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, June 20, 2011
Kill the Irishman (2011)
I saw an ad for this on TV about five days before it was released on DVD. According to imdb, it had a very limited theatrical release, grossing a little over $1 million, so it's success was predicated on it's DVD rentals and sales. With the cast involved and the story, I was hoping for the best.
Kill the Irishman is based on the true story of Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson), a man who grew up in Cleveland and became a major figure in their mob scene, taking on the Italian mafia and their New York Sicilian connections, and creating a major war of car bombs throughout the city in the mid 70s.
This was an excellent film. One of those gems that we look at here as "their loss is our gain", something that slips through the cracks into the land of DTV, but maybe shouldn't have been there. But I'm surprised, because this story is so compelling, and the fact that the most violent aspects of it are true, would make it seem like it's primed for a big time theatrical ensemble piece like The Departed. I guess Cleveland isn't as Hollywood as Boston, I don't know. Beyond the great story, all of the actors turned in solid performances, from Stevenson; to Christopher Walken, Vincent D'onofrio, and Val Kilmer; down to much smaller parts by Paul Sorvino and Vinnie Jones-- we even had DTVC favorite Robert Davi. One of the better films released this year, DTV or otherwise.
How do you not love Christopher Walken? I started with him because he's always been a good crime boss, and in Kill the Irishman, he plays a Jewish racketeer that runs numbers and whatnot. I couldn't believe that this is only his second tag on here, the other being New Rose Motel. Wow, considering two of the three Prophecy films were DTV. He's also another Oscar winner, which is something we don't see on here often either. In Kill the Irishman, there was no irony in his performance-- he wasn't cast to be Christopher Walken, he was cast to play a part, and he did that really well.
When I was thinking about this as a major Hollywood production, I couldn't think of anyone else playing the part of Danny Greene, Ray Stevenson was it. Big, imposing, larger than life, Stevenson brought it all, and I'm not sure we have another Irish actor in Hollywood that fits that bill like he does. The last time we saw him, it was in Punisher: War Zone, which was good, but not nearly as good as this, and I was glad to see him shine in the lead role.
And while we're at it, what about Val Kilmer? He's been in and out of the DTV world recently, though mostly in, and I must confess, we're really far behind on making those happen; but in Kill the Irishman we got a sense of the new, more mature Val Kilmer, who might not be able to carry a film as an action lead like he did in The Saint, but still has that screen presence that goes a long way. He played the local police chief, having both an adversarial relationship and a grudging respect bordering on friendship with Danny Greene. It was a very cool role, and Kilmer filled it perfectly.
Finally, the DVD comes with an hour-long featurette documentary that outlines the real Danny Greene and the real events that surrounded his life in Cleveland in the 60s and 70s. I liked it, because it put a lot of what we saw in context. It also showed the aftermath of some of the bombings, and it isn't pretty. I think what you have to do is know that the movie is only telling one side of things, and is also playing with some events to make them more cinematic, but still take the movie as a movie on its own. It is kind of crazy though to see how much of it, especially the violent aspects, were real.
This is available on DVD from Netflix, Amazon, Red Box, etc, and it's worth you taking a look at. This is one of those rare occasions where something great slips through the cracks and ends up here. Especially if you're into gangster flicks, this is one of the better ones I've seen in some time.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1416801/