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.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

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

--Matt

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fight to Win (1987)

Photobucket

This looked like a pretty sweet deal, especially considering it featured the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire of DTV action, DTVC Hall of Famers Cynthia Rothrock and Richard Norton. Always good to get films in with this pair. Took a while to get, but a friend hooked me up with a VHS, which was very nice of him.

Fight to Win has George Chung as Ryan, a cocky kid with major martial arts skills but is totally full of himself. After winning a local tournament, his father and his sensei's old nemesis, Richard Norton, comes by and challenges the kid to fight one of his guys, and naturally, the kid loses bad. The sensei's got some heart trouble, so he calls in prized pupil Cynthia Rothrock to train the kid, and it just happens she has an ax to grind with Norton as well. Can the kid put his ego in check long enough to gain his redemption?

Photobucket

Wow, this is a pretty sweet deal. Not the best, but for bad action, really good. The fight scenes were solid, there were some jokes that were funny, and some jokes that didn't work that were even funnier, and some serious moments that were even funnier than that. I posted a short dance/martial arts montage on the image page that was one of the funniest, but I think I could've posted five or six videos, there were that many great moments. Also, there was some really impressive music, solid 80s stuff, and great mullets and outfits. This is just really good 80s bad action.

I know I should be posting a Cynthia Rothrock image here-- and I put a couple on the image page-- but I had to indulge in this Norton one here instead. It has everything, the windswept, feathered mullet; the leather jacket with the sleeves rolled up; the sweatsuits; and most importantly, the vintage Ford Escort. Man, if I had the money, I'd get one of those things and have so much work put into it-- hell, I'd even get the "Antique" plates. How sick would that be? As far as the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire of DTV action, they were both good. Norton had a lesser role because he was the baddie, but he had some good fight scenes, especially with Rothrock; and Rothrock was great as the trainer who then takes on a more active role in fighting. Not the best of their team-ups, but not a bad one either.

Photobucket

One of the best Gary Daniels films we've reviewed is Bloodmoon, and like Darren Shahlavi, who was great but hasn't had the roles since then that he deserves, the same can be said for Chuck Jefferys, who is also a fantastic fighter. He seems to be here more for his comic relief-- and his great Eddie Murphy impression-- but when he gets his chances to show off his prodigious martial arts skills, he doesn't disappoint. A guy that definitely deserved more work.

All right, I'm going to get a little film snobby on you and bring up Yasujiro Ozu, but bear with me, I have a point. This movie, though it obviously wasn't completely Ozu-style, had some of his hallmarks, particularly a still frame that he allowed all of the action to move within without excessively panning or zooming in. (You're going to think I'm crazy when you see the one clip I decided post, because that's all kinds of edits and whatnot, but I swear, that was the exception.) One thing Ebert remarked on with Ozu's style is that it allows the viewer to fall into a rhythm, which makes the movie pass quicker in our minds, as opposed to something like Armageddon, where no shot is on the screen for more than a second, and as a result, because it's so cut up, it takes forever. Fight to Win is a great example of that juxtaposition with the modern punchfighting movie, that is a mess of bad edits and gimmicky crap that diverts out attention. We have fight scenes in this that are allowed to breathe in front of us in one continuous shot with a camera that moves ever so slightly to keep all of the action within frame, and for us the viewer, it makes it easier to get into. The thing is, this movie looks like it was made on a shoestring budget, so if they can make a fight look good with limited edits and zero computer gimmicks, then the modern DTV flick should have no problem either.

Photobucket

That's Hall of Fame (NFL not DTVC) safety Ronnie Lott. He has a short cameo where he comes in on a four-wheeler and shoots a bunch of guys up, then banters with one of the good guys. It's crazy to think how much the world of football has changed between 1987 and now. In 1987, Lott's 49ers were one of the best teams ever, and the idea that they would ever be the sack of asscrack they are now was inconceivable. At the same time, the idea that instead of the '9ers, it's the Pats that are one of the best teams, is equally crazy. I guess it's a reminder that nothing in sports is guaranteed, and the Pats could drop out eventually too.

And that's it, this is a good one, if you can find it. VHS, and I'll tell you, this transfer isn't great-- lots of scratches from the source film. But for you VHS nostalgists, that probably makes it all the better. I think this is more of a collector's flick, so keep your eyes peeled, and don't be afraid to spend, because it's a good one for your collection. They don't make 'em like this anymore, which is too bad.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0165776/

15 comments:

  1. This looks great. I'll have to dig around to find this I think, but looks totally worth the effort.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh yeah, this is definitely your bag. Low quality, solid action, and a couple big names. This belongs in your collection.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Why don't they make movies like this anymore?

    ReplyDelete
  4. The biggest reason is, it seems anyway, that the new DTV film maker doesn't trust the simple image on the screen of two people acting out solid fight choreography, or the simple shot of an exploding helicopter. They feel they have to dress it up, or overcut the shot so we barely get a chance to focus on it. It's the Michael Bay-ization of the film industry.

    The other thing is, we take for granted what it means to have an actual professional director making a movie-- not an actor or stuntman or whatever playing director. In the 80s and 90s, you had not only guys like Albert Pyun, who trained under people like Kurosawa, but guys like Mattei, that came from the same film traditions as people like Fellini. I think we forget that in the 80s and 90s, even when a movie had a bad script and/or bad acting, at least we often had a director who can at least put things on the screen in a way that we can see them, and trust that we as an audience enjoy that the rest of the thing is mindless low-budget cheese. Too many modern DTV flicks aren't shot by professional directors, and so you not only get a lack of appreciation for what makes a good shot, but I think you also find that producers and studios can take control of the project easier and butcher it that much more.

    (sorry, that was really long...)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Excellent review! Will have to pick this up soon. What a great cast and gotta love some sweet 80s bad action.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yeah, I think you'll really enjoy this Ty, it's your kind of flick.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I seen bits and pieces of this film and always thought the quality was low but it never seemed to bother me because it was filmed with talented actors--(in my opinion!) and action.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yeah, good actors and action, and fun 80s low-budget schlock fare. If you like this kind of thing, you'll enjoy this one.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Totally agree on the director bit - a good director who knows the fine art of restraint can make a shoestring budget shine like a diamond in a goat's ass - on the flipside, when you make MMA movies (talking to you TapouT) and let the fighters direct them (talking to you Echevarria) you wind up with this Michael Bay wannabe garbage that you mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Amen. Stuntmen and actors and fighters do not directors make-- nor good movies.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Sorry, some actors have been good directors, but take Dolph in Missionary Man, where he took a good movie, and went crazy with some bad distorted file effect. It's like directors just trust what looks good a little more-- not to say they don't sometime overdo it too, just not to the same degree.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Holy shit, a Cynthia Rothrock flick I haven't seen yet. I'm not worthy!

    ReplyDelete
  13. You're plenty worthy I'm sure, this is just one of the more obscure ones, but it's very worth it.

    ReplyDelete