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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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Final Reprisal (1988)

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According to imdb, Final Reprisal was the second film Gary Daniels made, but it's actually the first, and the other one, The Secret of Mahis Island, he made soon after. As an aside, I haven't been able to find The Secret of Mahis Island, which could eventually prove to be a problem depending on when we get around to finishing off his DTV filmography.

Final Reprisal has Gary Daniels as a Marine in Vietnam, sent to take out a bunch of North Vietnamese leaders at a meeting. Turns out the meeting is postponed (those things are almost always postponed for one reason or another), and Daniels's crew is trapped in a North Vietnamese fortress. As luck would have it, the defense minister who lives there also has a daughter, very young, like a preschooler, and he's very fond of her. Daniels and his two remaining men take the girl as a hostage, escape, then run over a mine, which blows up their jeep and separates them. When the minister and his soldiers arrive, the girl has been shot through the head, and as luck would have it for him, one of Daniels's men, his best buddy, is wounded and ripe for capture and torture. Fast forward five years, and Daniels has a wife and kid, and a job training the special forces in Thailand. When the old buddy shows up out of the blue, it seems great-- until Daniels and his family are attacked. His wife and son don't survive, and now Daniels wants his... final reprisal... or does the North Vietnamese defense minister?...

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For what this was, a no-budget late 80s bad actioner from the Philippines, it actually wasn't bad. Bad acting? Yes. Bad script? Yes. Bad special effects? Yes. Bad Foley? Yes. A timeline that either doesn't work, or everything in the film is anachronistic? Yes. But if you're going into late 80s bad action from the Philippines, are you expecting anything less? What surprised me was how solid Gary Daniels was as a leading man. No, he couldn't mitigate the poor script, but can he now either? But there was no sense that he wasn't the man we loved in the 90s into the 2000s. His martial arts were solid, his screen presence was all you could ask for. It wasn't so much DTVC Hall of Famer in the making, it was more like DTVC Hall of Famer already there.

And I guess why I was surprised by how much of a star he proved to be in Final Reprisal is that in a lot of his other early films, like Ring of Fire or Deadly Bet, he's barely in them, and I can't figure out how that could happen if anyone casting any of these films had seen him in this. The only thing I can think is that Capital Punishment didn't do anything for them, but even then, that doesn't excuse, for instance, the scant part he had in Bloodfist IV, or that he wasn't the lead heel in Ring of Fire. Here's an interesting question for everyone, who's had the better career, Daniels, or Don "The Dragon" Wilson?

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One of the most difficult moves to pull off in an action film is the bad guy revenge on the good guy, especially when it involves the bad guy losing a loved one. Here they tried to mitigate it, in part by saying the bad guy was falsely accusing Daniels for killing his daughter-- sketchy at best, considering he did take the daughter hostage, and in a court here in the States, that would be enough to convict him as an accessory to the murder, even if he didn't pull the trigger; and in part, by playing up anti-communist sentiments. I guess a dead 4-year-old, if it's a dead commie 4-year-old, counts less than an American 4-year-old. Anyway, if Daniels wasn't awesome in this, I would have been rooting for the baddie-- Daniels's awesomeness saved the film.

Often, I have very little to report to my straight female and gay male readers in terms of gratuitous PNA (pecs and ass). Usually you get the hero shirtless, but after that, it's all for us straight guys and lesbian women, with naked hot chicks all over the place. None of that here beyond a couple naked strippers at a bad club, but for the other half of my audience, you get some Gary Daniels bare buttocks. Shower scene with his buddy, no curtains in either stall. And here you thought you only got that kind of action in a Van Damme movie.

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Finally, Miami Vice, while waning in popularity here in the US in 1988, was I guess just getting started in the Philippines, because near the end, they decked Daniels out in a Crockett special. They even went with the perfect undershirt in exactly Crockett's style. I don't know if you've seen that asinine LeBron James commercial where he whines to us because we don't like him anymore, but the Don Johnson cameo is great. If LeBron was half the cat Johnson is, my Celtics wouldn't have destroyed his Cavs in last year's playoffs.

Okay, I'm way off topic now, so let me reign it in. This is hard to find, but worth it. It would be worth it on it's own as a Daniels flick, but this has the added bonus of being Daniels's first flick. Total fun time, Rambo and Commando rip-off, with zero budget, and bad everything-- except for an awesome Daniels, and that's plenty.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0832300/

24 comments:

  1. "Final Reprisal has Gary Daniels as a Marine in Vietnam"

    Sold.

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  2. And it's a weird Vietnam, because either the people making the film think the Vietnam War took place in the 80s, or the cars we had in the 80s could pass for cars from the 70s. But you get Daniels in full war paint leading a team of soldiers at the beginning.

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  3. How did you find this one? Ebay and Amazon know nothing of it. I assume it's only on VHS.

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  4. Great Review!

    All we need to see is the aforementioned The Secret of Mahis Island and Ultimate Target (AKA: Ides Of March with Michael Madsen)

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  5. Yeah, it's a tough find, VHS is the only way, and even that's not easy.

    I want to say that Ultimate Target wasn't released at all. I know, the idea of it sounds great, but I can't find a trace of it either.

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  6. According the review site YourVideoStoreShelf, ULtimate Target was one of a dozen films that's tied up in legal limbo for whatever thanks to producer Daivd Dadon, apparently he stiffed some people on certain payments for those films, so that's why Ultimate target hasn't gotten a release in the U.S., though it has been released overseas I believe.

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  7. That makes sense. There are plenty of great films that we never get to because of reasons like this. Blizhniy Boy is another example. Word on the street with that one is they didn't even have the money to pay the extras.

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  8. I haven't seen this and up until this day hadn't heard of such. I tried to find a copy of such and no dice. The first thing i'm wondering is whether or not such was even released in the U.S Honestly, this is something I never saw even in Southgate Ma Pa rental cottage. They had flicks like Strike Commando 1-2,Delta Force Commando 1-2, American Streetfighter and Future War on VHS. I need a copy, Such a movie is not to be kept from the viewing public.

    Maybe a trade is in order. Although now I can't offer ROTOR. Maybe I can get you Full Contact.


    In anycase I want to see this and it's nowhere to be found.

    Also a movie I now want to see after seeking such out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3NOa8WfrKo Does that not look even worse than ROTOR?

    Also about The Expendables...Are you reviewing it? Or did I read that wrong? I really enjoyed The Expendables and I can't wait for the sequel.

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  9. Holy Shit, Kenner, I have a copy of that other movie you posted the link to. That's Robowar! Sutekh sent me a copy of it when he sent me Deadly Prey. That one I know I can get you, and I should probably review it soon, huh?

    As far as Final Reprisal, I don't have it right now, I gave it back after the review, but I can maybe get a hold of it again and make a copy or something. Let me see what I can do.

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  10. Robowar is fantastic. Mattei at his absolute best (worst).

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  11. Hey, cool review!

    In regards to where FINAL REPRISAL was released: If nothing else, it had a VHS release in JAPAN. I've got that tape! And get this, it also had a VCD release in Turkey (probably dubbed into Turkish).

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  12. Hey Jack, does the Japanese VHS have any benefit over the US in this case, i.e. widescreen print?

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  13. Other than Japanese tapes usually being of a better quality than most other tapes (for some reason they're stronger, you hardly never ever see a Jap. tape that's been chewed up by the player) the answer is no! No lbx. It's got trailers for five other Filipino flicks tho.

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  14. You are correct about Japanese tapes being better made than anywhere else, the ones I have work like brand new and I bet will continue to do so.

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  15. PS: Forget my last comment, haha. I've just watched BLACKFIRE and THAT'S the tape that has five trailers on it. I need more sleep. LOL.

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  16. About the Japanese VHS quality: In contradiction to Australia and Europe the Japanese didn't make different tapes for sell-thru and rental. All tapes were made to be sold as sell-thrus as well as to be used for rental. So my theory is that that's why they were stronger (plus the general Japanese tendency to make things that last longer).

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  17. Thanks Jack J., I'm glad you liked it.

    This Japanese vs. US VHS discussion is eerily similar to the one US consumers have been having for years about US vs. Japanese cars.

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  18. "Final Reprisal" is out on DVD in Germany (HDMV GmbH, 4:3, English sound and German dub, region 2). You can find the dvd at www.amazon.de

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  19. Well that's cool, any of our Region 2 readers can check it out there then. You have a cool blog, by the way. I only had a chance to scan it, but I'll definitely check it out more later.

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  20. Thanks. Apart from Eric Roberts I am a huge fan of martial arts (B-)movies, so (apart from all the Asian flicks) my Gary Daniels, Don 'the dragon' Wilson, Olivier Gruner, Cynthia Rothrock collection is almost complete. Still missing though are "Ides of March"/"Ultimate Target" and "Blizhniy Boy". Who is going to help me/us?

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  21. Neither film has been officially released, and though it seems like there are versions of Ultimate Target floating around, Blizhniy Boy is in complete limbo-- according to imdb they didn't even have the money to pay their extras!

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  22. Thanks for the info on the German DVD release of "Final Reprisal". Have you got the DVD and if yes have you checked for cuts? Unfortunately, the Germans often cut out the cool (i.e. gory) bits.

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