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.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Bloodmatch (1991)

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Mr. Kenner over at Movies in the Attic brought it to my attention that Bloodmatch was available on Hulu. Sounded like a good idea to me, until I fire it up, and it was all choppy and jumpy. I know it's an issue with my computer, but I can't figure out why Hulu eats up so much RAM or whatever that I can't watch a film, but Netflix Watch Instantly runs fine. I will say that ESPN3.com also has the same issues on my computer that Hulu does, so I know it's not Hulu; but regardless, it was just unwatchable. Anyway, I tracked down my own copy of it, and here it is for you.

Bloodmatch has Albert Pyun mainstay Thom Mathews as a dude whose brother was beaten to death by some kickboxers for not throwing a fight. After torturing Michel Qissi into giving some names of those responsible, he has a nurse he knows help gather the four offending parties, through a combination of guns and chloroform, and tape them to seats in a Las Vegas arena. Matthews' plan is to fight each one to the death, until one gives up exactly who is responsible.

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Let's start with the good. Solid fight scenes, an 81-minute runtime, and a boatload of genuinely great cheese. Perhaps best of all was the music, which seemed totally out of place in most places. It was like the sombre music you might find to the intro of a bad 1980s DTV sci-fi movie. Yet this music played over most of the film's best action. Your guess is as good as mine, but I'll take it over the bad Disturbed retreads we forced to listen to in a lot of today's bad actioners. Then there were the one-liners. "I'd love to kick the shit out of your head." Sure, why not, or rather, how awesome is that?

Now for the bad. Even at 81 minutes, there were some scenes of protracted dialog that were excruciating to deal with. If you're asking whether or not I think an 81-minute movie could be shorter, I guess I'd say, try replacing that patch of bad dialog/acting either with some more unintentionally funny stuff-- like people threatening to kick the shit out of people's heads-- or give us more or longer fights. The scene I'm specifically talking about was when the four suspects wake up from their chloroforming to find themselves taped to arena chairs. They just go back and forth with each other, and between the writing and the acting, it feels like it goes on forever. The other complaint I had was a lack of Vincent Klyn and Michel Qissi. First, in Qissi's case, you have the best fighter, and you use him for one scene at the beginning. Second, in Klyn, you have the coolest guy in the movie, and he's barely in his one scene slightly toward the middle. I know it's been almost 20 years since this came out, but maybe Pyun could go back and turn Bloodmatch into a buddy picture featuring Qissi and Klyn.

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Speaking of Pyun, you can tell he was doing his best to put lipstick on a pig here, and I think he did a great job. Considering he didn't write the script, he couldn't help the awful scene in the arena I described above, and I imagine Klyn was only in the scene he was in as a favor to Pyun, essentially adding awesomeness that wasn't originally supposed to be there. Word on the street is that things are going well with the Tales of an Ancient Empire release, so we at the DTVC wish him continued success with that. I think the next film of his we'll review will be Nemesis 2.

Back of Warchild. Seriously. That's right, DTVC favorite Vincent Klyn is back. He's barely in the film, which often seems to be the case, where he's just lending his talents for a bit to help out Albert Pyun. I wonder if Kathryn Bigelow invited him to her Oscar winning party. Can you see Klyn bellying up to the caviar, loading up a cracker, and then someone puts a hand on his shoulder and says "Back off Warchild. Seriously."

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Maybe I'm going way out on a limb here, but it seemed like Pyun was going for some real Film Noir tones, between the music, the way he had the actors recite the dialog, and some of the colors and shots. We know from films like Radioactive Dreams, and the newer Bulletface, that Pyun is a fan of Noir. Whether he did it on purpose or I'm imagining things (or being a Pyun apologist if you're so inclined), it just feels like he tries to make lemonade out of the lemon projects he's sent, and maybe in these earlier films that he did that it isn't so evident. It's one thing I think that's great about his current situation, where he seems to have more creative freedom and can make more of the pictures he wants. What's too bad, though, is that these new films aren't available on Netflix, where a wider audience would have access to them.

This is early-90s action cheese as only Pyun can do it. Bloody, great fights, funny dialog, and out of place music. Maybe I'm softer on these films than I am their modern counterparts, and I'm good with that accusation. If this film were made today, with someone other than Pyun at the helm (Isaac Florentine would be one exception, though), it would be ten kinds of nasty wrong, from the music, to the fights, to just the whole approach to the material. That's why you should skip those films, get someone with a nice computer that you can hook up to a nice TV, and stream Bloodmatch on Hulu for your bad movie night. I think you'll have a fun time.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101482/

8 comments:

  1. Another defender here and i'm glad we agree. I was sort of afraid I was the only one who appreciates this as the cheese-tastic delight it is. I think the biggest flaw I had was with Thom Mathews' character (Personally I thought he was the second coolest character) What it seemed like to me was that Pyun had the whole kids angle and by having Mathews taunts him by saying he killed them was wrong for a hero to do as well as how brutal he was with sympathetic leads. Although personally I thought Benny The Jet Urquidez. Or it was unsettling to see a man completely take a woman apart in a fight. Although he pretty much wins the fight but gets owned when he tries to kiss her arms. Another problem I couldn't figure out if Thom Mathews was Wood Wilson, or a cyborg named Brick Bardo or a kickboxing brother who was attacked and was made into cyborg. This is clearly the statement and one that stinks of tampering. I hope Pyun explains this, because of all the movies that need explanation as to what happened this is the one that I feel the most.

    That said, Bloodmatch actually has probably one of the best action sequences in DTV in terms of excitement. And the fight sequence in general was the one with Fender (Klyn, I always see him as Fender go figure.) and Thunderwolf. Indeed the fight sequence is highly ridiculous (all the gang members are martial artists are kung fu experts) but the chase sequence is just awesome. The music was great in that it was so wrong it ended up haivng a surreal impulse.

    You notice how Pyun has some of the best chases in action movies. The Fender chase in Bloodmatch, Fender's pirates chasing after Van Damme, the shootout that opens Nemesis, The opening fight sequence of Kickboxer 4 with the wife (not really a chase but the way Tong Po opens it is just breath-taking) I don't care what anyone says Pyun deserves his status is a master of direct to video cinema.

    It should also be noted with Kickboxer 2, Kickboxer 4, Bloodmatch and Cyborg (followed the same formula) showcase Pyun as extremely talented at the martial arts flick. I mean sure Nemesis and Sword and The Sorcerer are a lot of fun...but this is where he shined the brightest.

    Like I said, though Bloodmatch has its problems I really enjoy it. I think it's because of the action.

    I would totally get this on DVD. (I have it on VHS) Total guilty pleasure.

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  2. I don't know that it's available on DVD, but maybe Pyun will release it with his new company.

    [WARNING SPOILERS WARNING SPOILERS]
    I was under the impression that Thom Mathews wasn't the protagonist, but maybe I'm wrong. I didn't want to give it away to anyone, but in my mind, the woman was saying, you might be Wood Wilson, but you're not the man I knew anymore, after the attack. I guess in that sense, there was no confusion, Brick and Wood were the same dude. Was that what you got from it?

    I think if it were longer, or had fewer and not as well choreographed fight sequences, it wouldn't be much of a guilty pleasure. But it's a great length, and the fights really are a lot of fun. This really is a solid movie night film. I like Pyun's sci-fi in a lot of cases too, though. Omega Doom is one example.

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  3. Well I don't know, Thom Mathews was the more sympathetic characters. (Especially at the end, by having not a killer of the kids, I'm sorry for the spoiler it's just that it's so messy) I got the impression that her saying "I thought you were Wood Wilson, but you're Brick Bardo sobs" was way to vague. Also the fact that he says he has no memory of who he was, or for that matter the way he refers to his brother "You can't love me the way my brother loved you" would normally be said as "you can't love a woman the way I love you." Then the whole steels and rods and that he was completely rebuilt (like the 600 Million Dollar Man) It was just unexplained. It speaks volumes about the awesomeness of Thom Mathews that we give a shit about such.

    Also the finale where Mathews (An alright actor) goes up against Hope Marie Carlton (a horrible actress, she was in a bunch of Andy Sidaris movies hence how I know of her) in a monologue that just is priceless in its cheesy earnestness. Indeed it's surreal, it should also be mentioned I wish Cynthia Rothrock had been in the movie instead because I could believe Rothrock beating up Mathews. But clearly you can see that Mathews (a black belt in tae kwon do), Urquidez, Thunderwolf and Dale Jacoby are FAR more knowledgable in the martial arts. But Carlton's hilarious battle cries made it all worthwhile.

    Also a special mention must be made of the names in this film. Brick Bardo does kind of sound cool. But Connie Angel and Wood Wilson?

    If not for the fight sequences this would be a complete flop. Even the cheese wouldn't hold it together but because the action is done so well. It works.

    It should also be noted that Pyun did strike out on Heatseeker, but his martial arts work is off the chain.

    I agree about the sci-fi takes when it comes to Nemesis, Sword and The Sorcerer, Knights (though that is awful and everything is just cheese, the fights aren't that good but Pyun makes the best of it, part of the problem is Kris Kristofferson in a Dolph Lundgren role but great film to mock and ridicule) and Mean Guns, although I have to see Omega Doom again.

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  4. One of the things I liked was that there were no clear-cur protagonists. That dialog pre-fight you mentioned was amazing too. And of course, the names. How I forgot to mention "Brick Bardo" is beyond me, so I'm glad you picked me up on that one.

    For 1991, Rothrock has four films listed, meaning she probably wasn't available. Again, another example of Pyun making lemonade with Hope marie Carlton, because you're right, the way he made that fight scene work was priceless.

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  5. This looks like something i really must see. Hopefully there is a dvd floating around. I've been really enjoying watching bad american martial arts flicks of late, even if they all are basically Kickboxer or Wrong Bet clones. And this movie's title is awesome.

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  6. Do you get Hulu in Australia, because you can watch it on there. My computer is actually older than Hulu, which was why I was having issues.

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  7. Unfortunately no, Hulu won't work out side of the US. I'll fiddle with a proxy server perhaps I can get it that way.

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  8. It might be easier to find it on VHS then, or maybe it was released on DVD over there.

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