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] I'd love to check out what you got.



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.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Deep Cover aka Checkmate (1997)

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So I got my hands on this strictly for the Cynthia Rothrock.  Eventually we'd like to have all of them, but some, like this one, are very hard to find.  Luckily a friend got me a copy from a Dutch VHS with hardcoded subs.  Also, the name "Deep Cover" on imdb, while it'll take you to this movie's page, the cover shot they have for it is for the Laurence Fishburne film of the same name.  I guess Checkmate is the better name to avoid confusion.

Checkmate has Rothrock as an FBI agent who has an evil White Supremacist/Right Wing Militia leader from her home town that wants her dead.  After he tries to trap her with a phony hostage situation, Rothrock comes back home, and with her father, who's the sheriff, investigates things.  What she finds goes way deeper than she expected.  Will she make it out alive?

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This one isn't so great.  Rothrock only gets a few fight scenes, but the ones she gets are pretty sweet.  The problem is we get more scenes of the bad guys scheming, especially early on.  I wonder if something happened to some of Rothrock's scenes, like some reels went missing or something, because it was weird how many more scenes we had of the baddies.  One that irked me was when Rothrock was fighting, and it was cut with scenes of the head baddie getting laid.  Why would you do that?  You don't do that to a Rothrock fight scene.  For casual Rothrock or action fans, this is a pass.

Rothrock is pretty solid in this, and the fight scenes she gets are pretty top notch, and she nails all of them.  It's just, there aren't that many, and, especially at the beginning, we lose her for large amounts of time.  That can't happen in a Rothrock film.  And some of those baddie scenes were so long and drawn out.  I don't mind if a Rothrock scene is drawn out because I'm coming to the film for her.  And that travesty they did where they cut one of her fights with scenes of the head baddie having sex was appalling.  Rothrock deserves better.

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This has its share of low budget silliness too.  Check that out. "1:PM".  Yep, not "1:00PM" or "1PM", but "1:PM".  They do it later with "7:PM", but they do get it right after that with "7:22PM".  I don't know how that happens, how they get something like that wrong.  There's another scene where the bad guys are playing pool-- which went on too long of course--, and one guy goes for a shot, but another one on the couch behind him is in his way.  It was like "did you script that like that?"  It didn't look like it, but I guess they kept the take.  Also, Rothrock's character never goes undercover at all, but at the end a news report of her bust says she cracked the case by going into "deep cover".  Who knows why they kept that either.

The baddie was played by soap star Stephen Nichols.  His hair was a little shorter than it is on his soap, so he looked more like a Poor Man's skinnier Roddy Piper, mixed with the heel from the first Fast and the Furious.  It was a decent baddie, though when you play a White Supremacist, half the work at being bad has been done for you.  Still, he made him really vile, and we couldn't wait for Rothrock to take him out.

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We always look to Cynthia Rothrock as a great role model.  She stood out as a woman in a male dominated industry, and really kicked ass.  Here though she's doing something really bad.  That's right, she's using her cell phone while driving.  I guess like her martial arts scenes, people should know not to do this at home.  To be fair to her too, the cell phone taboo was new then, and she was playing a character who played fast and loose with the rules, something of a maverick.  Still, cell phone use while driving is not maverick behavior, it's just bad.

I believe this is European VHS, either Dutch or German, maybe some other countries too.  Checkmate is probably your best bet for a title, though you may see Deep Cover too, but I think you'll run into problems with the Fishburne film when you look for it.  I'd say only for Rothrock completists, otherwise it's not really worth it.

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  1. Nice write-up! Seems like the tough to find Rothrock films aren't so good.