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.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hard Cash aka Run for the Money (2002)

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This is one of those ones that, despite how many bad things I've heard about it, the star power was too big to ignore it. It's one of those things I think people don't understand about my review site: I have to do them whether they're good or bad, and filling my comment boxes for other movies with things you'd rather do than watch this doesn't make it any easier on me, it just means I have to look forward to those same negative comments again when I write the actual review. Speaking of which, our friend at Cool Target Action Reviews has looked at Hard Cash as well.

Hard Cash follows highly sophisticated thief Christian Slater, who is caught trying to steal a bunch of cash from William Forsythe and spends a year in jail. Once out, he plans a huge OTB heist with a gang that includes Daryl Hannah, Balthazar Getty, and Bokeem Woodbine. Problem: that was earmarked fed cash, and fed Val Kilmer sees an opportunity to make some more by kidnapping Slater's daughter and forcing him and his gang to hit an armored truck.

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I don't know if this deserves the "good luck with that one" or "I wanted to scratch my eyes out" warnings I received in the comments of previous Val Kilmer and Christian Slater movie reviews I've done, but it wasn't good either. It suffered from an identity crisis, starting out off beat and darkly comedic, then becoming too serious, and from there never knowing what it wanted. Then the plot ran out of control, as the writers didn't know how to put the right bow on things and wrap it up. Plot twists all over the place, making us wonder what a character's motivations were, especially Slater's girlfriend. It's almost as if two people wrote two different stories, and someone tried to put them together.

I guess we'll start with Slater because he had the biggest part. Great as always, and he did a solid job of rolling with the punches of a poorly written character with no solid identity. If I were to point to the area where the film went off the rails with him, I'd say it was inserting the daughter. Kids are always complicated, and when she showed up the humor that carried the opening disappeared. I would've liked to have seen Slater and Kilmer have a true face off where their comedic talents and action movie past came together, but with a kid's life in peril, it's kind of hard to do either.

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Kilmer's could've been an even better character than Slater's, and I know Kilmer has the chops to pull that off, but he was even more wasted after the introduction of the kid. He went from funny and borderline crazy to run-of-the-mill baddie at that point, which left me wondering: why are we even here? Once Kilmer becomes run-of-the-mill, I'm mentally checking out and thinking about Bennett in Commando-- now he was a great run-of-the-mill baddie!

The heist film is never easy, but here it felt like the people involved with making it were good with just casting some big names, and hoping the rest will take care of itself. Either that, or they reached a point where they were just throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what will stick. We had love triangles that we could've done without, characters killed off or killing each other off with the only real purpose being to thin out the cast. I'm not saying we need a remake of the original Ocean's Eleven, but that would've been a great place to start.

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More than anything, while this lost its identity midway through, it was also fairly unremarkable throughout. Again, it's great that you've gathered up this talent, but what's the point? Is the point to just splash them all over the front and back covers and sell DVDs? If the movie is itself is just a big ol' pile of blah, is that just the high cost of doing business? It's an interesting question: does it matter how good or bad the movie is, as long as I was duped into renting it?

As I mentioned in the opening, I wasn't duped, I had to do this one based on the star power alone, but that doesn't mean I won't use this last paragraph to warn you off from it-- unless you have a review site too and know you'll have to do this one eventually. In that case "man, good luck with that, I'd rather watch Battlefield Earth while drinking prune juice in a sweltering room full of angry killer bees and wearing nothing but wool underwear than watch that sack of asscrack again!"

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0248640/

6 comments:

  1. I thought this film was just OK, not good or bad enough to really be memorable, this is FAR from the worst film Kilmer's done, the worst one he's done being Moscow Zero, it's awful on every level imagineable, so awful that it makes Battlefield Earth look like an Oscar-nominated film by comparison.

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  2. Good review!

    Haven't seen this one yet, After reading your review, Kilmer and Slater should do another (but better) movie together.

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  3. Almost reviewed this last year. Started watching it, and thought to myself "pretty overlooked STV sleeper" but at about the 30 minute mark, it got seriously dull and turgid. And some of the 'Green Screen' effects were pathetic. I'm not sure that I'll ever go back to it, truth be told. Spot on review though!

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  4. Hey, thanks guys. I'm with you Lee, I thought the same thing at the beginning, but it really is at the 30 minute mark when it runs off the rails. And it would be sweet if Kilmer and Slater did another one together, to make up for this one. I don't begrudge either of you guys taking a crack at this one, considering you have review sites too and it does have quite a bit of star power, but if you have other things lined up first you're better off going there.

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  5. There's a right way and the wrong way to review this film. You chose the right way by reviewing it in 2011, when the careers of Kilmer and Slater had already sunk quite low and we'd seen some really cheap b-movies from both. You knew what you were in for. Me? I chose the wrong way. I reviewed this for a Finnish webzine back in 2002, when both actors were still in theatrical releases. Let me tell you, you certainly look at a film like this with different eyes in 2011 than in 2002.

    The review was excellent, although I would've especially mentioned the ridiculously poor production values, specifically the green screen-effects (already mentioned by Lee) that would have been poor even in a cheap 80s TV-show. And that's, sadly enough, not even an exaggeration.

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  6. Thanks man, and yeah, that all makes complete sense, the differences between 2002 and 2011, though one could make the point too that we've seen some decent DTV from Slater and Kilmer too, making this still a disappointment.

    I didn't bring up the bad green screen effect for two reasons. One, I thought the lackluster plot was a bigger show of laziness of the film makers' parts; and second, had the film stayed strictly in the dark comedy vein, the bad green screen would've fit. But you and Lee are both right, it was cheap, and indicative of the low quality of the film overall.

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