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/

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Space Truckers (1996)

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I'd heard a lot about this one for a long time, and I'd just never gotten around to it. With the Dennis Hopper Tribute Week, though, I had a reason, so I went for it. The idea of Stuart Gordon, director of both Re-Animator and Fortress, at the helm for this space adventure, intrigued me-- because the former was awesome, and the latter, well, the less said about the latter the better.

Space Truckers has Dennis Hopper as a blue-collar outer-space truck driver, similar to a truck driver on the roads in our present (and believe me, from the interviews in the making of featurette to the Netflix description, they want to remind you that he's a "blue-collar worker", not an astronaut). He gets into it with George Wendt, cantankerous and unethical manager of a space pig slaughtering and packaging plant, or something. Anyway, Wendt dies in a diner brawl, and Hopper needs a job quick so he can get off the space station, and that job comes in the form of shipping black market sex toys to Earth. Along with him he has Debi Mazar, a girl he knows who needs a ride back to Earth, and who said she'd marry him if he takes her; and Stephen Dorff, and young trucker who loses his Wendt load after the Hopper debacle. Turns out the load isn't sex toys, but 5,000 killer robots that are supposed to be unleashed on Earth for a hostile takeover by the businessman who owns them. After a detour with some pirates, they get to Earth, and have to figure out a way to destroy the things and save the planet.

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This thing looked nice, it had some really cool ideas, but in the end, I was bored by it. You can only string something like this out so long before it becomes tedious; and though the film looked nice, without any substance behind it, that's all it is, nice. Hopper was funny and charming, and I think he was excited to play a hero after being a baddie in Waterworld-- which this was better than, but is that saying much? I mean, it had it's moments, but by the time we hit the end, I'm like "can we wrap this up please?", and they're like that guest who won't leave, and stands in the doorway, and you've got to take a leak, and you know they're talking so loud that the neighbors will get pissed, so you try to drop hints, but it's not working, and... anyway, you see what I mean.

What can you say about Hopper, he was great. This might be a fun double feature with either Waterworld or Super Mario Bros., though I'd go with the former if I had to pick between those two. Hopper has an interesting sixth sense when he's in any film, this innate ability to play the part the way it was meant to be played, to get the tone and tenor of a movie, and hit all the right notes at all the right tempos. In some ways, it made him uniquely suited to the B-movie, because it's those kinds of pictures that lack Oscar nominated scripts, direction, etc., and need the actor to pick up more of the slack.

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Speaking of the director, one Mr. Stuart Gordon. I loved Re-Animator, it's like one of my all-time faves. You can read what I thought of Fortress-- love isn't a word I'd used to describe it. This one fell somewhere in between, but it was definitely a much bigger production than either of those were. I think he did a great job, I just think the story-- which he co-wrote-- didn't have enough to sustain 90-100 minutes, which is what they were asking it to do. I guess it could've been worse, it could've been Waterworld.

DTVC favorite Vernon Wells has a small part as a space pirate. It just speaks to the genius that was Commando that they didn't give Wells a bit part, they made him Bennett, and Arnold told him to let off some steam. I realize I haven't tagged him yet, and it's time to change that. I think it was one of those things where I kept saying I was going to do it, and I kept forgetting. Well, I'll be forgetting no more. Also, Barbara Crampton, another Gordon mainstay, has a quick scene at the end of this, playing Debi Mazar's mother.

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At the beginning of Space Truckers, a scene takes place on the Neptune moon of Triton. According to the Wikipedia article on it, the landscape was pretty accurate-- rocky and icy with big mountains. I've always been fascinated by things like that. For instance, Triton is the only moon that big with a retrograde orbit. The diner that Hopper gets into it with Wendt at is in a space station orbiting Jupiter. That looked kind of cool too, only they didn't quite have the scope of Jupiter's size down-- based on the scale they were using, the space station would have been bigger than the Earth, as would have Hopper's space truck. People who make sci-fi movies don't like to use planets that big for precisely that reason I assume.

I'm totally digressing here (and I digressed even worse on Wikipedia looking at the pages on the planets and their moons while writing this post). You can get this on Netflix, which makes it a pretty decent deal if you were going to have a Hopper double feature and wanted to spotlight two wild adventure films that really missed their marks, but in which Hopper was great as both the baddie and then the hero. Otherwise, I'd skip it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120199/

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Luck of the Draw (2000)

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I actually came across this film when looking for more Sasha Mitchell films-- of which there aren't many that we haven't already done. I had it my queue for a while, while other films jumped it in priority; but now it's at the top, as the second film of our Dennis Hopper tribute week.

Luck of the Draw has the star of Gladiator (the underrated boxing movie with Cuba Gooding Jr., not the Ridley Scott blockbuster), as a dude looking for a job after spending a few years in the clink for breaking and entering. After being turned down at a bank, he's in the right place at the right time as a bunch of Dennis Hopper's men hit a limo carrying extremely high quality counterfeit plates. Government agent William Forsythe appears at the hit as well, and a three-way shootout ensues, with the dude carrying the plates falling in front of our hero. Now he sees an opportunity, and he tries to sell the plates through his old partner, Michael Madsen. The thing is, Dennis Hopper doesn't suffer losing his property lightly, and he'll do whatever it takes to get it back.

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This wasn't too bad. It was a classic Tarentino-esque heist caper style deal where the violence is more out of fun than any seriousness. The problem is, they betray that lightheartedness when they kill the hero's love interest's dad, played by Frank Gorshin. In a way it's germane to the plot, but it was weird and took the whole thing in a direction it didn't need to go. Also, the whole love interest thing was quick and forced anyway, and I was surprised they didn't do like most heist films do and have her have ulterior motives, i.e. the fact that she even falls for him in the first place is because she sees him take the plates or something. Anyway, that this worked at all was due to the great performances of the large and deep supporting cast, from Hoppper as the main baddie, to Eric Roberts as his right hand man and Sasha Mitchell as his grunt; to Forsythe as the fed; to Frank Gorshin as the father; to Ice-T as the rival crime lord; to Madsen as the hero's friend; all the way to the Patrick Kilpatrick in one of his best roles ever as the Irish hitman. It was those performances among a pretty run-of-the-mill premise that sold it for me.

In my Circle of Pain review, I made fun of the script, saying the writers' go to verb was "fucking". It just sounded ignorant, as swearing can sometimes do. But guys like Dennis Hopper throw rules like that out the window. He makes swearing awesome. In one scene where he's on the phone, he calls a French guy a "fucking French frog fuck!" He has a way of taking material like this, that is pretty basic, and making it something more. He's not the only one though, everyone else I mentioned above did the same thing. I mean, how easy would it be for Hopper to mail it in and just be the guy from Speed every time he's cast as a baddie in a DTV movie, but he doesn't do that, he brings it each time, and I think that's why we love seeing him in movies so much.

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The love interest was a total hottie, Wendy Benson (since Wendy Benson-Landes). Her character was an unfortunate cross between the main character's redemption, and hottie window dressing, only having a moment of true assertiveness grafted on at the end. I was surprised, because had they used her character better, I think it might have made for a more intriguing movie. I mean, why would a woman as hot as her pick up a guy who looks like Corey Hart off the street and take him to meet her father (which is essentially what happened)? She wouldn't, that's why. What she would do is see our hero outside of the bank, see him pick up the briefcase with the plates in it, and find out where he lives from her boss's paperwork that had the guy's work application with his address on it. Maybe she falls in love with our hero in the process, maybe she tries to use him and leave him-- whatever, it just would have been that little bit that would have made this thing really work.

The hero's name in real life is James Marshall. You may remember him from A Few Good Men, but he's really great in Gladiator, as was Cuba Gooding Jr. (our good buddy whom we haven't seen in a while. I wonder what he's up to...). Here, with his poofy hair, he looked like a Corey Hart impersonator, which is cool, don't get me wrong, but in the context of this film looks kind of silly. I think his character was supposed to be a reformed bad boy trying to make a new life for himself, but he ended up just looking like a boy-- even if he was 33 at the time. If you haven't seen it, go out and rent Gladiator. That'll give you a new appreciation for how good both Marshall, and Gooding Jr. are.

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DTVC favorite Sasha Mitchell is in this as a partner for Eric Roberts, the man doing Hopper's dirty work. The only martial arts he even remotely does comes when he beats up Frank Gorshin because he's into Hopper for some gambling debts. I was half-expecting big graphics with words like "Bam!" and "Pow!" to pop up on the screen each time Gorshin was hit, and I could tell as he fake took each punch, he was drawing from his old Batman days for inspiration. Anyway, Mitchell did look like he'd put on some pounds, so perhaps that's why we've seen so little of him over the past few years. That's too bad, though, because the guy is only in his early 40s, and he had the stuff back in the 90s to lead action films, so he'd make a great candidate to carry the torch as the current crop of DTV actions stars get even longer in the tooth.

This is fun for the actors, but not so much for everything else, so you need to ask yourself how much you like these guys. The film is available on Netflix, so that's a bonus. What you're looking at is a classic Tarentino-esque heist film, pretty pedestrian at best, but the performances from all the stars were anything but, and so that made it for me, but it might not for you.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0207036/

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sunset Heat (1992)

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I saw Sunset Heat about five years ago on EncoreAction. It not only had DTVC Hall of Famer Dennis Hopper, but also Michael Paré, Adam Ant, Little Richard, and a musical score done by the legendary Jan Hammer (as an aside, Michael Talbott, Switek from Miami Vice, is also in this for two scenes as a bartender). The problem was, when I started the DTVC a couple years later, I couldn't find it. It took me a while before I finally tracked it down, but here it is, kicking off our Dennis Hopper tribute week.

Sunset Heat has Michael Paré as Eric Wright (not to be confused with Easy-E), a photographer with a past who returns home to LA from New York to see his buddy, Adam Ant. Turns out Ant's get rich quick scheme involves robbing some dudes involved in a drug transaction, and when the Candyman (the guy who played him I mean) recognizes his accent, and then his (Ant's) bumbling partner (Joe Lara in a tiny role) gives away that the Candyman is right, all hell breaks loose,a nd Ant runs off with the cash. Turns out the drugs were Hopper's, and he and Paré used to be partners in crime, before Paré went straight. Well, Hopper wants his cash back, and he has some leverage on Paré to get him to retrieve it.

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I really enjoyed this movie. It isn't so much an action film as much as a sexy Film Noir thriller, with sex scenes that are more at home in a Skin-a-max flick. Paré and Hopper are at perfect in their Film Noir roles, definite throwbacks to their 1940s counterparts; but the film itself is definitely a product of its time, from the music to the clothes. The Jan Hammer music was great, but a little sparse, and that might be my only complaint. Throw in a bunch of great cameos, including Little Richard, and you have a winner.

It's great to be able to say this for the first time, but as always, we start with the film's Hall of Famer, which was Dennis Hopper. He always makes a great baddie, and Sunset Heat was no exception. You could tell that he understood the type of movie this was trying to be, and he really sold it. There's one great scene near the end, where he's in a limo with Paré's girlfriend-- who was Hopper's girlfriend, but before that, she was Paré's, it makes more sense when you watch the movie-- and I don't know if he forgot his lines, or the script called for him to improvise, but he seems to be looking for anything to say, and is going for anything he can find to prompt him. I think he said like five times "we're going to see your boyfriend!", and then he grabs her hands, which are bound in front of her, and he's like "and your hands are tied!" For me, that's part of what made Hopper great, that he could roll with punches like that in these lower-budget movies.

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Mr. Kenner at Movies in the Attic has been wanting me to get more Paré up here for some time now, and I couldn't agree with him more, but every time I make an effort, something else always comes up and he gets pushed to the back. Watching him here, though, made me realize how bad that is of me, and that I need to make him a priority again. Yes, you get to see a lot of his bare buttocks, so depending on whom you're attracted to, that could be a plus or a minus. (There is plenty of hot chick nude action as well, so there's enough for everybody.) In Sunset Heat, he had a great combination of 1990s cool, with a throwback to 1940s Film Noir leading man aesthetic. His Brooklyn accent definitely helped, but just the way he carried himself, I can't think of any actor currently in the Hall of Fame that could've pulled his role off the way he did.

This film had a great supporting cast, as I alluded to above. You had Adam Ant, the Candyman, Little Richard, John Talbott, and Joe Lara. There was also Diagnosis Murder's Charlie Schlatter, and Daphne Ashbrook, who was in the Olivier Gruner film Automatic. This is one of the funnest things about watching DTV movies, seeing how many people I recognize in them. Sometimes it's like "oh, it's That Guy, who is that?", while others I'm like "holy shit, Little Richard! Yes, that's so awesome!" More DTV movies should recognize this and load up on as many recognizable names as possible, even if they're only in the film for a scene or two.

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Speaking of which, do you recognize the woman above? If you do, you're better at this game than I am, because I didn't know who she was until I saw the name in the credits-- I didn't even think it was an actor worth knowing, I thought it was just an extra. Well, I was wrong, it's Julie Strain. What do you know, huh? This is it, her only scene. She plays a human statue, and hands this character actor in the picture with her a plate of strawberries or something. Can you imagine how much that catering company must cost? Hey, it was Hopper's party, he can afford it.

As far as I can tell, here in the States, this only available on VHS. Total shame, because it's really great, and worth checking out. I'd keep an eye out in bargain bins for it, or if you have digital cable, you may see it on one of the Encore channels sometime in the future.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103006/

Friday, December 24, 2010

Rescue Me (1992)

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This Michael Dudikoff gem comes to us courtesy of Mr. Kenner over at Movies in the Attic. It's a very interesting film, because it was made in 1992, towards the end of Cannon's run as a great DTV movie house; but also because as a premise itself, it feels like it came about five years too late-- it belongs in the mid-to-late 80s. It's like we're watching a movie paradigm that's battling the calendar, while at the same time Cannon and Golan-Globus had already felt their own wave break and recede on them.

Rescue Me starts in a small Nebraska town, where Stephen Dorff is a high school senior, relegated to the geek crowd, but longing for something more. That more is especially embodied in the person of a hot high school cheerleader, and while he's out stalking her and her boyfriend near a secluded lake, he witnesses a botched black market deal between Michael Dudikoff and a couple bad dudes, which is interrupted by the arrival of the cheerleader and her boyfriend. The boyfriend runs away, and the girl is taken captive by the bad dudes. Dorff wants to rescue her, so he enlists Dudikoff's help, using the pictures he took of him making the illegal deal as leverage. What ensues is a coming of age road trip to LA, with all the bonding and adventure and sex with hookers one could imagine.

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This is pretty good. It dragged in some parts, which is more noticeable in a film like this than say in a big time actioner, and that hurt it a bit. Though this has action elements, it's more of a comedy and coming of age tale in the mold of License to Drive, which is great if you love that kind of thing, but if you're looking for ass kicking Dudikoff action, maybe not your best bet. I had fun with it. Other than the dragging, it hit all the right spots, and made for a really good time.

I don't quite put this with Bloody Birthday as a Dudikoff acting against type, because he still plays something of an action hero, this just isn't an action film. That being said, Dudikoff is excellent, and handles this part really well. I think lost in the quality of his action films is the actual quality he has as an actor, and he really shows us that here. He's at his best when he's playing a really good guy. I don't know, there's something about him that just exudes really good guy. Like I feel like if I tripped and fell in front of Dudikoff, he'd be genuinely concerned about whether or not I was okay.

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How's that Stephen Dorff treating you? He's playing the Corey Haim role of the supposed geek that actually is good looking. If you look at it from that standpoint, he does pretty well. We know him now as an actor with a much harder edge, taking on darker roles, like a head vampire in Blade, so seeing him here is a trip. My favorite Dorff moment was on an episode of Punk'd, where he was the victim. They had some dude pretend to be a big fan of his, and send tons of expensive beverages over to his table. Then, when the guy leaves, the waiter brings the bill over to Dorff, and it's like $4000. Dorff's like "that guy ordered it for me, I didn't ask for it!" I'm staying away from the joke that Dorff should have smelled something fishy when a guy said he was a big fan of his.

Every film like this has to have two bad guys: the smart older one, and the dumb younger one, and William Lucking and Peter Deluise play those roles perfectly, especially Deluise. There was an episode of Highlander: The Series where Deluise played a bouncer and body guard to a mafia dude. Duncan McLeod kicked the crap out of him, of course.

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One moment in the film really hit home for me. Dorff's character sees the beach and the ocean for the first time, and he cries. I grew up about three miles from the ocean, and a little further from the beach, and I've always taken both for granted. I never will again, though, because there are a lot of kids in Nebraska growing up that may never get to see either, and if they do, it might be a life-altering experience. Here's to you, Nebraska. if I could let you all see the ocean just once, I would.

This is only available on VHS, which makes it a bit of a tough get. I'm not so sure you need to go crazy trying to track it down, but if you see it in a bargain bin or something, go for it. It's a fun 80s-style road trip coming of age film, with Michael Dudikoff as one of the stars. Pretty sweet.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107949/

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cold Harvest (1999)

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This is a bad boy I've been looking to get on here for a while. DTVC Hall of Famer Gary Daniels, Bryan Genesse, and directed by Isaac Florentine. Can this possibly be bad?

Cold Harvest takes place in the future, where a plague threatens humanity. Daniels is Roland, a dude who works as a bounty hunter in the lawless land that exists in the infected area. He also plays Oliver, his mild-mannered twin who has the gene that, when infected with low levels of the plague, generates anti-bodies. As he and his wife, Barbara Crampton are headed to the Free Zone with other humans holding antibodies, their convoy is attacked by Bryan Genesse (character name Little Ray), and everyone is killed, except for Crampton, who escapes. Turns out she's carrying a child with the antibodies as well, and when she runs into her brother in-law, he's able to protect her, get her to the Free Zone, and take out Genesse, all at the same time.

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This is really awesome. It's like a western, set in the future, with some really cool Hong Kong style fights. Daniels is sick, Genesse brings it, and Isaac Florentine shows us why he's one of the best in the DTV business at directing action and martial arts. I loved the aesthetics-- the mix of modern with Wild West-- I loved how he mixed western style shootouts with Hong Kong style fight choreography. This whole thing just worked.

This is up there for me with Bloodmoon and Rage as Daniels's best. Florentine really allows him to get after it with the martial arts scenes, and Daniels embraces the western aspects. When I see how skilled Daniels is in these fights, I'm angered a bit by all the films where he's not used to his full potential. We might have to start a new chant here at the DTVC: "Let Daniels Get After It!" He has a ton of stuff on the horizon, and we can only hope it's as good as this one.

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How do you not love Bryan Genesse? And why is this guy not in more stuff? What is always interesting for me, is seeing him as a baddie, when I'm so used to him being a good guy on Street Justice. And when I say good guy, that's kind of an understatement-- he was a really really good guy on that show. He has a sort of Evil Corey Haim style to him as a baddie, though, which is really fun. And, oh yeah, he can really kick ass. His final fight with Daniels is up there with some of the best DTV work of the decade, which is a bold statement, considering we're talking about the 90s here.

We love Isaac Florentine here at the DTVC, but it's become apparent that we're not the only people that need to learn to love the awesomeness that Ike Flo brings to the table. That's right, I'm looking at you Punchfighting Movie directors. Watch Cold Harvest or Undisputed II or Undisputed III. See how fight scenes should be shot. See what makes them look good. Cold Harvest should be a clinic on how to do DTV action, and how to do it well.

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Barbara Crampton plays Daniels's sister in-law. Her imdb lists her as having been born in two different years. Either way, she's very attractive, and works well alongside Daniels. One thing I didn't like was the forced construct of the damsel in distress that was thrust on her towards the end. Essentially, she and Daniels make it to the Free Zone, and Daniels says he needs to go back to take down Genesse. Sounds fine, right? Only thing is, the helicopter she's in is shot down by Genesse's men, somehow she survives, and she's taken captive. I mean, we've seen helicopters explode under less violent circumstances in other action films. It was just so unnecessary though. Daniels had made it clear that he was going back for Genesse anyway, Crampton being held hostage didn't add any intrigue or make thing more difficult for Daniels-- I don't know, it just felt perfunctory the way they were just tacking on this damsel in distress scenario.

But that was my only issue in an otherwise excellent flick. I believe it's out of print here in the States, but you can still get it used on DVD. I'd do it, both for the Daniels factor, and the Florentine factor. The Genesse factor doesn't hurt either.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167832/

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nemesis III: Prey Harder (1996)

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I managed somehow to get my hands on Nemesis 2 and this film on VHS. These suckers are a little bit harder to come by than one might think. I have a beat on part 4, so don't worry about the end of the Albert Pyun Nemesis saga ending prematurely here. Anyway, before we get to part 4, we have a little business to attend to first with part 3.

Nemesis III takes place right where the prior installment left off-- sort of. It starts 22 hours after part 2, but then goes back in the form of flashbacks and whatnot. In the future, the cyborgs have sent a whole bunch of trackers and assassins and such into the past to get our homegirl, Alex. We find her lying in the desert with a massive head wound and amnesia. She runs across Tim Thomerson, whom she thinks is a good guy, but he just wants to scan her with his laser eyes and take her back to the future-- he's a bad cyborg named Farnsworth 2, get it, because he was Farnsworth in part 1. Anyway, a struggle ensues and she stabs his eye then her memory comes back. From here, we find out somewhat how she went from taking out the Nebula in part 2, to lying on the ground with a head wound in part 3.

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And therein lies the rub, as we like to say here at the DTVC. The film starts by bombarding us with images from the previous film, which would be great if we hadn't seen it, but we have, so we're like "yes, I remember that! Give me something I haven't seen yet!" Then you get the amnesia thing, with more flashbacks, then the realization that we were watching what will now become the end. It was too awkward for me, and hurt what would have been a very fun movie-- made it more tedious than fun. It would be easy to attack the film for the low-budget special effects, but you're here at the DTVC, if you can't handle low-budget special effects, you may want to find a Tumblr account devoted to scenes from Avatar and Inception.

What I liked about this one was how it attempted to bring more in sci-fi elements, which was what part 2 lacked. I also liked that Pyun cast two of his better mainstays, Norbert Weisser and Tim Thomerson. That at least let's us know we're watching an Albert Pyun movie, and these guys seem to do Pyun films better than most actors he casts. They get what Pyun is doing, and they're good at selling it. I would have had a lot of fun with this one had it not been for the flashbacks and weird storytelling method. Simple is often the easiest way to go, and the best for us, the viewer-- and overly complicated or gimmicky often ruins what could be a potential winner.

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There's one scene with Thomerson that was so awesome. He's driving around in a jeep with some grunt cyborg, and I guess the guy says something that upset him, because he hauls off on the dude, then kicks him out of the car, and shoots him. And shoots him again. And again. And again. At some point I don't know what to make of it, I'm even like "dude, just die already!", but he still gets up, and Thomerson still shoots him. It was fantastic.

I don't know what to say about the special effects. I had fun with them, but someone else might find them tawdry or crass. One thing he does is adds in lasers and green eyes on the cyborgs. Another involves this fish-eye effect that obscures these golf cart things that the cyborgs drive. I don't know what that was-- maybe some kind of hyper speed-- but obviously it was more funny than cool. You have to ask yourself on those things what you're going into a film like Nemesis III: Prey Harder for. For me, it's just that sort of thing, so I'm good there. It's the awkward nonlinear storytelling that threw me for a loop.

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I decided to use this seventh paragraph to mention that there's a trailer for Albert Pyun's new film, Tales of an Ancient Empire, over at his site, pyunmovies.com (you can click here to check it out.) As always, for any news on Pyun's projects, you can click on the link to his site over in the "Other Great Sites" section.

As for Nemesis III, it's up to you. It is still fun, just pretty tedious due to the way the story was presented. You see the same scenes and images repeated, and the repetition becomes frustrating after a time. If you're a completist though, and can get a hold of this and it's partners cheaply, I'd say go for it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113950/

Monday, December 20, 2010

Virtual Combat aka Grid Runners (1995)

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This is one of seven acting credits Don "The Dragon" Wilson had in 1995, one of which was a bit part in Batman Forever, but the rest of which were all starring roles, including two Bloodfist films, VI and VII, the the third Ring of Fire film, Cyber-Tracker 2, and Terminal Rush-- co-starring fellow Hall of Famer "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. That's a lot of premiers to go to. I wonder if he had to buy a second tux. You probably rock the Canadian Tux to premiers like that.

Virtual Combat takes place at an undefined point in the future. In it, virtual reality is the name of the game, until a scientist figures out how to take the computer generated characters, and make them into real people. He first creates a sex slave and a dominatrix, but somehow, unintended, Dante, the level ten fighter in the martial arts simulator, is made real too. Now it's a big old mess, because the virtual reality company wants to sell their new inventions, Dante wants to make a bunch of his friends, and then Dante also kills Wilson's partner-- I forgot to mention Wilson was a special cop, called a Grid Runner-- and Wilson wants revenge.

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This one is hilarious. I don't know where to start. The helicopter hovering well above Wilson that he blows up with revolver fire? Yeah, that was great. What about the total devolution of the story at the end, where we just had no idea what the hell was happening? Even better. What about the cloned virtual reality people that turn into a pile of spilled Alka Seltzer after they die? Your guess is as good as mine. By the time you get to Wilson's end battle with Dante, played by Michael Bernardo, and Bernardo is able to make swords appear out of nowhere in his hands, it really doesn't matter. This is good for the pure silliness factor-- round up your buddies and see who can make the best jokes.

Film number 21 for Mr. Wilson is quite a doozey, and it makes me wonder what he thought while making it. I mean, a helicopter is above him, shooting laser beams at him and his girl, and he picks up a revolver, points, fires off a few rounds, and then we see an explosion. What is he thinking when he sees that in the script? The point is, no matter he's thinking, he completely sells it to us, which is all that counts. He does have some solid fights, choreographed by Art Camacho, but he also has a lot of "let's see how many roundhouse kick we can trade off on each other's faces" kind of fights. You know: wait, roundhouse, now your turn, wait, roundhouse, now my turn, uh oh, you ducked it! Between his fights with Bernardo and DTVC favorite Loren Avedon, I'd say the latter was the better-- is it any surprise? Also, we have 8 more Wilson movies after this one. Almost complete.

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Bernardo never actually speaks his lines, Michael Dorn does it for him. Yes, that Michael Dorn. No offense to Michael Bernardo, but why didn't they just cast Dorn as the baddie anyway? Maybe he was busy doing Star Trek: The Next Generation. The voice is kind of distorted, so it's not as awesome as you'd want from seeing his name pop up in the opening credits, but it does in a pinch. As an aside, my nephew had this bear that recites The Night Before Christmas, and the voice is very Dorn-esque. Can you imagine if it was actually him? Like in his PJs and slippers, sitting in a rocking chair, maybe with a pair of spectacles, reading us The Night Before Christmas? How awesome would that be?

As I mentioned above, DTVC favorite Loren Avedon is in this. He plays the virtual reality corporation's hachetman, making him another baddie, but one that was also at odds with Bernardo. One thing you can tell right away is that his style of martial arts translates much better on-screen. I think Wilson could have managed with him, but they never really gave him that scene, it was more just Avedon going for it , and Wilson dodging and waiting and punching or kicking-- which looked clunky when combined with Avedon's quick style. I'm not that mad about it, because any Avedon is great Avedon, just don't go into this, seeing Avedon's name in the credits, and expecting The King of the Kickboxers.

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I was trying to figure out where to go with this seventh paragraph. You have the Rip Taylor cameo, where a faint image of his head appears above some tourists in Las Vegas, which is pretty funny. It made me think of a line from a Bloodhound Gang song: "Rip Taylor, Rip Taylor, your girlfriend, we nailed her!" There's also Las Vegas itself, which is supposed to be futuristic, but looks suspiciously like Vegas circa 1995. Then there's the smartphone technology, which was good on some things, and notsomuch on some others. They don't look as stylish-- think cross between Tri-corder and Zack Morris Phone-- and they don't have great GPS; but they have tons of sweet apps, including a talking woman home screen, the ability to scramble neck-shocking collars, something that mimics FBI announcements, something that can replicate someone else's hand to get by security scans, and best of all, a self-destruct app. I have to think someone's working on that one right now for the iPhone.

The DVD of this is out of print, meaning the VHS is the most affordable option. This is one of those it's so bad it's funny kind of deals, and I had a lot of fun with it. Definitely worth keeping your eye out for in bargain bins and whatnot, but I wouldn't go too far out of my way or spend too much money.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113220/

Friday, December 17, 2010

Beatdown (2010)

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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.

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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!"

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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.)

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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/

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Circle of Pain (2010)

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About a month ago I reviewed a film called Locked Down. In the comments section of that post, two things happened. First, our friend Ty at comeuppance reviews, gave us the term "punchfighting movie" when describing this UFC/TapOut sub-genre of low-budget martial arts films, complete with the tatted bruisers, songs performed by Disturbed derivatives, and sea-sickness inducing MTV film edits. Second, our friend Jason over at elementarybeatboxoperator,storylike made the joke that he might handle these films better while under the influence of Mountain Dew. And thus the Punchfighting Movie Mountain Dew Doritos Experiment was born.

I decided to go back to my movie watching roots for this one. On a recent free day, after my morning walk and a quick shower, I planted myself on the couch and had Mountain Dew and Doritos for lunch-- that's it-- while I watched two recent Punchfighting movie efforts, Circle of Pain and Beatdown. Below is a picture of what I put into my system:

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And no, Mr. Anonymous from Unrivaled, it wasn't this:

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Before I get into the review, let me just say that I was ill equipped physically to deal with the ramifications of what a lunch of Mountain Dew and Doritos meant. I was lightheaded, felt some tingling in my left arm, and thought on numerous occasions that I might have what the competitive eaters call a "reversal of fortune". As late as midnight-- twelve hours later!-- I was still feeling these effects. I know as a blogger the idea is that junk food is considered an average meal for us in our parents' basements; but in the real world, as an actual person, I'm too far removed from my college days when I used to pull this kind of shit and get away with it. My body just doesn't find it funny anymore.

Anyway, so here we are, onto Circle of Pain. It stars rising Punchfighting guy Tony Schiena (Locked Down) as a former fighter who broke his buddy Dean Cain's back with a spin kick (believe me, it was hilarious). Five years later, Bai Ling, who runs the MMA outfit Schiena used to fight for, decides that he needs to fight again against her champ, Heath Herring. She twists his arm by evicting Schiena's baby mama and daughter out of the house Ling provided for them, somehow circumventing any landlord/tenant laws in the process. Now Schiena must overcome his regrets for what he did to his buddy and climb back into that ring triumphant.

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I don't know if it was the Mountain Dew or what, but this wasn't too bad. Yes, the scene where Schiena breaks Cain's back is hilarious, and the flashbacks after are even better-- "I play that moment back in my mind, just thinking 'why didn't I kick him a little higher!'" The fight scenes outside of the ring were pretty clunky, like the one with Kimbo Slice, pretty much just wait, punch punch, wait, punch punch, wait, kick, block, throw, repeat; but the final fight inside the ring was great, one of the best MMA dramatizations we've seen in this sub-genre. Also, it was refreshingly light on the MTV gimmicky camera effects. Schiena in the featurette called it the "Rocky of MMA", which is what Unrivaled technically was too, but this was much better. The plot didn't stray too far and get weird on us, and Bai Ling as the MMA organization president was too perfect for words in my opinion. I would say it's more Rocky V than Rocky, but it was a good Rocky V.

Tony Schiena worked better here as the hero than he did in Locked Down, though I have to say he didn't work in the latter more because of the convoluted plot that made him act in awkward scenes than it was him. I do love that he always speaks in these breathy tones, like he's an obscene caller or something. "Hey Dean Cain, do you know who this is? What're you wearing? Are you wearing corduroy? Ooh, I can hear you swish swishing around the house as we speak..." He's a great fighter though, so hopefully he'll get more and better work.

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Speaking of the devil, Dean Cain plays a paraplegic. In the featurette, he said he wanted this role because he knew people who were paralyzed, and he saw how they lived very full lives in spite of their disabilities. That brings in an interesting question: is that good enough for you Dean Cain fans out there? What I mean is, is not seeing him fight that much enough for you, if you find out after the fact why he took the role he did? It's one of those things about the featurette, because it explains a lot, but do you except the explanations if you were looking for something else? I was fine with it, even before finding out about why, but that's just me.

One of my favorite MMAers, Frank Mir, has a small, clunky cameo where he gets his ass kicked by Heath Herring. Again, in the featurette, we find out he was just doing it to get his feet wet in the acting world. I'm good with him doing that, but by putting his name on the cover, it's a bait-and-switch. Also, his fight scene wasn't very good at all. Wait, punch punch, wait, knee knee, throw. If he's going to go the next level and get a bigger part, I'd say make him a cyborg or something that throws people a lot and breaks their arms with nasty jiu-jitsu holds. That would rule. As an aside, the background of his one scene is a sick Shelby Cobra-- at least I think it is, I don't know cars that well.

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Bai Ling was awesome, and if you see her in the featurette, she's even more awesome. The first thing she says is "this movie is better than drugs, alcohol, or anything else you're taking." Umm, Bai, what exactly do you think I'm taking? Oh wait, that's right, Mountain Dew. Then she says the director was a genius for casting her, because she was playing a part made for a white man. Simply beautiful. I could have done with her in a better haircut, and the leopard print nail polish was a little bit much, but otherwise, she totally sold it. It was one of the elements that elevated this from the run-of-the-mill Punchfighting film.

All right, so final verdict, clunky fights, but a really amazing last one; a pretty funny storyline, especially when you see the actual kick to the back; a script that uses the word "fucking" as its go-to verb; yet also a great Bai Ling; and a hero who speaks in breathy tones but is a solid fighter and a guy worth rooting for. It's the Rocky V of MMA films, which isn't so bad a deal. Again, maybe it was the Mountain Dew that made me lighten up, but I didn't hate this.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1541664/

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

T.N.T. (1997)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0131046/

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Musketeers Forever (2000)

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This is a bit of a rarity of a Michael Dudikoff flick, so when I came across it, I was pretty stoked. I mean, even if it sucked, it was one film closer to having all of Dudikoff's films up here, which is something we really want. It didn't hurt either that it also starred Lee Majors.

Musketeers Forever is about three older dudes, Majors among them, who used to work in the CIA and in military special forces, along with a fourth man, Dudikoff's dad. They called themselves the Musketeers. They became a threesome sometime back when Dudikoff's dad took a bullet to save Majors's life. Fast forward, and Majors gains a huge windfall in a poker game, and he buys a club in upstate New York for him, his two buddies, and their fallen buddy's son, Dudikoff (aptly named D'Artagnan), to run as a group. The town they picked has its own issues, as some rich criminal businessman owns the town and the police, and he wants to own the local Indian reservation as well, so he can put a casino on it. Our heroes don't like this dude and his goons, and they don't back down when he comes along pushing his weight around. Now it's up to the Musketeers to save this town from this businessman's tyranny.

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I had fun with this one, but can I recommend it, I'm not so sure. It's not the most action packed, and a lot of the action is done in bar brawl style, though there is some solid martial arts by a few characters. I liked it because, despite not having tons of action, things moved rather quickly, and before I knew it we were closing in on the finale. It is a rather self-contained plot-- think a smaller-scale Road House-- so I don't know if it would have enough for everyone, but it had enough for me. Probably it's best attribute was how much it made the good guys likable, and the bad guys really suckey people. Sometimes that's all it takes in a film like this to keep one interested, but it's surprising how seldom something as simple as that is done in other movies.

This is tag 24 for Michael Dudikoff, putting him ahead of Lorenzo Lamas for second all time among actors here at the DTVC, behind, who else, Dolph Lundgren. I have to say, Musketeers Forever does that quintessential Dudikoff as well as I've seen it in any of his other pictures. You know the kind I mean-- kind of the ordinary guy that gets out of things as much with his wits as he does with his fists. His character does come off as a very accomplished martial artist, though, so I don't want to give the impression that he can't fight. I think if you look at some of the ones in the past, like Midnight Ride, that did this kind of thing ten kinds of wrong, Musketeers Forever is at least a refreshingly solid Dudikoff-ian effort.

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Wow, can you believe that we're somewhere near 570 posts, and this is the first film I've done with Lee Majors in it? The Fall Guy? The Six Million Dollar Man? Total icon, and a huge influence on the films we look at at the DTVC. At least for me, it was The Fall Guy and shows like it that first spawned my love of the action genre (and Erin Gray's guest spot as a Navy officer probably spawned my attraction for women in uniforms as well, but I digress). On top of that, Lee Majors has some great DTV work of his own that I should probably get to, among those The Protector, where he plays a baddie, and tells the heroine as he's abducting her "Tough Bitch? I looove that." How amazing is that?

Do you recognize this woman, Sabine Karsenti? You probably recognize her, right, but just can't place it. I'll help you out, Battlefield Earth. I wonder, resume-wise, which is the better item, Musketeers Forever or Battlefield Earth. I mean, on the surface, you say, with Travolta and all, it's gotta be the latter, but I don't know. At the very least, she was better here than she was in Battlefield Earth. The whole idea of putting Battlefield Earth on one's resume reminds me of a conversation a buddy and I had in Wendy's about ten years ago. They had a sign saying how you should apply there for a job to build your work history, and my buddy says, before taking a bite of his Triple Cheese Burger (my personal fast food fave) "of course, you can't put Wendy's on your resume, unless you want to look like an aaasshooole..." and as he said "aaasshoooole" he realized one of the employees was behind us cleaning a table off.

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This film makes a statement about building casinos on Native American land, not from the angry residents who live in the surrounding towns, but rather from the residents who live on the reservation. In Maine we just voted to build a casino up north, about 2-3 hours away, and even though it's not on a reservation, a similar issue is there that they examined in Musketeers Forever, that being is it a quick fix for an area where jobs are sparse, but a quick fix with little potential for long term development? Of course, in action movies, the answers are always much easier to parse out, because there's usually a baddie behind the casino, and someone like Dudikoff can come in and kick his ass. That's why we love action films so much.

This is a tough find, but if you manage it, I think you might like it. If you live outside of Region 1, you'll probably have an easier time finding a copy of it than us in the States and Canada will (do I have any Canadian readers?). It's not as much a straight-ahead actioner as it is about a group of really good guys taking down a group of really bad guys, but in its own way it works.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0190577/