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.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Base 2: Guilty as Charged aka Guilty as Charged (2000)

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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.

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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."

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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.

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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/

17 comments:

  1. You know, I wasn't all that wrapped with the first one either. My review stands incomplete from months ago and I don't think it will be finished. It was pretty blah and this looks no better.

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  2. I might even say it's worse, so you're probably better off.

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  3. Good review! Saw this ages ago. Thought this was ok. James Remar was good in it at least.

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  4. This one was alright, a tad too slow in the middle like you said, but was impressed with Melissa Lewis, has she done any other films?

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  5. Gotta love Remar, but yeah, the rest of this was pretty blah.

    Melissa Lewis: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0507544/. If you ever need info on one of the actors/actresses in the film, I always include the imdb link at the bottom of each review.

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  6. Checked her profile, and it turns out she was in a few other films before this one, so I don't know why the "introducing" prefix was used.

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  7. I accidentally catched about 10 minutes of My Antonio while waiting for Criminal Minds to begin. A mistake. You'll never accept Sabato as an action hero after that. Reality-TV sucks anyway, but at least Seagal had the sense to drive a tank through a house, not look for love. This was watchable, but had potential for so much more. In fact, I think the original script was more like Deadly Prey. Check out the filmographies of the two writers. I think Albert wrote an all-action film and then Joyner came and wrote the unnecessary crap. Sadly, this "unnecessary crap" was pretty much all we saw in later Lester/Joyner-films. Remar is the man, though.

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  8. I kind of agree with you on reality TV, though I enjoy a lot of them, especially the dating ones that involve some form of elimination, because they have a fascinating anthropological aspect. As a mating construct, picking a spouse through a reality show is less understandable than arranged marriages, yet for some reason people really buy into it.

    I saw some of the Sabato show, and other than the name-- a play on the title of an excellent Willa Cather novel-- I agree that it was a tough deal. If you haven't seen Princess of Mars though, I suggest you check it out, because Sabato was good there.

    And I'm not surprised that this was originally supposed to be more Deadly Prey like. That's too bad that it happened the way it did though.

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  9. I don't like most reality shows, dating ones bore the crap out of me(how the Bachelor and Bachelorette are still on is beyond me), and don't even get me started on Jersey Shore, I HATE that show so much it's not even funny, there is NOTHING appealing about watching a bunch of drunken idiots shouting and fighting with each other. One of the few reality shows I did like was Maximum Exposure, anybody remember that show?

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  10. So true on the "and introducing". Check out Werewolves on Wheels for a really interesting example.

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  11. Werewolves on Wheels huh? I'll have to check that out.

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  12. Mark L. Lester can direct all the crap he wants. He gets a lifetime pass from me for directing Commando AND Showdown in Little Tokyo. Not even Orson Welles can top that combo.

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  13. Don't forget Class of 1999! Pterodactyl and Betrayal were pretty good as well.

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  14. I was clicking around and read your three Harvey Keitel posts. Ever seen City of Industry?

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  15. Actually Thomas Ian Griffith and David Bradley were "Introducing" credits for The Karate Kid Part III (Whick kicks ass) andfor American Ninja 3 (which didn't kick period) Also Cameron Diaz was "Introduced" in The Mask. and there was Jessica Lange who was introduced. Yep, game, set, match. Booya!

    As for Base 2, this was mediocre for me. I tell you I don't think Mark L. Lester doesn't care anymore, cause I saw this and his more recent Groupie and his other movies like Blowback, White Rush and this really show that Lester has lost his luster over the years. I just can't imagine the same director of Commando, Class Of 1984 (hey there's a movie for you to review), Class of 1999, Showdown In Little Tokyo, Night Of The Running Man and to a lesser extent The Base and Firestarter could do such lifeless of a production.

    I think the biggest problem is that Lester isn't allowed to sneak in any commentary on things. Like he is the strongest when he is in Class Of 1984, Class Of 1999 and Night Of The Running Man mode. Even Showdown In Little Tokyo has commentary (more satire) about Lundgren being an American superimposed in Japanese culture and Brandon Lee being Asian but not being all that into Japanese culture and Commando had all kinds of homoeroticism going on with Bennet and satire of Rambo movies.

    It seems like you take away Lester's commentary or satirical elements and he flounders. By the way, Lester has gone on record to say what I'm saying about his films. Firestarter and Commando can be seen as two movies in reverse.

    Mark L. Lester though is a genre talent that I wish was allowed to let loose but I think nowadays the STV market is becoming just as sanitized as hollywood, mainly because of the increasing popularity. I guess people lost the memo as to what made these movies popular in the first place. Then again though, you have to get your title now in a Redbox and you need the internet to sell your movie.

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  16. Also...you didn't review the new VAN Damme flick? Assassination Games.

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  17. Man, I'm trying to crush a quick burger before I go out, and I've got Kenner blowing up my comments section, getting on me about my not reviewing Assassination Games. If you were in the loop you'd know that I've been documenting the continuing saga about how Netflix won't send me Assassination Games because it's stuck in Very Long Wait. Like us on Facebook, and we'll keep you up to date.

    I actually agree about Lester and the commentary, because you could see him going there here, talking about how the military had been so devalued in America in 2000. The pendulum has kind of swung back to the other extreme in the past 10-11 years, huh? But in that sense, even with his commentary, this movie still hurt, so it's not always a given.

    I also agree that the new world of DTV should be the perfect place for Lester, and with the success of The Expendables hopefully we'll some new good stuff from him. Yes, it is increasingly sanitized, but there's still room to make the right movie, and have it sell at Red Box.

    And I like your list, but none of those are DTV flicks. Still, it's a good point, it's just the DTV "and introducing" seems to be a sure kiss of death. I'd even settle for an "and introducing" Joe Lara if there were one.

    Dr. Blacksteed, I have seen City of Industry, and I enjoyed it. Loved the soundtrack too. Great 90s Noir.

    Finally, Video Vacuum, if I were a teen girl on Tumblr (and I guess there's no real proof that you guys have that says otherwise), I'd reblog your comment with the caption "THIS" written under it; but since I'm not, I'll settle for Amen.

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