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, July 22, 2015

Legendary aka Legendary: Tomb of the Dragon (2013)

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This was one of those can't wait to see it deals, one of those dream pairing deals.  Dolph Lundgren, the Babe Ruth of DTV action, and Scott Adkins, the next generation poised to take over, both in one film.  Sure, the two were in The Expendables II and Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, but those weren't a Dolph-Adkins co-starring actioner.  Look at that cover, right?  They're ready to get after it!  It didn't take much for me to sell Jamie on the prospect, considering she enjoyed Ninja II so much and was ready for more of Mr. Adkins, so we made it happen for one of our podcasts.  The question is, did it live up to the billing?

Legendary stars Adkins and Dolph as mercenary cryptozoologists who travel the globe with their team in search of mythical beasts.  As if this doesn't sound like a bad Animal Planet reality show featuring beaded goofballs giving us a weekly rundown of all the bad choices they've made in their lives that got them to a reality show tracking Sasquatch, it gets worse when Dolph betrays Adkins, and the two have a falling out.  Now Dolph is the famous one, he's suing Adkins, and Adkins has one last chance to make good.  He's called in to check out a legendary lizard in China that's bothering a construction project.  Now it's a race against time, as he tries to take down the beast, get the girl, and beat Dolph to the punch.  Will he make it happen?

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Let's get this straight: you have the Babe Ruth of DTV action, and one of the brightest new stars in the game, and you have them.,. chase a CGI lizard?  No fight scenes?  No martial arts?  No pitched gun battles?  This may be the ultimate sauteed in wrong sauce film.  It can't tell if it wants to be Indiana Jones or one of those Asylum "Mega Something-a-saurus vs. Mega Something-a-roid" movies, and ultimately can't manage either.  What are we left with then?  No, it's not one of those chasing Sasquatch shows that makes you wonder if these cable channels are going to bars and looking for guys in beards checking their mail at 1:30 in the afternoon when they cast them, but what is that saying?  Good, you didn't end up on The Soup having Joel McHale and whatever not funny actor trying to be funny to promote their show making fun of you.  High five?

As always, we start with our Hall of Famer, and that one is Mr. Lundgren.  We're closing in on 50 films here for Dolph, and there was a time when you knew when you saw his name on the cover, that the film was going to fantastic.  Even when they were bad, they were still a lot of fun.  Lately though this hasn't quite been the case.  Part of it may be that he's in need of money.  I say that, because he's doing a greater quantity of films where he has smaller parts, or they seem like they were just spit out quickly.  The last really good Dolph flick was 2012's One in the Chamber, which was more a Cuba Gooding Jr. flick, but really delivered on the Dolph-Gooding angle, while this film wasted the Dolph-Adkins angle.  If anything, there is a good amount of Dolph still coming down the pike, so perhaps one of these will be the ol' Dolph flick we've been looking for.  This one certainly wasn't.

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This is more of a Scott Adkins movie than it is a Dolph movie, but as an Adkins flick it's not much better in that respect either.  First off, he speaks in an American accent, for no reason at all.  Why not let him use his natural accent?  There was nothing inherently American about his character that we wouldn't have believed if he'd been a Brit.  From there of course we get no fight scenes, and very few action scenes.  Unlike Dolph, who seems to be taking things that help pay his bills, Adkins is taking things to get his name out there and build his resume, and maybe he can't be so choosy.  That leaves us saying though "when's his next collaboration with Isaac Florentine, because we want to see him get after it!", as opposed to saying "what a great movie Legendary was!"

The lizard itself, as expected, is all kinds of CGI.  This is the world we live in now, CGI monsters everywhere.  Why can't we just go back to the guy in the suit?  Or the big rubber creature?  It's not like the CGI lizard looks any less ridiculous, the difference is, we've seen the CGI lizard so much now that it's boring.  How do you build any excitement or action when you're boring us?  At least the guy in the suit could be fun.  I'm making a call to all you monster movie makers, if you can't do expensive animatronics, just bring back the guy in the suit.  Please.

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Everyone knows that I am solutions oriented here at the DTVC, and this review is no exception.  Here's how I would fix this one.  First off, no monster, it's treasure they want, like ancient, mystical Chinese scrolls or something.  Second, Dolph and Adkins know how to fight, and we get to see Adkins fight in a bar, maybe in an alley too; and Dolph can beat up some people too to establish that his character can fight.  Third, we could set the film in Myanmar or Cambodia, even if it's shot in China.  Finally, we end the film with the fight scene we wanted from Adkins and Dolph.  This is the movie we wanted, and why we didn't get it is beyond me, because it's not like it would have taken much more to make, just some stunt men and a few well-choreographed fight scenes, which Dolph and Adkins are more than capable of choreographing on their own if you didn't have anyone else.  If someone is willing to give me an advance, I'd be more than happy to write it for you.

Before I shamelessly pander for a script writing gig, why not cut this short here.  This is beyond a no-go, it's frustrating in it's sheer sauteed in wrong sauce-ness.  Who thought this is a good idea is beyond me, but they did, they decided to take two of the premier DTV action talents, and put them in a not-quite Asylum monster flick, and we suffered for it.  Well, Jamie and I suffered so you don't have to.  And remember, you can check us out live every Wednesday from 8-9 EDT at www.mixlr.com/2nd-unit, and can download the podcasts after on the archive page here on the site; or on iTunes, just type in DTVC Podcast and subscribe.

For the "Legendary" episode, right click here and select "Save link as".

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2369041/