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 25, 2011
The Base (1999)
This was another one of those that Netflix had on Watch Instantly, and then decided to clip, so I had to catch it before they dumped it. I liked the Mark Dacascos combined with Commando and Showdown in Little Tokyo director Mark L. Lester factor. I think you can never have enough of those two, right?
The Base is something of a Point Break retread, this time set on an Army base (hence the title). Dacascos goes undercover to infiltrate a troop of soldiers, led by their sergeant, who are using their position patrolling the border to help smuggle drugs into the country. When he gets there, though, the sergeant takes a shine to him (who wouldn't, right?, he's Dacascos), and decides with Dacasocos on his side, he can up the ante and really become a kingpin in the SoCal drug trade. Now Dacascos is in a race against time to gather enough evidence, before his cover's blown, and before the sergeant goes too far.
As a Point Break retread, this is pretty poor. It muddles the whole becoming sympathetic with the guy he's supposed to bust aspect, and Paula Trickey, in Lori Petty's role, was just kind of grafted in so she could get captured at the end or something. As a bad action flick, though, it wasn't bad. I've seen a lot better, but I've seen a lot worse too. Dacascos gets some good fights in-- choreographed by Art Camacho, which probably helped. On the other hand, there are a lot of missed opportunities, including one with a tank that could've had some great explosions. For a 1999 flick it feels like something from about ten years before, and in that vein, it works pretty well. Overall, I'll say it'll get you to the church on time if you're in the need for a bad action flick of this sort.
Mark Dacascos brings it again. I think we're getting to that point where it's less potential Hall of Famer, and more actual. I will say, this movie doesn't let him get off as much of his great hand-to-hand action as we'd like, which is a disappointment. I'm not sure how it's happened, but he's fallen into this military action hero lead type, which is cool, but doesn't leave as much room as you'd like to see him really kill it with his martial arts. If a guy can kick ass with his hands and feet, get rid of the guns and let him get after it.
The beautiful Paula Trickey plays what is essentially the Lori Petty role. She's Dacascos's contact or something, and he visits her at a hotel from time to time, tells her what he knows, and she tells him it's not enough evidence, and he needs to go back in. Each trip leaves an opportunity for a new outfit, and after the second or third one they hook up. Then she's captured by the bad sergeant, handcuffed to some pipes in a basement, beaten, and then, inexplicably, not handcuffed when he takes her at gunpoint to meet Dacascos, which gives her an opportunity to knock the sergeant's gun away. At the time she made this, she had a lead role on the USA series Pacific Blue. I would have to say, she did more for this film by being in it, than it did for her by casting her, which is too bad, because in Point Break the Lori Petty role was really good, and even in The Fast and the Furious it was pretty solid, so to see it just kind of there, with someone like Paula Trickey that might have made it better, was a disappointment.
The sergeant was played by Tim Abell, the guy who played the jerk husband sheriff that Carol Alt kills in Storm Trooper. I don't know, I know most people who read this probably aren't big Vin Diesel fans, but, especially at the time, he was considered pretty cool, and Patrick Swayze-- well, his being cool goes without saying. The idea is that the leader of the gang the protagonist infiltrates in the Point Break paradigm has to be pretty cool in order for it to work, and Tim Abell just comes off as too much of a bad guy, meaning we're never sympathetic with him, and it's never believable that Dacascos would be either, meaning there's no plausible dilemma. The only way to compensate for that would be with writing, which this film just wasn't built for.
This movie didn't have a lot of material, so I went to an old stand-by for this seventh paragraph. They did the classic dumb bad guy maneuver, having the sergeant take Paula Tricky out to see Dacascos unrestrained, just so she could disarm him in order to have the Dacascos/baddie hand-to-hand fight. It's asinine, just because earlier, she was handcuffed to some pipes, meaning the sergeant had at his disposal two pairs with which to restrain her. Why would he not do that, especially as a trained soldier. But then you have the need to get in that final fight between Dacascos and the sergeant, and no way to get there. Well, there's always the foot stomp, right? Sure, but that brought up a different problem: Paula Trickey's character gets beat up pretty badly. I guess it'd look bad to have a stunt double-- or Trickey herself-- breaking her fall with her hands out, then cut back to her with her hands behind her. Why do I know that would be an issue? It happened earlier in the film. Dacascos was transporting a drug lord, he was restrained, and the truck they're in is ambushed. The guy falls out of the truck, hands free, hits the ground, then recovers in the next shot with his hands cuffed again. Handcuff continuity is a pain in the ass, so it's better to just not have them.
Isn't it always the way that the seventh paragraph I try so hard to think of material for, becomes the longest one in the post? Anyway, this is no longer available on Watch Instantly as of this posting-- and for my readers in other countries, Watch Instantly isn't available period, so I guess that was never an option. This isn't a bad deal if you don't spend too much for it, so I'd keep your eye out for it on TV or something or if you see it in a bargain bin for a couple bucks. Otherwise, I'd pass.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0185908/