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.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Merchant of Death (1997)

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As I've been converting all of the original posts so that they all have clickable images that take readers to bigger images (instead of images that just go to my photobucket account), I've been reading the comments to some of the old posts, and unfortunately, have discovered a lot of recommendations and requests for movies that have been lost in the shuffle. I don't remember which post I found it on, but someone suggested I give Merchant of Death a try if I want some more Michael Paré. That was months ago, but I was like "that sounds good, I'll get right on that." All right, so I'm on it now, but sorry about that.

Merchant of Death has Paré as a dude who watched his family get murdered when he was a child, and it's always eaten him up inside, making him a cop who lives on the edge. Anyway, his mentor on the force dies, but in his dying breath tells him he was there for his family's murder, and gives him some clues. Paré then quits the force, and takes to the streets to solve the crime, in the hopes that he can gain some peace of mind.

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Man, if you take out the 45 minute chunk in the middle that was all Lifetime Movie Channel with the boring investigative work and the weird scene where Paré is reliving his family's murder under hypnosis, you'd have a surefire winner. The opening drug bust in the warehouse was simply awesome. Had they just mixed some of that into the middle, we would've been all right. What is the number one rule to great action here at the DTVC? Don't let the plot get in the way of the action. The reason for this is because to write a compelling plot takes talent. You gotta be good to make me care for the characters when all they're doing is talking. On the other hand, how much effort is it to show Paré kicking people's asses, blowing shit up, and smoking cigars, all while delivering lines in that trademark accent? Not much, right, and if we're watching a movie with him as the star of a film called Merchant of Death, the last thing we want is him crying on a psychiatrist's sofa.

What this film does do, though, is drive home just how great Michael Paré is, as if we didn't know already. I know, I suck as a human being for not having more of his films reviewed, especially that great stuff he did in the late 80s early 90s. Though this is his fifth film here, it's only the first with him in a starring role. Even I can't believe I've been writing a blog that reviews DTV movies for almost three years now and am only just getting around to covering a movie with Michael Paré as the lead. I will say, in my defense, for what it's worth, I could've sworn I reviewed Gargoyles back when I first started. Still, that would only be two movies, and that's not enough either.

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There are some definite signs that you've seen too many bad action movies. If you see a helicopter in a film and immediately expect it to be blown up, that's one. Another is if any mention of a police psychiatrist makes you think of a hot chick, and that's what we had here. The moment Paré's chief tells him he needs a psyche evaluation, and to report to Dr. So-and-So's office, I know we're talking about a chick, and we're talking about a hottie. Linda Hoffman from The Dentist had the honors this time. You know the deal too. Glasses, hair up, business suit that shows a little leg, but not too much. They don't get along at first... but then... in this case, they didn't get around to having sex, because the baddie captured her, but the implication is that they had it after the credits rolled.

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This film took place in Portland, OR, even though it was shot in South Africa. Anyway, my sister lives in Seattle, and she just informed me that the Black Velvet Painting Museum in Portland is closing. If you haven't been, and will be out in Portland anytime soon, you gotta check it out. Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations did a segment on it for the episode on the Pacific Northwest, and when we talked to the guy who ran the museum on our visit, he told us that Bourdain's people actually called ahead to see if it would be all right to visit, meaning they made a reservation! Anyway, it's a really cool place, and it's a shame it's closing.

All right, that wasted 45 minute chunk gave me too little material to write on, so no seventh paragraph before the close for this one. The action, especially at the beginning, but also at the end, which bookended that mess of a middle is pretty good. This might be a good film to have on while your doing your taxes or writing a paper, so you can get some work done during the slow parts. For a Paré film it's good, but it could've been better. I'm not saying a movie needs to be all action, but you can't have 45 minutes of blah smack in the middle.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119661/

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