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, March 28, 2012

Sniper 3 (2004)

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Netflix recently dropped this from Watch Instantly, so I figured I'd give it a look. As of this post, they still have the first one up, while the second is on Hulu, but about to be dumped as well. I don't really like reviewing movies from Hulu, because their interface doesn't work as well for capturing images, that's why we're doing three before two, but I do plan to do two at some point in the future. Also, out buddy Ty at Comeuppance Reviews has done all three of them, including this one we're doing now.

Sniper 3 attempts to go a little deeper into the history of Master Gunnery Sgt. Berenger, looking at his roots as a young soldier in Vietnam. In the present, he discovers from the government that his old pal from the Vietnam War, once thought dead, is actually alive and working as a big time drug kingpin over there. So the government does like any government would do, they send their best aging sniper who was having vision problems in the last installment to take the dude out. But can Master Gunnery Sgt. Berenger take the shot when he gets it?

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I think this one is a bit of a miss for me. It had its moments. Byron Mann plays a local drug cop, and he and Berenger have some solid chemistry; but there isn't a lot of action, and some of the punch of the mysterious, stoic, savant we loved in Berenger's character is taken out by this backstory that the film is based around. Also, there was a bit of a Heart of Darkness bent to this, but it was never fully realized, with Berenger's adversary never quite the Kurtz character I'd want in a Heart of Darkness theme. It's possible that this third installment hit the law of diminishing returns, that it was pulling blood from a stone, or trying to cover territory that wasn't exactly there.

I was trying to think of the last time we saw Mr. Berenger here, and I want to say it was our second post ever, Cutaway. That's almost five years since our last Berenger post. And it's not like there's a dearth of good Berenger DTV work out there. Talk about your lost in the shuffle. He's good here, but it's not that iconic performance we got in the first two, or in his other stuff like Platoon. I almost think he was too comfortable in this role, and maybe lost a bit of what made it stand out so much. I don't know if I put that on him so much as the film itself and the way the character was written this go around, but maybe there is something to an actor playing a role too often.

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Speaking of which, the Sniper sequels are a bit of a departure from the usual DTV sequels of a theatrical film, in that the original actor is reprising his role. It does happen-- I can think of a few examples-- but usually it's someone else taking over. By having Berenger as Master Gunnery Sgt. Berenger in all three of these films, at the very least it makes me more interested to see them. Would I be less likely to see these sequels and review them if Berenger were replaced by Daniel Bernhardt or Sasha Mitchell? Probably not, but it's a nice change of pace to have the actor from the theatrical original in the DTV flicks too.

DTVC favorite Byron Mann plays a Vietnamese cop with NSA ties whose father just so happened to be a US sniper in the Vietnam War, a sniper who only left behind his seed and his sniper rifle. We get one pretty sweet footchase with him at the beginning, then a semi-decent fight scene at the end, but nothing much in between. Like the Heart of Darkness theme that was never fully realized, the same was true with Mann's potential as a Vietnamese cop in this movie. Why not graft in a couple fight scenes for him? Is Master Gunnery Sgt. Berenger's backstory that important that they couldn't throw in a little more action? And anchored by Mann's too sweet fight skills to boot.

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When I watched part 1 again before watching this for the review, I was struck by how firmly 1990s that one felt, and how well that worked for it. Here we're getting into the mid-2000s, and those gimmicky edits and techno scores are apparent throughout. That's a major departure from 1993, where any-- if there are any-- gimmicks feel more natural, or at the very least nostalgic, and the whole vibe just works better. I don't know if we'll ever turn back the clock and get our action movies made more like their 90s counterparts, which is fine-- I can always kill the new ones on here for their gimmicks and enjoy the old ones on DVD or Netflix.

And while this is one of those new ones, it isn't as bad as some. Just the same, compared to the others in the Sniper series, this isn't quite at their level, especially part 1. I'd check that one out while you can on Watch Instantly, and get to this one a little further down the road.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0408196/

4 comments:

  1. I actually quite liked this one. Not as much as the original but more than part 2. What all the sequels completely miss is the running tension of that the original had.

    They needed more scenes of Beckett camped out waiting to get his target in his sights or sneaking around unnoticed.

    One thing I did like about this film is that it feels like Beckett's final mission. You get that final shot of him asleep in the helicopter (must admit I thought he was dead for second).

    Mann makes a great sidekick but I didn't feel they utilised him enough.

    Definitely check out the recent Sniper: Reloaded - there's no Berenger but Zane comes back as the new lead's mentor.

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  2. Great write-up! Totally agree with you. It's hard to beat part 1, but this wasn't that bad. Better than part 2.

    also thanks for the link!

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  3. When you talked about Berenger being in all 3 films it made me wonder, has there ever been an actor who's replaced in a role, but then bought back in a later instalment?

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  4. I actually liked all four Sniper movies and am glad that they even got a good Complete Collection release from Sony Pictures Home Video.

    I'll take these over the average espionage movie any day!

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