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, January 7, 2011

Final Round (1994)

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I wish I could remember exactly when I first saw this. It's like asking me if I can remember when I first saw The Running Man. Okay, no it isn't, but I'm just sayin'.... Anyway, it took me a little bit to track it down on VHS... okay, no I didn't track it down, I came across it and figured why the hell not, but I'm just sayin'... why don't I just get to the review?

Final Round stars DTVC Hall of Famer Lorenzo Lamas as Tyler Verdiccio, a motorcycle mechanic who can also fight. Kathleen Kinmont sees him at a gym beating a guy who once starred as a bad immortal on Highlander: The Series, and she decides he's good fresh meat for this Running Man rip-off game run by another Highlander: The Series villain (two-time in fact) Anthony De Longis. Thing is, De Longis is mad at Kinmont, so after he captures Lamas, he throws her in the game too, along with one of the guys from Homicide Life on the Street. Now Lamas needs to become the hunter, or some such shit.

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imdb, in their "Movie Connections" section for this film, listed The Running Man as one of the connections, and gave this as the reason "This movie directly lifts the concept of The Running Man". This is no where as good as The Running Man, of course, even down to the Homicide Life on the Street actor they used-- what, Yaphet Kotto wasn't available, or didn't want to walk within ten feet of this? Forget the rip-off factor, because I'm usually up for a good rip-off when done well, but this was just a big old pile of suck. There's one scene where one of the hunters turns out the lights on Lamas and co., and uses night vision goggles to see them. She spends an inordinate amount of time cutting them with a knife, toying with them, and we're wondering how Lamas will get out of this one. Well, Kinmont simply turns on the lights, and they kill her (the hunter, not Kinmont). It was a metaphor for the whole film: scenes that went on too long, that were more annoying than suspenseful, and didn't take any ingenuity from our hero to solve them. This is hard to watch, and not a lot of fun, even to make fun of.

I must say, I was rather disappointed by this turn of events, because the film started off well-- even if in only a funny way-- and a big part of that was Lamas. The hair, the boxing gloves, and then after the working on the bike with no shirt on, and then the overalls with one unsnapped he wears to meet Kinmont for their date at the bar. It's just classy Lamas all the way around. The problem was, the film artificially diminished his character because they thought it would make him more intriguing or something. Instead, it only helped to further diminish the film. I mean, the only thing this film had going for it was Lamas as the hero and De Longis as the baddie. Make Lamas totally awesome, totally kick ass. Right away, when the Dan Dierdorf look-alike bodyguard leads Lamas into the playing field at shotgun-point, Lamas, instead of meekly doing what he's told, should whip around, disarm him, and in the next scene we see the hunters coming across his dead body with a note attached about how he (Lamas) has a gun now. But I guess being awesome is a little too much to ask of a movie like this.

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This scene here with the laser sight reminds me of a similar one in the Dolph Lundgren classic Hidden Assassin, not to be confused with another Dolph classic, Hidden Agenda. If you're wondering, the laser sight in Final Round is attached to a crossbow, which is shot by Ian Jacklin. Does it get any more jack-ass-y than that? I should probably be saying jackbutt, right, since I don't have the adult warning gate to enter my blog. Oh, I guess I said "shit" two paragraphs ago, which either means I need to fix that, or I can say jackass. What if I just want to say jackbutt, just to say it? Like, Ian Jacklin with his mullet and the camera on his face that looked like an eye patch and his tiny crossbow with a laser sight looked like a total jackbutt. That this movie looks like it was made by a bunch of jackbutts. Frickin' jackbutts.

Jackasses, okay, they were jackasses. Kathleen Kinmont and Lorenzo Lamas had one of the most awkward love scenes, which is saying a lot, because DTV movies seem to be a haven for awkward love scenes. We had Kinmont, in her underwear and nylons, and she peels one of her nylons down seductively-- only to run into her shoe, which was a mess of buckles and ties and whatnot. So she just rolled it down that far and left it, which looked so weird. Then she saunters over to Lamas, who takes her other leg, and proceeds to do the same thing, down to the shoe, and leaves it there. How hard would it have been to make that less awkward? I guess if you're a jackass, too hard.

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Look at that shot up there. It looks like it's from an indie art house flick about a small Midwestern town in the 50s. How does something so awesome emerge from a film so ah-trocious? I mean, you'd never know that, instead of James McAvoy coming out of his garage to meet Kira Knightly or something, we have a shirtless Lorenzo Lamas coming to meet Kathleen Kinmont so the two can have a sexual innuendo conversation about bikes.

What do you want me to say? Yes, rent The Running Man on DVD, or if you own it-- of course, you don't need me to tell you The Running Man was awesome, what you need me to tell you is this rip-off of The Running Man was no good, and I'll be happy to oblige you. Pile o' suck.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106907/

3 comments:

  1. I didn't mind this film too much, it might not exactly be a great Lamas vehicle, but it's certainly not as boring as The Debt or as awful as the Swordsman films, Clark Johnson may be a dead-ringer for Kotto, but I still found his character pretty likeable and I was extremely pissed when he got killed off as he was arguably more interesting then Lamas's own character was, Kinmont was also pretty good though I wish she'd gotten a chance to kick ass like she did in the C.I.A. films.

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  2. This was pretty terrible. First of was how greasy and unkept Lorenzo Lamas looked. I know he was supposed to be a motorcycle mechanic but was it too much for Lamas to look as if he hadn't bathed for two weeks. He looked like Mickey Rourke from Angel Heart and Johnny Handsome in terms of greasiness. But the difference was those were film noir films and Rourke played a private eye and crook. Also Lamas doesn't have the charisma to win us over.

    The guy from Kickboxer 3 had way too many confrontations with another hunter leading to an eye rolling back from the dead sxene. It was just embarrassing. Also (Keep in mind it's been awhile) but why did the CEO (Or whatever) Try to kill the game show host?

    Why was Kathleen Kinmont a love interest when she seduced Lamas into this hunting game? Sure she's forced into the game but wouldn't such make her as loathsome as the bad guys? Why would they pick a kickboxer and (I think) baseball player when you could have a military special forces bad ass?

    Another thing this reminded me of was Hard Target minus the style and quality. That's why you have the crossbow scenes, Also Hard Target was exciting because aside from being a Navy Seal badass he was also armed with a shotgun against the bad guys. So you didn't have too many heavy handed sneak attacks, as exchange of gunfire is always the best approach to such material.

    Also the villains in both Running Man and Hard Target were far more enjoyable and mean spirited.

    Overall Final Round was a waste of time because the action was lame. This all combined to make for a real stinker. Not as bad as CIA or Rapid Exchange but what on earth is?

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  3. Couple quick things, just to clear up your foggy memory. The guy from Homicide was a former football player, running back in fact. Agreed though, don't know why you'd pick that for your game. Second, the CEO was actually a major crime lord, and De Longis's mentor, and he wanted to knock De Longis down a peg, that's why he bet on Lamas, after his woman caught lamas fighting in the bar. He wants to kill him, because he knows that De Longis doesn't have the money to pay him after Lamas wins.

    Okay, with that out of the way-- and not sure that it matters, because the movie still sucked-- all the points you make about Lamas looking greasy are very valid, and again diminished the umph of the film because it diminished him. The Kinmomnt thing was very klunky, but I guess the idea was that Lamas was such a good guy he couldn't let her die in the game, even after what she did.

    The Hard Target connection is interesting, something I didn't see at the time, but does make a lot of sense. Also, the Kickboxer 3 guy is Ian Jacklin, though maybe I should call him the Kickboxer 3 guy from now on, or even Ian Jackass. Eye rolling was the reaction to everything in this movie, very apt description.

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