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, January 27, 2012

Spoiler (1998)

Photobucket

We're staring to exhaust our supply of Gary Daniels films. There are a few others available, and I plan on hitting them in the near future, but after that, it's either waiting for the pile of flicks he's done after 2009 to be released here in the States, or search around and see if some of the more obscure older ones pop up. But we got this one, so we might as well take advantage of it.

Spoiler takes place in the future, where criminals that try to escape from prison are so named, and when caught again, sent into deep freeze for inordinate amounts of time. Daniels is one of these Spoilers, and after he's caught escaping, he's given 26 years. Then he escapes again, and is given a bunch more. And then he escapes again, and is captured again. When he escapes this time, will he let them take him in alive?

Photobucket

If this sounds like a Groundhog's Day scenario in a movie, it felt like it too. The first 40 minutes or so is just the film spinning its wheels. Really, none of it gets us anywhere other than back to where we started. I want to say "who thinks that's a good idea?", but I'm not so sure the people who made this movie cared. All they seemed to care about was this idea of Daniels not aging and seeing his daughter when she's old and dying, and basing a sci-fi actioner around it. Not that this has a lot of action. First off, Daniels doesn't sport his sweet martial arts. Total waste. Why again did you cast Daniels then? And they had all this other talent that they used each for either one scene or a small part: Bryan Genesse, Meg Foster, Jeffrey Combs, (I think) Timothy Bottoms, and (I think) James Booth. This should've been The Fugitive set in the future, with Daniels using his wits to stay escaped-- not get captured and escape over and over. An idea and a film sauteed in wrong sauce.

The thing is, we've seen from films like Rage, that Daniels can do The Fugitive paradigm and do it well. And we had some really great supporting characters in this that could have filled that out and made it so much cooler. The film starts with Genesse and Daniels in dust-up, but it's really just them hitting each other and falling over. Hell no! You've got two great martial artists, and you can't have them choreograph something awesome for us? Then keep Genesse and have him appear in future scenes-- or maybe have him team up with Jeffrey Combs, who was himself a great baddie, but unfortunately only comes in at the very end. What? He should've been the Tommy lee Jones to Daniels's Harrison Ford. This was not a vehicle where Daniels was allowed to shine, and it suffered for that.

Photobucket

Let's get back to the Jeffrey Combs thing, because when he pops in in the last 15 minutes or so, I'm wondering "where have you been all my film?" He was the ultimate baddie, but he had too little time to flex his baddie muscles. The whole Groundhog's Day theme of this film, where Daniels keeps getting frozen and waking up decades later, meant that a guy as great as Combs couldn't appear for more than one small section, otherwise he'd bee too old later. That's why you scrap a silly premise like that. Also, it's probably time I got more Combs on this site, huh?

As I said above, this entire film was based around this idea of a father staying the same age and seeing his daughter when she's really old and on her death bed. Sounds cool in theory, but in practice, it killed everything that could've been good about the movie. I think sometimes these film makers get married to an idea, and can't see that it's sauteed in wrong sauce. When that happens, you get the best from actors like Gary Daniels left on the shelf, and potentially film anchoring performances from great actors like Meg Foster and Jeffrey Combs wasted on tiny parts.

Photobucket

Finally, I really liked the images of the futuristic cities in this. Again, because much of the film is Daniels getting frozen and trying to escape prison, we don't see those enough either. Ugh, it just makes me see how awesome a sci-fi futuristic Fugitive would have been with what they had to work with, and how much it was all wasted.

I can't do this anymore I need to put this review to bed. You want to watch a movie where Gary Daniels doesn't fight, by all means, but it wasn't for me. You want to watch a movie where the first 40 minutes goes nowhere, by all means, but that wasn't for me either. You want to watch a movie where a great Jeffrey Combs baddie gets barely 15 minutes due to a silly plot premise? By all mean, but it upsets me too much to talk about it. I believe this is out of print, but you can get it new or used on DVD from Amazon, but I wouldn't bother.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120187/

7 comments:

  1. Great write-up!

    Heard this wasn't that good, will keep avoiding it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I posted you a welcome at the Crypt..... Thanks for joining our growing number of followers..... best wishes to you and yours....
    ...the Doctor

    ReplyDelete
  3. Enjoyed the write up to this. I do like a futuristic prison movie. But this doesn't sound like a classic. Made me think of Fortress with Christoper Lambert. Going to check now if you've done reviews of those.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I liked this actually. I think it would've been better with a better actor as lead. Gary Daniels is adequate and has a few good moments but this needed someone like Eric Roberts or Michael Pare. (I don't list big stars because the budget was low) Who could really do justice to the character, another actor that could've pulled it off would have been Van Damme.

    I thought the special effects were really good, I thought that the futuristic prison plot was quite compelling and that the ending was sort of fitting. I don't know, It's a marginal recommendation but I actually liked Spoiler.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I put Fortress on my Amazon wishlist just this afternoon, looks like a half decent relatively obscure title to add to my collection / review list.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sci-fi version of The Fugitive? You mean Freejack?

    Thanks for the review, haven't tracked this down yet as it's ridiculously expensive. I've read an interview somewhere with Jeff Burr where he says that the budget got hugely slashed and he had to remove basically all the action scenes from the script. For shame.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That's a good idea Ty, you're better off. And thanks Dr. Theda, I appreciate it! I have done Fortress and Fortress 2 so I'll put those links out for anyone that wants to check them out w/out going to the alphabetical archive page.

    Usually i don't agree with you about the different actor theory you have with a lot of these movies Kenner, but i think I do here. A Michael Pare for instance might have helped; but nothing could save the fact that the first 40 minutes got us absolutely nowhere plotwise.

    Fortress is a must for any reviewer, definitely. I didn't like it, but it's that iconic.

    Even with the budget slashed, again, I have to go back to the plot, and the fact that for the first 40 minutes it just spun its wheels. Also, I didn't need big explosions, just some nice fight scenes between Gennesse and Daniels. But I agree, more action could've helped this out.

    ReplyDelete