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.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
A little over two years ago I reviewed a film of Albert Pyun's called Urban Menace, starring a number of Hip Hop luminaries like Big Pun, Fat Joe, Snoop, and Ice-T. It was pretty bad, but not in a way that didn't work; rather, it was amateurishly made, which isn't indicative of Pyun's work. Later, in my Radioactive Dreams post, Pyun commented, telling us the story behind why Urban Menace, and his other two urban films, Corrupt and Wrecking Crew, were of such poor quality. In transport from Eastern Europe to LA, Air France lost a crate containing half of each film, forcing him to scramble to make something resembling three feature films, and the result is what we have. Because of this, I had put off reviewing the other two films, but since Netflix was dumping them from Watch Instantly, I figured I'd give them a look and maybe help get the word out for people who might see them or have seen them, and were ready to rip them on their own sites or on imdb.
Corrupt has Ice-T as the eponymous villain, a local thug making moves to consolidate his power and take a stranglehold on the neighborhood. He has a thing for a Jodi (Karen Dyer), but she's dating Miles (Ernie Hudson Jr.) and wants nothing to do with Ice-T. Things change though when her punk younger brother (Silkk tha' Shocker) re-appropriates some of Ice-T's drugs, and now, if she wants her brother to live, she needs to agree to be Ice-T's lover while Miles is out of town. Problem is, things go nuts when Silkk tha' Shocker's girlfriend tells Miles on her.
This one was remarkably better than Urban Menace. The big thing is we had a very strong performance by Ice-T, perhaps his best this side of New Jack City. It makes me wonder what this could've been if we'd had the rest of the film. At 66 minutes though, we get a complete-enough story, I think what the added footage would've done was give us a more polished product. I also liked this story better than the one in Urban Menace, this was much more down to Earth, looking at characters struggling to get out of the 'Hood, some going legit, and some going dirty. Hopefully someday the rest of the footage will turn up and we'll get a director's cut showing us what this should've looked like.
I don't blame Pyun if he doesn't like the idea of these films being out there with his name on them after what happened. Especially with the big name rappers associated with them, they tend to be some of his more heavily marketed films, which has gotta be even more frustrating. What this has done for me as a reviewer, though, is it's shown me that there's all kinds of crap that can happen to affect film's outcome, things that have nothing to do with how talented the cast and crew are. And it's usually the kinds of films we review here at the DTVC that are most likely to have suffered some of these calamities. It makes me wonder how many other films I've reviewed that have had half their footage lost by Air France.
I wasn't kidding about the Ice-T performance, he was great. Extremely menacing, but not in that affected way we often see from him as a baddie. This was a legit, cold-blooded gangster, think like Jim Brown in Crackhouse. Who knows if we lose some of this in the full version that we never got to see, or if he's even better, but what we got here was good. He anchored those 66 minutes, and made this work for me much more than it should have.
We've seen Silkk tha' Shocker before in Hot Boyz, where he was horribly miscast as the film's lead. Here he's a supporting character, a kid trying to make moves that ultimately get him in over his head and forces his sister to make tough decisions to save his life. Hot Boyz tried to have us believe that Snoop would be an underling in Silkk tha' Shocker's gang, while this film knew we'd easily believe that he'd look well above his pay grade trying to rub shoulders with Ice-T, and it worked that much better.
There isn't much of a Pyun Mainstay Game to play here, the big one other than Ice-T being DTVC favorite Vincent Klyn, who has one scene as a bum hitting on Dyer. Klyn still hasn't made a movie since 2004's Max Havoc: Curse of the Dragon, which is very disappointing. With Pyun getting a lot of the old gang out of retirement, including Sasha Mitchell, maybe we'll see Klyn again in one. Man I hope so. "Back off, Warchild. Seriously."
This is no longer on Watch Instantly. I think if you're a big Ice-T fan, this might be worth checking it out. Otherwise, I'm not so sure. I wanted to do these reviews more to get the word out regarding what happened to them, though maybe after hearing that you might be more intrigued to check them out. You can always page through the Albert Pyun tag to see some films of his that I've reviewed that are of a much higher quality.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0194773/