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. 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. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

13 Dead Men (2003)


A friend of mine called me a few weeks ago to tell me he'd found two potential gems cheap. One of them was this film, and when he mentioned it had DTVC Hall of Famer Lorenzo Lamas and the often hilarious hip hop star Mystikal, I was immediately amped. Then I tempered my amped-ness, knowing first that this film could be a potential Lamas bait-and-switch; and second, knowing that I've seen too many of these and been let down too many times to get my hopes up.

13 Dead Men is about some no named actor who's on death row for killing a cop, and who knows where a lot of money in stolen diamonds is. The warden wants to know where they are before he's executed. Lamas is his former partner, and he wants to break him out so he can find out too. Mystikal is just some fat dude in jail who can beat people up in poorly choreographed fight scenes.


Funny in parts, but overall a total disappointment. First off, the dialog was edited. What? All Mystikal does is swear, so all of his speaking parts sound like S%#T (sorry, couldn't pass that up). Why would someone do that? The movie's bad enough as it is. The fights were poorly choreographed, which hurt, considering the film was directed by famed fight choreographer Art Camacho. Lorenzo Lamas was the only one who knew any martial arts in the picture, so even his fight scenes sucked, because he wasn't fighting anyone trained to make it look good with him. And don't get me started on Mystikal's fight scenes. It looked like an old serial western without any of the charm.

Lamas doesn't mail it in here, which is a testament to his professionalism, if nothing else. Still, it was such schlock fare, that it hurt either way. I guess we can at least feel okay that we weren't hit with the Lamas bait-and-switch, like Succubus, because he's in this film for at least a third of it. The next film of his I have lined up is Terminal Justice, and he's listed as the main protagonist in that one, so hopefully we'll have a better product. Hopefully.


Mystikal. I really don't know what to say. Maybe if I'd had a chance to hear him swear it would've been all right. Without his real lines, though, he was a shell of himself, and left with his acting skills and ability to fake fight on screen, he sank. Okay, maybe he sank because he weighs so much. Was that bad? I've battled the bulge myself, so maybe I should be a little more sympathetic. Just the same, I would love to see Mystikal on Celebrity Fit Club.

This is the seventh film directed by Art Camacho I've reviewed here. I don't know if it was his decision to edit the dialog, but if it was, it may have been his worst ever. I don't know him personally, so I can't say for sure, but if he cut all the swears out, he's gotta be regretting that one. Okay, maybe he's not, maybe he doesn't care anymore. Maybe he does, though. Maybe the decision to clean up the language wasn't his, and it's something that's haunted him to this day. What if he's like the kid from my high school that was watching one of his basketball videos at a party, and says "I made a bad decision there", to which my buddy says "why, what does it matter? You think some D-1 school cut your scholarship because of that decision?"-- which almost started a fight. I still haven't gotten around to adding in tags for all of Art Camacho's other roles in films other than director. Maybe I'll do that someday.


One final footnote to this review: the night after seeing 13 Dead Men, my friend's girlfriend dug out some of her old mix CDs, and one of the songs she had was Joe's "Stutter", which featured Mystikal. I didn't remember five years ago thinking it was as funny when he jumped in with his "watch ya self" in his trademark raspy voice, but this time we were dying. I guess, as in all things in life, when you're irrelevant, you're really irrelevant.

I have to say this is a major gamble. If the edited version is the only version, then this sucks. If, and this is a big IF, because I don't know for sure, but if there's an un-edited version out there, then this might be serviceable. And if you find one, tell me, because I'd really like to know.

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