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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Unstoppable (2004)

Photobucket

Wesley Snipes had fallen off a bit as far as DTVC reviews goes, mostly because I thought I was stuck with only Hard Luck left. Then, last week, I was going through my Netflix queue (which is pretty large), and I found Unstoppable. This had to be a mistake, right? Why would I leave this one out and do all the others? Well, it wasn't a mistake, somehow I'd neglected it.

Unstoppable has Snipes as a former special forces guy that is mistaken for a CIA agent posing as an FBI agent tracking former CIA agents trying to sell a government drug they stole that causes massive hallucinations and makes the person under its effects very subject to suggestion. The ex-CIA agents inject him with the drug and take him back to a mental hospital to interrogate him to see what he knows, thinking he's an FBI agent that's onto them. Snipes escapes, and all hell breaks loose, and the only one looking out for his best interests is his police detective girlfriend, played by Jacqueline Obradors.

Photobucket

Man, this is a tough one to call. It has some great action, and Snipes really brings it; but it was just weird with the whole Snipes under a hallucinogen, and also there were some serious lulls as the plot was trying to work itself out. I think where this film hurt itself, is Snipes is one of the coolest action leads out there, and a lot of that is taken away by having him under the influence of this drug. We see it in flashes, but when I'm signing on for a Wesley Snipes film, I want it for more than just flashes.

I never got around to seeing Brooklyn's Finest, and it looks like his next potential release, Gallowwalker, was filmed back in 2006, so I'm not sure what any of that means for his once burgeoning DTV career. Oh wait, then there's the yet to be released Game of Death, which has Gary Daniels and Robert Davi. That's what I'm talking about. What I'd like to see from Snipes, that I haven't seen out of any of his DTV fare, is a good old fashioned straight ahead actioner. Too often these films get too caught up in their bad plots, techno music, and Bourne Identity rip-off cinematography and editing. It's okay to be Blade II, especially when the alternative is being dumb and dull.

Photobucket

I wanted to set this review up so it would come after Tough and Deadly for a reason. It's not just the fact that the plots are similar: CIA/special forces guy drugged and let loose on society; it's really what Wesley Snipes has meant to the action genre in general. Just look at what Billy Blanks had to go through in the 80s and 90s to get good starring roles. Wesley Snipes was really the first mainstream African American action hero to have the level of success that he's had, and it's because of him that you have people like Will Smith making the cash he has in stinkers like Bad Boys II.

Jacqueline Obradors is very pretty in this film, even if she's playing a tough police detective. I like that, because often in films like this, the feeling is the female has to be one or the other: hot and tough, or pretty and weak. Recently I had a chance to catch another Obradors film, Soldier Boyz, when it aired on EncoreAction. I must say, I had even less patience for it now than I did when I first saw it. Seriously, let's train some teen killers in ten minutes and send them into a remote area of "Vietnam Today"? What a stinker! though very hilarious. If I can say anything about Unstoppable, even if it didn't work in parts, it was not as bad as that.

Photobucket

Do you recognize Kim Coates? You should, because the guy has been in almost everything. Major That Guy. Another connection to this film and Tough and Deadly, Coates is from the same city as Roddy Piper: Saskatoon. I hear Glass Tiger is from there too. I'd love to see them in concert. ...someday, you'll be shedding your tears...

I could recommend this if you're a big Snipes fan. It's not his best stuff, but he does his best with the material he's given. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, Snipes could've been rescuing a rich girl being held by Cary Tagawa, using a bunch of teen murderers he'd trained five minutes ago, and with one of the kids being named Brophey. Now that would've been rough, eh Mr. Dudikoff?

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0349889/

20 comments:

  1. Yeah I mostly agree, this film was pretty enjoyable but it would've better without all those hallucinations, it felt like they took up half of the running time! It's still better then the dull as dirt Hard Luck and The Contractor though. I'd say Snipes best DTV was The Detonator, followed by Art Of War II(BTW you were incorrect about Snipes being the actor to reprise his role in a DTV sequel, James Belushi reprised his role in two K-9 sequels released in 1999 and 2002 respectively) and The Marksman, Chaos and 7 Seconds were both average. And I'll bet you're probably going to call me insane for saying this but Bad Boys II happens to be one of my all-time favorite action movies.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I actually reviewed one of the K-9 sequels. I think if I made a comment about Snipes being the only one to reprise his role in his DTV sequels, I was saying it in comparison to someone like Van Damme, who hadn't until this recent Universal Soldier flick.

    And yes, you are insane for saying that about Bad Boys II.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Insane and you should be ashamed. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah whatever, I like plenty of widely hated films so i'm used to hearing that, I also happen to like most of Uwe Boll's films.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Uwe Boll is one thing...Michael Bay is another! :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think you can't mistake getting a kick out of with liking, because I get a kick out of Uwe Boll's films, but I don't even think Uwe Boll likes Uwe Boll's films. He likes that german tax credit he used to get.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Soldier Boyz was ridiculous but entertaining with decent production values and lots of action and it was hilarious starting with Dudikoff's buzz cut also you had Tagawa was a great bad guy. So yeah you lose! Game. Set. Match

    ReplyDelete
  8. The fact that the crummy dialog alone didn't offend your sensibilities to the point of hating this means you lose in more ways than you can imagine. Throw in a bunch of tools for a cast, the fact that Tagawa was better in Showdown in Little Tokyo and Bridge of Dragons, and just how stupid the overall premise was, and not only is it game set match, but I win in srtaight sets, only dropping a couple games.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Eh, i've heard WAAAYYYYY worse dialogue in films that actually got a theatrical release(those goddamn Twilight films being one example) and I really fail to see how the premise is stupid, i've heard far worse, and Dudikoff has been in far worse films as well(just wait til you see Ablaze, bet you'll appreciate Soldier Boyz ALOT more after seeing that lousy film)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Before this becomes too much of a back and forth, I should put my last comments in the proper context. Mr. Kenner and I have a long history of back and forth that actually started via e-mail a couple years ago, and so the "game, set, match" jokes were more me giving him a hard time than anything else.

    That being said, you do bring up an interesting point Michael that needs addressing. What does Twilight have to do with Soldier Boyz? I could see if I was extolling the virtues of Twilight's dialog, but I wasn't. Also, one could make the point that, silly as Twilight's dialog was, at least it didn't have that non sequitur element that Soldier Boyz' did. I mean, throughout most of Soldier Boyz, I was saying "did someone miss a line?" And finally, when did I ever say that a theatrical release automatically makes a film better than its DTV counterpart?

    I get that the premise of Soldier Boyz in theory works-- giving inner city youth offenders the structure of the military instead of writing them off as career criminals-- but that's not what you had here. You had a child killer armed with government issue weapons. Again, I don't begrudge anyone saying "I think that's hilarious and that's why I loved that movie", but you can't bring up the premises of other movies being worse and saying "see, Soldier Boyz wasn't that bad."

    I don't mind someone bringing up reviews I made in the past and asking "why did you like such and such, but not this?", and if I review Ablaze and say it worked more than Soldier Boyz, by all means, question me on it; but if I kill Ablaze even worse than I killed Soldeir Boyz, that doesn't suddenly make Soldier Boyz not as bad as it was before just because another one was worse. This isn't grading term papers and being afraid to give the whole class D's, this is reviewing movies, and if they all suck, they all suck.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Tagawa was just as good here as he was in those two films you mention. Also Dudikoff was in total one man army mode. I mean it's no Men Of War but it's one of Dudikoff's more entertaining, I mean it's absurd and yes the kids were annoying but it was just tons of action, which is 75% of everything that counts. It's like someone trying to find believability and depth in the Riki-Oh the proper response to such in a movie that lulzy is that "You're wrong the movie kicks ass."

    You lose. And Ablaze is awful, that's on par with Gale Force. Quicksand was alright though. Soldier Boyz while not as good as Shooter, Human Shield, Silencer (IMO) and Midnight Ride (let alone American Ninja 1-2 and Avenging Force) still is enjoyable.

    Soldier Boyz is the prime definition of Fun-bad. I mean one would be keen to let it go if you hadn't called Out For A Kill one of the best DTD of the 00s, or for that matter your positives for Submerged, Flight Of Fury and Attack Force.

    Indeed Soldier Boyz is so much better than that. Once again Game. Set. Match.

    Also of course we go back and forth it's no fun when we're in total agreement, I mean Siskel and Ebert's best shows were disagreements. And I would give a thumbs up to Soldier Boyz. I recommend it in the same vein I recommend Blackjack and Knock Off. Now I say good day sir.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yeah, Out For A Kill is definitely one of Seagal's worst films by far, along with Out Of Reach, Attack Force and The Patriot(though i'll admit I did sorta like Submerged and Flight Of Fury)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Whoa! Whoa whoa whoa!!! You're questioning the validity of Out for a Kill, are you? Yes, perhaps for the first entire rest of the movie other than the last 5 minutes, it sucked really bad, but in that last five, when he decapitates an old Chinese man from a second storey window by throwing a smaurai sword at him, it's better than almost any movie ever made. Okay, I can give you that some of the other Seagal flicks that I gave cautionary recommendations of, where I said they sucked but if you liked Seagal you might dig them, might be as bad as Soldier Boyz; but I will not, under any circumstances have you tell me that a samurai sword thrown from the second storey decapitation is not infinitely more awesome than anything that happened in Soldier Boyz, I just can't have that.

    That's your game, set, match. Had Dudikoff decapitated Tagawa in a similar fashion, I'd be singing a different tune. As it is, Tagawa's baddie in Bridge of Dragons and Showdown in Little Tokyo was way better, because it wasn't surrounded by "Brophey" and crap like that. I mean, seriously, Brophey?

    [I just saw as I was writing this that Michael is chiming in against Out for a Kill as well. You guys are ridiculous. You'd choose "Brophey" over a second story thrown samurai sword decapitation? What is this world coming to?]

    ReplyDelete
  14. I honestly don't even remember that line from the film at all, who said that line and when was it said? The decapitation scene form Out For A Kill was pretty cool, i'll give you that, but the rest of the film was so mediocre that it just wasn't enough to redeem the film for me. And besides it's still nowhere near as cool as that moment in Soldier Boyz when Monster-the big black guy gets a bag with a rattlensnake put over his head, and he bites the head of the snake off and spits it at his captors and yells "who wants some dessert?" or something like that. That scene was just too awesome for words!

    ReplyDelete
  15. 1 minute of a movie doesn't make for greatness, especially when you can find such scene on youtube without actually having to see it. Out For A Kill was a hideously boring movie, even Seagal vs monks wasn't very good. Indeed I'll argue Belly Of The Beat was better and had the better thing of Seagal shooting arrows and using a sword to cut arrows. Plus the action through out was lame and it was trying hard to rip off Hong Kong flicks but to no avail.

    ReplyDelete
  16. All I can say is, I think it's hilarious that I have to make a case to you guys about why Soldier Boyz was a horrible movie. "Brophey!"

    ReplyDelete
  17. Yeah well like I said, I don't even remember that line at all, so your argument means absolutely nothing to me.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Big fan of Kim Coates. That's very cool you put a spotlight on him.

    When Unstoppable came out, i thought "Wesley Snipes in a straight to vid? that's odd."...then i watched the movie and it was pretty poor at points. Then a glut of Snipes flicks came out all around the same time: The Marksman, 7 Seconds, Hard Luck, The Detonator, etc. His DTV fate was then sealed.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yeah, gotta love the Kim Coates. Snipes has a new one coming out on Tuesday, Game of Death, co-starring Gary Daniels. Hopefully I can get it from Netflix.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Game Of Death looks cool! Wished they had a different title though. I don't think it is a remake of the Bruce Lee movie. Look forward to your opinion!

    The supporting cast is amazing: Ernie Hudson, Zoe Bell, Robert Davi, and Gary Daniels!

    ReplyDelete