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 13, 2013
Recently John Sullivan (Twitter@johnnyblackout), screenwriter of Recoil, liked The Direct to Video Connoisseur on Facebook, and left a post on my wall asking me to review his film. I definitely wanted to, but it's only available on DVD from Netflix, and having just reinstated the DVD portion of my account, I had to do Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning first, and in the meantime, hit the Steven Seagal/Stone Cold Steve Austin flick Maximum Justice, because it was on Instant. Of course, you know how that flick went, and Sullivan was back on Facebook letting me know that Recoil was much better and used Austin much better. Now we're finally making it happen, so let's see if it lived up to it's billing. As an aside, this film is not to be confused with the Gary Daniels film of the same title, which we used to induct Art Camacho and PM Entertainment into the DTVC Hall of Fame.
Recoil has Austin as a bad ass vigilante who travels the country tracking down men who have committed violent crimes against women and children and got away with it. He goes to a small town named Hope to kill a member of a biker gang there. Turns out the guy is the younger brother of the head of the gang, Danny Trejo, and now it's on. Will Austin be able to take them down?
Wow, this more than lived up to its billing. We're talking 80s/90s throwback actioner, the kind of thing you could see Jeff Wincott doing. Austin as the hero is fantastic, totally badass, and the kind of hero we want to see delivering justice. The action keeps a good pace, and when it's not there, whatever else is going on is enough to keep me interested. No gimmicky edits or shaky cinematography either. Danny Trejo is the perfect choice for the baddie, and everyone else, including Serinda Swan, Locklyn Munro, and Keith Jardine, was great too. Why we don't see more of this is beyond me: simple story with heroes we want to root for and villains we want to see get theirs, and a solid action quotient with clean direction and no gimmicks.
It should be no surprise though that John Sullivan wrote a movie like this. You may have seen him on the DTVC Facebook applauding me for my Jeff Wincott reviews and asking me about various C. Thomas Howell flicks. In talking to him, he said he worked in a video store in the early 90s, at the time these flicks were huge, and he was given the task of ordering videos. Like all of us, he said, while these films weren't always good, they were always entertaining; and like us, he agrees on what makes them entertaining. So he went into Recoil wanting to give us that: something like a modern Western, and you can see the results. I asked him how much of his movie ended up in the final product, and he said this is exactly what he wanted, and it shows. The film is very consistent throughout, nothing feels tacked on or out of place. The other thing is, because this is well-written, we don't have cheap add-ins like the classic "freeze the shot, make the color a little different, then put a title on the screen telling us who the character is." Nothing spells lazy writing like that. Here, everyone is revealed and introduced to us organically, and there aren't too many moving parts that weigh it down. Yet, as I said above, Sullivan pays enough attention to detail to give us solid heroes and villains, and a great action level. We need more DTV action written by John Sullivan.
This is also the Stone Cold Steven Austin we've been looking for. Maybe not the beer drinking, motorcycle driving, Stone Cold Stunner delivering badass; but a solid, stoic, asskicking badass. He was on board with the Western-style lone hero, knew what was expected of him, and drove it home. I think this affirms what I knew all along, that the lack of good Austin films was due to poor writing and characters that didn't fit for him. Sullivan wrote a consistent, strong character. The director, Terry Miles, who comes from a dramatic film background and was working on his first action film, was also able to get that dramatic element out of Austin in a way that didn't feel forced or silly. Finally, a role worthy of what we knew Austin could bring to the table, and he didn't disappoint.
Check out Noel Gugliemi, also known as That Guy. He plays Trejo's younger brother-- surprise, surprise. I asked Sullivan about him, because he always plays, not just a gang member, but a particularly bad heel that we always want to see get it. Sullivan said he's actually a really nice guy, and according to imdb, he goes to schools to talk to kids about staying away from gangs. But here he is again, playing a mean gangster who assaults women, and we can't wait for Austin to tie him to a car and drive him into an exploding building. I guess there are worse ways to make a living. Hell, you give me a flight and room and board in Vancouver, and I'd be glad to have Austin kill me in a movie.
Speaking of explosions, Austin put a handkerchief on the truck, run! Total Mitchell style there. I don't know if this was an ode to Mitchell and MST3K, but it worked just the same. It was then followed by a "Cool Guys Never Look at Explosions" moment with Austin, which I posted above. That's what this movie was, fun after fun, topped with more fun, with a side of fun.
So let's wrap this up. If you dig 80s/90s action, and wonder why so many modern DTV flicks can't deliver on it, this is the film for you. John Sullivan made the movie that he wanted, and that we've wanted to see for a while now. We need more guys like Sullivan out there writing these things, and hopefully more of them will be made. These are the reviews I want to write, and it's nice to have a movie that I can write them about.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1839591/