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.

Announcement

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beatdown (2010)

Photobucket

This is part two of the Punchfight Mountain Dew Challenge. For more of the details, you can check out my post on Circle of Death, which was part 1. By the time we got here, I was already close to two hours into an afternoon of nothing to eat but Doritos and Mountain Dew. I was feeling a little off, I was jittery, but I was excited to see what this film had in store for me.

Beatdown stars Apocalypto's Rudy Youngblood as a dude who makes a living in the underground fight circuit with his brother, who bets on him. His brother is into a loan shark, and after he's killed, the loan shark tells Rudy he needs to pony up the cash. He skips out and moves in with his father, DTVC favorite Danny Trejo, who lives in a small town. As luck would have it, the small town has their own underground fighting circuit, and he sees an opportunity with UFC faighter [sic] Michael "The Count" Bisping to make the money back his dead brother owes. His priorities change, though, when he meets a nice girl in town and falls in love. Now he's fighting to make enough so she and he can move away and start a new life together.

Photobucket

Before we get too far in, I should say that this was not the film to see when my stomach wasn't right after the food I put into it. This might be the most egregious offender of the gimmicky MTV camera effects and whatnot. It was all shaky and jumpy and blurry-- I thought I was going to be sick. Two big things happened that totally betrayed this film. First would be the aforementioned gimmicks; and second would be this device they used for the first two characters, Brandon (Youngblood), and the loan shark. They froze the film, then put their character names on the screen. Really, I needed that, especially with "Brandon", whose name is mentioned five or six times after that in an introductory capacity. See, if you don't think your script is written well enough for us to pick up on what the characters' names are organically, why should we? If you don't think your film is directed well enough, acted well enough, choreographed well enough, has a compelling enough story to keep us interested without these MTV-style gimmicks, why should we? Why should we even take it seriously, right?

And that's too bad, because the people making this should have trusted themselves. This was a pretty decent deal. Youngblood was good, Trejo was good, the story worked-- and was written plenty well enough for us to pick up on the character names without freezing the screen and posting it for us-- and I loved the use of Balfour as the heel. On top of that, the relationship between Youngblood and Susie Abromeit was such a great change of pace from the usual Punchfighting movie paradigm of just get the hottest chick possible, and get her naked as soon as possible. I mean, when I watched the featurette afterwards, I was disappointed that I missed how good a lot of the scenes could have been without those silly gimmicks. If you're going to go the gimmick route, why not go all the way? Have Youngblood's character be named Beatdown and take his girlfriend from a casting call of Hooters waitresses. Have Eric Balfour's character blow up Danny Trejo's house with him in it. Hell, don't even cast Youngblood, bring in Tony Schiena or Hector Echavarria instead. "My name's Beatdown, and I fight to survive." "Oh Beatdown, let me get naked and we can have sex to this bad Disturbed derivative's power ballad!"

Photobucket

The only DTVC tagged actor in this film is one of our faves, Danny Trejo. I'm waiting for Netflix to get me Machete in February so I can review it, so hopefully this will hold everyone over until that happens. Anyway, there's nothing as awesome in Beatdown as Trejo giving Van Damme a foot massage in Desert Heat, it's pretty much a Trejo fastball, and what you expect is what you get. I'm good with that, though. Like I mentioned with Vinnie Jones in Locked Down, Danny Trejo is a ready made character, you know exactly what you're going to get when you cast him, and as such, we as an audience don't need much set up to get into his role.

I know what you're thinking, "Eric Balfour as an MMA fighter?" Think it, by all means. That's not the issue here. He makes the perfect heel. Ten years ago he was giving girls rides home in teen dramas, then in the next scene telling his football buddies he slept with her. He was ganging up on geeks and smaller guys with his buddies, and kicking their asses and tossing them into trash cans. Hell, he even played the Devil in a car commercial. For me, I didn't need to buy him as an MMA fighter, because you already had me at heel. We were just talking about Trejo being ready-made, and Balfour is the same thing. The moment he turns his head to reveal his face, he's a jerk, and our hero has to deal with him and his jerkiness. (I should point out, this is in no way an indictment on Balfour the person-- I'm sure he's very nice and has never beat up any geeks before.)

Photobucket

Finally, I want to discuss the casting decisions for the male and female leads. First, Rudy Youngblood, who is listed on imdb as 5'11'', but looks like he's probably more in the 5'7"-5'9" range-- I mean, Abromeit is listed as 5'7", and does she look four inches shorter in that picture? I like though, from the short guy's stand point (I'm 5'7" myself), that they went with Youngblood. He just went in there like a pit bull and jumped on these dude's throats before they knew what hit them. Then you pair him with Susie Abromeit, who is very pretty, but never gets naked-- I don't even know if she wears a skirt to be honest-- and isn't there simply to be Youngblood's eye candy. I'm not saying I don't love a good Maxim model who can't act and is only there to get buck wild, but it's nice to have a little change of pace every once in a while.

But therein lies the rub. Underneath all the potential depth and changes of pace that would have made this is a fun-- and more importantly semi-decent-- movie, there's all the bad gimmicks of edits and angles and effects that betray everything they talked about wanting to accomplish in the featurette. Plain and simple, if you don't think your movie is good enough without all of those bells and whistles, then why should we? I wasn't too high on Mountain Dew to not see that one.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568323/

7 comments:

  1. Good review. Hate all the quick edits of these new punchfighters. They should look at Undisputed II and III for inspiration on how a good modern punchfighter is done.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, so far Undisputed II and III are probably the cornerstones, the paradigm to go to, for the "punchfighting" genre.

    As far as Trejo is concerned, I would've gone for a 'Crow: Wicked Prayer' rain dance, jumping out of a hospital window using a bad guy's intestines, or snorting coke in copious amounts while covered in green paint shooting @ Mickey Rourke, but they only had the guy for one day; keeping that in mind, they should've at least had the foresight to maybe give Rudy Youngblood's character a foot massage after a particularly brutal punchfight.

    I don't know why I couldn't remember Bisping's name and thought for some reason off the top of my head that his name was Shad Gaspar? I don't even really watch wrestling anymore, so how did I get a WWE wrestler confused with a MMA fighter? Oh well. Anyway, I could totally buy Bisping as a leading man in one of these punchfighting movies, maybe it could be a 'Lock, Stock' type movie without all the mtv quickcuts? Did you see how sweet it was when he busted through that door with the shotgun?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Also, I thought Rudy Youngblood did pretty great in this- 'Apocalypto' is one of my favorite movies of alltime, so I don't know why he hasn't done more stuff.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Isaac Florentine really did set the standard in both Undisputeds. You can see in a lot of these how they're trying to mimic what he did-- with very little success.

    A rain dance would have worked, or using Eric Balfour's intestines to escape a burning building. See, that's the thing, if you're going to go gimmicky, go all the way, like Mega Piranha or another Asylum flick.

    And no worries about the Gaspar/Bisping mix up. On my Tumblr blog, I accidentally wrote twice that Gone With the Wind came out 61 years ago, and even though I also mentioned a few times that it came out in 1939, I had someone call me out for the date mix up-- "he calls himself a 'movie guy'?" I was like, "maybe not a math guy, how's that?" I will say, though, I didn't question it, I actually thought Gaspar was in there and I missed him, so that shows you how well I'm doing too!

    ReplyDelete
  5. You said it. Can you believe the director is a Stuntman? I think the guys has only watched MTV and Michael Bay movies before getting behind the camera. Idiot!

    The cast really deserved more. Young blood was in an awesome movie, he really should be in more movies, Balfour worked pretty fine as a fighter and Bisping was very cool. You are right, it would never be "Once Upon a Time In The West", but it could have been a little B gem.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks man. Yeah, I've found over time that in some cases with these DTV movies, someone takes the final edits away from the director and turns it into something like what we got here. Hopefully that's what happened, and it wasn't the director who decided to butcher the film. Either way, you're right, the cast did deserve so much more.

    ReplyDelete
  7. http://saturdaynightscreening.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/set-up-2011-setup-2011/

    ReplyDelete