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, June 21, 2010

Unrivaled (2010)


I'll be honest, I'm not sure how I ended up with this film. I mean, I know how I got it, it came from Netflix; and obviously, in order to get a film from Netflix, I have to put it in my queue, which I did. I think, because it was a new release, I had it really close to the top of the queue, which is filled with movies that either aren't out yet, or have waits of various amounts of time attached to them. Anyway, I got the e-mail telling me to expect Unrivaled, and that was that-- until I pulled it out of the sleeve and saw "2 hr. 5 min." for the running time. What? Considering the horror shows Hector Echavarria's last few films have been on here, I was floored. I actually even considered sending it back without watching it. I mean, 2+ hours of a Hector Echavarria MMA film? Can I handle this?

Luckily Unrivaled had its runtime mislabeled, and it was only in the 100 minute range. It has Echavarria as a kind of MMA Rocky who's living life in the dumps, losing money to bookies he can't pay because he bets on himself in underground fights and loses, and the money he makes as a barback at a local strip club doesn't off-set his bad fighting. In a crazy turn of events, a major MMA organization is holding a reality show-style tournament where four unknown fighters compete for a shot at the champ, "Sugar" Rashad Evans. Echavarria's geeky friend signs him up without his permission, and the film looks like it's doing a good job working the Rocky paradigm angle. That's until a bookie that appeared in the beginning becomes a bigger figure, tries to fix fights and sends people out to run over Echavarria's geeky friend-- or something like that. And as if things couldn't get convoluted enough, the guy from Da Vinci's Inquest is really overdoing it in the Burgess Meredith role. Luckily enough loose ends fly together fast enough to get us to the inevitable Rocky ending.


I don't know where to go with this. Of the Echavarria films we've done, this is one of the better ones after Confessions of a Pit Fighter. I think it's that film that has kept me going back for the punishment I endure with each successive Echavarria effort, because I want what I got that first time. We were close here, but the film makers (Echevarria didn't direct this one, but he co-wrote it) couldn't trust that the Rocky paradigm was working well enough. They had to throw in fixed fights and muggings staged by the bookie that Echavarria's character was into for a bunch of cash. It took what was pretty good: Echavarria's character's shot at redemption and his chance to realize his true potential; and turned it into a big ol' mess that reminded me more of the Echavarria films that have irked me. Too bad, really.

The other reason I've been all about Echavarria's MMA movies: all the UFC stars he loads them with. This time he had Nate Marquardt, Keith Jardine, the aforementioned Evans, and UFC fan favorite Forrest Griffin (who I saw fight in UFC 55 along with Andrei Arlovski). Because I'm low on cash and I don't really want to download the PPVs for free, I haven't been following the sport as much as I used to, so the allure of UFC fighters in a movie isn't as big as it might have been last year at this time.


Echavarria's female lead was played by Jordan Madley. The image of her above comes just before her love scene where she gets totally naked, and as I'm sure I've mentioned before, I often listen to the commentary as I capture images from the movies I review, just to gain a little insight. As always, the two guys we had here (not Echavarria though), talked about their film the way everyone else talks about Contempt, but the best came when they talked about Jordan's nude scene. Do they expect us to believe them that that nude scene was good for her character's development? We aren't ignoramuses. We know that a love scene would be perfectly fine without either actor getting naked, and that the only reason they had her get naked was to have her in the film naked-- which is fine, they just need to call a Spade a Spade, and not insult our intelligence.

The other thing they were so amped on was how great their fight scenes were. Did they see Undisputed 2? I'm not saying Unrivaled had awful fight scenes, and maybe they took as much work to produce as the people in the commentary said, but I'm not sure they should be polishing their brass button as much as they seemed to be. By all means, be proud of the work that was produced, but guys, Unrivaled wasn't the only martial arts movie ever made. There were plenty before it that had better fight scenes, and I'm sure there will be plenty after that will have better. In fact, this didn't even have the best fights of any Echavarria movie, Confessions of a Pit Fighter has that distinction.


You might recognize this guy from those Verizon FiOS commercials. He pretty much plays the same character in this as he does in those, only here he's an annoying, snarky, announcer, as opposed to an annoying, snarky FiOS technician selling a service in a commercial. Does anyone understand this phenomenon? Snarky and annoying does not make me want a product-- in fact it makes me want it less. In our area, Comcast has counter ads where they use the guy from the USPS Postal Service commercials as the annoying FiOS guy, and he's actually less annoying than the guy he's making fun of.

This movie isn't good enough to recommend, and I actually think listening to the commentary made me like it less, which usually isn't the case, because more often the commentary explains why something was bad and gives me cause to let them off the hook, while in this case, the commentary about the nude scene and the fights made me less forgiving. The number one positive I took away from Unrivaled was that Hector Echavarria showed me why I liked him so much in Confessions of a Pit Fighter, so maybe that's enough.

For more info:


  1. Yeah, one of the golden rules for DTV films is that they usually shouldn't have a running time for more then 100 minutes, let alone over 2 hours. Anyways there's another MMA film that just came out last week-Circle Of Pain with Kimbo Slice and Dean Cain just in case you're interested in checking it out.

  2. Mr. Connoisseur,

    Thank you for your review. I would, however, like to make a suggestion that perhaps next time before resorting to name calling you do your homework. "Kara's body double" was included in both the credits and the imdb page. Not to call you an ignoramus or anything.

  3. I don't know who the hell you think you are coming on here anonymously and popping off like you have some kind of a soap box you deserve to be standing on. Whether a body double is used or not, my point was that the nude scene was gratuitous, and for the film makers in the commentary to pass it off like it was used for "character development" assumes that we as viewers are ignoramuses. If that's name calling, well, then the shoe fits-- wear it. Maybe you should take your soap box somewhere else, Mr. Anonymous.

  4. how don't like your little review bloggie thing challenged. hahaha...75% OF THE MOVIE WAS GRATUITOUS!! Gratuitous violence, gratuitous nudity....and that's what 99% of us signed up for when watching it! MY point Mr. Connoisseur (clearly loosely termed) is that the actress was obviously not convinced into a nude scene by being told it was good for character development because she, herself did not do the nude scene. By stating that "the rest of us aren't ignoramuses" insinuates that she was. I'm sure you as a "writer" understand that device. I just think that's unfair and unnecessary. With a cousin as an actress I'm well aware of people on their "soap boxes" ie; movie blogs and websites (soap box usually meaning parent's basement where they eat their mac and cheese after their minimum wage shift job ends, jerking off to girls like Jordan and then typing their useless opinions with their sticky fingers while their parents scream to turn down the ACDC). Hmmm.....comfortable, huh? Must be just the right size that shoe! Enjoy...take it out for a walk...the sun actually shines outside that basement Mr. Connoisseur.

    Ignoramus (Noun)

    (n) ignoramus, know nothing, uneducated person (an ignorant person). Someone who watches "Unrivaled" expecting "Citizen Kane".

  5. bad....Guns N' Roses not ACDC.

  6. Okay, I have a few minutes while my Easy Mac is cooking in the microwave, so I'll just pop on my computer and respond to your comments-- mom will yell down for me when it's done anyway.

    First off, if you can't see that "Direct to Video Connoisseur" is supposed to be tongue and cheek, there isn't much left that I can do for you. I do see it didn't take long for your agruement to devolve into a mess of baseless attacks, still hidden behind an anonymous tag. If it makes you feel better to think of me as a fat kid eating mac and cheese and... well, I won't repeat the other stuff you said, because it grosses me out to think that you've been imagining me as a fat kid with mac and cheese all over me doing that while listening to AC/DC-- or rather Guns N' Roses.

    Second, I agree that Unrivaled was 100% gratuitous, and I never said anything about the actress being dumb, I said, very clearly, that I get a kick out of the people who make these films talking about their movie like it's, to use your example, Citizen Kane, and a part of that is trying to pass off a gratuitous nude scene as "character development". It's that mentality that assumes the viewer is an ignoramus. I'm not sure how much clearer I can make that, but considering this is my third try, hopefully it will be a charm.

    If you feel the need to reply again, by all means, make cracks about me being overweight (which I do need to drop about ten pounds before I go out to Colorado and hit some 14ers next month), or how I live in my parents' basement (I do have a bunch of stuff stored down there), or even how I enjoy Mac and Cheese (which is amazing when made with extra sharp cheddar and paired with a quality Malbec-- not more than a $10 bottle, of course, I only make minimum wage), but if you insist on getting sexually graphic I will have to delete your comments. I didn't do it this time because I figured I'd give you the benefit of the doubt. Now if you don't mind, I hear my mom calling. Hopefully she'll touch up my mullet with her Flobie.

    I showed a buddy of mine your initial comments and my response, and he predicted what your response to that would be-- only he didn't expect you to get so graphic.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. I should probably point out, Mr. Anonymous, considering you didn't pick up on the sarcasm in my blog's use of the word "connoisseur" in its title, that what Mr. Kenner just wrote is also sarcastic.

    I stand by what I wrote in the post, and I stand by my defending that from an erroneous attack in an anonymous comment, whether you think it's cute or not. The fact that your only recourse was to invent an abhorrent scenario regarding who you think I am as a person proves not only the fatuity of your initial arguement, but also lets everyone know the kind of person you are, which I think Mr. Kenner was pointing out, albeit in an exaggerated fashion.

    Now I have to get back to watching The Jersey Shore.

  9. I can't believe how many typos I had. I just couldn't wait to write such. I'm especially upset on how I spelled words like "aggression" and such. My loner CPU sticks. See that's me not reading such over before hitting the publish button.

  10. All right, Mr. Anonymous, I altered a couple lines in the paragraph to clear up any confusion as to whom my opinion was targetd towards. I hope that makes you feel better. Now, considering how nice a day it is, I need to go back down to the basement and hide for the rest of the day.

  11. I removed Kenner's comment, because it was somewhat graphic, but if you'd like to read it, because it is awesome, click here. Not meant for children, of course. Also, I kept it in context so it can be fully understood.