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.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Steel Sharks (1997)

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He we are with the second of the Stars Play 11, and I believe the only one with a DTVC Hall of Famer in it. Good old Gary Busey, and we know we always need to get some Busey up here anyway, so why not put him in now. This one also has Billy Dee Williams and Tim Abell, so it's got a pretty promising start-- on the other hand, it's a movie about subs, which usually doesn't work on the DTV level. Let's see how it went.

Steel Sharks is about a chemical weapons expert who's been kidnapped by the Iranians so they can tap into his know-how and bump up their WMD game. Billy Dee Williams, a high ranking naval officer, sends in his best SEAL team, but they run into problems and are taken captive and held on a submarine in the gulf. Luckily, sub captain Gary Busey is out there too, manning the USS Oakland. Combine that with the SEALs looking to make an escape, and it all spells bad news for the baddies.

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I liked this one on a late 90s DTV bad actioner level. It has enough going on to keep me interested, and, while it's not outstanding, it gets me to to the church on time. It's a weird combination of styles, where we have the over-the-top (Stallone style) PM Entertainment-esque shoot out, with massive amounts of ammunition unloaded and explosions aplenty; then it transitions into Die Hard on a sub, as our SEALs look to make their escape. You'd think all of that would spell a low level of Abusiveness, but that's not the case either. He makes tons of great Busey faces, and has tons of great Busey lines, as he leads his sub through the film's conflicts. Even better is watching him play off of character actor and major That Guy Larry Poindexter. Throw in Billy Dee Williams, who's great in anything; and Tim Abell who's solid as a member of the SEAL team, and you've got a good, late 90s bad actioner.

As I said above, this film is fairly Abusive. I was worried, because he's introduced around the 25-minute mark as the SEAL team embarks on its mission from his sub, and then, I figured he'd be pretty much done once they left and went on their way. Not at all. Once they get into the sticky situation, he's right there, and he has tons of funny anecdotes and goofy faces, everything you'd want from a Busey flick.

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People often ask me, "who's your favorite Star Wars character?" That's right, Lando Calrissian, played by one Mr. William December Williams. He's going to be 75 this year. 75! To put it in perspective, five days before he turns 75, I'll be 33, which was the same age he was when The Empire Strikes Back was released in 1980. Even in this he was closing in of fifty-- and fifty after it was released-- and he was still as cool as the other side of the pillow. As a fellow Aries, I should've been making a better attempt to review more of his stuff, especially since my buddies and I have watched so many of them back when I was in high school.

This movie did a great job mitigating the issues inherent in a submarine flick, especially of the DTV variety. Instead of trying to make stock footage of subs cut with actors yelling out random coordinates, other actors yelling back that they can't do it, shots of blips on radars, ending with an explosion superimposed over the stock footage, then some Star Trek-style bridge shaking; this film only went to that well a little bit, and did it with Busey anchoring the on set scenes. For the most part, instead, it was solid action with guys shooting, fighting, and setting each other on fire, which is what we come to an action film to see, not stock footage of subs.

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I wanted to take this last paragraph to spotlight Larry Poindexter. He's usually a bit player verging on a character actor, who has around 125 imdb credits in his CV. The guy is just solid, whether he's a police detective, some teen's off-beat dad, or a junior officer working under Busey like he is here. In a way, his character attempting to make sense of Busey is like us, the viewer, trying to make sense of Busey too-- he's a metaphor for our viewing experience. Here's to you Larry Poindexter, you're one of the good ones.

You can get this on DVD relatively cheap, so that's what I'd do. Not something you want to go out of your way for, but if you see it in a bargain bin or used for under $5, don't hesitate to pull the trigger. This is the Busey-helmed bad actioner you came for.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117738/

4 comments:

  1. From the title I would have thought this was literally about metal sea beasts - but Gary Busey and Lando Calrissian still sounds fun enough for a bad action film.

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  2. Good review!

    Thought this was just Ok. It was cool to see Busey and Lando together, but it should have been a buddy cop film instead of a submarine movie.

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  3. Good to see it's a decent watch. I'll bump this up the list a bit as I already own it. For Australians you can find it for $2 in the usual Payless bargain-bins.

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  4. Alex, it is fun enough, so I'd check it out, but Ty makes a great point that the buddy cop film would've been better. That price you paid Explosive Action is right on target for what I think as far as value.

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