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, November 18, 2011

Peacemaker (1990)

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This one was brought to my attention by a reader via the Facebook page, which, if you don't already Like the Direct to Video Connoisseur on Facebook, it's a great place to get updates on what we're planning on doing, and to contact me with general comments and inquiries-- like recommendations or mentions of movies you think I should check out. Before we get started, I also want to mention that our friend robotGEEK hit this flick too, so go check out what he thought. (And I hotlinked your cover photo-- hope that's okay.)

Peacemaker-- or A Love Out of This World, as it's known in Romantic Comedy circles-- is a Rom Com about a woman who's a divorcée working as a coroner, planning to finish things up in the lab and spend the night alone with some wine and some episodes of Days she'd taped, when the stiff she's about to carve open comes to life and kidnaps her. In the parking lot, as they're driving away, Robert Forster attacks them, and he and the guy that kidnapped her fight it out. After a night spent tied up with the phone cord, our heroine finds she's falling in love with her kidnapper, and wants to help him take out Forster. Turns out Forster and her new boyfriend are aliens, and one is a cop-- known by them as a "Peacekeeper"--, and the other a serial killer. Problem is, she can't tell which is which. "Damn it, maybe mom was right, and I should've tried 8 Minute Dating!"

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All right, as much as this hits the spots of a Romantic Comedy, it's also a really great action flick. It's the kind of one where you feel bad for the stuntmen, because they get sent through the ringer. Dumped from dirt bikes, tossed out of windows, flipped over in cop cars, hanging off of speeding trucks, it's all there. Forster is fantastic, and Robert Davi as the local cop that hits on our heroine is also great. This is pretty much everything you want in a DTV 90s actioner, from the actors you recognize, to the actors you don't, and the heavy duty action in between. An all around good time.

This is not the first time we've had an action flick that played out like a Romantic Comedy. Cyborg Cop is one example, where two opposites attract lovers meet in a banana republic, one looking to find out what happened to his brother, the other a reporter looking for a big scoop. They fight, he manhandles her, she doesn't like it, then she does, they make love, John Rhys-Davies kidnaps her, and she needs rescuing. Would've been great if not for David Bradley's fanny pack, right? Then there's Deadly Prey, which, I know it's a classic lazy man's joke to say action movies are metaphorical gay romances, but I think in Deadly Prey's case, it actually works. With Peacekeeper, it's one of those where, if you watch it from the Romantic Comedy viewpoint, it's even funnier, and makes the movie more enjoyable. I'm not trying to be ironic, the dynamic between the doctor and the alien cop feels very Romantic Comedy-esque-- only with a lot more violence and explosions, which is awesome.

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Robert Forster is a guy whom everyone knows from all kinds of stuff, including Jackie Brown, for which he earned a well-deserved best supporting actor Oscar nominee. For my money, he made that movie. He brings some of that great Forster quality here in another supporting role as the serial killer or maybe not the serial killer, and it adds some nuance to the role, which it really deserved. DTVC favorite Robert Davi has a small part as the police sergeant that has a thing for our heroine. Like Forster, he has an ability to add nuance to roles that need it, but might not exactly have it written in. He's great as that guy who's kind of a jerk and a chauvinist, but is also stand-up and heroic. It's kind of too bad both guys weren't in the film more, but along with the solid action, they do an excellent job of propping up what otherwise would've been a bad Romantic Comedy.

Beyond the Romantic Comedy aspect, this also had the bad sci-fi aspect, and this commits the most egregious, yet most common, sci-fi movie gaff: the shifting rules gaff. A man has the strength to crush a telephone in his hands, or stop a car from running him over with his foot, but a thin woman with a purse can knock him over. A man is strong enough to cut his own hand off to get out of handcuffs, but not strong enough to break the handcuffs instead. Our aliens can only be killed by having trauma done directly to the brain, but somehow being blown up in a shack full of dynamite doesn't qualify for that. This is all of that bad sci-fi that, when a movie dwells on it and comes off proud of it, can really detract from the proceedings; but in a case like this, is used only to allow guys to be blown up and shot and crashed through windows multiple times, meaning it ups the action quotient, which is always a bonus.

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Finally, I had to bring up the cameo of this Time/Life UFO book here, which was used as a moment of comic relief, but really brought back memories of these silly book collections. When I was really young, like six or seven, I remember staying up late on the weekends or during the summer, and seeing commercials for these books and being scared out of my mind. I had nightmares that I was being abducted by aliens, and would wake up as the tractor beam was lifting me to the ship. Then I grew up (turned 10) and learned that these Time/Life books and episodes of Unsolved Mysteries were total crap and I was a moron (even as a 7-year-old) for believing in them. Now what's the show, Ancient Aliens, a show about how non-white cultures couldn't possibly have ever created anything before the White Man arrived, so aliens must've helped them. Good stuff.

Unfortunately, the History Channel and Discovery don't play movies like this, but they should, because this is just great 90s DTV action. As far as I know, it's only used VHS, or, if you have a laser disc player, you can get it on that too. I say keep your eye out for it, or go to Amazon, because it's not that expensive there. This is a good addition to your 80s/90s action collection-- or 80s/90s Romantic Comedy collection.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0100343/

10 comments:

  1. I love it! Glad you got to this one. It's a really great non-stop and ridiculous action flick, even with the silly love story. You're right about the rules not making sense, but as you said, it's an excuse to just give us more action, which it does really well. I wish that guy had done more action films, he clearly has a knack for it.
    Great review and thanks for the mention! Glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. Great Review...I actually have the german DVD , sadly without english audio. The german dubbing is 50 percent of the fun, since it features pretty bad voice actors...and RobotGeek provided for my english copy(thanks for that).
    Sure don`t mind having this in my collection.

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  3. Great review! We have this in our pile of movies to watch too. RobotGEEK also gave us a copy.

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  4. No problem on the mention, I think you nailed it when you said it's just a good 90s low-budget actioner. This is what people who read this blog are looking for, and this one hits all the spots.

    And that's great robotGEEK hooked you guys up, because this is worth it. A great addition to your collections.

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  5. All logic aside, I think one of the best things Peacemaker has going for it is Robert Forster. He's so good at playing both good and bad and he does it with such ease that you never know what side he's really on for most of the time. Like, he can be your awesome grandpa or he can be a serial killer with the flip of a coin. The guy's just really good.

    "Talk about your close encounter." Definitely one of the best lines in the film. lol. Classic stuff man.

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  6. True, I guess without Forster, it wouldn`t be as watchable as it is.

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  7. This box art takes me back to the glory days of old school mom and pop video stores. I remember seeing it all time time up on the shelf but somehow never got around to seeing it. I might have to, just for Forster. That guy instantly makes any movie better.

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  8. Yeah, Forster was also pretty good in Demolition University.

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  9. sweet review. love this flick and the action and stunt work is just awesome in it. there is a pretty decent region 2 dvd copy of this flick available....

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  10. And Forster makes this movie as well VideoVacuum, as robotGEEK and Helford666 point out. It's really the classic 80s/90s DTV action equation: one or two good names, stuntmen getting the short end of the stick, and us getting all the explosions, car chases, martial arts, and gun fights we can handle. In this case it's Forster, but we've seen it work with Napier, Davi, Wings Hauser... I could go on. I think part of that VHS nostalgia is just the fact that they don't make movies like this anymore, which is too bad.

    And thanks for the info drive2, that's good to know for my Europeans and Australian readers.

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