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.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tactical Force (2011)
I keep wanting to call this Tactical Assault, the fighter pilot flick starring Robert Patrick and DTVC Hall of Famer Rutger Hauer. This is not that, it's Tactical Force, a new actioner starring Stone Cold Steve Austin and DTVC favorite Michael Jai White. It took me a while to get it from Netflix, but it's here finally, so let's see how it did.
Tactical Force has Austin as the head of a SWAT team in LA, featuring White, Lexa Doig, and Steve Bacic. Their tactics are a little aggressive, so they're sent out to some hanger in Big Bear to do some training. Problem is, two gangs are after a piece of property hidden in that hanger, and just happened to be there to get it when our team shows up. Now they're trapped with two sets of bloodthirsty criminals after them, and only training rounds in their guns. Will they make it out alive?
This was okay. Great action, solid story, and excellent performances from Austin and White, including some solid fight scenes with Darren Shahlavi and Keith Jardine (the latter I'm assuming was told by the director to pretend he'd just drank sour milk, because that was the only expression he had on his face for the entire film). So you're probably asking me, why is this only okay with all of these great attributes? One guess. Yep, bad gimmicky editing. The transitions from scene to scene, with the "whoosh" sound effect and blurred screen was annoying, but I could've looked past that. The snapshot effect within a scene, where we'd hear a "poof", and the screen would go black then move ahead a frame, irked me, but only so much. Then it gets really bad. Earthquake effects when Austin fought people. Really? Earthquake effects? Why not just go with the Batman "Pow!" "Boom!" "Zoink!"? Really, who thinks that's a good idea? Then there was this constant jumping effect between action that was supposed to be happening at parallel moments. I get what they're trying to do there, but what happens is we lose the rhythm of both. This was especially egregious when they did it for the White/Darren Shahlavi fight, because that would've been pretty sweet, and instead it was butchered. I guess the question is, and I think I've asked this a lot: is this what we have to settle for in modern DTV action? Movies that would've been great in the late 80s/early 90s reduced to a mess of gimmicky editing ruining all the fun and entertainment value? Please, someone out there, just go back to the Cannon and PM Entertainment catalogs and tell me how many of those used earthquake effects or butchered their best fight scenes with jumpcuts? Exactly. I'm begging you, modern DTV action movie maker, stop ruining my favorite movie genre.
This was the Stone Cold Steve Austin role we've been looking for. No, it's not exactly him riding around on a motorcycle, crushing beers and Stone Cold Stunning stuntmen-- that would be the ultimate-- but this one more than any of his recent DTV flicks played to his strengths as an offbeat and charismatic action lead. This was why we loved him in the WWF/WWE, because he was so cool to watch. We don't need the brooding hero with a past, and this movie understood that and didn't drag us there. Really great stuff, and I hope we get more of this style in the future.
As good was Michael Jai White. He takes something of a backseat to Austin-- and now that you mention it, he and Austin both take back seats to all the bad guys as far as screentime, which isn't a great formula for success, but whatever. Hopefully a role in something like this will get him out there more so we can see him as the lead in more films, because Black Dynamite and Blood and Bone were both far superior to this. Michael Jai White is not a supporting player, he's the lead.
Darren Shahlavi has a really weird role in this. He's like an Italian or something, and he affects this Brooklyn accent or something, and is supposed to be like a dumb henchman or something to this really annoying douchey guy-- that's also from England in real life. Why not have them both speak in fast talking British accents? And have them play off each other instead of making the one guy (Adrian Holmes) be a douchey American style gangster that's been done to death-- and very poorly to death too. Why not make these guys cool when you have the opportunity? You did a good job with Austin and White. Here's the rule: British, Irish, or Australian accents are always cooler than poorly affected Brooklyn or American Ebonics accents.
Finally, I'm wondering if I shouldn't charge Pepsi for advertising on this site, because it seems like all the movies I watch lately have heavy-duty Pepsi product placement. As I said in the Cobra post, I wish Pepsi would pull all their horrible TV advertising and replace it with cool product placement like this. I don't actually drink soda that often anymore, but when I do, I'm more of a Coke guy. I'd be willing to change though Pepsi, if the price were right...
As I said above, this one was okay, but it's an okay that should've been amazing, but again, the modern DTV action tendency to over edit and go all MTV on us killed another one. Maybe someday the pendulum will swing back to solid action that focuses on good, mindless substance, over tacky, hard to watch non-style. We've seen a lot worse, but this could've been a lot better.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1458915/