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 16, 2011

Instinct to Kill (2001)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

8 comments:

  1. This is based on a book. I read it a few years ago and it's actually quite faithful to it in the sense that neither the film nor the book really knew what to do with Dacascos character. He was one of those "the best there is"-characters in both (a bit more of a bastard in the book, though), but Crider still had to be the actual hero and it was her journey. Tough balancing act and even harder to transform into a film starring someone like Dacascos. Abell was great and the film flowed nicely. I think people would've liked it more if it had been marketed properly, but to make a quick buck, they made it look like a Dacascos action film. Oh well, we're used to these things (House of the Rising Sun...), aren't we?

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  2. Good review! Always saw this at our local blockbuster, never had a chance to take a look. That is unfortunate that this isn't a Dacoscos action flick though.

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  3. I did see some previews of this but I wasn't to sure because it looked slightly lame.

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  4. Instinct To Kill that would have been a great Steven Seagal movie title. Favourite Chris Meloni has got to be his role as Keller in Oz.

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  5. I don't know about people liking it more based on the marketing, because it really did straddle the lines between action and suspense thriller, and with Dacascos's role, he did have some action scenes. I don't even know if putting Abell or Crider on the cover would've accurately portrayed what this was about either. Maybe if you had all three on the cover I guess, but it had enough action that it warranted to be marketed as such.

    Yeah, the Watch Instantly aspect makes this tempting, and it's worth checking out maybe for Tim Abell as the baddie, but if you have other things you're planning on watching, hit those first.

    Instinct to Kill is a perfect Seagal flick, to the point hat I thought I had already reviewed a Seagal flick by that title. I'm not kidding. When I was labeling the images for this, I was like "didn't I already do a movie called Instinct to Kill?'" And Keller on Oz is a good one, but I'm still going with the cook. "Did you just say you wanted to fondle my sweaters?" "No... I said we're going to serve fondue with cheddar..."

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  6. Never understood why Dacascos and Hardison didn't team up for a sequel to Drive. Did that film make zero money or something?

    Still might have to catch this when I get a chance.

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  7. I'm a Missy Crider fan. She was great in Girls in Prison (and even got to sing). Haven't seen this one but may give it a shot sometime down the road.

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  8. oh, a Drive sequel would've been great. And if you're a Crider fan, I think you should definitely check this one out, because she's pretty good.

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