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.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

La Linea - The Line (2008)

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Here is another in the Netflix Dump 8, though this one was slightly different, in that it wasn't a part of the initial dump, but came a week later.  It's one I'd been meaning to do for some time, because the cast is exceedingly prodigious, including DTVC Hall of Famer Gary Daniels, and favorites Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia, and Danny Trejo.  Let's see how it went.

La Linea is about a well-established drug trafficking line that carries drugs through Mexico and into the United States.  As you can imagine, all sorts of intrigue surrounds it, in this case specifically: a shift in the leadership in the cartel that controls it, complete with a power struggle between two parties that both feel entitled to that power; and the impending deal between the cartel and Afghan heroin dealers, which has tipped off the CIA, who isn't happy about this.  Tijuana is about to explode.

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I think if this one has any problems, it's that it's trying to do too much in only 90 minutes, which often means that everything suffers.  We have some core storylines that the film tries to focus on, but it's hard to do.  Liotta, for instance, plays a hit man who has cancer, and at times we get into what he's going through, but at others we lose him, because we have to with everything else that's going on.  The same thing happens with Andy Garcia, who plays the original cartel leader, and Esai Morales, who Garcia is handing control over to.  You could almost make the whole movie about either storyline, or maybe even a longer movie that included both.  There was some decent action though, and some fun performances from a lot of great actors.  If you see it on cable sometime, and like the actors, I'd give it a look.

The film for the most part centers on Liotta and Garcia-- though again, we lose them at points, especially Garcia-- both of whom were good.  It's funny, I looked up the Goodfellas year for the Oscars, and Andy Garcia was up for best supporting actor for The Godfather III, which Joe Pesci won for Goodfellas.  I was wondering why Ray Liotta wasn't up for best actor in that film, but that year was pretty stacked for candidates.  The two never appear on-screen together until the very end, which in a way is too bad, because it would have been nice to see them together, but I liked them in two interweaving stories that only intersect in the denouement.  Again, the only issue was that neither could be delved into as well as I'd have liked.

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Gary Daniels was the film's one Hall of Famer, but his role is rather scant.  This was a common thing for Daniels in the late 2000s, doing small roles in slightly better films with bigger casts, than bigger roles in lower budget films-- even though those are the ones we love.  I think for him though he enjoys rubbing shoulders with these big stars, and I can't be mad at him for taking that opportunity.  Still, what would one fight scene hurt?  One moment where we see him flex his martial arts muscles?

Rounding out the rest of this heavy duty cast: I mentioned above that we had Esai Morales as the new cartel boss.  He's always someone I enjoy watching, but I felt like his character was set up to fail here, which wasn't as much fun.  The great Armand Assante played a priest.  Always great to see him.  Speaking of the 1991 Oscars, Bruce Davison, who was also a best supporting actor nominee that year, was in this as a CIA agent.  Another great, Joe Morton, played another agent who worked separately from Davison.  I already mentioned Danny Trejo.  He was Morales's second in command.  Then we had Kevin Gage as Liotta's guy in Mexico who helps him out.  Pretty much as Kevin Cage as it gets.  And then, in a very small part at the beginning, Michael DeLorenzo.  Not sure why he's in this, but he's there and worth a mention.

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Finally, Valerie Cruz had a great turn as a prostitute who takes Liotta in when he's injured and nurses him back to health.  We see this construct a lot in movies like this, but here it had the feeling that it might be something more, especially with the chemistry Liotta and Cruz had, but again, as with much of the film, it wasn't delved into enough, and as a result was just kind of there.  That was maybe the most disappointing, because this had the potential to be some of the best stuff in the film, an area where it could really make its money.

Because of the cast, this isn't a bad cable TV watch, or if it ends up back on Netflix Instant.  I wouldn't waste a DVD rental on it, let alone pay full price.  You can see these guys in other places in better films in that case.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1111918/

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