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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Friday, April 16, 2010

12 Rounds (2009)

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I remember seeing ads for this when it was in the theater, but those ads didn't last long. Maybe that's because this didn't last long-- at least not in my neighborhood. According to imdb, it had an estimated budget of $22 million, and made about $12 million at the gate here in the States. I imagine, after foreign sales, DVD money, and then charging FX or whatever to air it, they probably just broke even.

12 Rounds stars West Newbury's John Cena as a New Orleans rookie police officer who happens upon an evil criminal mastermind escaping from a crime he just committed with his girlfriend. The girlfriend dies in ensuing the pursuit, and the criminal mastermind vows revenge. Fast forward, and now detective John Cena gets a phone call from the criminal mastermind, letting him know he kidnapped Cena's woman and if he wants her back, he's gotta jump through some criminal mastermind hoops. As the name implies, it's twelve rounds of fun, and if he makes it, his woman lives.

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Ever seen Die Hard 3? Imagine that without Jeremy Irons, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, or any awesomeness. Okay, maybe I'm being a little hard on it. For a bad action movie it was pretty good, I just liked it better when it was called Die Hard 3. What's so wrong with that?

John Cena grew up in West Newbury, Massachusetts, which is only 30 miles away from where I grew up, in Kittery, Maine. People often find it hard to believe that growing up in Maine would mean I grew up so close to Mass too, and for most Mainers that's true, but Kittery is on the southern tip, just on the other side of the New Hampshire border. There's about 16 miles between Kittery and the Mass border, and West Newbury isn't far on the other side of that. The neighboring Newburyport is actually considered part of the same geographic area as Kittery, known as the Seacoast, and it has the closest Boston commuter rail stop to us. Anyway, enough of the geography lesson, but it was necessary to set up the next paragraph...

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...Because John Cena in this film represents a certain type of dude I grew up with, and I couldn't get past that. The thick Mass accent, the demeanor-- the only thing he was missing was the Red Sox cap-- it all just felt like this guy who beats his chest about how great "tha Sawwx" are, then gets drunk and starts a fight. Even the look on his face when he was angry was like "yo dude, you wanna go?" For everyone that lives outside of New England, this is the kind of meathead who will try to fight you because you're wearing the hat of the other team that's playing that day; and believe me, he will try to fight you. I've seen this plenty of times at either the Garden or Fenway Park, and people are like "you're not serious, are you? I'm just wearing a Cleveland Indians hat or Ottawa Senators jersey." It's not an intimidation factor either, I'm sure people from everywhere else are just as tough as Bostonians, they just don't fight over something as silly as what team gear someone is wearing. I'm not sure why, but Boston fans have been let off the hook for this behavior, while Philadelphia fans get branded as being horrible.

Now I'm not saying Cena is that guy. I know a lot of his act in the WWE is making fun of that guy (and making fun of "Marky" Mark Walhberg), and people from around here get a kick out of it that much more because we know first hand who he's making fun of; but in a film like this, when he's not doing the over the top thing like he does in the WWE, it just hits too close to home, and my feeling is if I want to see a guy like that, I'll go into any bar on a Saturday and rock a Yankees lid. "Dude, you wanna go?" Hopefully, if he does more films, he'll develop skills that transcend the "dude you wanna go?" element.

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When I reviewed April Fools Day I mentioned the very hot Taylor Cole. She was in this as well, as the criminal mastermind's girlfriend, but I didn't find her as hot as I did in that other film. Cena's woman was played by Ashley Scott, who was on a show based on Batman called Birds of Prey that I didn't even know existed. Anyway, as I was watching 12 Rounds, I wondered: what makes someone take a role like Scott's, where all she is is a damsel in distress? I don't think you could pay me enough to play a part where I spend most of the movie bound and gagged, dragged around at gun point, and helplessly waiting for the hero to save me. As I watched further though, I saw how they sold it to her: by telling her she's a strong woman. Early on in the film she's seen under the sink trying to fix a leak. Later, she's kicking the baddie while Cena fights him. We're supposed to forget the damsel in distress part and focus on the tough chick. I can even see her in the press junkets telling everyone how "strong" her character is. I know this might sound cynical, but it actually has a practical implication as well. Scott now has more to give to future casting directors other than just "wow, I really believed it Ashley when you told that bad guy how he wasn't going to get away with it..."

I think most people outside of the Greater Metro Boston area will find this to be a fun bad action film, no matter how much it rips off Die Hard 3. Also, I imagine a lot of people within the Greater Metro Boston area who are the type of person above will see this and love Cena's character-- or they'll see it and want to fight him. Either way, for me it just brought up a lot of personal memories of local meatheads, so it was more of my issue than any real problem with the film, and for that I can't tell someone else to avoid it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1160368/

7 comments:

  1. Well luckily for me I rarely have to deal with guys like that in Illinois,(i'm also glad I don't have to deal with weekend long blackouts where I live, our blackouts only last a few hours, but those few hours just seem to dra on so much longer wihout electricity, If I had to go without power for a whole weekend, i'd probably go insane!) anyways I agree that it's a poor man's Die Hard 3, but it was still a decent enough watch overall. Also just curious, do you have any plans to review the WWE films See No Evil and The Condemned?

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  2. Yeah, not every guy around here is like that, but Cena is definitely making fun of that type as a wrestler, which works well as a joke, but when we're supposed to take him seriously, he's pretty much every tool at the local bars starting fights with people for no good reason. Not what I want in my action hero.

    I need to see The Condemmed. See no Evil be one to consider, but I wasn't really a big fan, and am not sure I want to revisit it anytime soon.

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  3. Detroit has the most hooligans, I mean they aren't even afraid of pummeling the crap out of athletes. (Pistons/Pacers) Also there was a male cheerleader in 93, In which The Lions won the division that year, anyway after a 10-6 loss to the Bears on Thanksgiving at home (Though we would beat them in Chicago 20-14) a bunch of drunk fans beat up the male cheerleader.

    Anyway Hulk Hogan is possibly the worst wrestler turned actor, I mean watch Thunder In Paradise a couple times.

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  4. Detroit has real hooligans, though, just like Boston has some real ones too. I'm talking about wannabe hooligans, who grew up in the suburbs, and romanticize about "being hard" or this "tough Irish" or "tough Italian" ideal that the real people who really live that life in a place like downtown Detroit would laugh at them about. Again, it's just this whole "dude, you wanna go?" mentality. Jim Rome on his show yesterday referred to him as Likes to Fight Guy.

    I loved Thunder in Paradise. What's better than Knight Rider as a boat? And you know that's how they pitched it to TNT too. Hogan's best work, in my humble wrestling opinion, came when he was Hollywood Hulk Hogan. "Just too sweeeeeeeeet!" Maybe I should do a series of his films for the Wild Card posts...

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  5. Yeah, you should definitely have a Hulk Hogan week or something like that.

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  6. First off, Love your blog. Been a big fan for a while but this is the first time I am commenting. Your blog has opened my eyes to a whole new genre of movies. Keep up the good work.

    I kinda liked 12 Rounds in a mindless fun type of way. Wasn't as good as all the hype WWE gave it but good nonetheless. The character I liked the most was probably the guy from the Shield that was Cena's partner. If you want to do a movie with a wrestler in it, you should do Ready to Rumble with David Arquette and Diamond Dallas Page.

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  7. First off Tim, thanks for the comments, glad you dig the blog, and it's great to have yo aboard. Anything with Diamond Dallas Page sounds great, but I also realized this morning on my walk that we have our own wrestler in the Hall of Fame, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and other than Tough and Deadly a couple weeks ago, he's been pretty neglected lately. I should do a wreslting series though, maybe after the Hong Kong one coming up.

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