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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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Protector (1998)

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A friend of mine hooked me up with a copy of his VHS of this flick.  The names Frank Zagarino and Matthias Hues were all I needed to hear to give it a look.  At the very least it might be so bad it's good, right?

The Protector is about a dude with amnesia, played by Steven Nijjar, who is being chased by all kinds of people, like Matthias Hues and Frank Zagarino and the NSA.  He has a disc, or knows where a disc might be, with a virus on it that could have a massive impact on the world economy.  Now Nijjar needs to stay alive, find out who he can trust, oh, and I forgot to mention, someone kidnapped his son.  Will he make it happen?

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We use the term "so bad it's good" so often when dealing with these kinds of movies, but what about "so awesome it's good"?, because, while this is pretty bad, it's pretty awesomely bad.  Right away, Nijjar is in a diner which is shot up by a bunch of women who look like a cross between a hit squad and back-up dancers in a Robert Palmer video.  His feet catch on fire, he runs away-- into a body of water to extinguish the flames-- and the ladies start shooting at him with rocket launchers, which blow up the junkers at the car lot Nijjar runs through.  How amazing is that?  Even better, Nijjar's son's voice is dubbed over by a guy trying to sound like a kid.  I'm not kidding.  How much more amazing is that?  Then you have some sweet fights, especially with Zagarino, and between Hues and Zagarino-- some that are choreographed at a higher level than we usually see for a film of this grade.  Just a fun 90s DTV actioner.

Let's start with Zagarino.  He had some really nice fights, which is what you really want from him in a film like this.  He also had some great lines.  I've noticed he's at his best as an actor when he's allowed to deliver sophisticated dialog in a monotone voice.  When he yells at Nijjar "you're an asshole!", it sounds silly, but if he'd just said it calmly, it would've been perfect.  It's a difficult thing for an actor to mitigate a rough screenplay and make it sound natural, and poor Zagarino is often forced to act in films with rough screenplays, meaning he's often caught out.  That's okay if he's allowed to deliver on some good fights, and he has a couple nice ones here, especially a good strip club brawl.  Not the most memorable of Zagarino's flicks, but not horrible either.

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Matthias Hues is up to his old tricks as the film's baddie.  I got the sense that most of his scenes were shot in a day, because he's not in many locations.  You get a lot of him smoking a cigar, delivering bad dialog, and either shirtless or in a leopard-print silk shirt.  Then at the end he gets after it with two fight scenes against Zagarino.  Before those scenes, he runs around quite a bit firing a couple machine guns at people off-screen.  You could tell that he's done that enough, because he posed in those shots with style.  That's what you want from a baddie, loads of style.  It would've been nice to see more fights with him though.  Like Dolph, he's one of the best pure athletes we see here at the DTVC, especially for his size, and he makes the fights exciting because of that.

I had heard of Steven Nijjar before reviewing this film, but his parts in the other movies I'd done were small (those movies were TC 2000 and Expect No Mercy).  This one he's in it quite a bit, and while he can't carry a movie the way Zagarino can as a hero or Hues can as the baddie, he's not bad.  He doesn't have many credits to his name after this, so we'll see how many more times he makes it on the DTVC.

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those who hear a man speak in a high pitched voice trying to mimic the child that he's dubbing over and think "I need to go on imdb and kill this movie"; and people like me who laugh, text my girlfriend about it, and give the ol' Tiger Woods fist pump.  With over 900 of these reviews in the can at this point, it's moments like this that keep me sane; but, also, it's moments like this that I started the DTVC for, and I love that over six years and 930-plus reviews later that I can still be surprised by something I haven't seen before.

This one is not an easy find.  As of this posting, Amazon doesn't even have it.  It's worth keeping an eye out for it though, because it's a fun time.  Low-budget 90s bad action, a great way to kill 90 minutes.  So awesome it's good.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0137180/

4 comments:

  1. Great write-up! Always wanted to see this one. Happy to hear, it's so bad it's awesome! Haha.

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  2. Man you are right about this being hard to find. Searching for The Protector 1998 gives you a Mario Van Peebles film of the same name from the same year, and a Matt McColm film of the same name from the same year! Argh!

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  3. This sounds amazing! Another classic waiting for its moment in the sun!

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