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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

L.A.P.D.: "To Protect and Serve" (2001)

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I was looking for a fourth DTV Dennis Hopper film to round out the Hopper Tribute Week, and thought this one had potential. It starred Michael Madsen and Marc Singer, plus Hopper was nominated for a best supporting actor at the DVD Exclusive Awards-- I guess the DTV version of the Oscars or something-- I'd never heard of them.

L.A.P.D.: "To Protect and Serve" has Marc Singer as reckless cop, the son of a retired cop, working for the LAPD because he gets off on the action. After a big bank robbery gone wrong shootout where Singer and his partner are lauded as heroes, they're invited by Michael Madsen and some fellow officers to a party, and not long after they're initiated into these cops' dirty ways. Singer's partner isn't happy about doing this, and wants out. At the same time, a few mistakes by the cops are drawing attention, and the net is closing in. Before we know it, people are killed off left and right, and when the smoke clears, we're left with... actually, I don't know what we're left with.

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This film felt like 90-100 minutes of purgatory. I was trapped in some liminal space, where nothing made sense, other than that it was boring. I don't know if you've ever gotten really drunk or really baked or something else, and got into that state where things don't quite make sense, and you're not sure if they'll ever make sense again, but that's what this movie was like. From the beginning, with the bank robbery, where I'm wondering why cops are just parking their cars and hopping out haphazardly, allowing themselves to be shot by the perps very easily to Hopper yelling at Singer for going in without back up, when there were like 10 other squad cars that did the same thing, I knew I was in trouble, and it only got worse. By the time we get to the end, where people are just getting killed off indiscriminately, and what may have existed for a plot has devolved into blah, I'm just trying to get out in one piece with my sanity intact-- no such luck, because we're given the ridiculous post script, telling us what happened to the characters after we left them, as if we cared. "...[N]o one was brought to justice for these crimes..." No shit Sherlock, because none of these people existed! They were fictional!

Hopper's not in this much, but when he is, he is pretty sweet. I couldn't figure out what the DVD Exclusive Awards were, because the link on imdb takes me to the Wilmington, Delaware Independant Film Awards (Wilmington being the birthplace of DTVC Hall of Famer Cynthia Rothrock), and after that I didn't have the energy to follow up. I'd say the award he should have gotten was for even making it through this thing. The only thing I can think is, his character's scenes make sense by themselves, they just dont't exactly make sense when combined with happened before them, in particular that scene at the beginning where he's reading Singer the riot act for something that didn't really happen the way Hopper was excoriating him for. Also, because he's front and center on the cover, yet he's barely in the film for five scenes or so, this clearly qualifies for a Hopper bait-and-switch, which I was totally taken in by, and that's kind of a low moment to end the week on.

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Michael Madsen was very interesting here. I mean, he was very good, and he sold this mess of a plot as if it made complete sense. The thing that I think is very cool about Madsen is how authentic he seems. He's the guy who can rock a bowler shirt, shiny black shoes, and a cherry apple red '68 Corvette drop-top, and not come off as some kind of hipster doofus. I was looking at him on imdb, and he has 200+ acting credits, including like 20 or so that are in some form of development. I'm more familiar with his voice and feature film work, but I see his DTV films pop up all the time when I'm searching for new material to review. Maybe I'll start looking into those.

I've always loved Marc Singer from his Beastmaster days-- especially his guest spots on the syndicated TV show-- so I was excited to see him here, and for the most part he delivered. Except for his sex scene that is. You tell me (if you can make out that image below) does that look like a guy in a love scene? Looks more like a guy passing a kidney stone. There were points too where he's like attacking his partner, former Miss Canada Kiara Hunter. Maybe he was channeling his former Beastmaster self, and trying to have sex like cats do.

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There were so many things I could look at for the seventh paragraph. You had Wayne Crawford (the hero from Snake Island-- I can't imagine anyone remembers me reviewing that one!), who looks more like a deli owner than a crooked cop. Then there's Kiara Hunter in the first scene we see her in, at the cop party, wearing a vinyl halter-top and a rubber skirt (it looked rubber, it might have been something else though)-- and the skirt is knee-length. Really, you're going for a little modesty in your outfit, and you decide it's your skirt length that's the issue? Even better was a scene where Singer and his partner go to a XXX theater to bust a drug dealer, and the theater is showing Flesh Gordon. I guess the message is "see, there are good movies like that, and then there's the one you're watching, which isn't."

This movie is available on DVD from Netflix, but I'm not so sure it matters-- in a way, it's kind of annoying, because there are so many great films that have gone out of print that we can't get so easily, but this is there for the taking. Total Hopper bait-and-switch, and while Madsen and Singer were good, they couldn't save this from it's senseless plot.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0250485/

6 comments:

  1. Well your review actually made me want to see this film even more! All that stuff about it not making much sense only makes it sound more appealing actually.

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  2. Great Review. This is in our pile of movies to watch! Right next to Rage.

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  3. Well, have it at Michael, but it's boring as hell.

    I'd do Rage first, and save this one for when you're hard up for a film.

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  4. Well even if it is, there's still NO way in hell this film can possibly be more boring then Hard Luck or Way Or War.

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  5. Agreed, great review. Got a question, did you ever see "Vice", with Madsen and Daryl Hannah? I'm curious about what you thought of it.

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  6. I have not seen that yet, but it's in my instant queue. This movie, despite not being too fond of it, did rekindle an interest in Michael Madsen, so that's a great place to go.

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