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] I'd love to check out what you got.



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.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

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


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Debt aka Back to Even (1998)


I first got wind of this when I saw an ad for it on the back of the sleeve of Prayer of the Rollerboys. It looked like it had to be the most amazing thing ever-- I mean, Michael Paré and Lorenzo Lamas, how much more awesome can you get, right? The only way you could screw up a pairing as awesome as that would be to turn it into a suspense/thriller yarn, but why would anyone do that?

The Debt is a suspense/thriller yarn about an expert copy printer, Lorenzo Lamas, who gets into his bookie friend/not friend Michael Paré for a lot of money, and in order to get back to good, he has to find these counterfeiting plates the mob stole from him.


"Okay, here's the deal, I have Michael Paré and Lorenzo Lamas, and I want to make a movie with them. Oh, God no, I wouldn't dream of making an action film, why would I do that? No, I got this rejected Lifetime movie script. Yeah, I figured Lamas and Paré would be perfect. If this works out, I'll hire Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren to star opposite Meredith Baxter-Birney in a film about one woman's struggle to find justice when the system's against her. Oh yeah, it should be great."

Seriously, what were these people thinking? And based on Lamas' then woman Shauna Sand getting a high billing, I have to assume he had something to do with the making of this bad boy. But who looks at Lamas and says "I see a nerdy printer." Even if he does all right pulling it off-- even if he hits it out of the park, which he didn't do-- it's still Lorenzo Lamas. He needs to be kicking ass all over the place. And Paré was definitely better, but again, would I rather see him as a bookie thug, or toting enough weapons to supply a small rebel movement in a Third World country into an abandoned warehouse to blow up some baddies? We know what the answer to that is, and for some reason, the only assholes who couldn't see this were the ones that made the damn movie.


Do I sound angry? Well, I feel I have every right. Great low-budget action stars like this aren't paired together often, and it just seems like over and over when they are, the result is crummy and they're poorly used. Look at Retrograde, where Dolph and Gary Daniels were wasted together; or even worse, Daniels and Seagal in Submerged. Is it too much to ask for that when I see Lorenzo Lamas and Michael Paré listed, I get a kick ass action film? Apparently the answer is yes.

This is Lamas' twentieth film here at the DTVC, putting him in a tie with Seagal for second all time, and I imagine he'll be passing that soon, since I have other films of his coming down the pike, while all of Seagal's are up, and we're just waiting for the next new one to come out. I also made a bold prediction in the Hawk's Vengeance post that Gary Daniels might end up being the most tagged DTVC Hall of Fame actor ever, and he definitely has a shot, but Lamas could give him a run for his money. I have a few places I might go next with Lamas. There's Blood Angels on Watch Instantly, Lethal with Frank Zagarino in my queue, and the rest of the Snake Eater series I just found on VHS. So many Lamas choices, so little time.


2010 is supposed to be the year of the Paré, and we're still working in that direction, ending in October with an induction for him into the Hall of Fame. The problem is, even though he's been awesome in all the movies of his we've reviewed, the movies themselves have sucked. We need to get that signature film up there to cement his induction. I'll keep working at it, and we'll get it done.

In one scene in The Debt, Lorenzo Lamas gets kicked in the nuts. I know how he felt, because finding out a movie starring he and Michael Paré is a crummy suspense/thriller yarn was a total kick in the nuts to me. For all you guys out there, I want to save you from that pain, and for all the ladies, if you've ever wondered what all the fuss is about with the whole getting hit in the balls thing, here you go, have at it.

For more info:


  1. Lamas was also in that Sci-fi original film Raptor Island, and surprisingly this isn't the first time that Pare's been in a boring film with another DTVC hall of famer, he was also in a really boring film called Warriors with Gary Busey, you know is bad when even Busey seems bored,needless to say I threw that film in the trash right after watching it.

  2. I always found this movie enjoyable in a absurd way mainly because of how hilarious Lamas looked. This was made in the vein of Jill The Ripper, Quicksand and Until Death,Redemption to give musclemen a chance at real acting.

    There is an action flick with Pare and Lamas called Killing Streets with Pare playing twin brothers but this is even worse. Pare for me made the movie watchable. His acting performance could've fit in a real high level drama and it would've fit in perfectly, Lamas the center of the film just wasn't good enough to meet Pare's excellent performance or in fact screen presence. Indeed Pare would've fit in perfect in a Better Tomorrow or heroic bloodshed film he's that good at selling his character.

    Indeed when you see his film noir take in Men Of Means you'll be surprised at how well he works. I think Dudikoff worked very well in Quicksand, as did Lundgren and Van Damme in Jill The Ripper and Until Death respectively.

    But in the case of Lorenzo Lamas and Don "The Dragon" Wilson they just aren't strong enough actors to carry a change of pace role like the others I mentioned.

    Indeed Lamas looked utterly ridiculous here, he was about as good as he ever gets, but he just looked ridiculous. Indeed you think they would've gone with someone like Eric Roberts or Anthony Michael Hall. Someone who wouldn't draw snickers by his appearance. Indeed the sad part is Lamas wasn't actually bad, it's that we couldn't shake how absurd he looked as a nerd.

  3. Also I take extreme offense to you saying that Direct Contact was in anyway awful.

    That movie is one of Dolph Lundgren's most fun action flicks (better than Command Performance and Universal Soldier 3 and I liked both of these a lot) So you saying Pare being good and all his movies sucking. Shame on you.

    Actually if you want a suggestion for some great Pare, get a copy of Instant Justice (with him and Tawny Kitaen), Streets Of Fire (such only made 5 mill so you're good) Deadly Heroes (with Jan-Michael Vincent!), Blink Of An Eye (I always enjoyed the one man army blinded in battle and then uses his psychic powers to do battle) and World Gone Wild. Of course with the exception of Streets Of Fire, the rest you'll have to go the VHS route but I assure it's freakin worth it.

  4. Yeah, I agree with Kenner, those are pretty good choices, course Warriors is also VHS only but i'd highly reccomend you avoid seeing that one for as long as possible, other Pare films i'd recommend are Strip Search, Sunset Heat, Solar Force, Into The Sun, Empire City, Dragonfight, Moon 44, Falling Fire, Space Rage, and The Last Hour.

  5. I should've been more explicit in my Pare comments-- none of them were a good showcase of what he's about. Direct Contact, if you'll remember, made my top ten of the 2000s; but how much Pare was in it really? Good movie, not enough Pare. Now that that's cleared up, hopefully we can move on.