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, April 4, 2013
Shadow Warriors (1995)
If you've been rockin' with us for some time, you know I love me some Evan Lurie. Ever since American Kickboxer 2, I've been a huge fan, and have wanted to get all of his films up here. That's where Shadow Warriors comes in. All I needed to hear was "starring Evan Lurie", and I was sold. On the other hand, we've had some Lurie bait-and-switches in the past, so I was on my guard.
Shadow Warriors stars The Stepfather's Terry O'Quinn as this guy working for a major global security corporation, making new age security guards from dead people, among them the great Evan Lurie. But a man sent by the company's security counsel (?) to watch over O'Quinn's operation gets suspicious of O'Quinn's motives. With good reason, because O'Quinn is using another of his soldiers from their Ukraine branch (?) to take over the company. Now Lurie, the security counsel guy, and another of the company's scientists are rushing over to the Ukraine to stop him. Will they make it in time?
This sounds like a great schlock moviefest fun time, but it isn't. Half the time it doesn't know what it's doing. This Ukrainian super soldier wipes out tons of dudes, can take out Lurie, who's a fellow super soldier, yet this security counsel guy can fight him? Why doesn't the super soldier just kill him like everyone else? Lurie has some incident where we think he might be capable of individuality, and that's it, we never deal with it again. In one moment he's controlled by O'Quinn and acts like a bad guy, the next he's with the security counsel guy. And then the security counsel guy is wearing an ATF jacket. What the hell is that? And what counts for action in this film is often this Ukrainian super soldier mowing down shimmying stunt doubles, with the occasional explosion thrown in. We don't get any good fights between him and Lurie, we don't get any good pitched battles-- it's just blah.
And that's a shame, because I thought, based on the beginning, that we really had something here, especially with O'Quinn and Lurie. I don't know if I wanted to see Lurie as a baddie, which is what it looked like he would be, or a good guy fighting multiple super soldiers, I know I just wanted more Lurie. And then he drops out at the midway point, only to be seen again at the very end. I don't get this at all. Did the Ukrainian dude fund this film as his own vanity project? He's given the classic "introducing" tag in the opening credits, and when you look him up on imdb, this is his only film. The vanity project theory is the only one that makes sense, because I don't know who looks at Lurie, then that Ukrainian dude, and decides to center the film around the Ukrainian dude.
More on Lurie. According to imdb, he up and disappears from the action scene in 1997, and the question has always been, what happened to him. Well, I did some digging, and found out he was hired by a city in Indiana to jumpstart an artist's community there. He has his own gallery and was paid well as a consultant. I guess he's been doing the art thing for a long time. I also found out he got into some hot water there, something I won't get into because this is supposed to be an Evan Lurie appreciation post, but I'll just say I wish him good luck with all of that in his future. And on a selfish note, I hope someday he'll do some more action films!
What is the deal with the "and introducing" tag in the opening credits? If I were an aspiring actor, the last thing I'd want is that in front of my name. And how many times have we seen these movies, sauteed in wrong sauce, that based themselves around these no names, with the idea that what, he or she is on the path to stardom? It's one of the many DTV or low-budget movie rules: "introducing" means "no career after". It's like what Colin Hay said about Men at Work's Best New Artist Grammy: "slash kiss of death award".
Terry O'Quinn is probably most famous now for Lost. In fact, I imagine he fired his agent after this film, and probably buries it in his CV. Like, I bet if he's talking with the producers about a new project, it's understood that they're not to mention this movie, the way people wanting to work with Mark Wahlberg can't mention The Funky Bunch. The thing is though, when you look at his bio, there isn't a dip where his career hits the skids and you can understand why he'd do something like this. He was in some big Hollywood films and some hit TV shows at the time. I mean, he really must've fired his agent.
I got this on DVD from Netflix, and it's pretty readily available through them. That's too bad, considering how many great DTV films from the 90s aren't available. This is the kind of thing that would've been on at 3AM on TNT on a night Joe Bob Brigg's aired, and maybe if you had a bunch of buddies over drinking and watching these things, there'd be that one guy that stayed up later than everyone else and watched it. If you were that one guy, this is the film for you. Everyone else, I'd say pass.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0117612/