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.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Undisputed II: Last Man Standing (2006)

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After how great Blood and Bone was (good enough to make number nine of my Top Ten DTV Films of the 2000s), it was only a matter of time before we got more Michael Jai White up here. I'm not sure what we'll do with Black Dynamite when it's released on DVD Tuesday, because it was given a limited theatrical release, and seems more like an indie flick as opposed a DTV film that tried to make it in the theater. It smells like a wild card post to me, right? But before that happens, White has some DTV films that need reviewing, starting with Undisputed II: Last Man Standing.

Undisputed II has White as Ving Rhames' character in the first one. I didn't see the first one, but from the ads I was under the impression that Rhames was the bad guy. Well he's not here, I mean White isn't, he's the good guy. While in Russia trying to make cash, he's framed for drug possession and sent to a nasty prison, run from the outside by a Russian mobster (wanna guess who framed him?). Anyway, at first he refuses to fight, but then realizes it's the only way he'll get out, so he agrees to fight their champ.

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This was pretty good. There were some weird scenes, like White chained to a metal tower outside, and the other inmates feeding him little peaces of bread. A little too 9 1/2 Weeks for me. The fight scenes were great, though, especially the two bouts between White and the prison champ, Scott Adkins. The prison aspect of it made it less cool than Blood and Bone, because there White could be the man without prison guards beating him down constantly. Overall, though, a good deal.

Michael Jai White is great. It still astounds me that someone like Treach would be crammed into a role like the lead in Art of War III when a solid talent like White would've killed it. Black Dynamite comes out on Tuesday, but I may not get it done then, because of the other films I have to do, especially the comic book ones. Speaking of which, it still annoys me that he was completely wasted in that Dark Knight movie. He'd actually make a great Batman, now that you think of it. As far as Undisputed II goes, again, the prison aspect and his having to succumb to guards and whatnot makes it not as awesome as Blood and Bone, where he just gets to tear it up. Still, his fight scenes are great, and I'm glad they found a way to work his whole skill set into the movie, not just boxing.

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According to imdb, this uses footage that Direct Contact used, which in the beginning also took place in an Eastern European prison. I know these guys are supposed to be tough, but the idea of an Eastern European prison freaks me out, enough to say I'd want nothing to do with going to Eastern Europe just to make sure I'd never end up in one. It's like there's the prison film, the corrupt prison film, and then the corrupt Eastern European prison film, which is just like the hardest of the hardcore. One interesting case is Bloodsport 4: The Dark Kumite, which is filmed in a prison in Eastern Europe, but takes place in a prison in New York. I would say still pretty hardcore, because we all know it ain't New York.

In the first Undisputed, Ving Rhames is playing a Mike Tyson type character, which is interesting, because Michael Jai White played Tyson for a TV movie. Based on the plot of Undisputed II, you could almost see something like this happening to Tyson, I mean think about it: if he was busted abroad for having a bunch of coke, or anything bad, would you be surprised? Would you be surprised if Tyson did or was accused of doing anything? On that note, today is the twentieth anniversary of Tyson losing to Buster Douglas. If you remember that like I do, do you feel old? I remember Mike Tyson's Punch Out became just Punch Out after that, and Buster Douglas had a Sega game for him, which was replaced by an Evander Holyfield one when he beat Douglas.

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I want to make a quick mention of the director, Isaac Florentine. This will be his fifth film reviewed at the DTVC (Savate, Bridge of Dragons, Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon (co-directed final scenes), and Shepherd: Border Patrol). That's a pretty impressive resume, considering Bridge of Dragons, is in my top ten DTV films of the 90s (which will be released soon!), and Shepherd is in my Top Ten of the 2000s. On March 2nd, he has Ninja set to release, which looks good (see the trailer here), and features Scott Adkins, who played the prison champ in Undisputed II, as the hero. That release date is the same date as the much anticipated Bitch Slap.

If you haven't seen this yet, it's worth a look. I'm sure you've seen better, but I know you've also seen worse, which makes this a pretty good deal. The fight scenes are great, the plot maybe less so, but who cares about that? We don't watch movies like these for compelling storylines.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0443676/

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