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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Monday, August 8, 2011

Blast (1997)

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This is not the easiest find, which is too bad, because it's chock full of great names. If you like your Albert Pyun films filled with Pyun Mainstays, this is the movie for you. One of the difficult things about tracking down a copy, is its name makes it ambiguous in search engines. Plus there's an Eddie Griffin movie of the same name that came out later. I was fortunate enough to have a buddy overseas send me his DVD-- being the DTV Connoisseur has its privileges.

Blast takes place during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, where the villainous Andrew Divoff and his terrorist gang have taken over a swimming practice and the American women's swim team hostage. One kink in their plans: janitor/former Tae Kwon Do champ Linden Ashby is still kicking around the facility. Bad news, right? And he better save the day, because the rest of the assembled Pyun talent can only sit on their hands while Divoff bumps off swimmer after swimmer.

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All right, so let's start with the good. Great cast. Let me rattle them off: Divoff, Ashby, DTVC Hall of Famer Rutger Hauer, Tim Thomerson, Vincent Klyn, Thom Mathews, Yuji Okumoto, Tina Coté, and Norbert Weisser; plus Kimberly Warren from Mean Guns. Wow. Other than Divoff, who cut a sweet baddie, everyone else was spread throughout the film with parts of varying sizes, but every one of them was solid. This had some good fight scenes and action as well, especially when Ashby was taking out Divoff's men Die Hard-style. I also liked the way Pyun cast this as a 50s/60s Red Scare type film, using terrorism as the monolithic evil, instead of the USSR. The one fault I had with the movie though, was how big the story was. There was just too much going on, and it weighed the film down at points. This effect was lessened to some degree because of the cast involved, but I went through periods where I forgot Linden Ashby was in the film at all-- and he was the lead hero! Overall, though, Blast isn't bad.

Look at that cast. If you play the Pyun Mainstay drinking game, you'll be pretty drunk by the movie's end-- you may not even make it. It depends on what you consider a Pyun mainstay, but we have Norbert Weisser, whom imdb says has been in 18 Pyun flicks, Vincent Klyn who's been in 13, Thom Mathews who's been in 12, Tim Thomerson who's been in 9, Tina Coté who's been in 7, Yuji Okumoto who's been in 6, and Andrew Divoff who's been in 4. All we needed was Scott Paulin, Nicholas Guest, Ice- T, and Michael Halsey. And cyborgs, we didn't have any cyborgs here either.

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Andrew Divoff is such a sweet baddie. I daresay this film is Div-tastic. He's probably best known for the Wishmaster series, of which I have done none of yet at the time of this posting-- I know, I suck as a human being. Anyway, in Blast, he might be one of the better Die Hard terrorist style baddies, because he has the chops to live up to Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber. If Blast shows us anything, it's that the more Divoff, the better. Div-tastic.

As I mentioned above, I liked the way Pyun drew on the old Red Scare movie. He has a couple screens of text at the beginning, talking about potential terrorist attacks in Atlanta, then ends with a screen telling us that what we were about to see was what could've happened. We're almost a month away from the ten year mark of the 9/11 attacks, and after that happened in 2001, it made sense that the discourse shifted to make terrorism the new Cold War-esque enemy, but here in 1997, Pyun was ahead of that curve (as he often is with this kind of thing). Yes, the film devolves into Die Hard at a swimming practice facility (which I think is the prison from Mean Guns, but I'm not totally sure on that), but it does have those old Red Scare film elements that give it that extra layer beyond the simple Die Hard rip-off.

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Check that out, Shannon Elizabeth as a credited extra. She gets a fair amount of screen time as a hostage, but she really doesn't have any lines beyond sobbing in mortal fear, hoping Divoff's cronies don't choose her to be the next sacrifice. I thought this wasn't the first Elizabeth film we've done at the DTVC, but it turns out, as I went back into the archives, that I haven't actually done Jack Frost before. How did that happen? I could've sworn it was one of the first ones I did four years ago. Anyway, Blast came out about two years before Elizabeth's breakthrough in American Pie, and now it looks like she's fallen back into the DTV world-- when she's not playing poker, of course.

This is definitely for completists or hardcore B-movie fans, because if you don't think it's awesome to see names like Tim Thomerson, Yuji Okumoto, and Andrew Divoff on the marquee, you'll have much more trouble with the down times when the weight of the plot becomes too heavy for it. On the other hand, if you love seeing names like that, I think you'll really enjoy this one. As far as I know, here in the States this is out of print and only available used on VHS, making it probably that much more a purchase for completists and hardcore fans only; and I know there's a Region 2 DVD floating around, so if you're in Europe or another area like Australia that is Region 2 compatible, you might have better luck.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115701/

11 comments:

  1. Nice write-up!

    Woah what an amazing cast. Looks like a fun flick.

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  2. Yeah, this is definitely your kind of movie with a cast like that. I think you'll enjoy it.

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  3. I am drooling over this cast. I need to see this.

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  4. The cast does sound amazing - I'll watch Thomerson in anything (how big's his role?).

    Slightly disappointed by the generic title - Blast. If it's Die Hard at a Swimming Pool couldn't it be called High Dive or something?

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  5. too bad we couldn't get a copy. it was on our die hard-ish list.

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  6. Yeah, not to mention there's ANOTHER Die Hard rip-off that also has the title "Blast" The other film takes place on an oil rig and stars Eddie Griffin, that one was pretty decent and this one looks fun as well, you can buy it pretty cheap on VHS at Amazon.

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  7. This is easily found on Amazon's German site (they accept amazon.com login and payment info) and is also available on eBay, but pay attention, since there are two versions. The older one doesn't have original audio. You want the "Twilight Classics" version (marketed as "Blast - Das Atlanta Massaker") which has English audio option.

    A fun film. Ashby could've used more fight scenes (maybe then Johnny Cage wouldn't have disappeared into those Pierre David-produced Lifetime-films), but Hauer in dreadlocks in an exploding wheelchair? Only Pyun, man, only Pyun... By the way, I really liked Riparetti's score to this and was happily surprised that he recycled parts of it on Bulletface and the soundtrack CD of that that came with Pyun's special edition, has the main theme and a few cues from this one. Underrated composer.

    Also enjoyed the Eddie Griffin-film. And, speaking of Griffin, get this: I'm a proud member of the "I liked Redline!"-club, which currently has...erm...one member...

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  8. Yeah, the cast is fantastic. As far as Tim Thomerson specifically, he plays the Atlanta police chief, so the bulk of his scenes are of him around a desk, sitting with Okumoto, Tina Cote, and the mayor, talking about what they're going to do about Divoff. He's definitely a supporting cast member more than a lead role, but there's no bait-and-switch.

    SNS, this would've been a decent addition to your Die Hard rip-offs, but, I think you were all right without it. If anything, it was more Die Hard with an Albert Pyun mainstay ensemble cast than it was Die Hard in a swimming pool-- though High Dive would've been a better title!

    I liked the Riparetti score, and I'm glad you brought it up, because I intended to, and totally forgot (all those Pyun mainstays, and I forgot his mainstay music composer!). He and Pyun work really well together, and it shows in the finished product. It gives Pyun's films an added level of quality over something with stock music or a collection of unsigned bands looking for their big breaks.

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  9. Hey I liked Redline too! But then again i'm a sucker for car films, I love stuff like
    "Crash And Burn" "Finish Line" "The Last Ride" "Overdrive" "Vanishing Point remake" etc

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  10. You guys are talking about a movie im looking for so bad...redline...if someone could provide me a link or a copy, id be very happy, and I have no problem returning the favour.
    Im in that clube,lol..if its possible, id be very thankful.!

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