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.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blackbelt (1992)

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I found this on Netflix when I was looking for more Don "The Dragon" Wilson to review. I'd heard good things about it, which is something of a rarity when talking about D "The D" Dubs' films. This is yet another Roger Corman produced Wilson effort as well.

Blackbelt has Wilson as a former cop who runs a Karate dojo and does PI work for the needy. An up and coming pop star comes to him when a crazy fan (an amazingly mulleted Matthias Hues) starts stalking her and cutting off people's fingers. Wilson is reluctant at first, but he's won over, and finds she not only has Hues as an issue, but an abusive boyfriend, and a mob boss who owns her record label, and neither are happy with her right now either.

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This was pretty good. A decent 1990s DTV actioner. Yes, there could've been more action, and the fight scenes could have been better in spots, but overall it worked. The dialog and acting were atrocious, which with the solid action quotient, actually enhanced the overall viewing experience. That means, though, that this is more of a great bad movie to make fun of, than it is a solid piece of work. Where this film is bad, though, is that it sells itself as this great showcase of martial arts talent, when really we only get them in one scene at the end, where Wilson has to fight a bunch of them, and it's not as good as it could be. I can think of Jeff Wincott in Martial Outlaw in a similar scene, only he really killed it. As a film on its own, it was good movie to make fun of; but based on what they were selling: a battle royal with tons of real life martial arts title holders, it was a bit of a bait and switch.

This is some of Wilson's best stuff. I loved his one-liners, which is rare for him, because usually the scripts he's working with in concert with his less-than-stellar acting ability precludes us from enjoying one of the best aspects of the bad action film. In his first scene, he beats up a pimp, busting his face, then kicking him in the nuts, letting him know "the vasectomy's free." His martial arts were on point as well, and that's what we look for when we sign on for one of his films. I could've done with less bad acting, especially in his scenes with the pop star, because I want more of him fighting; but he did a great job.

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Wow, Matthias Hues. Look at that ape drape. It might be extensions, but who cares? What's great too, is Hues plays such a bad baddie, that we root against him, despite his fantastic beaver pelt. Even better, he cuts his own finger off before the end fight with Wilson, and then the finger grows back-- at least that's the only explanation for him having ten fingers for the entire battle. It had to be the power of his magnificent mane.

The pop star's acting and dialog was all over the place, which actually worked because her character was supposed to have been abused by her father. It's one of the only times I can remember when a bad script actually made the role more realistic, but it took moments when she would've seemed unnatural in her reactions and mood swings, and instead created a manic element in her personality, which really worked based on her character's past. Of course, they betray all this by having her wielding a pistol with the expertise of someone who's spent countless hours at the shooting range. It just reminded me that her character worked by accident, not because the scriptwriters did a good job with it.

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The reason they gave for why the pop star was comfortable with the gun was that her father was a police officer, and she said it to Wilson when he asked if she could handle the weapon in a manner that was like "duh, of course I can use a gun." People do this with me all the time because my father is in construction. "Oh, you must be able to do this or that, right?" No, I write a bad movie blog, am trying to sell a novel, and have a degree in anthropology with a minor in German. If you need me to look at a kinship chart, have some German to translate, want to know what Dolph Lundgren movie to watch, or need someone to proofread something, I'm your man. Got a deck to build? Sorry, I can't help you.

This was a fun time. I wouldn't buy it, and I'm not even sure you should go out of your way to put it on your Netflix queue, but if you've seen most of the other films I've reviewed here at the DTVC, and you're looking for something new, why not go for it. I would put it as a second or third option for a bad movie night.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103825/

14 comments:

  1. This movie was one of Wilson's better efforts. Also I would argue that Matthias Hues was actually the best performance, also you forgot to mention Richard Beymer who was in West Side Story, who played the mobster that muscles in on the singer's career. Which when you see the movie is actually fairly reasonable. I mean he did get her fame and she wants to leave right when she becomes popular. Another thing is why Hues would kick the mobster's asses as well, I mean how would he know they want to kill the pop singer. Also the biggest flaw is the motivation behind Matthias Hues' reason for carnage, mainly his incestuous relationship with his pop star mother. Once again I liked the action sequences, thought the movie was appropriately sleazy and thought the part where Wilson pretends to get shot as hilarious but this could've been awesome as opposed to just plain decent.

    Matthias Hues is the reason the film works at all. I really don't think he was bad at all.

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  2. I agree that Hues gives the best performance, but a lot of that is fueled by the power of that amazing ape drape. He allowed its power to flow through his body, imbuing him with a magnificient acting spirit. It was a thing of beauty to behold.

    The mob boss being dumped by the pop star is interesting, because I think the script writers knew they wrote themselves into a corner with that, hence (that's right, I said hence) the quick trigger from Beymer to put out a hit on her.

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  3. I'm just saying if I was a mobster I'd totally put a hit out on a popstar that I invested in who didn't want to resign right when the millions started raking in. It's only fair. Also it's not like the mobster wasn't giving her cash, she had a very nice home, had a convertable if i'm not mistaken and tons of crap. Like I said the mobster's hand was forced if you ask me. Hell, they didn't even really need the mobster, but then again such gives Wilson more people to fight.

    Also I actually wrote in my draft how Hues' finger magically grows back. I noticed that too. So just so you don't think I'm ripping you off when I review it. I think that continuity error is so big one can't help but notice such. I mean that is up there with Michael Caine in Jaws The Revenge wet clothes goof.

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  4. That's a pretty big error, though aisde form that the film doe sosund pretty good, I remember seeing another film that had a huge eror, the iflm in question being High Voltage-with Antonio Sabato Jr, James Lew, Amy Smart and Lochlyn Munro, the big error was that one of the main characters gets shot in the shoulder from a distance and ends up dying only a couple minutes later, have you ever heard of anyone dying from getting shot in the shoulder? OK maybe it is possible to slowly bleed to death from being shot there if it was with, but dying in only a few minutes, that was just incredibly ridiculous! It was a pretty decent movie aside from that error though-you should check that one out.

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  5. I guess if I was a mobster, and I was being cast aside like that, I'd do some strong arm tactic first. I mean, when she's dead, he gets no money, right? I also got the sense, though the film didn't do a great job with it, that the mobster was conrolling and violent, so he may have given her stuff, but he did it with serious strings attached. She may not have had any choice in receiving those gifts.

    By all means, mention the finger. imdb lists it too, so it's fair game. We all noticed it, and I think you'd be remiss if you didn't bring it up.

    I am looking for more Antonio Sabato Jr. after how great he was in Princess of Mars, so I'll give it a look. I like the William Zabka factor as well.

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  6. Some other Sabato films you might want to check out are:The Chaos Factor, Crash Landing, The Base II, and Hypersonic.

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  7. The Base II I have on Watch Instantly, so it's a good one? I may do it in the near future then.

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  8. This does look pretty good. I had a chance to win this one in a competition but out of the recent Roger Corman releases I opted for Deathsport instead.

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  9. Well I just rewatched it and I believe he had an insurance policy. Which of course makes little sense as one would opt for such after one is a superstar, so such policy is worth maybe 80 grand at the most. Which is a lot of money I guess but it's not like it would be in the mils. Also when you think about this film is sort of a sleazed up version of The Last Dragon meets The Bodyguard.

    It's sort of weird cause I like this movie enough to recommend it (Despite its flaws it is still quite a bit of fun) I keep coming up with holes in the plotline.

    As for the finger scene, I will go ahead and mention such. However this goof is beyond noticeable. I mean sometimes you have to look for such but this one hits you so obviously it's beyond ridiculous. Especially since the camera lingers on the guys fists and fingers when he grasps swords.

    Also is it just me or does the Dragon seem like the least likely person to have the name Jack Dillion?

    Another thing, I love how mad Shanna gets at The Dragon for punching the manager our when it was clearly self defense. Indeed said pop star Shanna is probably the sluttiest character ever written on film, indeed she only wants The Dragon because he won't sleep with her, then she tells him it's over and it clearly isn't until Matthias Hues intervenes. Indeed Hues would've probably had a better shot at the broad if he had just sent her flowers. She really is quite unlikable, obviously a pre-cursor to the pop stars of the future.

    Seriously, she makes Kelly Bundy seem like a nun.

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  10. Deathsport was probably the better call, but this wasn't bad either.

    I liked the crazy reaction the pop star had to Dragon punching her boyfriend, because it added that element that that was a messed up chick. The problem is, I know that was on accident, and the uneveness in her character was due to a flawed script.

    I missed the insurance policy part, but that makes sense. Everyone has insurance policies in these movies, and only in a classic like Double Indemnity is there an issue with it.

    Again, as far as the finger goes, it was the power of the mullet that allowed for it to regenerate. I thought that was obvious, but maybe thats just me.

    And does Jack Dillon sound any weirder than Don Wilson? Maybe if he was Jack "The Dragon" Dillon? Hahahaha

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  11. I always liked this one; it's also worth checking out the Maria Ford classic 'Angel of Destruction,' which is an almost word for word remake of 'Black Belt,' with Ford in the lead. I think it's probably better than its source material.

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  12. Yeah, I've been meaning to check out Angel of Destruction. I don't really have any Maria Ford up here.

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  13. Saw this ages ago. Going to definitely buy a copy soon to see The Dragon vs. Hues fight again.

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  14. Oh yeah, I can't think of a movie that was more made for you to review.

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