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.

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

--Matt

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

House of the Rising Sun (2011)

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I guess I was a sucker for the cast in this one, seeing names like DTVC fave Danny Trejo, Amy Smart, and Dominic Purcell. Also, David Bautista looks pretty bad ass on the cover, and I'd love to see him get after it. Of course, we've seen with some recent WWE stars in DTV flicks that this isn't always a good sign. Let's see what happened.

House of the Rising Sun does not take place in New Orleans, but rather Grand Rapids, Michigan, where disgraced former cop Bautista, after doing a nickel in the clink for corruption, is working for a gambling house/brothel. As luck would have it, it's hit for $300,000 on his watch, and his mob boss bosses want him to find it. Now he has to go back to his cop roots and clear his name.

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Whoa, what the hell was that? You're telling me you cast David Bautista as a glorified wannabe bad Noir cop? The David Bautista? And not just a Noir, but a bad, boring one, with a predictable plot and absolutely no action or anything else happening. Really? Whose idea was that? You can tell it wasn't the distributors, because they have the bad ass sleeve of tats Bautista looking to tear some shit up on the cover. That's what they're trying to sell us on, but that's nowhere near what we got. But why? Why wouldn't you make the bad ass sleeve of tats version? I'm shocked. When you try to go deep an emotional and plot driven with David Bautista, you know what you end up with? A guy who looks like a juicehead from the Jersey Shore as our lead. All we needed was the busy T and Bautista knocking a guy out with "one punch kid, one punch!" Sautéed in wrong sauce barely scratches the surface of how bad this was. I'm blaming you David DeFalco, because your name was the only one I recognized in the production credits.

I just don't get it. If you come to me and say "write me a movie for David Bautista", I'm thinking former special forces bad ass, owns a biker bar, buddy he used to work with is a senator, and the senator's daughter is kidnapped by bikers. Now they have to call Bautista in out of retirement, and he's kicking ass and taking names. Imagine it: one action scene bigger and better than the next. Explosions, flipping bikes, big brawls, Bautista throwing guys through walls and bar room tables. And if I had a script that looked something like this predictable Noir that I just had to sit through, and someone comes to me and says "hey, guess who we got for the lead? Bautista!", I'd be rewriting with the quickness it so it would look like the pile of awesome I described above.

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And that goes for Amy Smart too. Totally wasted here as the one-note window-dressing lead female. Come on now, you could get any producer's mid-life crisis twenty-something girlfriend to play that role. This is Amy Smart, she of the great sense of humor and comedic timing. Imagine her in the movie I described above as a tough biker chick. Maybe throw in an eye patch, lots of leather, and just play it to the hilt. Didn't these people see Crank? Amy Smart has tons of range. I get that you like the name recognition of her over the producer's or financier's mid-life crisis broad, but once you cast Amy Smart, add to the part, give it the depth an actress with her range deserves.

We had a two-part baddie, with Trejo and Purcell, though Purcell was the real bad guy. Again, these two would've been awesome in the Bautista film I proposed. Keep Purcell as the main baddie, maybe work his accent and make him seem dirtier; then take Trejo and make him a respected rival biker gang elder who goes way back with Bautista. How awesome would all of that had been? Instead you get Purcell as a one-note mafioso baddie looking to weasel his way up the ladder, and Trejo looks all out of place as the head mafioso not knowing that Purcell is scamming him. Like Smart, these guys have more range too, let them show it.

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I have never been to Michigan before, but it looks like a pretty nice place. We've seen a couple on here that were shot in Detroit-- Game of Death immediately comes to mind--, but this is the first in Grand Rapids. I know the state has been through some tough times, so it's cool that DTV film makers are going to these places to shoot their movies, instead of places like Bulgaria or Romania. Again, I'm putting it out there, I think DTVC Hall of Famer and Michigan native Steven Seagal needs to shoot some movies up there. Dump that faux Louisiana accent for one movie, get into Detroit, or Lansing, or Grand Rapids, or hell, Kalamazoo, Flint, or Sault St. Marie, and make it happen. Maybe you can get Detroit native Iggy Pop to join you.

Okay, you know the drill, total snoozefest, entire cast wasted, not worth your time. If you see this in your local Red Box or Netflix suggests it, run in the other direction. That is, unless you're suffering from insomnia, then it might be a cheaper alternative to sleeping pills.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1788383/

10 comments:

  1. Also got suckered by this because of the cast and the cover picture. Blood Out was a masterpiece compared to this. How come Goss gets to throw cars but Bautista doesn't...? However, I should have known better because of DeFalco. He already screwed up Wrong Side of Town (also with Bautista, who gets the main credit but does a 5-minute cameo). And that argument with Ebert on Chaos and the DVD featurette (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eavxSkZejGM)... There's just something wrong about this guy.

    Didn't the director of this also make Caught in the Crossfire? There's another film where...well, nothing really happens. On a positive note, I saw Saints and Sinners the other day. I noticed you were looking forward to it and, for once, it really was good stuff!

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  2. That video is pretty sweet-- seems exactly like I'd imagine David DeFalco to be. I'll have to watch it in its entirety when I get the chance.

    Wrong Side of Town was a bad Bautista bait-and-switch, but at least it had more action than this, even if it didn't have a hero I wanted to root for. Can't wait to see Saints and Sinners-- whenever we get it here.

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  3. Great review. That is unfortunate that this is a bust. Love the cast.

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  4. We seem to be getting a lot of those lately, great cast, bad movie. Is it really that hard to make a fun, decent DTV actioner? Maybe, huh?

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  5. I went on vacation to Michigan with my family several times when I was younger, we went to Grand Rapids twice and Traverse City(which is truly one of the gorgeous looking towns i've ever seen) Anyways this film sounds OK, i'm alright with it being noir-ish, i'm just glad I know that now so I won't be caught off-guard by it, I wasn't that big on Wrong Side Of Town either(though it did have a catchy title song).

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  6. movies with casts like this always sucker me in too. I figured this would blow but I'm glad you confirmed it.

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  7. Ha ha ha, yes, it did blow, you were spot on in your assumption. You're better off sticking with the Trancer flicks-- and I was probably better off watching them instead!

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  8. Man, I'd love to see that biker movie !

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  9. Supreme Champion! What a movie! When it suddenly turned into a "most dangerous game"-clone with production values similar to Blair Witch Project, I realized why it sat on the shelf for so long. Bernhardt was fun, though, and had the only decent fight in the film. Heard from a few guys who attended the screening (one even posted on IMDb boards) that he actually sneaked out because he was so embarassed. But, to it's "credit", it didn't follow the "great cast, bad movie"-pattern, since Bernhardt was the only guy worthy of note there...

    Along with Matt, I also wonder how hard can it be to make a decent, fun DTV actioner. Heck, guys like David A. Prior used to make them all the time. Not always successfully, but a lot of bang for the buck. Then again, these days a film is sold to international markets before even one frame has been shot, so I guess there's a lack of motivation unless real passion is involved (like with Isaac Florentine etc).

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  10. Ha ha ha, thanks Ricky! Hopefully someone will make it happen!

    It's funny you mention David Prior TJ, because I think a lot of today's DTV action film makers would scoff at something like Deadly Prey and think how whatever they were making was so much better, when the reality is the opposite-- their movies can't touch Deadly Prey. Maybe we need more Prior and less whoever else.

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