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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--Matt

Friday, August 26, 2011

McBain (1991)

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McBain just looks like a winner, with Christopher Walken, Steve James, and Michael Ironside. The question is, will it fulfill it's too sweet potential. There's only one way to find out, so without further ado.

McBain has Walken as a 'Nam POW who is still in captivity even after the war has just been declared over. As luck would have it, a small troop battalion on their way out spots the POW camp, and saves him and his fellow captives. Years later, the leader of that battalion leads a rebellion in Columbia against a cruel dictator, and is killed. His sister (Maria Conchita Alonso) comes to New York to find McBain and ask if he'll repay the debt to her brother. He does, along with some old friends.

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This wasn't bad. It had some slow parts that were just bad repetitive action scenes with Maria Conchita Alonso and the random rebels shooting at things and getting shot at back, which were tedious at best. I'm signing on for Christopher Walken, Steve James, and Michael Ironside, not that crap. There was also a less than stellar fighter jet dogfight that I could've done without. But the Walken we get is spectacular, everyone else was good too, and the action was good when it was there. I also liked the movie's message: is it better to do nothing and be safe, or get out there and do something to help others, even if it gets you out of your comfort zone? Overall, this wasn't bad, but could've done for a good trim of about 20 minutes.

The best Christopher Walken moment for me in McBain came when he was in some seaside house with the other guys, and he says "let's talk... out on the deck." I don't know how to type it in a way where you get Walken's unique voice inflection, just try to do your best Walken impression in your head , and you'll get it. He also has a sweet monologue on Woodstock. As far as an action lead, when he was allowed to be one, i.e. wasn't kept off screen by other crap I could've cared less about, he was great. I especially loved the Hawaiian T.

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Yep, that's Steve James, sans shirt, rocking a Wrestlemania cap. Does it get anymore awesome than that? He does some cool shit in this, firing stinger missiles, getting freaked out that his buddy doesn't know how to fly the plane, wearing Wrestlemania hats. Unfortunately, a man that was taken from us too soon by pancreatic cancer. Here's to you Steve James, you were one of the good ones.

Loved me some Michael Ironside in this as well. Wasn't expecting much. He appears early on as an extremely wealthy arms dealer, and Walken gives him the speech about how he's not really living, how he's wasting his life away in his enormous mansion. I thought that would be it, but when he shows up with Walken's weapons, he kind of sheepishly asks "can I go too?" Yes you can go Michael Ironside, what do you think this is. He had a ponytail, but no long hair like Highlander 2, which was a disappointment.

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One interesting aspect of this movie is that they use a fictional regime in a real country, Columbia, where the action takes place. I don't know, on some levels that's kind of weird. In 1991, the people of Columbia were still in as rough a situation as they were before McBain was made, it's not like McBain made their lives better. Another interesting thing, ESPN did a series of sports documentaries entitled 30 for 30, featuring all kinds of stories where sports has an impact on greater society. They did one on the 1994 Colombian World Cup team, the one where Andres Escobar was killed after giving up an own goal against the US. It was so weird watching that documentary, after remembering that game and how much I rooted for the US to win, not knowing how much more that team meant to the people of Columbia. It's always good to get a different perspective and see an event like that from the other side.

Though it's a little long and repetitive in parts, McBain isn't a bad bad actioner, and with Christopher Walken and co., it has plenty of novelty as well. It's out of print in the US, but you can get it used on DVD or VHS, whatever makes you feel good. Maybe both make you feel good...

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102422/

11 comments:

  1. I keep seeing this on the free movie channels, but havn't watch it yet, though I can't felt but think of the "McBain" who Rennier Wolfcastle plays in The Simpsons, so alittle disapointed to see that it's not the same storyline, as those fkae films always looked epic when they were used randomly in the early seasons of "The Simpsons"

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  2. Been looking forward to checking this out, and the new UK release will be my opportunity. Check out the great cover art Arrow Video are using: http://www.amazon.co.uk/McBain-DVD-Christopher-Walken/dp/B005AX1X6W/

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  3. Yeah, I was going to mention the Simpsons one, but I forgot. Probably would've made for a nice intro paragraph.

    That cover looks fantastic. Hope that ends up over here.

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  4. Great review! Loved Steve James and his Wrestlemania hat.

    We have a review of this coming up soon. We make a lot of the same points. It was decent, but a little tedious at times.

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  5. That Steve James pic is priceless! I had fun using the suggested Christopher Walken impression on my wife, though she did not actually join me out on the deck ...

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  6. I have not see this movie but I can honestly say, I was sold on the Wrestlemania hat...

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  7. I'm really glad everyone is feeling the Wrestlemania hat, because I thought that was pure gold when I first saw it. Unfortunately it's only that one scene that he has it. And I love that you tried the Christopher Walken line out on your wife.

    Can't wait to see your review Ty. I'm hoping to catch up on everyone's blogs this evening. Just got done from a long two days of helping a buddy move, but once I relax I should get a second wind.

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  8. Very sorry, Matt, but I must say you kinda dropped the ball on this one. It's an unwritten rule (and one of the most important unwritten rules, no less!) that no review of McBain is complete without a) mentioning it's from James Glickenhaus, the director of The Exterminator and Shakedown, and b) specifically mentioning this scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OLUGBujl2-0 I'll cut you some slack because I have such a huge man crush on you, but really, that's a truly amazing, amazing scene! One of THE scenes in any action movie EVER!

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  9. Yep, the movie has many a EXTERMINATOR connection

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  10. Gotta agree with TJ. (Shameless plug) I did a top 5 of most implausible movie deaths and McBain shooting the jet down was easily the top. http://collectedcinema.blogspot.com/2011/07/random-thoughts-on-most-implausible.html

    Gotta agree though, this film is pretty draggy but I still quite like it because Walken's always good value. They should have pushed it more over-the-top like Death Wish 3.

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  11. Heck, I thought you were trying something different, writing about McBain without mentioning the magic Desert Eagle bullet and the jet. Talk about a challenging way to write about this flick!

    OK flick -- but to honest, I caught this on VHS shortly after it's theatrical release (thinking 91 or 92). I hadn't seen Glickenhaus' other joints yet, and in retrospect, my opinion would probably lower considering that the director of The Exterminator, Shakedown and The freakin' Soldier had THIS cast to work with -- and the results were merely OK?!

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