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.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tiger Claws (1992)


Tiger Claws is one I've been looking to get after for a while now, it's just been a matter of getting my hands on it, which I finally did, along with the other two in the series. Obviously the number one reason I wanted it was for DTVC Hall of Famer Cynthia Rothrock, as after China O'Brien and Rage and Honor, it's the Tiger Claws movies she's probably best known for (maybe Lady Dragon or Martial Law too). There's also Bolo Yeung, and the need to review more Jalal Merhi films. All reasons why this was a must do.

Tiger Claws has Rothrock as a rookie cop trying to make her way out of the low-level vice circuit and into bigger deals, and she sees her chance when a serial killer in town is targeting martial arts experts. The chief likes her approach, and has her team up with upper level vice cop Jalal Merhi, who was just suspended for a drug bust gone bad. As they dig, they find the killer practices a dangerous form of martial arts called Tiger, which causes the practitioner to straddle that scary line between crazy and controlled. Merhi once studied Tiger, but stopped when it became too much. Now their only choice is for him to study it again. Will he be able to handle it this time, and if so, will it be enough to take out the serial killer?


This was pretty good. Not the greatest thing ever, but pretty solid. There were moments where the martial arts were great, which is what we want out of the cast involved. Then there were moments where the fighting was lame, and I wondered how that happened with the cast involved. The dialog was atrocious, even for a 90s bad action film. Merhi often stumbled over his lines and ran them all together, making it hard to understand him. Pretty much everyone else that wasn't Bolo Yeung or Cynthia Rothrock sounded like high school kids doing a class project where they made up a mystery movie. It was thick overacting that could be cut with a knife. That kind of thing works if the action's on point, but here it left a little to be desired. Bottom line, a great bad movie for making fun of.

Rothrock wasn't bad, but she wasn't the lead, Merhi was. The problem with that was, Rothrock had all the experience and was better equipped to lead a movie, while Merhi would've been better in the supporting role, a la Richard Norton in China O'Brien. It just didn't work that she was supposed to be some kind of a rookie, especially when Merhi was flubbing his lines. I think the next two films for Ms. Rothrock will be the last two films in this series, considering I have them at my disposal right now. From the start, her catalog has been the hardest to get my hands on, with her films having been purged by Netflix long before a lot of the others. I was hoping with the release of Undefeatable, a lot of those other out of print films would make their way back onto the shelves, but so far not so good.


I imagine it's time I finally tagged Bolo Yeung. I'm not sure what took me so long, maybe it's because he has so few films up; but still, he's Bolo Yeung. (As of right now, we've reviewed Breathing Fire, where he dresses like a woman, and then his two Van Damme films came up in our Van Damme movie night post.) That might change, because I'm looking to get my hands on the Shootfighter movies, and obviously Tiger Claws II is on the docket. As far as this one goes, he spent a good chunk of the film painting a wall in the abandoned theater his fellow Tiger students were training in. As Merhi would demonstrate his martial arts skills, Yeung would periodically turn around from his work and laugh. I'd like to sample that and splice it into various other movies, just Bolo Yeung turning around and laughing at something.

This will be the fifth Jalal Merhi film we've reviewed at the DTVC, though only the second, after Guaranteed Overnight Delivery, that he's had a major acting part in. He wasn't bad as far as martial arts goes here, but acting wise he was no where near as proficient as he was in that other flick. The other thing was he had a ponytail, which was bad enough, but when he went out on the town with Yeung and a fellow Tiger student and had his hair down, he looked like a horrible hair band reject. Cut your hair damn it.


If you remember, just last week when reviewing The King of the Kickboxers, I discussed the art of the police chief in the bad action film, and how well it was done there. Here is where it was done as stereotypically badly as humanly possible. This guy overacted everything, yelled when it seemed unnecessary-- pretty much everything you'd expect someone with no acting skills whatsoever to do as that kind of police captain, or everything you'd expect someone who was a decent actor but was overdoing it to do. It was ridiculous, but plenty fun to make fun of.

Based on what one has to go through to get it, it's not exactly worth it. If you can find it used on the cheap, go for it; and if Netflix or something like that ever gets it again, go for it too; and if it's ever on TV, DVR it; but if you have to spend a lot of money, ie more than $5, I'd pass. It seems like it should be a lot better than it is, and it's still okay, but still okay doesn't cut it when it could've been awesome.

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  1. Tiger Claws is one of those movies I actually wholeheartedly recommended. I loved the sequence where this guy's TV show is playing as he brags about how tough he is, only to see Bolo Yeung beat him to death. If there was one flaw, it was just how one sided the final fight sequence between Yeung and Merhi was. Having Merhi's arm handcuffed was stupid. As was having Bolo then tie his arms together. Both titles I guess are fairly obscure but with Universal releasing such PM titles there is just no excuse period. I'd probably buy Tiger Claws again, I certainly have to see it again in order to review it. Not so with Martial Law II in which I have on VHS. Indeed another title is Mission Of Justice which once again is not out yet, Universal needs to get their butts in gear and release some bargain bin discs. Otherwise I will go the downloading route.

    Tiger Claws II was really bad. Like it sucked the big one, the biggest flaw was turning Bolo into some type of wildcard character and making it revolve around some dimensional gate which didn't add anything interesting, Evan Lurie was in it and he's always good for a few unintentional laughs but it was pretty awful. Tiger Claws III was actually sort of fun in a so bad it's good way, Rothrock was pregnant during filming so she doesn't have many fight sequences but the slack is picked up by Loren Avedon who makes for quality bad guy regardless of how ridiculous his character is, as he plays an evil magician who unleashes demons to wreck vengeance on Toronto. It was pretty horrid but it was campy and some of the fights were good, also it was nice to see Carter Wong in the film. Carter Wong was a kung fu theater mainstray and was also fun in his role. Merhi as usual was the weakest link, indeed one seems to notice that Jalal Merhi is always the weakest link in whatever movie he's in. Which is too bad because he's the only middle eastern action star making movies at any time.

  2. As for the Lindsay Lohan, I put that there are better movies to cover, I will not of course abandon the website, but I must admit that I won't exactly be waiting with baited breath for it to be reviewed. I think the thing about Lohan, is that she took her career and completely flushed it down the toilet. I mean certainly Corey Haim did a lot of the same things but the thing about Haim is that he always remained likable through out his addiction, indeed Lohan crashed cars, was so difficult to work with on set that she deliberately gave up her career. Corey Haim meanwhile faced the hardships of becoming an adult with no takers in the film biz. Indeed he was actually sort of making a comeback with Crank 2, but what makes Haim's story so sad is that he was a nice guy who got hooked on drugs. Lohan is a cunt who did drugs and sabotaged her own career. Indeed Haim didn't do anything of note after License To Drive, as films like Dream A Little Dream 1-2, Blown Away, Fast Getaway 1-2, Demolition High/University and Last Resort were made specifically as the best he can get. Lohan was working with top A-list talent and threw it all away because she was partying. Yes Haim did so later on the throwaway movies but his co-stars Corey Feldman and Nicole Eggert actually went beyond the call of duty to help him, Lohan is hated by all her co-stars. I don't know, I guess I just don't see Lohan as a celeb that is sorry, or even very nice, leaving me rather indifferent. Meanwhile someone like Corey Haim, you wanted to see saved and when I saw him in Crank 2, I hoped he could pull of a comeback. Lohan would just completely blow off shoots, piss off her co-stars and got black listed by directors because of a lack of professionalism. Indeed notice how she's not doing much even more in the DTV crowd (Well I guess she does have Machete, but I would argue Steven Seagal, Don Johnson, Robert DeNiro, Jeff Fahey and Danny Trejo are bigger selling points) I am not at all sympathetic to her cause, in fact my only sympathy is just how much of a cunt her mother her is, and how much of a vulture she is by using Lindsay's sister as a back up meal ticket, in case L.L overdoes it on nose candy one day. Like I said I really don't like her much, but I'll read the review, I doubt i'll comment on it as I have no desire to see it.

    I always saw Direct To Video as more of a medium for those that Hollywood gave a raw deal to. You know like the Judd Nelsons, Michael Pares, Dolph Lundgrens and so forth.

  3. Well, tell us how you really feel, Mr. Kenner. I will say, in Lindsey Lohan's defense, that it's wrong to chastise her for the same things you're being understanding to Haim for having gone through. I don't think any of us can really know what it means to be the family bread winner at 12, or to have mom living vicariously through us and living off us, unless we've lived through that.

    As far as me reviewing her film, I may do it on my Tumblr account so the people who are curious to see what I'd say can check it out, but I won't review it here. Most people come to this blog looking for a certain kind of film, and I Know Who Killed Me is closer to that, but something I personally don't want to review because of the content; but I owe it to the people who read this site (like yourself) to repay that readership by reviewing the kinds of films you and everyone else wants to see. It's like our own social contract: I won't do films like I Know Who Killed Me as long as I also don't do films like Labor Pains.

  4. While Lohan admittedly has made some pretty poor choices, her out of control behavior can be mostly be attributed to her parents, who don't come across as very competent, her mom sounds well-meaning but very naive and tries to exploit her too often, and her dad sounds like one of the biggest assholes in existence, I wouldn't wish him on my worst enemy. With parents like hers, it's no wonder her career took such a turn for the worse, cause your parents are ultimately the people that truly influence you, and if you've got lousy parents, your more thne likely to be a little unstable at times, not saying that Lohan dosen't deserve blame for her choices, just trying to put things in perspective. And I actually do feel sorry for her, especially after her relationship with Samantha Ronson took such an ugly turn. Anyways she's going to be in Robert Rodriguez's Machete film later this year, so I wouldn't necessarily say her career is completely over just yet, anyways I can't wait to see her in that film!

  5. I definitely agree with you Michael. It's one thing to call Seagal to the carpet for the allegations against him, or take issue with Chuck Norris' Birther political stance, but Lohan is in neither category, and if we had sympathy for Haim, we have to have it for her as well.

    I should point out before the conversation goes much further that my putting the poll up there was less about Lohan and what she's about, and more about how everyone would react to me reviewing a girly comedy about Lohan pretending to be pregnant, just because it was DTV. Like I said, I didn't even plan on reviewing it, it was more to just test the waters and get an idea of how far I could go before I alienated the readership-- without actually going there. I figured I'd get way more people picking the first one, and am plesantly surprised by how many people have picked number three instead. If anything, it shows I should use the polls more often to gauge attitudes, along with other things like reader comments-- which are still the number one way to get my attention.

  6. My point however is that Corey Haim remained likable through out his career. Lindsay Lohan has never really been all that likable. She's not as annoying say Paris Hilton but you know she is pretty irritating.

    There's just something about her that rubs me the wrong way. Corey Haim always seemed like a nice guy, Lohan just seems like a bitch. I don't know, but I'm no fan of hers.

  7. Well she dosen't come across that way to me, though are plenty of other people who I like as actors but would never want to meet them in person, like Stephen Baldwin, Sean Penn, and Jon Voight, they all sound like real dickheads.

  8. It's not even that she's a party girl that bothers me, for instance I think Tara Reid seems like a nice person. I don't know, unlike say Sean Penn (I always liked Chris Penn more), Jon Voight always seemed pretty cool, Gary Busey is crazy but still somewhat endearing , indeed maybe I'll see Lohan in something and feel extremely bad for her. I will watch Machete.

    It's just just not only do I not care for her (If you want to know someone I can't stand, Paris Hilton,Carlos Mencia,Jennifer Lopez, Dane Cook and Mancow. Indeed I don't even hate her, I just don't like the type of movies she's in and I hate her music. In anycase I don't really even hate her, I just don't think we should celebrate her at the same level, especially when there are plenty of Judd Nelson, Michael Pare etc to review out there. Maybe if Judd Nelson had 12 movies reviewed, and Pare at 18 or so, but prior to that no way.

    Like I said, I don't care one way or another, I'd actually be more interested in I Know Who Killed Me, which has a hilariously dumb title.

  9. Yeah I get what you're saying, there's alot of underrappreciated actors and actresses out there that deserve recognition, and your right about Tara Reid, personally I think she's alot smarter then she lets on(Hilton also said in one interview that she was only "acting" stupid to gain attention, not sure what to say about that) as for Voight, well he's said alot of stupid things plus he also once had a production company-Crystal Sky Pictures, which was responsible for making some pretty horrible films, including those godawful Baby Geniuses films, so I have a pretty strong resentment against him for that. I really like Lopez, though I do wish she would give up on romantic comedies, I don't find either Mencia or Cook very funny(I think Cook's actually better at acting then he is at comedy), but I can't say I really hate them, and I have absolutely no idea who the hell Mancow is, but with a horrible name like that, it's probably better that way!

  10. Mancow is a right wing talk show host out of Chicago.

    That's a link to where you can watch him get waterboarded. I actually respect him for that, because he took Keith Olbermann's challenge to be waterboarded before he comments on whether it's torture or not (we're talking about you Sean Hannity!)

    The main point we're getting at here is that Mr. Kenner's personal views aside, his opinion is he'd rather me review some other actors than do a DTV film just because it has a famous person who usually doesn't do DTV work. I will say, one Lindsey Lohan film isn't going to be the reason Pare and Nelson get fewer films up, it will be the Hong Kong Cinema series I do in June-July.

    Still, when he said he'd simply boycott the post by not commenting, that makes the biggest impression on me. Over the past couple months, only Quiet Fire didn't get any comments, which means it'll be a long time before I do another LHJ/PM Entertainment film again, even if it has Robert Z'Dar. Being active and commenting is a great way of influencing what I review, and not commenting can sometimes be just as potent.

  11. Yes but the HK binge is just so freakin worth it. Although I must admit i'm disappointed by the lack of Story Of Ricky in said binge. You would also have to revirew Crying Freeman.

    As for Lohan...I'm not boycotting to be an asshole but rather I just have no interest in such a movie. It would be like if you reviewed Lifetime Channel specials. Just not my thing.

    As for Quiet Fire, honestly I've never seen it or heard of it. Otherwise I would have.

  12. Yeah, I didn't see Quiet Fire either, though I definitely do plan on seeing it as i'm trying to see every single PM Entertainment film. If you want to get more comments on PM films, you gotta review stuff like Epicenter as most people aren't too fond of early PM films like Quiet Fire, even I have to admit that some of their early films were pretty terrible, like Repo Jake, Ring Of Fire and Coldfire, all of which were very boring films with very little action(though the Ring Of Fire sequels were pretty good)

  13. Epicenter is coming in two weeks, so you won't have to wait long there. Sometimes I do have to review films people think are boring too, just because the goal here is not only to celebrate great DTV work, but also warn people of the ones that aren't so great. Ring of Fire would be an example of that, if only it hadn't fallen out of print and off my Netflix queue.

    Boycott maybe wasn't the right word to use, but the idea is the same-- if you're not interested you won't bother, and if I review too many films people aren't interested in, everyone won't bother. What I'm surprised about is how many people on the poll are selecting that they would be interested in me reviewing the Lindsey Lohan film. That's what makes the polls an additional useful tool, on top of people's comments.