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, September 29, 2011
It's time to roll up our sleeves and get a little Dirty with Cuba Gooding Jr. Netflix was dumping this from Watch Instantly (along with a ton of others on October 1, 2011-- they just keep upping the prices and lowering the quality, don't they?), and considering I have to pay more for only one DVD a month now, I needed to get this done on Watch Instantly and not waste a DVD slot if at all possible.
Dirty is actually centered around Clifton Collins Jr., a former gang member and now gang task force cop, whose partner is Cuba Gooding Jr., a crazy dude who's looking to come up in the game, but might not actually have the game to get there. The two of them are sent by their superiors, Keith David and Cole Hauser, to get evidence locker drugs, and sell them to some Canadian Hell's Angels for Wyclef Jean, only in reality they're supposed to bust them, and take the drugs and the money. Something goes wrong though, and Collins's old gang members are helping the Canadians. Is this all a set-up? Oh yeah, and Collins is trying to go clean and set up a deal with IA. Could this have something to do with that?
This could've been good, but it had three main drawbacks that torpedoed it. First, it had an excruciatingly slow beginning, and almost nothing happens in the first 40 minutes outside of Cuba Gooding Jr. pulling over an older rich couple and harassing them-- the wife just happens to be Gates McFadden. Anyway, this slow start makes the first 40 minutes feel like 90. Then, when it does get going, we're treated to sea sick cam. All over the place, can't hold a frame for two seconds, subjects are in and out of focus, moving all over the shot. Any action is marred by rapid jumpcuts and odd edits. Finally, the end is sauteed in wrong sauce. I'm going to give it away because it's so bad: Clifton Collins Jr. turns into a ghost. Huh? All of that is too bad, because it wastes some really great performances, especially from Gooding, Collins, Wyclef, and Keith David. I don't know what this movie was going for, what its message was, but it was all over the map. A film like this needs to be reigned in, simplified, and allowed to lean on the talent.
And speaking of that talent, Cuba Gooding Jr. shows why he has that Oscar. This isn't him parroting Denzel Washington in Training Day, this is him getting to the nuts and bolts of what this character is about, and not leaving out a single detail in any scene. There's the insanity, the harsh gangster bravado, yet at the same time the cowardice of a fugazi player. You can hear it and see it in everything he does. I don't blame him for taking a role like this in a DTV flick when his other options are things like Snow Dogs. By all means, stretch that range, and hopefully, bigger productions or higher quality indie flicks will come back to you and let you do your thing on a bigger stage.
I know I rail against bad, gimmicky camerwork a lot on here, but in a movie like this, it makes the least sense. This is no TapOut film, this is supposed to be taken seriously, and I just don't know how we can be expected to. And this wasn't so much shaky cam as it was sea sick cam, where it's just moving and bobbing all over the place. There should be a Dramamine warning on the cover. These are all pretty good actors, how hard is it to just train the camera on them and let us watch them work. In the moments when the cinematography was less all over the place, those were some of the best parts of the film.
Another thing that baffled me was why Cliffton Collins Jr. was doing the voice overs when they had one of the foremost voice actors in the world in Keith David. I get that they wanted it to be from Collins's perspective, but to make it from Keith David's as a form of wise man that's seen it all before, and at the same time remove the ghost aspect-- at least at the end with Collins--, this could've jumped in quality right away. It's moves like this that keep a film closer to the schlock DTV side of the spectrum, as opposed to the hidden gem DTV indie find side of the spectrum.
When last we saw Gates McFadden, she was in Make the Yuletide Gay, a film I picked for Christmas back in 2009. She only had a slightly bigger role in that than she did in this. Here, she and her husband are lost in a bad part of LA, and Clifton Collins Jr. tries to offer assistance. Then her husband makes a crack about how he can't understand Collins due to his accent, and Cuba gets pissed and has the guy exit his vehicle and lay across the hood while he goes inside and sexually harasses Gates and takes the guy's PDA from his glovebox. Hey, any Gates is good Gates, that's what I always say.
The only redeeming quality for this is how good Cuba Gooding Jr. is, but I'm not sure that's enough. This is slow at first, then sea sick inducing, and finally just plain weird to finish. Too bad, because Gooding wasn't the only great performance, but none of the actors could carry the material.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0439544/
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
This movie was the opener for September's Netflix Bad Movie Night, which as I've mentioned in the past, is organized in part by our buddies at Mr. Gable's Reality, Guts and Grog Reviews, and Morbidementia, and is a lot of fun. I was having problems with my twitter feed at the time, and wasn't paying as good attention to this as I should have, but it seemed really cool. Still, I gave it a rewatch just in case. And if you're wondering, no one gave the "Shercock Holmes" crack, but I was thinking it.
Sherlock Holmes is The Asylum's take on the super sleuth, who at that time was the subject of a big budget blockbuster action flick franchise starter starring Robert Downey Jr. In true Asylum style, Holmes and his friend Watson find themselves confronting dinosaurs and sea monsters. What could be the cause of this? Could it have anything to do with the film's one recognizable face, Dominic Keating?
Okay, so upon second watching, this didn't hold up quite as well, but it held up. It had some slow points, but overall, it felt like a fun, Asylum-style throwback to the old adventure serial, with the cool sets, funky robots and contraptions, and, of course, the dinosaurs. How do you not love The Asylum's dinosaurs? Beyond the kitschiness, it had some real solid points, including some really nice period sets, a beautiful CGI London cityscape, and great usage of the local Welsh landscape. It had more the feel of a syndicated TV show, and you could kind of see this as a pilot to something much better, if the syndicated TV show still existed like it did in the 90s. Not the best from The Asylum, but one that worked for me.
I have no clue who played Sherlock Holmes, just assumed that he, like the guy who played Watson, was on some BBC Sci-Fi show (Watson was on Torchwood). Nope, according to imdb, this is it for him. Not sure what to make of his version of Holmes. It was squarely in that classic serial hero mold, where he was kind of effeminate, kind of pretentious, and kind of an asshole. I'm torn by that, because, on the one hand I get it, but on the other, I'm not sure how well that holds up today. Part of the reason why MST3K would make fun of that type of guy is that he smacks of a certain level of fatuous elitism. I don't know, maybe The Asylum wanted us to make fun of him too.
Dominic Keating was the one notable in this for me, and I never even watched Enterprise, I just remember him from the commercials and stuff. He seemed like a good idea as the baddie, but at the end, while the mechanical dragon he's flying in is wreaking havoc all over London, the only shots of him we see are in the cockpit, where he has this creepy looking grin on his face, like he's staring at a woman undressing without her knowing it, but wouldn't be ashamed if she catches him. Also, for some reason we didn't have him as a villain until the last half-hour or so, which was kind of a weird construct in the film-- he should've been a villain throughout the film.
I must confess, I haven't seen the Robert Downey Jr. version of Sherlock Holmes, nor have I read the original books. I did catch some of the Jeremy Brett ones though, and those were cool. I think with something like this, any interpretation can have its merits, I just felt like the big budget one was simply made to create another money-making franchise, and that I didn't like, because that's silly and crass. I know what you're thinking, aren't these Asylum flicks silly and crass? Yes, but do they charge you an arm and a leg? Do they act like they're a better product because they have a big budget and big names? I probably should check it out just so I know though. One thing I liked about this Asylum version that I mentioned above was how it was like a syndicated action show. In the 90s/early 2000s that kind of thing was ubiquitous. maybe this would be the kind of thing to bring it back.
One thing I really enjoyed, beyond the great period sets, was the beautiful Welsh landscape. There's also some faux rockclimbing, as Watson descends down a cliff with a rope around his waist. He almost falls to his death, slipping in his dress shoes. I wonder if it's cheaper to go out to a location and shoot something like this, or greenscreen it and edit in a landscape on file. I guess time would be a factor too, having to get all that equipment out there. Still, it was nice to see the real deal for once.
As far as Asylum flicks go, we've seen a lot worse, but we've also seen better. It has it's dragging moments, but it has some really fun moments too. It's all a matter of how forgiving you are with your Asylum flicks, and maybe your best bet is to catch this on SyFy when they air it, that way you're not out any money.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1522835/
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
This movie has been long overdue, considering I did Trancers over six months ago. I should've had them all reviewed by now, forget just being on part 2. But we can't go back and fix it-- actually we can, I can just mess with the dates of the posts and make it look like I did them months ago, but I'd never do that--, so I'll just do my best to get them done as quickly as possible from here on in. If you can't wait for me, though, and I don't blame you, Mr. Gable at Mr. Gable's Reality has looked at the others, so you can see what he has to say.
Trancers II takes place six years after part 1 left off. Jack Deth (DTVC favorite Tim Thomerson) is settling down with Helen Hunt, living in Hap Ashby's mansion. Turns out Winslow has a brother though, played by none other than Richard Lynch, and has as one of his top hatchetmen none other than Jeffrey Combs dressed like he was just released from a parallelogram hurling through space. So back in the future, McNulty is sent back in time to give Deth the word-- this time his ancestor is a 15-year-old girl-- and hopefully find Deth's wife from back in the future too, who was also sent back to the past, and is in the extremely hot body of Megan Ward. Will Jack Deth prevail again?
Though this wasn't the 76-minute awesomefest the first one was, it was still pretty good. It had some great one-liners, some great action, and some great performances from the entire cast, which as you could see from the synopsis, was rather prodigious. It wasn't the total 80s sci-fi tongue-in-cheek Film Noir actioner that made the first one so great, and instead it had a tendency to dwell too much on a pretty heavy duty plot that weighed things down at times, but overall, it was a fun time, and worth checking out.
Tim Thomerson is back as Jack Deth, probably his most notable role, and while he didn't have as great of material to work with here as he did in part 1, it was still pretty sweet, and he delivered. He also had to love that he got to make out with both Helen Hunt and Megan Ward. One thing that's never really been discussed before, are Thomerson's numbers for a potential Hall of Fame induction. In an actor, the two things the panel usually looks for are a big DTV resume, and one memorable role; and Thomerson has both of those. Not to mention, the fact that his birthday is only seven days after mine helps his cause: all good people are Aries.
Not an Aries, but someone who celebrated her 42nd birthday only three days ago as of this posting, is Megan Ward. She is really hot, and Charles Band understood that, because he had no shortages of close-ups on her face throughout the movie. Usually, if you're Tim Thomserson, or really, if you're any guy, you're thinking Helen Hunt as my wife, I'll take that. But then Megan Ward comes along and throws herself at you too. Not only that, but she's also your wife. I don't know how I'd feel at 45, if I were married, if my wife left and came back in the body of a 22-year-old Megan Ward. I think I'd feel kind of guilty, because I'm still 45, with saggy pecs and a spare tire around my waist. I guess if you're as awesome as Tim Thomerson, though, you're not worried about it.
Let's round out the rest of this cast. Richard Lynch, as we already know, is a first-rate baddie, and nothing changes here. I'm not going to give away his death scene, but for me, it's second only to the rocket launcher blast he took in Invasion USA for his best death ever. Jeffrey Combs could've had a bigger role, because he didn't have much to do, which for me was a disappointment. He also wasn't playing a crazy guy. He had slicked back hair and a goatee, which, when combined with his black turtleneck and black coat, made him look like he was one of Zod's gang. "Kneel before Combs!" I'd have liked to see Thomerson deal with Combs shooting red lasers out of his eyes. From the last movie, we also had Telma Hopkins, who you may remember from Family Matters, and veteran character actor Art LaFleur. Finally, in a one scene cameo, Barbara Crampton played a TV talk show host interviewing Lynch. One more I want to mention too was Alyson Croft, who reprised her role from first film as Art LaFleur's ancestor, now a 15-year-old. She was great, smoking cigars and making hard-assed detective comments, eliciting "Damn it McNulty!"s from Thomerson. That whole dynamic was one of my favorite parts of the film.
Also reprising his role is Biff Manard, back as Hap Ashby. He wears a lot of Angels gear, which back then would've been the California Angels, but now are the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and in between, they were the Anaheim Angels. In 2009, I was out in LA, and a buddy and I took the commuter rail from Union Station (which also appears in Trancers II) over to Anaheim to see the Angels play my Boston Red Sox. Very cool experience, and I recommend anyone who's visiting LA, baseball fan or not, to go check out a game there if you're in town during baseball season. The ballpark is right at the train station, so it's really convenient. (As an aside, my Sox lost that game.)
Maybe not as amazing as its predecessor, this still delivers and is well worth it. It's currently on Watch Instantly, but as I've been saying lately, the quality of Netflix's service has left something to be desired, and who knows how long after this posting that it'll still be on Watch Instantly (within days of my Dance of the Dead post, Netflix put up a note saying it'll be gone on October 1st.) For a more sure bet, look for this on DVD or used VHS. Either will do.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103116/
Monday, September 26, 2011
As I'm sure you know, many movies come across my radar, and more often than not, I totally forget about them. That's what happened here, because a few months ago, I read the review of this by our buddy Ty at Comeuppance Reviews, and thought, man I need more Gary Busey on here, I'll have to check that out. Then I totally forgot about it, and few weeks ago I'm looking for some Gary Busey, see this on imdb, and think it looks like a good deal. Fast forward to today, after I've seen the movie, and I'm looking online for a cover shot. There's Comeuppance Reviews in the results, and there's Direct to Video Connoisseur in the comments of his post. Oh yeah, that's right... (As an aside, Ty, I hotlinked your cover shot. Hope that's not an issue, thanks in advance.)
Lethal Tender is Die Hard in a water treatment facility. I'm not kidding. DTVC favorite Kim Coates and a gang of terrorists have taken it over, and they're threatening to contaminate the water supply. At the same time, Gary Busey is somewhere else with a pile of government issue bonds. The two must be related, right? The fly in the ointment: detective Jeff Fahey, who was outside hitting on treatment plant worker Carrie-Anne Moss when the takeover happened. Now those two are the people of Chicago's drinking water's only hope.
What do I always say is my number one rule for great bad action? That's right, never let the plot get in the way of the action. And what does this do? You guessed it, and it's not even a good plot, it's well-worn territory done worse. Which makes it all the crazier that I'm about to say this: I enjoyed Lethal Tender. Two reasons, Kim Coates and Gary Busey. Very little of the film has Jeff Fahey making his way through the plant. It's mostly Coates and Busey as bad guys chewing up scenery, and I loved it. There's something to be said for a couple guys that just know how to bring it, and a movie that just lets them do it. Not only did they not let the action get in the way, they didn't let the plot either, they just fired up the cameras and let them have at it. What that means though, is this is strictly for Coates and Busey fans, otherwise you probably won't enjoy yourself.
This movie is pretty Abusive. Not extremely Abusive, but Abusive enough for someone looking for a little Abuse. The film starts with a Busey monologue-- which was awesome but made almost no sense--, then he kind of disappears for a bit, gradually making his way back into it, almost in a tug of war, trying to take control of the film from Coates. He's at his best insulting this guy named Pogo that's helping him transport the stolen bonds. He's just constantly berating the guy with fun new ways to call him stupid. This is solid Busey, which is all you can ask for.
I'm thinking I might come up with a new word for the blog: Coates-tastic, because that's what this was. When a movie knows what they're getting when they cast him as their baddie, and they let him do his thing, it's just so much fun to watch. You can tell he's having fun with it, and that translates to us. The question is, what is Kim short for? With a woman it would be Kimberly, but that's probably not the case here. Kimjamin? Kames? Kimmothy?
Jeff Fahey is our hero, and he pretty much just does his thing. He lets Coates and Busey do all the heavy lifting, and while they're carrying the couch down three flights of stairs, he's making sure the door is held open so they can get out onto the street. As I told my buddy's 7-year-old son who kept getting in the way because he wanted to help as we were moving "believe me, holding the door is a very important job." While his son couldn't understand that, Fahey did, and did his part as a supporting character-style lead very well.
Toward the middle of the film, Kim Coates and the plant manager have a conversation that goes something like this: Coates says, "What is the only thing we have to do?" to which the plant manager replies "What you say." I'm going to have to respectfully disagree with him though. To quote my 6th grade teacher: "The only thing we have to do is die." Think about it, Kim Coates is holding you at gun point. You technically don't have to do what he says, but if you don't, he kills you, and you die. See, the only thing we have to do is die.
And with that, let's wrap this bad boy up. As far as I know, this is used VHS here in region 1, and used DVD or VHS in Region 2. I liked it, but that's because Busey and Coates were stellar. If they aren't enough for you, then this won't be enough for you. Let them be enough for you.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119520/
Friday, September 23, 2011
Usually, when I do a post, I try not to mention the posts that came directly before it, because on some levels I want each review to stand on its own, especially if someone stumbles upon them later on down the road in the archives. I made an exception here though, because this post is the last one in a week that had some really awesome films: Pink Chiquitas, Dead Man Walking, and Dance of the Dead. Usually, if you can get one movie to be a winner like that, it's a good week, but now we're going into a Friday post of a Mark L. Lester flick looking for a clean sweep. It would be sweet, but we have to remember, no matter what happens, it's already been a banner week.
The Base 2 isn't so much a sequel as it is a similar premise as The Base-- which kind of begs the question, why bother, if you're making the same movie? But I'm digressing. Antonio Sabato Jr. takes over for Mark Dacascos, and he's sent in to infiltrate a special forces unit that is thought to be connected with some missing soldiers that were acquitted of crimes they should've been court-martialed for. Antonio discovers that the unit is kidnapping these men and letting them loose out in the woods, where they track them down, hunt them, and kill them. Now Sabato Jr. needs to gather as much evidence as possible for as long as possible to pad out the middle of the film, and not get caught.
Okay, so 3 out 4 ain't bad, right? This one was pretty sweet for the first 30 minutes, and then grinds to a halt, goes through 40 minutes of slow plodding, only to get us essentially back to where we were at the thirty minute mark. Then we get a superfluous shirtless male bondage scene with Sabato (though I guess not superfluous to people who are into that kind of thing), and once that's over with, we're again back where we were at the 30 minute mark, and are then officially able to get on with and end the movie. See, here's the problem: once the unit takes their first victim out to kill him, and Sabato see this, the forty minutes after where he's gathering evidence is useless to us. There's no mystery, we know who did it, and we know he knows. What the film should've done instead was have Sabato save the guy they wanted to kill-- who was a rapist that got off because his father's a senator-- and play a cat and mouse game in the woods with the unit for those forty minutes, complete with some awesome Mark L. Lester directed action sequences. I mean, we all knew the movie was going to end up there anyway, why waste all that energy on crap that meant nothing, when you could've used it where it counted? Plus, you'd've had the extra layer of the morality play between Sabato saving a rapist vs. not following orders. Unfortunately, they didn't do that, and when you combine that with not enough great action-- though there was some-- and fight scenes that were lacking without Art Camacho's fight choreography from the first one, what you ended up with was a dud.
The only other Antonio Sabato Jr. flick we've done to this point is The Asylum flick, Princess of Mars, which he was really good in. I'd say he was good here too, he just didn't have a whole lot to work with-- based on how he was in Princess of Mars, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I also liked him in The Big Hit, where he had the best pick up line ever: "I want to pour milk on you and make you a part of my complete breakfast."
We got a little James Remar here, playing the Lt. Colonel heading the unit. He's like an everyman's poor man, right? There are any number of bigger names that he can stand in for if you don't have the budget. For instance, Michael Paré. How about a younger version of Lance Henriksen? Maybe a younger Michael Rooker? A modern day James Coburn, perhaps. I kind of see a little Klaus Kinski, and would be curious to see if he could deliver that mania Kinski was so known for. Also, born in Boston-- Beantown baby!
This had Yuji Okumoto as one of the soldiers in the unit, who is, as you know, an Albert Pyun mainstay. As a DTV geek, seeing a Pyun mainstay in a Lester flick is like seeing Chishu Ryu, an Ozu mainstay, in Red Beard, a Kurosawa flick, would be for a Japanese film geek. Too bad we didn't have any Thom Mathews of Tim Thomerson-- and this movie could've used it. We do have our great Mark L. Lester action moments, especially early on, and then it's like someone else takes over directing duties, because this ceases to be an action film entirely. Maybe the fact that it was originally a TV movie made Lester dial down his violence, but I don't know, we saw some ears cut off and a severed head. Anyway, tell me Lester getting his hands on a Deadly Prey style paradigm wouldn't have crushed it. Total waste.
Do you recognize this chick? You sure? Her name's Melissa Lewis, still not ringing any bells? You know why you don't know her? Because she was tagged with the dreaded "And Introducing" in front of her name, the classic career kiss of death in movies like this. The only one I can think of that wasn't a career ender was James Lew in Red Sun Rising, and as we know, that was an "And Introducing" of a very dubious nature. And it seems like it's actresses more than actors too, right? The leading lady has her name couched with the tag "And Introducing", and it's as if she's on the road to great things; unfortunately, those great things end up being marrying a CPA in Van Nuys and having three kids.
The Base 2: Guilty as Charged was only guilty of one thing: suckage (yes, had to squeeze that one in there...). I just don't understand who writes an action movie script and thinks "let's severely limit the possibilities for any action whatsoever for a good 40 minutes in the middle of the film, how's that sound?" It sounds like painfest sauteed in wrong sauce, how's that?
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0236013/
Thursday, September 22, 2011
This was the third of three movies featured in September's Netflix Bad Movie Night, which as I've mentioned before, is run by our friends at Mr. Gable's Reality, and Guts and Grog Reviews, Morbidementia. I have to confess, because this was the last one, and it started at midnight here on the East Coast, I kind of fell asleep for a chunk of the middle. I know, I suck, but it was a busy weekend, I got back late from the Sox game the night before, and got up early that morning to watch Arsenal tank... anyway, I did go back and rewatch it, so this isn't a review based on half a movie. Also, our friend Francisco at The Film Connoisseur looked at this one a couple years ago, so you can check that out as well.
Dance of the Dead is about a high school in Georgia readying itself for it's prom. There's a nuclear power plant nearby, and it's doing something weird to some of the corpses in the cemetery. Unfortunately, the sci-fi club, unable to get dates for the prom, go into the cemetery to cause trouble, and they find it, exciting all the zombies to life. Now the whole town is in danger, and it's up to a group of kids, led by Jimmy, the class clown, and his recently estranged girlfriend, Lindsey, to get to the prom and save all their classmates before the zombies get there and feast on them.
I really liked this one. Maybe the best horror flick I've seen in years. It got everything right. Great comedy, dark humor, gore, special effects-- just a great low-budget comedic zombie flick and send-up of teen movies. I liked that it had all the classic types, but instead of exacerbating the types and jamming their elbows into my ribs, constantly saying "see, see, we have a that guy! You know how all these movies have a guy like that!", they dulled that effect a bit, and actually tweaked each one, making them a slightly different take on their prototypes. I also really liked the music in this, including a sweet cover of Pat Benetar's "Shadows of the Night" by the high school garage band. This is horror comedy done right, definitely worth a look.
Of all the characters, I identified most with Jimmy, because, like him, I too was the class clown. Usually, the class clown is played by a Matthew Lillard type, and while he may last 'til the last half hour, he seldom survives, and is definitely never the hero. Kudos to you movie for giving us class clowns some love, we can step up to the plate and save the day when called upon.
Who is this guy? He looks so familiar, but when I looked him up on imdb, I hadn't seen any of the things he was listed in. He played the lead singer of the band, and was pretty cool. Best part: when he sang (or lipsynched, I'm not sure which) the Pat Benetar cover. The whole scene was just really sweet. It was like the horror film take on the romantic teen movie lovers finally have their moment scene, with Jimmy and his girl slow dancing, covered in blood, while zombies are wandering in a trance around them.
As I mentioned above, I liked how all the stereotypes were tweaked. For instance, the geek wasn't a nice, misunderstood guy, he was a bitter, obnoxious tool; and the cheerleader wasn't a vain, shallow pretty girl, she was a down-to-earth go-getter that kicked a lot of ass. And of course, we mentioned the class clown above, and his girlfriend was kind of the Miss Perfect type, which was also not true to form, as she hooked up with another dude, then laced up some combat boots for the final zombie confrontation. It's too easy for a horror comedy to take the stereotypes, exacerbate them, then hit us over the head with how much they're ticking off all the boxes. To keep a level of comedic consistency, while doing something different with the characters we go in expecting, that's true quality.
Finally, I wanted to take a second to discuss Twilight. I know our buddy Mr. Gable looked at the first one, and he took a similar track to the one I'd taken: why are people so angry about these films, when they're made for teen girls? It's like watching Dora, the Explorer and yelling "this show is so dumb! I can't stand this crap! Who cares about that stupid map! What the hell the point of a talking monkey! Who likes this shit!" 5-year-olds, that's who, and as Dora wasn't made with adults in mind, neither was Twilight, so relax, it's not like the film is advocating Holocaust denial or plotting to kill your mother. On the other hand, just because it's not made for us, it doesn't mean we can't have a little fun with it, and that's what Dance of the Dead does, here, where poor Steve becomes a zombie to be with the girl he's pined over all this time. It's kind of like they take the Twilight vampire romance, and move it to it's logical conclusion, using zombies instead.
You can get this on DVD pretty much anywhere, and for right now, it's on Watch Instantly (the quality of Netflix's product is dipping considerably though, so who knows how long it'll stay for). If you're a horror fan, or even if you're not, I think you'll enjoy this. This is the kind of movie that gives me hope that the genre is not totally lost.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0926063/
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
When I first envisioned the DTVC, over four years and 725 posts ago, it was this kind of movie I had in mind. A Wings Hauser flick co-starring Brion James and the guy from Re-Animator-- back then, we didn't call him Jeffrey Combs, just "the guy from Re-Animator." At that time, my friends and I were on a big Wings Hauser kick, and we'd find all kinds of flicks of his on VHS and have viewing nights. This, unfortunately, was one we didn't find, and probably never would've found had the DTVC not continued on to where it is now, giving me a reason to track it down more aggressively for a review.
Dead Man Walking takes place 14 years ago, ten years after a plague has struck the planet, forcing the world's powers to take drastic measures, including blocking off entire sections of the country to keep the infected people away from the healthy ones. Among the infected, there's a rare few who have contracted a non-contagious strain that leaves its victims with only a year or two to live. These people are known as Zero Men, and they often behave erratically, like our man Wings, who plays Luger, a dude with a penchant for playing Russian Roulette with a chainsaw. After the Unitas Corporation's CEO is killed and his daughter kidnapped by another Zero Man, Decker (Brion James), the CEO's chauffeur, Jeffrey Combs, recruits Hauser to get her back-- from the infected zone. But what secret is Combs hiding?
This is what you came for. Slightly dystopian, slightly post-apocalyptic, slightly psychotronic, but all Wings and all Brion James. I mean, the Wings factor is immense, robust, dare I say prodigious. It's all the Wings you could want. And Brion James is an equally excellent baddie. Throw in Combs as the shady CEO's chauffeur, and some pretty funny black humor, a la Robocop in the form of news casts scattered throughout the film, and you've got yourself a gem.
For people who love Wings, there are certain things he does that stand out. Like he makes this face with his mouth open that is just quintessential Wings, or has this wide-eyes smile, or sometimes stands a little too close to the people he's talking to, or will deliver his lines in a way that's just a little off from what you'd expect someone to say. All of that Wings-ness is on full display in this film. One of the cooler things about this one was to see him act opposite Jeffrey Combs for a good bit. You'd think the two make no sense together, but they actually work.
Brion James. We've seen him play a great baddie before, but here we get him in dyed bright orange hair. It just makes him that much better a baddie, right? He has this one scene that might be too gross for some of you though, so I figured I'd shoot out a warning. A guy he escapes from prison with threatens him with a knife, so he grabs it by the blade, opening a huge gash on his hand. He then goes over to the girl they kidnapped, and uses his finger to take some of the blood-- the consistency of Smucker's raspberry preserves-- and draw a line on her face, then he does the same to his own. Then he licks some of it off his hand, and, with it still on his tongue, licks the girls lips for a good thirty seconds, before the two start making out. I just want to warn you, because it was pretty graphic.
Talking about Jeffrey Combs on a site like this, especially to the horror fans that follow us, is like a girl posting a pic of Michael Fassbender on her movie Tumblr-- like that's the level of giddiness it engenders. And I ain't mad at you either, because I love Jeffrey Combs too. He's not really as off-the-wall batshit crazy as you're used to in some of his horror roles, but he's still pretty Jeffrey Combs, which is good. Definitely a guy we need to do more of on here-- it is kind of embarrassing that I haven't done Re-Animator yet.
Do any of you remember a show called Out of Control with Dave Coulier? Well, Diz is in this as an emcee at Cafe Death, a place where people with the plague go and watch people die and stuff. It was an idea that they didn't do as much with as they could've-- one of the few disappointments of the film-- but Diz was great, going for an almost Elvira slant, until she sets this dude on fire, then she lets out that trademark scream of hers. The problem was, they made too much out of this one death. It should've been two or three deaths, and really hit home the macabre and disturbing elements of it.
But that's one minor issue with a movie that otherwise works. It's only on used VHS, but you can get it for a good price, so it's worth it. Great Wings, great Brion, great Combs, and a pretty solid low-budget 80s sci-fi flick to boot. It was movies like this that got me to start the DTVC, and it's movies like this that keep me going.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092841/
Monday, September 19, 2011
This one was a recommendation from our buddy Tromeric at Guts and Grog Reviews, and it was a definite had me at hello. He hit the wall on the Facebook page with not only a mention of the movie and why he liked it, but he also included the link to the imdb page. It was all right there, too good to ignore. Now, on the other hand, we've had plenty of requests/recommendations in the past that looked as promising, but where I've had to turn around and tell the person that so enthusiastically made the request that it didn't really do anything for me. Would that be the case here?
Pink Chiquitas has Frank Stallone as the son of a famous PI, looking to make a name for himself after his father passes away. He's got a special Pink Chiquita necklace that his father gave him, which crime boss Don Enchilada will stop at nothing to get his hands on. So he hides out in the small town of Beamsville, when a meteor strikes in a secluded wooded area, and not soon after, the town's men and women start acting weird. What could be causing it? And what is the connection between the meteor and Stallone's necklace.
There are two types of movies that start off great: the ones that live up to that start, and the ones that don't. I can safely say this one is in the former category, but it might not be for everyone. This is the kind of movie that you can't fight. If you resist it, you won't enjoy it. If you have trouble with an overacting, not funny, played for laughs sheriff's deputy randomly attacking a mob outside his station with a flamethrower, then I'd stay off this. On the other hand, if you can handle that kind of thing, the really great things about this will fully reward you. Frank Stallone is fantastic, and he really gets what the film makers were going for here, and he carries it off really well. From there, the rest of the movie just works in a 1982 Porky's kind of way, but a good way, with enough original material. I had a few problems with them spending too much time on a few characters I could've cared less about, but in the end, even that kind of thing worked out. I know I say this a lot, but if you're someone who overuses the word "cheesy" to describe low-budget movies, this is probably a bit much for you; but if you can relax and just let this movie happen, it will reward you.
I never thought I'd say this, but Frank Stallone was a revelation. I'm dead serious. He was fantastic. Perfectly comedic, hit all his spots, and as I said above, got exactly what this movie was about, and sold it. Also, he recorded a bunch of songs for the soundtrack. Maybe the best stuff he did in the movie: when he played his character's father in the flashback sequences. Where has this been all my movie watching life? I've been so used to Frank Stallone being on D-grade covers with just his last name to try and dupe me into renting it thinking his brother's the star. Frank Stallone is no Dwayne Swayze, and Pink Chiquitas shows that.
This movie plays on a lot of stereotypes, often in a way that didn't work, but one that did, and which a good chunk of the film was centered around, is the hot librarian. You know what I'm talking about, total prude, hair up, big glasses, long skirt, but has a secret wild side. The librarian here was played by Elizabeth Edwards, and she gave some hints early on that we might see this transformation, but nothing can prepare us for how well it's done. Totally 80s, with some well-teased hair and loads of make-up; but she's also rocking this red leather bikini-type thing. Man, I love the hot librarian fantasy, and this movie does it right.
Former Catwoman Eartha Kitt was the voice of the meteor. As many of you probably know, the 1960s Batman show is one of my all time favorites, and I was trying to think of who we'd seen from it in previous DTVC posts (not counting the post we did on the movie, of course). I know we had Frank Gorshin in Bloodmoon, Burt Ward was in the Miles O'Keeffe flick Moving Targets. Then we had Roddy McDowall in Double Trouble. I thought we'd had an Adam West flick on here, but it looks like I was thinking of New Age, the Peter Weller flick I looked at for my other Tumblr. I should probably create a tag for old Batman stars to make this kind of thing easier.
I know I brought this up in the fourth paragraph, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it again before we wrapped this up: Frank Stallone was fantastic. I'm not sure what I expected from him, but this wasn't it. Seriously, how did he have a movie like this on his resume and not have gotten more work? Is it really the whole "your Sly's brother?" Who knows? Maybe he can't do the serious stuff like his brother can, and maybe he can't do the action hero stuff like his brother can, but if you've seen Stop or My Mom Will Shoot, you know Frank is the one who has the comedy thing down. Don't let any preconceived notions on Frank Stallone color your opinion of him or this film going in.
I figured for sure this was only on VHS, and I was lucky enough to track down a copy; but it turns out it's not only on DVD, but Netflix even has it. Do it either way, VHS or DVD, but do it, you won't be sorry. Sometimes there's some bad slapstick that may test your sensibilities, but as I said above, if you don't fight it and just let yourself enjoy this movie, it will reward you. Thanks again to Tromeric at Guts and Grog Reviews for the recommendation.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093741/
Friday, September 16, 2011
I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, but I liked that it had Mark Dacascos, and I liked that he was reunited with Kadeem Hardison, whom he was great with in Drive. If this ends up being half the movie Drive was, we'll be in pretty good shape.
Instinct to Kill has Tim Abell as a psychopathic police detective, who splits time away from the force between being a serial killer and an abusive husband. It's his battered wife that finds out about the serial killing and turns him in, and when he escapes from prison, he wants revenge on her. She decides she's had it with being a victim, so she goes to Dacascos to learn to defend herself. Problem: she's not through with the training before Abell comes after her. Now Dacascos and her and Abell's old police partner, Kadeem Hardison, need to work together to take him down.
This one wasn't bad. It was mostly carried by Tim Abell, who was an exceptional baddie, but from there, Dacascos was great as the hero, and Melissa Crider solid as the woman fighting back. It had a few good fight scenes too, especially a couple between Dacascos and Abell. The problem was that I think it initially was supposed to be more about Crider taking down Abell-- hence the original title of The Perfect Husband-- and that left us with some inconsistencies, as Dacascos felt shoe-horned in in parts, or his role felt beefed up as opposed to naturally centered on him. That's a difficult thing to mitigate, because Dacascos is so good, it would be hard not to have him and Abell go at it. Overall, not bad though.
Let's start with Dacascos. This is not the kind of role where he's going to get a ton of fight scenes, meaning it's not in the ballpark of something like Drive, but he's still pretty solid. His fight scenes were choreographed by James Lew, and I think Lew wanted to go with more realism and less flash, which worked within the framework of the film, but left something to be desired as an action fan. The other thing that worked against him, was the wife's revenge/redemption aspect, because that undermined him as the hero. He had to be defeated by Abell so she could finally deliver the final shot and confront her demons.
As I said above, Tim Abell was absolutely chilling as the baddie. Every time he was in a scene, there was a sense bad things were going to happen-- and when I say bad, I mean evil. Think along the lines of Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. That really made this movie for me. Everything centered on how horrible he was, and how badly people needed to stop him. He's been a baddie in films we've seen before at the DTVC, including Storm Trooper where he also played an abusive husband (though nowhere near what he was here), and The Base, where he was also a baddie opposite Dacascos. It's this role, though, that earns him his DTVC tag. Great stuff.
This was executively produced by Mark L. Lester. Yes, that Mark L. Lester. This did not feel like a Mark L. Lester film though, except for one scene where Abell disguises himself as an old lady pushing a stroller, which he rolls into the back of an unmarked police car with two detectives inside staking out his old house. The cops look at him, not knowing what to think, then they see the bomb in the stroller, but it's too late, the whole thing blows up. There's also a pretty big shoot out in a hospital that was Lester-ish. But, alas, he was only the executive producer, so this was not as awesome as Showdown in Little Tokyo, et al.
Abell's character was something of a master of disguise, though it seemed like he always looked kind of like himself-- it was like people who worked with Clark Kent not knowing he's Superman because he's wearing glasses. Anyway, in this one scene, it looks like he's disguised as Chris Meloni. My favorite Chris Meloni role is as the cook in Wet Hot American Summer. I think a lot of people are used to seeing him as Stabler in Law and Order: SVU, but he's one of the better comedic actors working today, and hopefully we'll see more of that now that he's left that show.
I give this a somewhat cautious recommendation, just because, while it has some action, action isn't the main focus. Dacascos is good, and Abell is even better, so there's something there to hang your hat on. Still, this isn't the exceptional action flick we're looking for from Dacascos, especially with Drive on his resume.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0291265/
Thursday, September 15, 2011
This is one of those ones that I figured would be painful, but I knew I had to do it because it featured DTVC Hall of Famer Gary Daniels. Plus, it was on Watch Instantly, which made it very accessible. We'll see what happens, and if the movie's a stinker, we'll see if I can do my job as a reviewer and make this post entertaining.
Dark Secrets takes place in England, where Gary Daniels and his wife live, him a race car driver, her an actress. Their daughter is kidnapped, and the detective assigned to the case thinks it's the same guy who killed a little girl before-- a case that still haunts the detective, literally, as in the form of a ghost. Now the question is, can she make herself useful and help the detective solve the case.
Okay, so obviously this isn't your classic Gary Daniels DTV actioner. With that said, I'm going to try and critique on what it was, which was essentially a Lifetime movie with more obscene language. It even had the beats of a Lifetime movie, with fade-outs at moments that would've been commercial breaks on TV. I guess as far as that goes, it's a matter of whether or not the psychic/supernatural aspect is too much for you. I gotta say, it kind of was for me. As a movie, it had it's issues, including some awkward transitions, and a hero that wasn't always easy to root for-- beating a handcuffed prisoner for information isn't very heroic. Overall, while this isn't really a DTVC kind of movie, I think you could see a lot worse if this pops up on the Lifetime Movie Network.
Gary Daniels does not have a large part in this, and does pretty much no martial arts, having only one scene where he fights, and in that, you can see that he wants to get after it, but can't because it's not in his character. I also liked that he really went for the London Cockney accent, including tons of foul language. We seldom see Daniels like that, so it was refreshing. Kind of a novelty, like Kiss of the Vampire was, but nothing more.
I chose this image here because I wanted to make a statement. I'm sure a lot of my readers are like a lot of my friends: settled down, maybe even with children. Those friends look at me and sometimes are like "why are you still single?" and other times are like "man, you got a good thing going there, I'm jealous." You wanna know why I'm still single, that's it, right there. Picking out lamps. I can't think of anything more soul crushing. I helped three friends and their families move over the past month. U-Haul load after U-Haul load of years of accumulated trips to Home Depot and Target and IKEA to get one thing, or three things, or four. One friend, who I helped move four full U-Haul trips, had the audacity to buy a new recliner with his wife a week later, after he was complaining to me about how much crap they had. It's like once you settle down and get married and have kids, that's it, all you do after that is buy crap like lamps. Casual relationships do not involve buying furniture, that's why I'm still single.
How do you know a movie is low-budget? When they use Comic Sans font for the end credits. I think when LeBron left Cleveland, and because of the way he did it, everyone was on Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's side... until he decided to post his rebuttal rant in Comic Sans, then we were like, dude, get over it. Comic Sans is the Fanny Pack of fonts.
Gotta throw in the pic of the kid rocking the Arsenal jersey. I know, the Gunners don't look good early this year, and they're in danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since the late 90s, but they're still my team, and I gotta rep 'em when I see someone in their gear in a movie I'm reviewing. If you're curious, this is the red currant jersey they wore for only one season, '05-06, to commemorate their last season in their then stadium, Highbury, before moving to their current digs at the Emirates; the rest of the time their colors are red and white with blue trim. I still have my JVC one from the late 90s.
The fact that I used the last three paragraphs to talk about couples buying lots of furniture, Comic Sans font, and the Arsenal football club, must tell you something about this. Nothing more than a Lifetime flick with loads of foul language and no Meredith Baxter-Birney or Joanna Kerns. For Daniels completists only.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0915454/
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
This film was brought to my radar through a Tumblr site, Rise, which you can check out here. Really cool stuff there, especially some great pics from 80s flicks and TV shows. They posted a covershot from Split Second (not the one I used here), and I thought it was pretty sweet and reblogged it. I also realized that A) I needed to get some more Rutger Hauer up here, and B) I'd never seen this one before. So I put some work in and found out a buddy that's a pretty huge Rutger Hauer fan had it, so here we are.
Split Second takes place 3 years ago, when London is partially flooded due to Global Warming induced rains. Insert Hauer as a police detective who doesn't follow the rules, is reckless and dangerous, and has discovered a serial killer that he thought was gone is back and viciously killing people. But what is this thing? Is it even human? And does he have the firepower to stop it?
This one falls short for me. Liked the premise and loved Hauer. It felt like it would've made a great 90s syndicated TV show, with Hauer as the lead reoccurring character, and this would've been a sweet one episode in said TV show. It just didn't quite have enough material for 90 minutes worth of movie. The first 40 minutes were pretty lackluster, then it picks up with the introduction of Kim Cattrall's character, and more consistent danger from the baddie that gives Hauer more than just mean-mugging and great one-liners to do. Then we get an extended ending which we needed to transition to quicker, something that I might have forgiven more had we not had a stagnant first 40 minutes or so, because it was good once we got there, but I'd already had enough "let's get on with it"s. This definitely had its moments, but overall was a miss.
I will say one thing for it though, this is some fantastic Rutger Hauer. This is certainly no Hauer bait-and-switch, this is the kind of too sweet Hauer that makes me fall for the bait-and-switch, the kind of Hauer that got him in the Hall of Fame in the first place. Everything is awesome, from the leather duster, the shades, the cigar and cigarette smoking, and the sweet one-liners. His character was a bit of a dick though, which was a bit of a drawback, but they made up for it by giving him a huge gun. Too bad even his awesomeness couldn't carry this film through its dead spots.
This is some interesting Kim Cattrall. First off, she's something of a main character, but doesn't appear until around the 40 minute mark. Second, her hair is kind of weird, like a bob, but with the area right next to the ear shaved. What, is that supposed to be futuristic? Also, she has a shower scene, and boobs are shown. I know some people watch these movies for things like that, so yes, Kim Cattrall nude scene in Split Second. (And no, I didn't post any pics of it.)
The late Pete Postletwaite has a small part in this as the jerk fellow officer that's always giving Hauer a hard time. You can see from that image how far that gets him. In 1992, he made appearances in three TV shows, and four movies, including this one, Alien³, and Last of the Mohicans. I've always loved Pete Postletwaite, and he will be missed. Here's to you Pete, you were one of the good ones.
I don't want to give too much of this movie away, but let's just say it [cough cough] emulates [cough cough] a few sci-fi classics that came before it. I don't have a problem with that at all. As long as there's stuff happening, a rip-off can be a lot of fun. With this one, it's almost as if the rip-off is an afterthought though, like they were writing a classic serial killer suspense thriller, and then couldn't figure out how to end it, and came up with all this madness. Problem is, the serial killer suspense thriller stuff was too boring, so by the time we got to the fun rip-off, I was too bored. On the other hand, I can see how many people would go into this, be bored by the beginning, then have so much fun with the end, that they forget the horrible beginning. I know this feeling. When I saw Iggy Pop in concert, he was so good, I literally forgot about the horrible opening act. I mean that too, a buddy I saw the show with brought up the opening act, and I was like "what opening act?"
According to Amazon, there actually is a region 1 DVD of this, and it'll run you about $125 used. I'm not kidding. Obviously, that's not what you want, and on VHS you can get it used for much cheaper, under $5. If you see it for a couple bucks, it's worth it for the great Rutger Hauer, but otherwise, it leaves quite a bit to be desired.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105459/
Monday, September 12, 2011
This just sounds awesome, right? DTVC favorite Jeff Wincott in a flick titled When the Bullet Hits the Bone? How can you go wrong, right? But if there's anything we've learned in our 4-plus years of posting reviews at the DTVC, what sounds awesome can just as easily be not.
When the Bullet Hits the Bone has nothing to do with the Golden Earring song "Twilight Zone", but rather has Wincott as a trauma surgeon who has had it, and the vegan straw that finally breaks the carnivore's back comes when he's almost killed after witnessing some drug dealer business gone bad. He decides he's had enough of drug problems and all the work they send him in the ER, so he takes things into his own hands, hoping to save a woman he saw at the scene when he was almost killed, and take down the kingpin she works for.
This is another of the Noir-ish Wincott dramas, and though it wasn't as poorly made or as convoluted as Fatal Combat, it still was a little off. Fingers were cut off, surgical blades were stuck under fingernails, old men were forced to do push-ups before murdered-- it was just kind of weird. Not to mention, Wincott doesn't do any martial arts, which makes it a step down from Fatal Combat. The thing is, the Film Noir is genre isn't as easy to pull off well as people think, and maybe because I've seen a lot of it and seen it done well, I'm harder on stuff like this than others who watch more action flicks and think "hey, cool, Wincott's trying something different." Both this and Fatal Combat miss a lot of the style that makes Noir Noir: the steamy plots, the intrigue, the mystery. A few cute camera angles, a voice over, and a few severed limbs does not Noir make. What we're left with then is a substandard drama with very little action or solid substance.
Thinking about it though, of all the great 90s DTV action leads, Wincott might have been best suited to play a legitimate Film Noir lead. The smoking, the scowling-- plus, he had a great voice for the voice overs, I had no complaints with those. If you could somehow merge the two genres, go really Nikkatsu/Seijun Suzuki-style action based Noir, but infuse it with a fight scene like every fifteen or twenty minutes, yet still have that Raymond Chandler detective element, I think you'd have something really cool. There's no reason why Wincott couldn't still make that movie.
One of the funny things about this is that it was obviously shot in Canada with pretty much an all Canadian cast, yet they were adamant that the film was set in New York. The main baddie's hatchetman had this thing where he grilled people on somewhat obscure American history trivia, like he asked Wincott who the 13th president was before he shot him. It's like "Hey man, I'm sorey, but I grew up in Canadia, eh?" Come on, mix it up, why not just set the movie in Toronto or Montreal? It'll be more fun for everyone-- I'd love some obscure Canadian history trivia in my DTV action.
This had a fair amount of Canadian character actor mainstays: Michelle Johnson, Douglas O'Keeffe, Richard Fitzpatrick, Phillip Jarrett-- Jarrett is Canadian, right? My favorite was Torri Higginson, whom most of you will know from Stargate: Atlantis, but whom DTVC fans might remember from the Roddy Piper flick Jungleground, where she plays his love interest. In this movie, Higginson plays a hospital nurse that helps Wincott escape the baddies trying to kill him as he's recovering, then restores him to health-- and after that's she's hit by a stray bullet. I would've liked to see more Higginson, maybe even her own close-up, but alas, that was all we got.
You may have noticed that all the pics have been of Wincott making funny faces in the same scene. I may be incorrect, but I believe the last time I did something similar was when I did three Gary Busey pics in the sack of asscrack The Stoned Age review. Anyway, this scene from this movie came when Wincott had his finger chopped off. They don't show it, we just see the knife placed near his finger, he's given one last chance to give up the information, then all we hear is a thump, and Wincott starts making these faces to show us that, in fact, his finger was severed. As if that wasn't enough, the baddie then takes said severed digit, and holds it up to show us he'll use it to activate a bomb attached to Wincott's parents' car. Hey, stay classy movie.
It looks like in the US it's VHS or bust-- that's what I viewed this on-- but the Aussies have themselves a DVD cut. Good for you guys. Not sure how worth it is in any case, this one just didn't work for me. Kudos to Wincott and everyone involved for going outside the box, but unfortunately, going outside the box just isn't enough.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114918/
Friday, September 9, 2011
It was time to get a little David Bradley up on the DTVC again, and this one also starred Frank Zagarino, so I thought, what the hell. That, and I got this from a friend on VHS, had an open slot here, and figured I'd go for it. I can always go to David Bradley in a pinch.
Blood Warriors has native Texan David Bradley playing a Marine from Texas who finds himself in jail. His ol' Marine buddy Frank Zagarino bails him out, gets his sentence dropped, and covers the mortgage on his dad's farm. The catch: he needs to board a plane to Jakarta and help Zags out on some business there. En route, Zags is killed, so Bradley catches up with his hot sister. When Zags's business competitor finds out his casket is empty, things get crazy. Is Zags still alive? And if he is, can Bradley trust him? And isn't this action hero gig a pretty sweet deal when you get love scenes with the woman who played the model on Seinfeld?
This isn't horrible, but it's not exactly great either. The beginning goes a little long before we get any good action, and while the action is decent, it's nothing spectacular. I felt like there were more missed opportunities than great moments, which is never a good thing. For instance, Zags is showing off for Bradley how well his mercs can fight. Bradley just sits there, then is all like "I don't want to be in your gang, Zags." What we needed there was a Jeff Wincott in Mission of Justice scene, you know, the one where he's supposed to walk this gauntlet, acts like he's not going to do it, then quickly turns and flips into the middle of all these dudes, and totally houses them. Bradley needed to kick all their asses, then throw on his cowboy hat, pop his collar, and tell Zags he'll be in his room if he needs him. With an action movie that has guys like Bradley and Zagarino, you can't have them sitting on the sidelines, and unfortunately, that happened too often.
Gotta love the Bradley in a cowboy hat look. Maybe not quite the fanny pack, but it's close. I know Bradley is from Texas, but he's too much of a dandy for Texas good ol' boy to work. He's a thinking man's lead, smooth, cleancut, sharply tailored suits and sleek automobiles. He needs to cruise into town in an expensive convertible and take out gangs of toughs with nice looking roundhouses and jumpkicks, throw on his sunglasses and tell the guys to have a nice day. The fact that Bradley co-wrote the script tells me he wanted to get away from that image some. Come on man, be who you are, and be proud of it.
Zagarino isn't in this much. He's kind of like Orson Welles in The Third Man, only his name is "Stone" instead of "Lime". Keith Stone, actually, not to be confused with the guy from the Keystone beer commercials. As far as I can tell, beer commercials, and in particular light beer commercials, are so bad it's almost criminal, but the Keith Stone ones are one of the few I like. Really, I'm more of a man if I drink your light beer? Or maybe you're more of a moron.
Sam Firstenberg directed this, and as I'm sure you know, he has a pretty solid track record. American Ninja, American Ninja 2, Avenging Force-- though he was also the man who put Bradley in a fanny pack in Cyborg Cop-- though to his credit, he made fun of it in the sequel, Cyborg Cop II. This was a definite step down from any of the others of his we've reviewed, and it makes me wonder if maybe something went wrong in post-production that hurt this thing-- or maybe it's his Jersey Girl.
Seinfeld fans will recognize Jennifer Campbell as the model Jerry meets flying home in first class, and then who sees him scratching his nose at a red light, and erroneously thinks he's picking it. I looked on her resume, and though she did do some action based TV shows, I didn't see another action movie after this, and I can kind of see why. She was pushed and pulled and dragged and carried and sent through the ringer in this bad boy. At one point, Bradley is carrying her over his shoulder, which made very little sense, since she seemed like she could run just fine-- and run faster than Bradley could run carrying her. It probably makes sense why we don't see as many repeat action movie female co-stars, it's a much easier paycheck looking disgusted when you think Jerry Seinfeld picked his nose.
This is not an easy find, out of print, only available on VHS. Maybe for completists, because it is Bradley and Zagarino directed by Firstenberg, but that's a big stretch. If you see it cheap in a bargain bin and don't have much else already in your basket, I guess you could go for it and add it to your bad action collection.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106432/