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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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Human Shield (1991)

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I got my hands on a few movies, this being one of them, and I decided to review it first, because I thought I hadn't done any Michael Dudikoff in a while. Then I went back and looked, and saw Counter Measures aka Crash Dive 2 about five posts ago. Oops, my bad. Of course, can you ever really have too much Dudikoff?

The Human Shield is a play on the Saddam Hussein strategy in the first Gulf War, when he took a bunch of Western hostages and used them to keep himself safe from Allied bombing. In the movie, Dudikoff has a bad past with an Iraqi general with a bad Middle Eastern accent. For revenge, the general detains his brother as he tries to board a plane, and holds him as bait to lure Dudikoff into his trap. Dudikoff has to sneak into the country, and rely on help from an old flame-- who married the general while Duds was away-- and an old Iraqi military buddy, as he dodges bullets and Iraqi military dirt bikes. Will he succeed?

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Man, I don't know where to go with this one. A good chunk of it played out like a bad Lifetime movie rip-off of Not Without My Daughter. But when it had action, it was equal parts silly and awesome, the best being the final fight with the general, which I included as a video clip at the bottom of the image page for this review. You also had some great shoot-outs, explosions, and the aforementioned Iraqi military assaulting our hero on dirt bikes. The issue is, does it have enough to warrant a recommendation? I think it does, but a cautious one. If you and your buddies love Dudikoff, and you're good enough at mocking your movies that you can make entertaining parts that might otherwise be boring, you'll be rewarded with some solid early 90s action cheese.

I think it's good to get a couple Dudikoff films in quick succession, especially considering we went from March to July without reviewing anything by him. This post will put him into a tie with Steven Seagal for third all time, behind Dolph Lundgren and Lorenzo Lamas-- though that's slightly misleading because we reviewed American Ninja 2 twice. I think that's about right, though, because I think if I were to rank DTV action stars-- just my own personal list-- I'd have Dudikoff number two behind Dolph, even above respected denizens like Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Other than Dolph, no one does early 90s DTV action like Dudikoff. Though this might not be his best effort, not by a long shot, it still had it moments, and perhaps more importantly, gets us that much closer to having his complete DTV catalog reviewed on here.

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The general was played by a dude named Steve Inwood. He's a great baddie, but a God awful Arab. He's the most egregious example of this film's use of any olive-skinned man with a moustache tacked onto his upper lip as an Arab. I can't blame the film makers for that, though, considering it was shot in Israel. I'm sure they'd have a great time convincing Arabs from either Gaza or the West Bank to come to Israel and act in their movie about Iraq.

The Human Shield is a Cannon film, but not a Golan-Globus film. That's because this is in that 1990-1993 span after Golan left to form the 21st Century Film Corporation. I know it might be confusing, and I think I still have American Ninja 4 erroneously tagged as Golan-Globus, when it technically isn't-- something I'll fix after I publish this post. You can read the Wikipedia article on Cannon to find out more, especially what led to their eventual downfall. I think even if Cannon had survived further into the 90s, the hangover that affected the entire genre probably still would've hit them as much as it hit everyone else, but one has to wonder what they could've done with guys like Seagal and Van Damme when they fell down to the DTV ranks.

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This set made for a great final act, and it makes me wonder why they didn't just shoot the whole film here. I mean, the plot pretty much devolved into a Die Hard in Baghdad, why not make it a Die Hard in this too sweet building instead? They could've also removed a lot of the Lifetime movie elements, and just made it a straight ahead actioner. Even the dirt bike scene would've worked in those long corridors. The mere thought is too awesome for words.

This is only available on VHS, so with that in mind and what you might have to go through to see it, I'd leave it for the Dudikoff completist, which is probably the main reason why we're reviewing it here. A great bad movie night pick if you and your buddies are big Dudikoff fans, otherwise, I'd lay off it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102072/

14 comments:

  1. One of my favorite movies from Dudikoff. I will say that anything Cannon can be tagged golan globus in the same theme as tagging Van Damme for Cyborg 2. I think it's a classic cannon film.


    Also I think action fans will like it because I don't think anyone else would watch such a title and not get what they expect. Also the title is awesome.

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  2. Yeah, this had its moments, I'm just not so sure it's one that should be viewed alone. For instance, those hilarious scenes where Dudikoff and his long lost love look longlingly into each others eyes aren't as much fun when there isn't anyone there to make fun of them with.

    When Golan left in 1990, that really spelled the end of Golan-Globus, and as such, you can't tag a movie Golan-Globus when they didn't produce it. The Van Damme Cyborg 2 analogy doesn't work, because at least there, archive footage of him was used.

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  3. I just figured it is sort of similar, because it was their company, I mean when you think Cannon you think Golan and Globus. I mean you know Chicago without Peter Cetera.


    And as for my theory on Cannon,and you're ruthless debunking of such.. big words from the guy who still hasn't seen Dolph on the big screen. You were probably in the Scott Pilgrim theater with all the other little teenagers. ;)

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  4. Your metaphor still doesn't work. If I were doing a blog on 80s music, I'd never tag "Look Away" as Peter Cetera, or "Restless Heart" as Chicago.

    And for your information, it was Charlie St. Cloud, starring Zac Efron, that I was watching instead of The Expendables. Then I snuck into Eat, Pray, Love, and actually walked past the theater The Expendables was playing in to go out of my way to avoid watching it. I'll be reviewing both films later on this week.

    Now cross your fingers and hope this version of Firepower I picked up plays well.

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  5. Also I updated a bunch of reviews. It should be noted I'm wondering if I should add Heroes Shed No Tears to the review (a 3.5 star movie) or if I should do this with a double bill of Last Hurrah Of Chivalry.

    By the way...Broken Arrow totally isn't as good as one remembers. I was shocked at how dull it was. Blackjack actually was better (went from a low level recommendation to solid recommendation) Hard Target was way better than remembered, Face/Off was even better (this is another one of those Direct To Video movies that hit the big time, especially when you get the alcatraz boots) And Red Cliff was great.

    By the way just a question, how do you regard a movie like Red Cliff? mainly it's a foreign film but it gets released straight to DVD or it has a limited release. I figure that's along the J.C.V.D lines.

    If you do want to look at a great movie, seek out Red Cliff 1-2, for your thing on foreign movie binges. Woo still has it. It's sort of like Ran (not quite as good) but it's damn good. I don't recommend that you review it here but I do recommend you see it.

    I'm trying to get Red Cliff 1 and 2, as opposed to the condensed version.

    It's too bad i'm tight for money, so I can't buy it, and I can't really find it.

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  6. I've been meaning to see The Red Cliff. I have the theatrical version in my Instant Queue. Netflix does have parts 1 and 2 on offer if you're interested. Not on Watch Instantly, you have to get the DVD at home.

    I'll pop over to your blog and comment on the others.

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  7. You know and this is i'm being serious now. I realized when I went to The Expendables (and I will tell you should enjoy it, but it's not the greatest thing of all time. It's fun though.) I realized they actually made a 3D dance movies which I totally don't get. Why on earth would anyone have the need to see dancing go to the next dimension? I mean I understand 3D for horror, 3D for science fiction, 3D maybe for action and even 3D for porn (Can you imagine a 3D version of Cocks and Cunts 3D:breakin in again?) But a dance movie? I just...wow.

    Am I the only who doesn't get it?

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  8. By the way while were on the music topic, was the bad guy in The Human Shield (I forgot such a name) was he really the same Steve Inwood who sang "Higher Love" I ask because it's not all that far fetched given that David "Don't give up on us baby" Soul was the bad guy in Pentathlon.

    I think my favorite part that I don't think you mentioned was the part where Dudikoff fights Inwood and you can clearly see that Inwood has that white paste shit that prevents actors from burning themselves (he was on fire)

    Actually despite the anti-arab sentiment I do think The Human Shield had some more depth to include Arab heroes. For instance the people that help Dudikoff and basically make it possible for him to succeed are all arabs, and then there is the one sympathetic guard, and the execution of the arab village who take Dudikoff in. Which I thought was unorthadox for movies that typically just paint middle eastern guys as cut and try terrorists. Indeed being part Egyptian myself, it's rare you ever see even any type of attempt at painting grey lines.

    I will grant you though, that the love story as well as how Dudikoff's love interest had to marry Inwood was hokey. Also you can't just kill kidnap an American for personal reasons, especially considering he wasn't the dictator or high in power. Once again The Human Shield has numerous plot holes but I really thought it was enjoyable and one of Dudikoff's better efforts.

    This went to theaters by the way...I'm 100% serious.

    Which was bizarre.

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  9. First, it's Steve Winwood, not Inwood, who sang "Higher Love", et al. You must not have seen any of his videos in the 80s, because he doesn't look anything like Inwood either. I remember when "Higher Love" was in heavy rotation on MTV.

    Second, the final fight with Dudikoff I didn't get into, but I did put the video clip on the image page if you want to relive it. I loved that Dudikoff through a bucket of frappe all over him too, and apparently that was flammable.

    Finally, I noticed too the way Arabs were dealt with in this film, and I should've brought that up. Considering the Israelis had a legitimate beef against Iraq after the constant scud attacks they endured in the first Gulf War, no one would blame them for painting the Iraqis as bad. I think, though, they were going for an "Iraqi leaders are bad, the people are oppressed" theme-- kind of the forerunner to the neo-cons that helped get us into the 2003 war.

    I agree with you that this was a fun movie. imdb didn't have any box office figures, but it must not have made much, right?

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  10. Oh, and the 3-D dance movies, I read about this recently. Apparently there is a high demand for 3-D right now, so anything they can throw at it they go for. On top of that, a lot of bigger names don't want to go 3-D, meaning it's films made by directors without much pull that are more likely to get the 3-D treatment. People trying to get the dance movie greenlighted sell it to the studios by saying "we'll shhot it in 3-D!"

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  11. http://www.allmovie.com/work/the-human-shield-23843 On the side of it, it says the domestic gross was a whopping 45 grand.

    No, I actually just looked such up and realized that I was talking out of my ass. As for MTV I only watched MTV for Beavis and Butthead and Celebrity Deathmatch as they pretty much stopped playing videos consistently in 1991. It's even worse now because now they don't even have semi-entertaining shows.


    Whatever the case, I thought the name sounded familar and of course the fact you didn't bring it up should've been an indicator I didn't know what I was talking about. Indeed looking up the you tube video...Winwood looks more like Andrew McCarthy. I bet you a million bucks...that The Human Shield would've been funnier with Winwood.

    Speaking of 3D...I still can't believe Universal Soldier might be in 3D. That sound ridiculous but it does sound more believable than dance movies.

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  12. Probably the same idea, studios more willing to greenlight a pic in 3-D.

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  13. I recently aquitred this too, a digital rip from a VHS. I plan to get to it soo myself as it looks interesting.

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  14. A 10 year old me loved this film, and even after 11 years I can still watch this and enjoy it with such nostalgia. I'm a big Michael Dudikoff fan, I've watched all of his films. I have to say I disagree when people say American Ninja was Dudikoff's Best. In my personal opinion, with all nostalgia aside, I have to say The Human Shield was Dudikoff's Best work.

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