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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Announcement

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.

--Matt

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Martial Law (1991)

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This is not a film based on the hit Samo Hung/Arsenio Hall crime dramedy from the late 90s (which also starred the always hot Kelly Hu), in fact, none of those three are in this film. What it does have is DTVC Hall of Famer Cynthia Rothrock, 2010 class inductee David Carradine, and the ever charming Philip Tan, for once sporting his natural British accent. Oh yeah, and Chad McQueen, listed on the cover as Richard Brandes. Okay, that makes-- huh?

Martial Law stars McQueen as a cop, known as Martial Law, because he kicks mad ass. He has a younger brother, a total delinquent, who falls in in a bad way with Carradine's gang. Rothrock is McQueen's girlfriend/vice cop, and when she finds a couple bodies killed through an ancient Chinese martial arts strike to the chest, McQueen, upon being assigned the case, insists on Rothrock being assigned as his partner. Partners in kicking ass is more like it.

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This is very solid late 80s/early 90s DTV action cheese. First you have the amazing music. In one scene, after Rothrock chases after a baddie, the cop with her exclaims "is she crazy?" With that blazing electric guitar screaming in the background, how can she not be? Then there was the upbeat smooth jazz throughout the film that sounded like something you'd hear in one of those baseball highlight videos, you know the kind, with the distorted colors, multiple replays, and then the image turning into a flying square, a la the Superman II parallelogram imprisoning Terrance Stamp, with the next highlight flying in to take its place. It was simply fantastic. Second, there were great fight scenes with McQueen, Rothrock, Carradine, and even Tan. Maybe there could've been more or more explosions and car chases, but considering how silly the overall product was, this fighting was plenty good enough. Finally, you have that silliness factor. McQueen's outfits alone were worth the price of admission. Sweet mullets and porno 'stashes on the stunt men, dialog that makes your average Lifetime Movie of the Week sound like a Pinter play, and last but not least, at the very end of the credits, the film's date is given as "MXCXXXX" (you can check that out at the image page). Exhibit A as to why you should always watch the credits.

Rothrock isn't the lead in this, but unlike Firepower, which billed Gary Daniels as the lead there, only to have it be Chad McQueen, because this one didn't sell that, I was okay with McQueen getting more of the action. Obviously though, if I had a choice, I'd take Rothrock over McQueen any day. While she's on-screen, though, she's excellent, which is all you can ask for. One great scene had her and McQueen fighting baddies in a night club, and this big dude comes at McQueen and he's like "uh oh...", then we see Rothrock and it's like "dude, everyone she fights is bigger than her!" While I was on hiatus, Salt came out in the theaters, and ESPN's First Take, during their roundtable debate segment, "1st and Ten", discussed who the best action movie chick of all time was, and Skip Bayless, who is a self-styled action movie fan, didn't once mention Rothrock. Sorry, but no one can call him or herself an action movie fan, and not mention Cynthia Rothrock, not only as the number one female action star ever, but one of the best action stars ever period. Sorry Angelina Jolie and Mila Jovovich, you have a ways to go.

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In 2010 we are adding two new members to the DTVC Hall of Fame, late director Cirio H. Santiago, and late actor David Carradine. Both guys should've been in a long time ago. Let's focus on Carradine here for right now though. Considering he was a hero in his TV life, he was always a great baddie, and this film is no exception. With over 200 acting credits to his name, and the variety of roles he took, he embodies that DTV spirit of just doing any role as long as the money was right that we love here at the DTVC, especially since he always took every role seriously, even if it was a comedic one, like in Crank 2: High Voltage.

I believe this will be Phillip Tan's seventh film here, and we will finally be tagging him. Often, he plays a henchman or sleazy con man type, and just as often, he speaks with an Asian accent. Though he was Carradine's right hand man here as well, he spoke in his natural British accent, and he also showed off his martial arts skills. Both great, and both things we'll hopefully see when we do more movies that have him in them in the future-- though I doubt it. His smaller size seems to play better for the sleazy con man than the Brit who can fight, and I imagine the main reason they used his skills here was so he could fight Rothrock at the end. As an aside, Tan starred in both this, and the TV show Martial Law.

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You may have noticed if you've been checking the image pages for some of my posts recently, that I've been capturing production and distribution company logos as well (you can get to any film's image page* by clicking on any of the pics in that post. There's usually four or five more pics that don't make the actual review). These old (are they that old, 20 years?) screens just add to that old (is it that old either, ten years ago?) video store ambiance. Even as recently as 2001-2002, one of our local video stores had tons of VHS greats we could choose from, not just these DTV cheesefests, but also classics, and not-old-enough to be classics from the 80s. We just took for granted that that world would always exist, that there'd always be a place to get Dolph Lundgren's Pentathlon, or Mr. T's Be Someone of Be Somebody's Fool, and though I love Netflix, the fact that they and DVDs and iTunes and ONDemand have obliterated that world, and did it in a relatively short period of time, is disheartening. Part of what we like to do here is spotlight new DTV releases, because the rise of quality (and not-s0-quality) new movies going direct to video in recent years has been great; but also, we like to look back and remember what got a lot of us into this kind of thing, those trips to the video store combined with loads of pizza, junk food, and Mountain Dew (or later on, beer), a night where we could all yell at the screen and not take ourselves as seriously. When I pop a tape into my VCR, and that logo draws itself, and that cute little music or sound effect accompanies it, I'm back in that time, and have that feeling I used to get when I was home from college and wasn't eating dining commons food for a night.

Word on the street is, Martial Law 2 is even better, but I'll wait until I do that review to let you know what I think. As far as Martial Law, it's a great time, and I'm sure you'll have fun with it. If you need a late 80s/early 90s DTV action cheesefest, this will fill your craving more than adequately.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104822/

*Some of the older posts haven't been given image pages yet. I'll hopefully change that, but in the cases of posts made before I captured images on my own, and was beholden to what I found on the Internet, I've decided to not go back and Lucas them and add images that weren't originally there.

10 comments:

  1. This looks like a good one. One of these days i will purchase Martial Law 1 & 2. Love Cynthia Rothrock!

    Another Rothrock classic is Above The Law (aka Righting Wrongs) from 1986. Killer action!

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  2. Above the Law would be a great one, directed by Cory Yuen too. She has so many I still need to get to, I should probably do at least one a week. Next up, though, is definitely Martial Law 2. I think they'd both (parts 1 & 2) make a good purchase for you.

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  3. I just bought VHS copies of this movie and it's sequel last weekend, I can't wait to watch them.

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  4. I think you'll have a lot of fun enjoying them both. Just get your retinas ready for Chad McQueen's loud shirts.

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  5. Rothrock is someone I need to investigate further and this looks to be the perfect place to start.

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  6. Definitely. There's also China O'Brien and Rage and Honor, which both feature your countryman Richard Norton.

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  7. It's too bad you don't do reviews every week like you used to, I mean STV movies.

    I didn't like this film, but I will vouch for the sequel which kicks ass. I also recommend Above The Law (AKA Righting Wrongs) highly this is easily Rothrock's best movie. I miss the everyday updates...

    That said here is how you know this site has slowed down...in that he hasn't reviewed the new Dolph Lundgren flick The Killing Machine(Which is a letdown by the way)

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  8. Either I'm slowed down, or for whatever reason, Netflix doesn't have Killing Machine available yet. If you'd like, so I'll be less "slowing down", by all means you can buy me a copy of it off of Amazon and send it to me. Otherwise, until Netflix has it, we'll just have to make do with me "slowed down". :-p

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  9. Oh yeah, heaven forbid you use the redbox for one dollar like I did. I mean you being McDonalds fan...

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  10. I live in rural Maine, the enarest McDonald's is like three miles away, I never get over there.

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