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, July 1, 2011

American Streetfighter (1992)

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I got this one from Netflix almost immediately after Full Impact, but I wanted to space out my Gary Daniels posts. I then wanted to save it for the 4th of July, make it a kind of ironic celebration of America post, considering the title of the film is meant to be ironic with Daniels as the "American Streetfighter" when we know he's a Limey-- sorry. is that insulting to my English readers? Also, two other bloggers have done this one that I know of off the top of my head, Comeuppance Reviews and Explosive Action. If anyone else did it too, by all means, throw your link in the comments section.

American Streetfighter has Daniels as a dude who gets into trouble and needs to ditch town, so he flees to Hong Kong, where in ten years he becomes a millionaire (how is irrelevant apparently, and I'm not mad at them for that at all). Problem is, he needs to head home, because little brother Ian Jacklin is in some underground fights, and anyone who's seen Jacklin knows he's not good enough to carry a picture, so Daniels reluctantly agrees to come back and take over the film from him, at which time he's dubbed ironically "The American Streetfighter".

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The first pic after the coverscreen is almost always of the main star, but I went with this one to make a point. I don't know my cars that well, but that looks like a two-door Ford LTD, circa 1984, originally all black, now with the doors painted white to make it look like what, a police car? Yes, that is supposed to pass as a police car. How amazing is that? And that comes after one of the craziest action sequences ever, with a dirt bike crashing through a dojo, a guy getting lit on fire with the gas from the gas tank of said dirt bike-- or maybe it's another-- a fat guy running away from Daniels and tripping and stumbling like he's in a slasherflick victim, Kent Ducanon getting dragged by another dirt bike, and Daniels giving chase and getting shot at by a dude in a biplane, North by Northwest style. It has a very strong so bad it's good element, plus a lot of the surreal strangeness that I loved in Capital Punishment. On that score, a lot of this worked.

But here's where I'm torn, because there's a lot of it that isn't the fun bad action romp that Full Impact or Capital Punishment were. Weird scenes with a kid training Daniels to fight. A plot twist where Jacklin, the whole reason Daniels is back in the States and fighting, is killed right in front of Daniels, and it happens near the end. What the hell is the point then? But I'm reminded of a line at the end of the Explosive Action review: "if you weren't into [this] kind of movie, why would you be at a blog called Explosive Action?" And I think therein lies the rub, if you can't appreciate an '84 two-door LTD that's supposed to pass as a police car, after one of the most absurd action sequences you've ever seen, then yes, Matt, why would you be writing a blog called The Direct to Video Connoisseur, and again, why any of you be reading it?

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I will say the plot was much less becoming on Daniels here than the other Cine Excel Daniels vehicles, and in that sense, that makes this harder to take. He does less fighting, plus there's the whole Yojimbo fallen warrior heals himself scenario, which involved a kid training him, which I'll get into in a second. Daniels also doesn't get as many good fight scenes in, especially early, which is a strike against this, but on the other hand, the ones he does get are either great, or so silly you have to love them. And to finish with a samurai sword fight in a funeral parlor. That's beautiful.

We know, it's maybe Rule Number Three to making good bad action movies, don't cast the annoying kid, and this one took the gamble, and like the rest, lost. Still, though, the absurdity of having the kid train Daniels was so bad it was hard not to laugh at it, especially the scene after the kid trains him, when he tells Daniels "you still need my help", to which Daniels replies "no I don't", "yes you do", "no I don't, I don't need anyone's help, will you just leave me alone!" It was like Joe Don Baker as Mitchell arguing with the Adam Rich lookalike while staking out Martin Balsam.

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I'm kicking myself right now, because I totally forgot to cap an image of Daniels in his short-sleeved button up shirt that he wore with a tie under his sport coat. He looked like a traveling preacher or a reverend or something. See, I need to start taking notes when I watch these, but at the time I'm thinking "I won't forget something like Gary Daniels looking like a reverend with a ponytail", and then I'm here, typing the post, the DVD long since sent back to Netflix and the review for the DVD that replaced it written yesterday (Hatchet II) and that DVD already sent back, wishing I could get a pic of that so you can see it. Take my word for it, it was hilarious.

As was so much of this movie. But there's a lot of roughage that isn't that funny and is just plain bad. I think it's more a case of how much do you have in you? How creative are you? How funny are you? And how much do you enjoy the so bad it's good? Obviously, to turn a phrase from Explosive Action, you must enjoy it quite a bit to be here, so load up both holsters full of your best riff material, and fire up this bad boy and see what you and your buddies have got. If it's all that you thought it would be, or better, then you really are a bad movie master-- and I daresay you get what this is all about, perhaps even a little better than I do, though after American Streetfighter, I'm learning to work on it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103674/

15 comments:

  1. This was the my first Daniels flick, bought from the $5 budget bin at Suncoast. I kinda wish I had a couple more Daniels movies under my belt before I checked it out because it's really an upper tier Daniels flick. When I first saw it, the flick was a disappointment but upon review there are far worse Daniels movies out there. It definitely has plenty of "So Bad It's Good Moments" (Why is he AMERICAN Streetfighter with that accent?)to make for a good Beer and Pizza Movie.

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  2. I like that description of a good beer and pizza movie, because it really has a lot of yell at the screen moments that you'd want from a beer and pizza movie (also known as a Mountain Dew and Dorito movie). The name though is the one real smart element the movie had, because, if you remember, it was ironic, after the fight organizer tells him he'll get his Green Card if he wins, and Daniels tells him "I'm an American citizen!"-- still, it is hilarious.

    One quick thing about Suncoast, they used to have one of the best bargain/used bins ever! In fact, it was some of the finds I made there that in part led to the creation of this site, because they fueled so many bad movie nights among my friends, and got me back into the greats I watched in the 80s and 90s.

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  3. I don't think there are too many worse Daniels films then this one, Full Impact and Pocket Ninjas are the only ones I can think of that are worse. Like Full Impact, this film was so-bad-its-tedious for me, and the weak finale only made things worse.

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  4. I agree, Suncoast was awesome. I'd walk out of there spending $70-80 bucks and buying 12-14 movies. Nowadays I basically troll the FYE Used rack. For Father's Day I picked up a ton of stuff like Interceptor Force, Moon 44, Silent Rage, and others; all for under $4 a piece.

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  5. Oh yeah, $70-80 easy, it was great. FYE has a used section? I'll have to check that out. Under $4 is a good number, because lot of them are $0.01 on Amazon, which works out to $3 with shipping. We have a record store in town called Bull Moose, but a lot of their stuff is overpriced-- they wanted $8 for Guns and Lipstick for Christ's Sake!

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  6. Thanks for the numerous mentions and even a quote! Glad you got a kick out of this one. The stuff with the kid I agree was pretty weird, and looked quite wrong in some scenes...

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  7. The mention and the link are no problem, but the quote was a big deal, because it was reading that quote that really shifted my thinking on this one. I was more on the fence, but then I see that and realized, yes, what am I doing here, and what is everyone else doing here, if not for flicks like this. It put the whole thing in perspective, which was good-- I needed that.

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  8. Great review! Thanks for the link also. One of the funniest parts of the movie is when Gerald Okamura yelled "Noooooo!"

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  9. Hey, no problem about the link, and I loved the two Okamura/Daniels fights too, and that "noooo" was hilarious. There was a lot of fun to be had in this one.

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  10. FYE will also piggyback Used copies behind the new DVDs, so it realy pays to look through every section because you'll never know what you'll find. While going through the Kung Fu section a few weeks back I picked up Project A, Hard to Kill, Meltdown and a bunch others for less than $5 each. And a lot of the Dragon Dynasty flicks that retailed for $25 were going for under $8. So it pays off if you're willing to flip through every single copy on the shelf.

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  11. Another awful, yet awesome, early Daniels flick! I prefer Capital Punishment, though. At least I think it's the one where Daniels fights his sensei in some rooftop. The sensei has gone bad, Daniels questions this and the sensei says with this whiny high-pitched voice (dubbed?) "This is capitalism!".

    That's since become a regular line among me and my friends. Whenever something seems too cheap or too expensive (or actually, whenever we just feel like it), we say in that same voice "This is capitalism!".

    Incidentally, we had a small-scale Cine Excel-marathon a few weekends ago. Reptilicant and Future War on one day, both Gruners (SWAT: Warhead One and Power Elite) on the other. The Gruners are amazing, especially SWAT. Truly, truly amazing. My friend is an amateur filmmaker (films weddings and commercials etc, but occasionally also does short films) and usually, after we watch a low-budget actioner, he says something like "I could do something like that if I had the resources". Mind you, not something BETTER, but something similar. And I believe him. However, after SWAT... Well, I've never seen him that speechless before. Again, amazing film!

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  12. You know, i haven't even been to FYE in years, so I'll have to check it out sometime.

    Oh yeah, I prefer Capital Punishment as well. And I like the idea of a Cine Excel marathon. You Fins sure know how to have a good time!

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  13. Capital Punishment was alot better then this, it was far more competently made, had much better fight scenes, and Daniels seemed more invested in his performance then he did in this film.

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  14. Gary Daniels is something of a enigma. He has no charisma but having no charisma makes him charismatic. Also does anyone else think he looks a lot like Trey Parker from South Park?

    I watched this one at least ten years ago. Might have to give it a revisit - it's somewhere in my Gary Daniels collection.

    I love it where films are so low budget they can't even afford to rent a realistic police car. That's always a good sign for good bad movies.

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  15. Maybe Trey Parker's brother? And if it's been that long, it probably is worth a revisit. This does live up to a lot of what you'd expect it to be after seeing that "police car". It's an overall fun time.

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