track him to a bar, he takes unfortunate bar patron Kadeem Hardison with him, and makes him drive him to LA. Now this unlikely pair has to survive long enough for Dacascos to deliver the goods so they can both be rich.

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This movie was great. Just a fun, straight ahead action film. Dacascos delivered with the martial arts, and from there it was just a matter of everyone else playing their supporting roles, and they did. I'll be honest, the plot was very Bloodfist IV-VIII, but Dacascos and the rest of the martial arts was of a much higher caliber. This is the kind of review and the kind of film people come to my site for: an action film that doesn't take itself too seriously, gives the audience what it wants, but also has an added element, in this case the well choreographed martial arts.

When you see this, right away, in Dacascos' first fight scene, your first thought will be "why is this guy not in more and bigger roles?" Mark Dacascos is in the Potential Hall of Famer category, not because he doesn't have the talent, but because he doesn't have the great films under his belt, and something like this just makes it all the more puzzling that he doesn't. My theories are that either, A) the ambiguity of his ethnicity makes directors shy away from casting him, or B) he's been unfairly pigeonholed into the status of "Poor Man's Brandon Lee", probably due to his work on The Crow TV series. Take a film like this one, though. His Hawaiian accent doesn't make him sound like he's from Hong Kong, and he definitely doesn't look Chinese, but who cares? His martial arts skills are top notch-- he can do a fight scene with anyone in the business-- that's all I care about in a DTV actioner.

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One scene really drove home to me just how good he and this movie was. Dacascos had to fight a bunch of guys off in a garage, and I thought "this scene is as good as Jason Statham fighting the guys in the bike shop in the first Transporter". That's not an exaggeration. Maybe his recent stint on Dancing With the Stars will get him better roles, and when I say better roles I mean better action roles where he gets to let loose his martial arts skills. Remember in my Knock Off review where I described Van Damme keeping up with the fast paced Kung Fu scenes? Well Dacascos shows in Drive that he not only can keep up, but he can lead that kind of scene and look good at it.

We got a little Dwayne Wayne going on here. No, he doesn't have the same glasses he had on in A Different World, but the character was very similar. I'd like to get a movie with him, Jaleel White, and Malcolm-Jamal Warner in it. As I mentioned above, this also has the late Brittany Murphy as an air-headed girl that hits on Dwayne Wayne, pretty much reprising her role from Clueless. I hope her death wasn't what caused the prices of Drive to go up on Amazon and eBay, but it's the only explanation I can come up with considering they went up within a week of her passing, and are now coming down again.

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This film had a pretty extensive list of errors on imdb, which isn't a big deal (you should see how many Die Hard has), but they missed one that I picked up on. When Dwayne Wayne drops Dacascos off at the bus station in San Francisco, it's actually Union Station in LA. I know, because I've been there, and according to imdb, the film was only shot in LA. Not picking on the movie at all, just thought it was cool that I could recognize that.

If you find this at a used video store or something like that, go for it. This is Dacascos the way you were meant to see him. You've got explosions for the sake of explosions, a plot that enhances the action instead of detracting from it, and Dacascos' stand out martial arts. If it wasn't out of print it would be perfect. Thanks again to RepoGenetic for sending it to me.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116147/

6 comments:

  1. This is one I've been to tell you about...Or wait I think I did. I thankfully bought this gem (for 10 bucks when it came out) and am shocked at the way people are willing to shell out 46 bucks, especially how the discland I frequent (in Minnesota) I can find it for 3.99. People on Amazon are just vultures.

    Anyway this is Dacascos' best work. Better than the overrated Crying Freeman, better than the terrible Double Dragon and better than the also overrated and terrible Only The Strong. In fact the weird thing, is that one of Dacascos' other bests Sabotage is so hard to find as well. Sabotage has Carrie Anne Moss (Pre Matrix) and once again...hard to find. You might have to go the VHS route. His recent Alien Agent was watchable, Cradle 2 The Grave was fun and I liked I Am Omega but a lot of his other stuff was crap. None worse than the abominable Boogie Boy which didn't even have him do martial arts. Dacascos though is a must for DTV hall of fame, as is Sasha Mitchell, as Kickboxer series demands such recognition. Plus you can totally review Slammed and Spike Of Bensonhurst with Sasha Mitchell, but obviously you haven't tried hard enough. :)

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  2. I like that you're throwing down the Sasha Mitchell gauntlet. I found Slammed online, so I'll check that one out for you soon. Spike of Bensonhurst you're right, will be harder.Even under it's video title, Throw Back!, I couldn't find it.

    Mitchell, though, is a potential hall of famer because he's not even 43, and he hasn't done anything since ER in '05. Look at his bio too. I count maybe ten movies of his that merit inclusion, of which I've reviewed five. This is the DTVC Hall of Fame, not the hall of very good. Dacascos has a better shot, but I'd like more Drive and less Hunt for Eagle One, if you know what I mean.

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  3. Sasha Mitchell...Sigh. Like you said what a waste of such talent and flair. You have Luck Of The Draw, Death Before Dishonor,Not Quite Human (supporting parts) and well that's about it.

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  4. Like I said in my Gangland review, he'd make a great Guile in a Street Fighter movie.

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  5. Great Dacascos Flick!

    As said before, Sabotage is a fun action packed film! Tony Todd is the bad guy and it has a cool tagline:

    "The Dark Heart Of The Black Ops Beats To A Secret Agenda."

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  6. I gotta check that out. Also reminds me that I haven't focused on taglines like I used to. Getting most of my films on Netflix means I don't see the box, which kind of takes some of the classic video store vibe away from it, which is a big part of why I got into this.

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