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.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Lethal Tender (1997)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

17 comments:

  1. Kimmothy! haha. Watched this back in the day and had a blast. Loved the moving analogy.

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  2. Hahaha, thanks, the moving analogy actually came to me as I was commenting on Ty's review, and I realized "man, I need to save that for my review." This really was a lot of fun though, glad you dug it too.

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  3. Glad to see you enjoy the Coates-ster as much as I do. Probably my favorite performance by him was his bit in Last Boy Scout. He just had that one scene but it was the highlight of the movie (and that's really saying something).

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  4. Yeah, that was a really good one. I haven't seen that movie in forever, I'll have to see it again. That's another great thing about Coates, he's good in either a big part or a small cameo. He's kind of a throwback to classic Hollywood, where you just had tons of high quality professional character actors.

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  5. No problem about hotlinking the cover.

    Totally agree: We loved Coates in this. He could have half-assed his role, but he added some weirdness and energy to it. Also gotta love crazy Busey!

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  6. Yeah, and that monologue where, as you said, we get a close-up on his teeth. What the hell was that? It was great crazy Busey, and a strong Coates performance, saving what otherwise would've been another boring Die Hard rip-off.

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  7. You want a fun Die Hard rip-off, you should check out Demolition High and Demolition Unversity.

    Also here's another review site you might like.
    http://critcononline.com/

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  8. I am intrigued by this as I need to see more Busey as well. Can never have enough Abuse.

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  9. No, it's always good to get some Abuse in, and this movie is pretty Abusive.

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  10. Jeff Fahey in a Die Hard rip off with Gary Busey as the bad guy... I'm there.

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  11. About the Busey opening monologue with the close-ups of his teeth: That was weird and funny at the same time!

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  12. 'Die Hard in a water treatment plant' is that the worst plot redux yet?

    But Busey and Coates what a pairing.

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  13. THe weakest Die-Hard rip-off i've seen would be The Vault(which is Die Hard in museum), with MMA fighter Bas Rutten as the bad guy.

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  14. Don't forget Kim Coates Jack, he makes the movie. And that monologue was a trip. He's talking about his sixth grade teacher, he's smoking a cigar, and we're getting the teeth close up. It's funny Exploding Helicopter (I love referring to you as your blog name), you'd think Die Hard in a water treatment plant would be the Die Hard rip-off jumping the shark, and on some levels it is, but Busey and Coates really make this a pretty sweet deal.

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  15. Saw this some time ago. It had some wicked sense of humor with the bad guy using the dead victim as a puppet(!) and Coates was at his best Bill Murray-mode here. Take away Coates and Busey with his amazing teeth, not much left, though. Fahey was indeed like a supporting character in what was supposed to be his film. He did very, very little. He even had some problems getting inside the darn facility, if I remember correctly! But that close-up of Busey's teeth... Now, THAT'S a way to start a movie!

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  16. Oh, the dead guy puppet was great "The new boss gave me the whole week off, isn't he swell?" Even though all this movie could hold its hat on were great performances from Coates and Busey, they were so great it was worth holding its hat on those.

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  17. In my opinion, Busey in this film too still and looked like a clown

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