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] I'd love to check out what you got.



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.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

T.N.T. (1997)


I've had this in my Netflix queue for some time now, and I don't know what has taken me so long to get to it. Olivier Gruner seems to be the odd one out when it comes to priority here at the DTVC, and hopefully once we get some other Hall of Famers out of the way he'll move up the ladder.

T.N.T. has Gruner as a part of an elite mercenary force working for billionaire Eric Roberts. He gets wise to the operation, and finds out the organization isn't a force for good, but rather working to do Roberts's dirty work. He quits, runs off to a small town, where Roberts and the force track him down, kidnap Rebecca Staab, his girlfriend, and set up a final showdown in the Colorado wilderness.


This wasn't bad. About 76 minutes long before the credits, so it comes and goes before you know it. The plot was pretty standard once you boil it down-- good guy saves girl from bad guys-- but sometimes standard isn't done well at all, so it shouldn't be taken as too big of a slight in this case when it was decent. Gruner and Staab give solid performances, and then Randy Travis, playing the local sheriff, is really great. The action is pretty great too, especially when you consider, at 76 minutes, they don't have a lot of time to get right to it. This isn't the most amazing thing ever made, but we've seen a lot worse on here as well.

This was short and sweet Olivier Gruner as well. He's in most scenes, and we really get to see him kick some ass, so in that respect he's great. This is only his 12th tag, meaning we do need to make him a bigger priority. Gary Daniels was inducted the same year as him, and he has 20 tags. I think films like T.N.T. are indicative of why we don't do as much Gruner as we should, because a lot of them are neither good or bad. Still, we will look to bump up his post number in the near future.


Gruner's love interest is played by the very attractive Rebecca Staab. You may remember her from the Seinfeld episode about the PBS telethon. Due to the fast nature of the film, she transitions quickly from assertive love interest to damsel in distress. I think, because her character was a psych professor, they were trying to play some angle where she tries to psychoanalyze her captor, but again, because of the short running time, none of those aspects are allowed to develop. You know me, I'm always of the opinion that less is always preferable to more, so even if it was an element that might have given her character more depth, I'm okay with them just getting on with it. Also, on imdb, her main head shot cuts off her face. Someone should call her agent!

This is the third film of Randy Travis's we've done here (Black Dog and The Shooter being the other two), and I have to say, he's been great in all of them. Each character seems like the same, but they all have subtle differences, and he has a way of delivering those subtle differences. For a guy who's a singer first and actor second, he's better at the latter than most people who call themselves actors first.


I was trying to think of a subject for this seventh paragraph, but my brain isn't working so well right now. Earlier today, I did my Mountain Dew Punchfighting Experiment, where I tried to see if Beatdown and Circle of Pain would be better than similar films if I watched them on a lunch of Mountain Dew and Doritos. My head is still a mess from that-- 6 hours later! I was just taken to task on my Tumblr account for a post I made on Bette Davis' Dark Victory, because I said it came out 61 years ago instead of 71 ("and you call yourself a 'movie guy'?"). Anyway, I didn't mean for it to-- because I had no idea how much this would affect me-- affect my writing of this post, but in the end, I think it makes it more interesting in this context.

Okay, T.N.T. is available for rent at Netflix, meaning it's pretty easy to find anywhere else, Amazon, etc. Unless you're a huge Olivier Gruner fan, I wouldn't make this a priority. It's good, but not that good, and really nothing memorable. I should also mention, if you're an Eric Roberts guy, he's not in it much, so if you're looking for him, I'd look elsewhere.

For more info:


  1. Saw this one, a long time ago! Can't wait to hear more about the punchfight challenge! Circle of Pain was hilarious! "It's kickoff time!"

  2. Oh man, I'm still recovering from it-- I can't handle the Mountain Dew and Doritos like I used to-- but I will give a hint that movie-wise, it was a positive experience.