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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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Urban Menace (1999)

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This is one that's always intrigued me. DTVC Hall of Fame director Albert Pyun's film starring hip-hop stars Snoop Dogg, Big Pun, Fat Joe, and Pyun mainstay Ice-T. I mean, I figured it would be hilarious, but I was still intrigued.

Urban Menace takes place in New York City and has Snoop as a form of archangel come back from the dead to wreak vengeance upon Big Pun and Fat Joe's gang. Caught up in this is King, a member of the gang who wants out and tried to work with the cops, but now has to go into an abandoned building and confront Snoop for his bosses. How will Snoop treat him as he's exacting his violent revenge on the rest of the gang?

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This wasn't serious, was it? I mean, it had to be shot in a day, based on the poor quality. I'm not sure a gun was ever fired, instead the actors pretended to shoot and sound effects were added, a move I'm sure middle school kids use in their YouTube videos (if they had YouTube when I was in middle school, I know I would've done that). Most of the film was shot in this grainy style of film, which was weird. It's too bad, because there were some bright spots, both serious and silly. Ice-T did the music, which was really cool, almost like Miles Davis in Elevator to the Gallows-- almost. Snoop was pretty funny, especially watching him shimmy around while he was firing his pistols. You can imagine how great of actors Fat Joe and the late Big Pun were.

What killed this was a 72 minute running time, of which ten minutes were taken up with Ice-T's intro, and another ten were taken up with credits (I'm serious), so a 52 minute running time, and it felt like three hours. There was just a lot of nothing happening. One scene in the beginning had Big Pun and Fat Joe talking about this or that business thing, and it went on forever, or at least it seemed like it. A person would say something, then it would cut to a close up of Fat Joe, who would respond, then a close up of Pun, who would respond, then back to the guy. It was just hard to imagine that the guy who did Nemesis, Omega Doom, and Cyborg directed this too.

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Ice-T played the narrator, something of a Ghetto Poet, Urban Philosopher, or Poet Laureate of the Cut. In the scenes where it was him just talking, as opposed to commenting on the boring movie, it was actually pretty cool. The thing was, as an actor, he was the only half-way decent talent in the film, and he ended up only being the narrator. The addition of him doing the music was great too. The problem was, it was supporting a boring movie.

Another bright spot was Pyun mainstay Vincent Klyn in a small role. We love Klyn here at the DTVC, more affectionately known as Warchild from Point Break. "Back off Warchild, seriously." He's done twelve films with Pyun, second only to Nobert Weisser's 14, but hasn't done anything period since 2004's Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon, also directed by Pyun. That's too bad.

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This is one of two credited Pyun forays into the Urban genre, the other being Corrupt, which I haven't seen yet. There's also the Master P flick Bad Bizness aka More Mercy, which he wasn't credited on. I haven't seen either of those, but if this is any indication, I can't imagine they're great. Urban Menace isn't of the quality we've come to expect from Pyun, so if you see this and think "Oh, Albert Pyun, I loved Nemesis and Cyborg, you'll be sorely disappointed. I did read an article that was linked on imdb from Quiet Earth, a site that seems to be devoted to post-apocalyptic films, about Pyun's next film, Bulletface. Word on the street is he's releasing his films on his own now and re-releasing director's cuts some of the older ones, including Nemesis. Could be cool, but I'm not sure how reliable the site's info is, considering they said Bulletface would be out in January, and January's almost done, and Bulletface isn't out. Still looking forward to Tales of an Ancient Empire.

Don't fall for this. It's not great work from Pyun, and the cast that seems funny isn't enough to cover for the snoozefest that we're served. I probably shouldn't even have reviewed it, but Pyun's a Hall of Famer, and we gotta take the good with the bad, and the bad with the very bad. Again, Pyun is the only DTVC Hall of Famer ever to comment on the blog, and we love him for that, but I have to be honest and call it like I see it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0196181/

2 comments:

  1. "Wrecking Crew" was the other film in the "Urban Trilogy" which that film makes up with this one and "Corrupt". Wrecking crew was one of the first films I reviewed on my blog and still one of the worst.

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  2. Albert Pyun actually left a comment on my Radioactive Dreams, where he discussed what happened with those, and I'm glad you commented, because I probably should've appended this post sooner. He shot all the Urban films at once, and flew them back to LA via Air France. Air France actually lost one of the crates, containing half of each film. He tried his best to piece something together, but the result is something he's not happy is out there with his name attached.

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