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.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blood Out (2011)

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I don't know what happened with this one. I had it on my radar, then totally forgot about it, then our buddy from down under, Simon at Explosive Action, reviewed it, but that was like a full three months ago. It's funny how a movie can get lost in the shuffle like that. Let's see if it was worth the wait.

Blood Out is your classic Hellcats/Stone Cold style scenario, with Luke Goss's brother killed by a drug cartel, and Goss goes out and gets him a couple sleeves of tats and infiltrates them to get his revenge. 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, and Val Kilmer also appear.

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This was a not-so-much for me. The action was pretty solid, and until the end fight with some odd looking gladiator guy, looked good and wasn't overly MTV edited. The big thing that got me was how bad the dialog was, and how much of it we had to slog through. One scene with Goss and Tamer Hassan was mindnumbingly atrocious, and the whole time I'm expecting a payoff, like maybe Hassan finds out what Goss is up to. Nope, it was just a "we think we write quality dialog and we're going to inundate you with it until IQ drops ten points." Come on man. The other thing was Goss as the hero. It wasn't just that I'm trying to believe a former boy bander can rock a sleeve of tats and a cigarette without any irony, but earlier on we're treated to a scene where, dressed in his Mayberry sheriff's deputy outfit, gets his ass kicked and tased by 50 Cent, then is handcuffed to a men's room sink. You can't cut that many cool points off your hero and expect him to recover-- especially not when he's already starting behind the 8-ball.

This is bait-and-switch city. 50 Cent: 1 and 1/2 scenes. Vinnie Jones: one scene at the beginning, a little more screen time near the very end. Val Kilmer: half scene near the middle, then shares a bunch of screen time with Jones, also at the very end. Instead we're treated to a guy from a national vodka commercial, sold to us as equally hardcore as Goss, and a bunch of extras from the sets of P.O.D. videos. Now, there are two variants of the cover-- or maybe one is a poster and the other is the cover-- and I included the version (the one I think is just a poster) that features Goss, and as such is more honest and less shady to us the consumer; and then there's the one that you see here, which is what most American renters will see, which has 50 cent, Kilmer, and Vinnie Jones out in front, and Goss buried in the back. I mean, how am I supposed to take Luke Goss seriously as the lead if the people distributing the movie can't even do it?

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To be fair to Goss, when rocking the sleeve of tats and smoking, he wasn't so bad as the hero. I don't know, the whole squinting like he smells something funny all the time, the designer jeans and Abercrombie Gay Chic form fitting three-button henleys, the fashionable five-o'clock shadow and shaved head, it's all very "Dude in Vegas with his buddies checking out the UFC PPV." And again, if the people making the movie don't think he's worthy of selling it to us, why should we? So he starts the movie with that many strikes against him, and then the film has him weakly standby as 50 Cent beats him up, tases him, and then handcuffs him to a bathroom sink, all while he's wearing a cute little sheriff's deputy outfit-- also formfitting, like he's a stripper heading to a bachelorette party. What this movie needs-- and all other Luke Goss films for that matter-- is to infuse some of that natural English charisma that us Americans love. A thick cockney accent, lots of smoking and lots of tats (which this movie got right), and then crank up the soccer hooligan-ness to ten. I don't want an American jackass as my hero, so why try to make Luke Goss into one?

When last we saw 50 cent and Val Kilmer, they were in the excellent Streets of Blood. This is obviously nothing like that. No gritty crime drama, just re-tread of well worn territory, and lacking heavily on the Kilmer and the 50 Cent. But what Streets of Blood shows is that it is capable to make good DTV; and even when we're working on well worn territory like this was, it's still possible to make it good-- the action in this is testament to that. But again, I can't help going back to this: how seriously can you expect us to take your movie, if you're featuring on your cover two actors that have a combined 10 minutes of screen time? You can't think it's very good yourself, otherwise you wouldn't stoop so low to trick us.

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I want to go back to Val Kilmer, because I really liked him as the bad guy here, even if he's barely in the film at all. He needed to be the head baddie and the focal point of the film, and Goss needed to be trying to take him down. Those bad dialog scenes would've been much better with Kilmer making the best of them, and a lot of the other weirdness of the film, like the grafted in S&M stuff, would've been handled much better by him too. Here's the thing, if you're going to have a person of Kilmer's talent in the film, you gotta use him, otherwise his scant screen time will be enough to make the actors you're giving bigger parts to look amateurish by comparison.

This had the action down-- for the most part-- but there wasn't enough, and the bait-and-switches combined with a lack of faith in Luke Goss and/or a script that emasculated him early on spelled a recipe for movie sautéed in wrong sauce. Too bad, because it looked like they had the raw materials to make something fun, just not the quality of execution.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1477675/

21 comments:

  1. Great review. That is unfortunate that this is a dud. What a cast though. Val Kilmer is always entertaining.

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  2. Great review, but as I mentioned on my review of it, I was a fan of this, despite the bait-and-switch of Vinnie Jones. The action won out for me over the bad lines and at the time of watching, I didn't really realize they were that bad. And I loved that complete insane ending with Goss and the car...

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  3. Hahahahaha- "dude in vegas with his buddies checking out the UFC PPV!" Excellent!

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  4. Wow, I can't believe this has both Vinnie Jones and Val Kilmer... damn.

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  5. Hey elementarybeatboxoperator, I'm glad you liked it, and I think maybe that gets to the heart of what I found wrong with this movie: the Goss Effect.

    He did have a couple decent action scenes, don't get me wrong, but overall I didn't buy him, and based on the lack of him on the cover, the people making the movie didn't buy him either. On top of that, now that we're deeper into the comment section I feel like it's not as bad if I give a huge chunk of the film away, but a major problem I had with this was the lack of any threat to Goss's well being while he was undercover. At no point did the baddies find out it was him-- the one that we think does it turns out is actually an undercover agent too, how convenient. What that did for me was turn every bad conversation into useless chatter, because in no case did it move the plot forward, and most cases did little in terms of edification too. And for me, any solid action-- and there was some-- couldn't compensate for that.

    Also, the car throwing thing or whatever that was (another one I didn't want to give away earlier) was such an odd way to conclude what was a very pedestrian guy on the roof of a car sequence. Those few solid action scenes towards the middle should've been the foundation this was built upon, and for me it was more like they were anomalies.

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  6. Well fortauntely my local library has this film, so it won't cost much for me to see it, while I am dissapointed that 50 Cent, Kilmer and Jones have little screentime, i'm still gonna see it as I really like Goss for some reason, he was great in Blade 2 and Bone Dry, he's also in that upcoming Tekken film, whih looks pretty good, as does the upcoming King Of The Fighters film.

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  7. There seems to be a desperate search for a new Van Damme/Seagal/Lundgren and Goss is the latest to try with this and Death Race 2. In the current world of Shia LaBeoufs, I welcome him with open arms, but I still think he really should be wearing a "Hi, I'm Luke Goss and I play Henchman #3" T-shirt...

    Liked the film. Always hated 50 Cent, but doesn't matter in this case. I do agree with your complaint about Goss never being in any danger, though. I love action heroes who kick ass and are invincible. Give me Seagal over Willis any day. But Goss is no Seagal and even if the hero can handle the threat, he should at least face it. Oh well, opinions vary, but Kilmer's downfall seems to continue - a real shame.

    Great review, as always. And have fun with Bloodrayne 3. Watched it yesterday. Never understood all the hate towards Boll. He mainly does b-trash, yes, but, to me, is no better nor worse director than any other similar guy. BR3 wasn't as bad as I feared, but it's, for some reason, the least violent of them all (digital blood sucks more than vampires). Clint Howard has a large role and is fun. But here's the kicker: there's a sex scene. It's between two pretty chicks so it has no Don Wilson screwing things up. And it even serves a purpose for the plot and fits the character. I really look forward to hearing what your rules say about that, man.

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  8. I think you bring up some great points on Luke Goss TJ that I want to address. First off, the "3rd Henchman" T-shirt is very apt, and it's 3rd henchmen, not heroes, who don Mayberry deputy sheriff outfits and find themselves handcuffed to men's room sinks-- usually at the hands of someone like a Seagal. I'm tired of movies just casting these dudes in the starring roles and expecting us to buy them without putting any effort into building them up first.

    Second, going back to Seagal, one thing this movie was missing that even the Seagal movies have is the threat of danger. Seagal may be omnipotent, but at least there's the sense that there's trouble afoot. This had none of that. Inherent in the hero goes undercover paradigm is the threat that his cover may at some point be blown, and here there's not only any danger of that happening, but Goss even blows his own cover to save his brother's girlfriend from drug abuse, and there still aren't any ramifications.

    And we'll see what happens with Bloodrayne. Review will be up early next week.

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  9. Exactly. The dudes making action films these days have forgotten how to build up things. Back when the best action films were made, it was a requirement. Stone Cold, which you referred to, is a brilliant example. Bosworth's first role, so they introduce him in an action scene that's never referred to again and there's no reason for it as far as the main plot goes. It simply shows that the character is a badass and tough enough to do what he has to do later.

    Goss is not without potential and he's certainly not an embarassment to the genre like some other guys have been, but he needed a scene like that. Even a guy with a background in martial arts would need it, but a guy, who's mainly known for Bros, needs it desperately.

    There would be quite a few open places available for newcomers to this genre since Scott Adkins can't be everywhere. But being handcuffed to a sink is not a good start for anyone. Besides, those "unrelated to main plot"-introduction scenes are often great fun!

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  10. Good point. That could be why Blood and Bone was so good; Michael Jai White destroyed four prisoners in the bathroom in the first two minutes.

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  11. Two excellent examples that really drive home the point. Another thing you can say about those two: both guys are all over the cover.

    I agree too that Goss could get there as a solid DTV action lead-- the scene where he takes out 50 Cent is an example of that, even if that scene was diminished by the fact that we're like "why didn't he do that to 50 in the first place?", i.e., reminded us about the fact that he had been handcuffed to a bathroom sink earlier.

    Another thing to consider is how a movie like this builds a character up. While we look to great scenes like those mentioned in Stone Cold or Blood and Bone, the film makers here think it's a sleeve of tats and an American Jackass wardrobe. The question for the DTV film company is, who do you market to? We're the die hards that eat this stuff up, but we're a rare breed; or do you dupe American Jackasses into making a Red Box rental based on the stars on the cover (who are barely in the film) and hope Goss's sleeve of tats and designer jeans will get those Jackasses to recommend it to more Jackasses. It seems like that's the approach with modern DTV, and as a result, it's leaving us die hards to dig through VHS bargain bins to find the great 80s/90s action we love.

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  12. Funny you mention the cover, the Australian edition is the one with just Goss on it, which appealed to me as the Bad Action Aficionado that I am. If we had the edition with 50 Cent on the front I probably wouldn't have picked it up, the same as I didn't pick up "Gun" until I was told it was halfway decent.

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  13. I'm glad you mentioned the cover, because I wasn't sure about that. The Goss one was the one I found online first, and was what I was going to go with, but thought I'd check Netflix to make sure, and saw the one with 50 Cent. In the States 50 Cent would have the most appeal across the most demographics, which would explain why he's the one they used for the bait-and-switch-- doesn't make it any less insidious though, and as you said in your case, would've turned you off to it, which means your review, that was a positive one, would've never been written.

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  14. That's right, and because I didn't hate 50 Cent in this role (however brief) I was happy enough to pick up Gun when I found it cheap - but I simply wouldn't have bothered if he was plastered on the front like an album cover.

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  15. I went back into my archives to find the fist time I mentioned the bait-and-switch, and I believe it was for Hunt for Eagle One: Crash Point, but that bait-and-switch was due to misinformation on imdb about Rutger Hauer being in the film. In fact, it was originally just the "Rutger Hauer bait-and-switch", because it seemed like every new Hauer film I rented when I first started the DTVC was a bait-and-switch.

    Four years later, the bait-and-switch problem is only getting worse, especially as more big name actors venture into the world of DTV, and this movie is only one example. I wonder if us bloggers and fans should get together and file a class action lawsuit against the DTV film industry...

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  16. While we're at it, we should file one for cover graphics that don't represent the movie at all. Like anything Asylum does, the cover looks far more explosive than what you get!

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  17. Oh yeah, the misleading cover even predates the bait-and-switch. And it's not just the graphics. How many taglines have we seen that say "it's even better than" or "in the tradition of" this or that famous sci-fi, horror, or action flick, only to find out it has nothing to do with that flick. The murky waters we navigate to find those classics, but when we do, it's so worth it.

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  18. Did you ever catch "Gun", with 50 Cent and Val Kilmer? It was alright, worth a look. John Larroquette and Analynne McCord were in it too. Great review, I was pissed at the bait and switch in this one.

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  19. I haven't checked out Gun yet, but it is on my radar.

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  20. What's the soundrack from the love scene ? Lyrics are something like "I have two empty hands, won't you just let me in. i swim oceans to see you, writing love in the sand"

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