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.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hunt to Kill (2010)

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I write this blog for two types of readers: one, the people who follow on a regular basis and have been rockin' with me for a while now (and thank you to all of you), and then there's the cats who stumble upon us either through a search or another link on a site like imdb. For the former, you're reading this knowing without me telling you that I reviewed The Expendables the day before, and also already know that Hunt to Kill had a hard act to follow, and it's for you that I make the disclaimer that I accounted for that fact in how I dealt with this film, so don't think what you're about to read is influenced in any way by an Expendables review writing hangover. For the latter, first, however you got here, welcome, and thank you for checking us out, and second, again, the negative review you're about to read has nothing to do with how utterly awesome The Expendables was.

Hunt to Kill is a ABC Family Channel movie about a border patrol agent, Stone Cold Steve Austin, who relocates to the border in Montana after his partner, Eric Roberts, is killed in a meth lab raid on the US southern border. He wants to reconnect with his daughter, but she rejects these rural surroundings, wanting to return to the city. Luckily for them, Gil Bellows and his gang stroll into town and take them both hostage so Austin can guide them through the wilderness to track down a buddy in a bank heist who made off with the loot on them, and this allows Austin and his daughter a ready made bonding opportunity. After they get the loot, this ABC Family Original takes a left turn, as Austin survives multiple gun shot wounds, a 30 foot drop onto a ledge that suddenly turns into water, then stumbles across a bag hanging from a tree which contains an expensive crossbow. Austin takes them out ninja-style, and he and his daughter walk off into the sunset.

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I have trouble believing this was a serious film. Forget the "country boy will survive/those city folk don't have any real values" message-- I'll get to what I thought of that later-- the movie itself was a mess. First it's an action movie with an enormous explosion, which kills off Eric Roberts. Then it devolves into ABC Family territory, and I'm wondering what Austin is doing here at all. Then it becomes Rambo, and at this point, I'm literally laughing out loud at how silly it all is. I mean, we have Austin stalking his prey like a ninja, appearing in one place, then disappearing when the camera moves back there; or even funnier, popping up from under some bushes after the other characters leave a scene. I thought he might be acting out the end of Macbeth. It was just so goofy. To quote John McEnroe, "You cannot be serious!" Of the three Austin films I've looked at here, this was by far the worst and the most sautéed in wrong sauce.

There was a major bright spot though: Austin's fight scene with Gary Daniels. It was amazing. It was better than any fight in his previous films. I've been waiting for that kind of sustained awesome in my Stone Cold Steve Austin films, and, for me at least, it has yet to happen. Stallone used him perfectly in The Expendables, but I think it's equally possible to use him as well as the hero, not just the heel. The guy revolutionized professional wrestling, completely blurred the lines between heel and hero; but he was also electric in the ring. I just want a movie to capture that electricity. I don't want a good ol' boy country boy can survive Stone Cold. I don't want a confused amnesiac Stone Cold. I don't want an introspective ex-con Stone Cold. I want a badass driving through shit in a sick Harley, beating the crap out of multiple dudes, having beers thrown to him from off-screen, and giving the finger to all the extras watching him. How difficult is that? Fuck, remake Stone Cold for Christ's sake. How awesome would that be?

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As we mentioned above, our one Hall of Famer is Mr. Gary Daniels. I watched the behind the scenes featurette that came with the DVD, and found out one, that Daniels choreographed that too sweet fighting scene between he and Austin; but two, he was only in the film as a favor to Austin, whom he befriended on The Expendables set. That's why it's always good to get that perspective if I can, even if most of those featurettes are about the actors and director trying to sell us on the movie. (The best in this one was Gil Bellows telling us how his baddie character was "totally unpredictable, you never know what he'll do next", when if anyone has ever seen one action film, they could have foreseen everything he did before he did it.). I should probably review a Daniels feature soon, just because it's been a while.

Back to the country living vs. city folk aspect of the film. As someone who grew up in small town Maine, but a small town Maine that is only an hour from Boston-- and southern coastal Maine tends to be more cosmopolitan than the inner more rural areas-- I have an appreciation for both sides of this coin, and the live and let live mentality. But there were a lot of messages that were pretty backward and ignorant. You have the one black character as a degenerate who couldn't wait to get his hands on Austin's daughter so he could rape her, the classic rural white fear of African American males wanting all their white women. There's also the city folk having no real values, nothing they believe in, except backstabbing and an honor-less devotion to money. Then you have the daughter wanting the city, and learning her dad is right about how great it is away from all that. It's all ridiculous, but if you want to believe the country is split like that, and that all those stereotypes about people in the city or suburbs are true, then I've got a message for you: we're coming for your women. That's right, your wives, daughters, sisters, cousins, we're coming for them. We've got a pair of True Religion jeans, a closet full of Manolo Blahniks, and a Juicy Couture T with a slit cut down the front from the collar to the cleavage so they can show off those fake boobs we gave them, on top of the collagen we pumped into their lips, and the Botox we injected into their foreheads. You think Paris Hilton is scary? Wait till your daughter comes back from New York with bleach blond hair, an outfit that costs more than your entire gun collection, and a boyfriend with so many ethnic backgrounds you won't be able to guess what he is. You can't stop the inevitable. Oh yeah, and I think Jimmie Johnson just won his fifth championship-- that's right, we don't even like NASCAR, we're just good at it!

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Okay, enough of that-- my Northeast Elitism reared it's ugly head I think-- Mr. Kenner mentioned that maybe I should put Eric Roberts in my Hall of Fame. Maybe I should. I wasn't able to tag him in The Expendables, because I went over my tag limit. I didn't even know there was such a thing. Anyway, we'll see about the Roberts thing, but as I write this, we're a year out from the next induction ceremony (held at the local Holiday Inn every October!), so a lot can happen between now and then.

I forgot to mention earlier that, according to the film's own plot, none of this should have happened. During the bank heist scene, we see one of the gang back at the base, using all this sophisticated technology to track them, mimic the voice of police dispatchers, and tell them where the cops are. You're going to tell me that a guy with that technical know-how wouldn't go online and read up on what the wilderness in that area was like? Or that they wouldn't by a guide in one of the local shops? Really, they needed to take Austin and his daughter hostage? If a film's own plot suggests that it's own events shouldn't have happened, is the film worth seeing? What do you think?

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1563719/

14 comments:

  1. I agree, and you are totally correct. To make Steve Austin a star in the action DTV realm IS NOT rocket science. He doesn't need to be a fucking amnesiac shadowy CIA agent speaking spanish, or some convict fighting on an island with a bunch of other killers, or even a good ol' boy hunter/survivalist like here (although this was probably the only role next to the Expendables I bought him in). All you need is a mean boss, a bunch of middle fingers, some stunners, and a finale where he kills the bad guy with a beer truck, or does something big with a beer truck.

    This movie was silly, but it was definitely better than 'the Stranger.' He also looked really funny in that facepaint towards the end, where he looked like a member of 80s WWF tag team Power & Glory. To be fair, though, it did have a killer clothesline- not a stunner, but something. I also thought the closing one liner was among the most ridiculously spectacular in recent memory: "When I hunt... I hunt- to kill!" Have we had a better one since the mid-90s? Up there with Seagal saying "I'm gonna take you to the bank, senator... The blood bank."
    Haven't seen Damages yet, so I can't say anything about that one, but this gives me a glimmer of hope for Austin's career.

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  2. Yeah I said Road House styled picture with Steve Austing, but Stone Cold styled action flick would be perfect. I can't imagine a better actor to play a biker or bounty hunter.

    I haven't seen this, but from what i've seen from Steve Austin is him not being used right. He isn't Hulk Hogan who just sucks no matter what (This guy even stunk up Rocky III) he actually has presence, but they just can't use him right for some reason, Expendables aside.

    As for Gary Daniels, if you are going to review a movie, I would recommend Bloodmoon or Cold Harvest. Those were pretty damn decent.

    I also don't know what it says about me personally but I happened to stumble onto VH1 Classic and they were playing Samantha Fox's video and the first thing I thought was she looks like Gary Daniels. I'm not sure where I'm going with that but I figured I'd bring it up all the same.

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  3. I have to admit, I forgot to mention two other aspects of the film I liked. First was Emilie Ullerup, who played the woman in Gil Bellow's gang. She was hot, and did a great job, even in her martial arts scenes. The other was Bellows himself as the baddie. Even though the character was predictably written, he was fun in it. My neglecting to mention those two things was an oversight on my part, maybe focusing too much on the negative.

    I did like that clothesline, and Bellows' death, including the silly one-liner, was pretty cool-- the daughter telling him to kill the bastard was too hilarious. I guess when you do the math out, the few things I enjoyed in this were more than the few things I enjoyed in The Stranger, but the ABC Family aspect and the whole "Country boy will survive" theme turned me off too much.

    I think we're all in agreement that Stone Cold has what it takes to be a great action star, and for whatever reason, it hasn't happened yet.

    I like that Power & Glory reference. I saw a show today about James Laurenitis (sp?), linebacker for the Rams, whose dad was in the Legion of Doom. How awesome is that?

    Bloodmoon I like where you're going with Cold Harvest though. I was thinking Capital Punishment too.

    And by all means, Kenner, whenever you, or anyone else for that matter, think an 80s pop starlet resembles a DTVC Hall of Famer, feel free to mention it here.

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  4. I meant Recoil from PM, For some ridiculous reason I always get them confused. Recoil is one of Daniels' best. I would totally go for that one before Capital Punishment. The fight sequences in that one were pretty lame, like Future War style. Ironically said movies are around the same quality. I also really wanted to like it because it had David Carradine (And no confrontation between the two, See Retrograde) It also has the black star ninja from American Ninja 1 as well Bronson Lee,Champion but despite all that, it was all ass. American Streetfighter and Full Impact are pretty awful as well.

    I also liked Spoiler and Knights is so bad it's funny. You don't have to listen to me but Capital Punishment hurts.

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  5. Your review actually makes me want to see this film even more, i'm a little put off by the sterotypes, having lived in the rural midwest fairly close to Chicago my entire life, I can also see the arguments for both sides. But this film still sounds like it has plenty of entertainment, both unintenitonal or otherwise. I acutally kinda have a bizarre fascination with Hulk Hogan, I like him better then Matt Damon, that's for damn sure! As for Daniels, Cold Harvest is deifnitely the next one to do, Capital Punishment, Full Impact and American Streetfighter are pretty bad, but at the very least they're not relentlessly depressing like Spoiler is.

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  6. I'm intrigued by the possibility of Cold Harvest, but I considered Capital Punishment because it has both Carradine and Daniels, and I may still go with it for that reason. With so many Hall of Famers, films with multiple ones always take precedent. Plus, everything has to be reviewed eventually.

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  7. Oh you got there before me, I've had this to review since I did Born to Raise Hell. Perhaps I will enjoy it more than you did, like I did The Stranger. The trailer certainly gave me hope.

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  8. Despite your largely negative review, I'm still putting this on my Queue ASAP. Any flick that has 3/11 of the cast The Expendables had is still worth a look-see.

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  9. Just be warned that all the Eric Roberts you get is at the very beginning, and Daniels is in this about as much as he was in Ring of Fire. The fight scene between Daniels and Austin, choreographed by Daniels, is pretty awesome, but the ABC Family Channel aspect was too much for me.

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  10. Damage was ok, but that needed more punchfighting and less drama. Eventually he will find the right role. That's awesome that the final fight was choreographed by Daniels...will have to watch it for that alone!

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  11. Yeah, that fight was awesome, the rest of the film was a painfest.

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  12. I'm all for the Stone Cold remake !!

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  13. It really would be a perfect use of Austin's skills.

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