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.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Deadly Reckoning aka The Company Man (1998)
This movie should not be confused with the great Bogart Noir flick Dead Reckoning, because Deadly Reckoning is a bad actioner from the late 90s that has nothing to do with it. I found this on Netflix Watch Instantly, and when I looked it up on imdb, the cast looked stellar. Perhaps I should've looked at the review Ty did at Comeuppancereviews, but I didn't know he'd covered it until I went looking for a cover image to hotlink-- I got mine from Amazon. It should also be noted that that cover is not the one Netflix uses on their site.
Deadly Reckoning has Frank Zagarino as a CIA agent who retires and opens a used bookstore in a bad part of LA while raising his daughter alone after his wife dies. Turns out Robert Vaughn, aka Control 5, wants a disk Zags has with the names and numbers of all the CIA agents-- he plans to prank call them-- and he assembles a team of East German convicts, including the great Matthias Hues, in order to retrieve it. Now Zags needs help, and luckily his old buddy Bryan Genesse and an old flame come to see him just in time. Can he defeat the evil Robert Vaughn and go back to his used bookstore life?
This was a rough watch. Not a lot of action, a lot of bad padding, and what action there was had very few inspired moments. What would I rather do, listen to Frank Zagarino recite bad dialog in his best National Weather Service computer voice, or watch him kick the ass I've seen him kick in better movies? What would I rather see, gunfights with a purpose, or just people shooting from indiscriminate locations at targets that they never seem able to hit? I get one excellent fight between Bryan Genesse and some other dude, and what does this movie do? Kill Genesse off! My one hope for great action killed. Also, there was a decent fight between Hues and Zagarino, but that came after some atrocious plot convenience theater where Hues had Zags at gunpoint and could've killed him, but opted for a fight instead. Bad bad bad, but should've been so great with the cast we had.
A big disappointment here was seeing that this was an Art Camacho directed film. The fights were substandard based on a lot of his other work. He had to know a lot of this stuff wasn't up to snuff, and maybe he didn't have any choice, he just needed to get it out there, but still, with guys like Zagarino, Genesse, and Hues, more needed to be done there. Keep Genesse in the film more, cut out the crap with Zagarino and his kid, and Zagarino and the old flame, and line up some stuntment for these guys to get into it with. Mr. Camacho, you're known for you're great fight choreography, not your dramatic scenes-- at least not with Frank Zagarino and a bad script-- cut that crap out and give us some ass kicking action!
One of my rules to action films is that kids almost never work-- they're a dicey proposition at best, but at the worst they really hurt the overall quality. That was the case here, because Zagarino's daughter was one of those never listens kinds of child parts. You know, Zags tells her to stay in the car and hide, and what does she do the first chance she gets? hits the road of course and ends up a hostage by one of the baddies. She also screams, gives Zags a hard time about crap, and doesn't contribute anything worthwhile to what is going in the plot. Whoever came up with this idea to give Zags a daughter when writing the script was sautéed in wrong sauce.
We last saw Robert Vaughn in the Michael Dudikoff flick River of Death-- in fact, that was the only time we'd seen him to that point, making this only his second film at the DTVC. His imdb bio is littered with DTV flicks, so I'm surprised we haven't seen more of him. He wasn't bad in this one, but the material was pretty atrocious, leaving him a neutered baddie, which is kind of a waste, considering you cast Robert Vaughn. Rewrite the script and give him a character worthy of him and the name Control 5.
I was trying to figure out where to go with this seventh paragraph. I could the usual route, and discuss the local landmark that I'd been to before, in this case Union Station in LA. I could go the lowest common denominator route and discuss the sweet rack on Zagarino's old flame, which was pretty stupendous. I decided instead to talk about Zagarino's wooden acting style. His voice sounded exactly like the monotone computer voice the National Weather Service uses when they announce warnings. Part of me wondered if he was doing that on purpose. I guess it makes sense that he played a robot in the Project Shadowchaser movies.
Even at a free-fer on Netflix Watch Instantly, the 90 minutes involved my not be worth it. Bad padding, bad plot, and not enough solid action to make up for all those shortcomings. A shame too, considering the great cast we had here and with Art Camacho directing them. It just shows that a bad plot and an approach sautéed in wrong sauce can kill even the best accumulated talent.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1086274/