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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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Firepower (1993)

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I don't know if anyone's seen the trailer for this, but it looks awesome. Really, does anyone do trailers better than PM Entertainment? Their trailers always make their films look like the most amazing 90 minute action fests the world has ever seen. It's like, we look at one of those, and we think "Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs III is the best action hero since Steve McQueen!", then we watch the movie and we're like "um... all the action was in that one car chase?"

Firepower takes place in the future, three years ago, in a world where the US government is dealing with the consequences of "Free Zones", places where all manner of lawlessness is legal. The problem with that idea no one thought of at the time: society's worst criminals can just pop outside of the zone, create all manner of havoc, then run back to the zone before the cops can catch them. Oops. Now Chad McQueen and his sidekick, Gary Daniels, are two cops who won't stand by and let these baddies get away with their transgressions, so they go pseudo-undercover as fighters in an underground fighting ring in the zone, looking to take down one of LA's worst crimelords.

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As the saying goes down South, "this movie is dummern' a sack o' hammers", and for the most part that's a good thing. For instance, a poor move that I would kill most films for: the gratuitous killing of McQueen's wife, is pulled off so clumsily it's more funny than mean spirited. Why then does this movie not work when it should be so bad it's awesome? Gary Daniels is the sidekick to Chad McQueen. Let me just reiterate that. Gary Daniels, Mr. Ten Kinds of Awesome, rocking a too sweet mullet, has to endure a demeaning decapitation at the hands of the Ultimate Warrior, because he's just the sidekick, and it's McQueen who gets to triumph at the end as the hero. That's like casting Dolph Lundgren in a movie, and having him play sidekick to Joe Lara. Other than that, this is a great dummern' a sack of hammers good time, a rip-off of other greats like Escape From New York.

So as far as Daniels goes, then, this isn't a Gary Daniels movie, it's a Chad McQueen movie. That's very hard to type. Was Daniels great in it? Yeah, solid martial arts, too sweet mullet, sounds like a winning combination. Too bad it wasn't his movie-- even if he was on the cover! The Ultimate Warrior had a higher billing than him! I'm not calling this a bait-and-switch, I'm just saying Daniels is not the number one guy, which was a bad move on the part of the film makers. If I need a Gary Daniels fix, I'll go somewhere else, like Rage or Bloodmoon. We'll work on trying to get a more Daniels-centric film here in the future. Cross your fingers for Cold Harvest.

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Check it out, it's Art Camacho. One of the biggest names in DTV action, but more often than not for what he's done behind the scenes, from great choreography to some solid directing efforts. Right now, it's only as a director that we have him tagged, but in this post we'll tag him as an actor, and with his induction into the Hall of Fame this fall, I'll go back and tag him for all the other films he's been involved with as well. A true pillar in the DTV community.

Yes, I did say the Ultimate Warrior was in this. I, like many others, believed the urban legend that he killed himself, which never happened. He's actually alive and well, and apparently said some mean things about Heath Ledger's death. In Firepower, he plays a bad guy named Swordsman, but without his trademark warpaint, he looks more like a buff Alice Cooper. Because of the way this film cast McQueen as the lead and not Daniels, we're denied a great end battle between the two, which was a major disappointment. Warrior just kicks his ass and decapitates him.

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I'm at a loss again for a seventh paragraph. I could go topical and discuss how in 1993 AIDS was still a very feared and deadly epidemic, when now, three years after "the future", we've reached a point with expensive drugs and a broader education in this country that it isn't the front page headline grabber it was then. That's boring though. The thing is, looking at these dummern' a sack o' hammers visions of the future we see in bad action movies, I wonder if these people lived in the same 1993 I did. 2003 looked bleak, but 1993 looked bright. The Iron Curtain was down, there was peace in the Middle East (we didn't know then it wouldn't last), and Bill "don't stop thinkin' about tomorrow" Clinton was our new President, playing his sax on The Arsenio Hall Show. Is that what the problem was, it looked too bright and rosy? Too Liberal, maybe? Would Liberals create a "Free Zone", a la a US Conservative view of Amsterdam? Maybe that's why Tea Baggers are so scared right now, they looked at 1993, and instead of seeing things going pretty well, they saw Firepower-- dummern' a sack o' hammers.

This is a fun, stupid, bad actioner from the early 90s. In terms of the PM Entertainment trailer, it lives up to what it sells quite a bit. Just don't go into it expecting a Gary Daniels film-- even if he is all over the cover. This is a Chad McQueen film... which still sounds odd to say. Oh yeah, as an aside, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs is tagged because his voice is the play-by-play of the fights. He never actually appears beyond that.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106915/

8 comments:

  1. I got this one in a 4 dvd set alongside Ice, The Killing Zone and Direct Hit, all PM movies. It looks pretty damn good I must say.

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  2. It's pretty awesome, but it's also very weird as it becomes clearer and clearer that Daniels is Chad McQueen's sidekick. It's almost like a Jim Jarmusch bad actioner.

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  3. Hey mate, where are you these days? We need more bad action reviews from you! Have you seen the new Scott Adkins movie Ninja? It's awesome and the next review I'm putting up over at Explosive Action.

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  4. Hey man, how's it been? I know, I've been on something of a hiatus. I just came back from Colorado, so we'll see when I can get things back and up and running. I did review Ninja a while back, though. There should be a link to the review in the archive.

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  5. Hope to have you back on board soon mate. Did you end up getting to see The Expendables and/or Machete? The latter doesn't come out here until November 11 and I'm very eager to see it.

    Also the trailer for the next Steve Austin movie just hit and it has both Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels in it as well. Looks like far more action than The Stranger.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_X9ay-qEa4

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  6. I miss your wonderful, fun posts. Baby, come back!

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  7. Hey man, I had no idea you followed this blog, so thank you for that. It just so happens I've been looking to post again, but if I hadn't been, I couldn't not now after your referencing one of the best songs of the 70s.

    And to everyone, I'm sorry for the hiatus. I just needed a break (hence the Tumblr blog). I didn't love it anymore, and I don't think one can do something like this without loving it. I don't know if I love it again already, but I do miss it and am excited about posting. Let's see what happens. Thanks to everyone for being patient.

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  8. Excellent review! Gary Daniels is at his best as "The Hammer".

    We have this coming up in December for Post-Apocalyptic month.

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