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.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Armstrong (1998)

Photobucket

I've been meaning to get to this one for some time now. First it was on Netflix Watch Instantly, then it wasn't, then I went on hiatus at the end of the summer, then I came back, it came back, but other movies kept bumping it down the pecking order. Now we're finally here. Also, this has been done by two other blogs that are well known to readers of the DTVC, Ty at Comeuppance Reviews, and Sutekh at Explosive Action.

Armstrong has Frank Zagarino as an ex-CIA dude in Russia training their new version of the KGB that's supposed to be more US friendly. At the same time, a very moist Charles Napier has been sent by the President to look into some nukes being sold by rogue members of the Russian military to terrorist organizations. He's killed by Joe Lara, but not before Zagarino gets the proof he needs on a video tape. The problem is, how far up the military chain does this go in Russia? As far as Richard Lynch?

Photobucket

I kind of dug this one. It was a little long, but the whole thing was so gratuitous that I kind of let that pass. I mean, the plot was pretty well worn but funny, the action scenes were hilarious but in a fun way, plus, this was directed by Menahem Golan, and we know he knows how to do bad action. In fact, this felt like something that was made in the early 90s, not 1998-- only the style of the Pepsi logo in one scene gave the shooting date away-- so you could see how it might have fit Golan's other "Cannon", get it? This is the kind of movie you're dealing with here: Kimberley Kates has a full-frontal scene when she comes out of the shower, which transitions into her putting on wet clothes, no underwear, Lara pointing a gun between her legs and looking up her skirt, then her running around in a see-through wet blouse during a foot chase. The foot chase goes on way longer than the action warranted, and really kills the film's momentum, but there was a sense that Golan and whoever else that was involved in making the film were like "hey, we convinced Kimberley to do the wet T-shirt scene, let's get our money's worth." If you dig that kind of thing, you'll dig this.

Frank Zagarino is back again. This will be his fourth film, but only his third starring role. We didn't do this one though solely for him, though having him helped. The Napier and the Lynch didn't hurt things either, plus, having Lara as the heel really worked. I mean, replace Lara's double-breasted suit with a Star Trek: The Next Generation T, and he'd be one of those guys they showed in Trekkies selling replica Klingon weapons at the convention. It would've been nice if he and Zagarino had a better end fight, but it was still good.

Photobucket

Richard Lynch was in this as a Russian colonel, so he affected a Russian accent. It was funny, because his native Brooklyn accent is still pretty apparent. Try to mix those two together. He was also kind of a secondary baddie to Joe Lara, which didn't feel right-- Lynch should always be the big baddie. This is only his sixth film on the DTVC, and I know we had talking in the past about making a concerted effort to get more of his films up here, because he is such a great DTV baddie. He's always on my radar for that reason, it's just a matter of making it happen.

This had to be the most moist film we've ever reviewed on here. Everyone was just covered in Patrick Ewing style perspiration. First it was Napier, but then the rest of them followed suit. I'm talking like "I've been hiking in 90-degree weather" dripping wet kind of moistness; or "I'm way overweight and the AC doesn't work at the Chinese food buffet" kind of moistness. Whose idea was that? It wasn't appealing, it was gross.

Photobucket

As I mentioned above, Kimberley Kates has a full-frontal nude scene-- we're talking top and bottom. Then she runs around for a good ten minutes of screen time in a wet see-through blouse. There's even a very tasteful part where she sits down in front of a room service cart to eat, and Lara pops out from underneath it and points his gun between her legs, making sure he gets a good look too-- she's wearing no underwear. She also gets punched in the face a few times, tied to a chair, and when all is said and done, she's rescued by Zagarino and his Russian friend, and the three walk off into the sunset together, none the worse for wear. One of the funnier things she did was make this pirate "Arrgh!" when she's first getting tied up.

This is pure bad Menahem Golan, reminiscent of the Cannon days, but not quite as good. I saw it as a solid bad movie night film. It's not just so bad it's good, but it's gratuitously bad it's good, and sometimes that gratuitousness (gratuity?) can be too much for some people, i.e. the film takes on too much of that lowest common denominator principle. I can see that, and Armstrong definitely pushed it, but in the end it worked for me.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0139029/

7 comments:

  1. Great Review.

    We didn't like Armstrong that much. Kind of slow and Zagarino was trying to hard to be like Dolph. Richard Lynch and Charles Napier were good as usual though.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It really was in that dumb, bad action area, it's just a matter of how dumb is too dumb, and I have a feeling I was in the mood for it. The bad Zagarino worked for me along those lines too, but I can see how it wouldn't.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I own this on DVD. Never saw it before I bought it, just caught a trailer on my Cold Harvest DVD. I really liked Armstrong...for its badness of course. I was totally going to comment on the bags of sweat coming off Napier...but you nailed it. It's like everyone got out of the pool to shoot this movie.

    And I want to know why a secret spy guy who has a ton of enemies has HIS NAME ON HIS APARTMENT DOOR. What the hell? HAHAHAHA

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the plug about AIP-April on your announcements! We really appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes! The Rod Armstrong on the door, I forgot to mention that, that was hilarious!

    And no problem Ty, I think that AIP themed month is a great thing, and I can't wait to see what else you have in store.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yup this worked for me too, though it's not a highlight. Just solid bad action. I forgot about the sweating, that's hilarious that you pointed it out!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh yeah, a very moist film. And yeah, it was just bad action, pure and simple, and for me it just worked.

    ReplyDelete