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.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Death Fighter (2017)

This one has been on my radar since I came back from hiatus. Always looking to do more Wilson and Rothrock, I was intrigued; on the other hand, after the scant part they both had in Showdown in Manila, I was also worried that we wouldn't get much of them here. I guess there's only one way to know how it is, and that's diving in, so without any further ado...

Death Fighter has Matt Mullins as a cop whose mentor, Joe Lewis, is killed in a bust gone bad. Now he wants revenge, so he goes to ex-mercenary Don "The Dragon" Wilson for help. So he, Wilson, and Wilson's silent partner Otto, load up the gear and head into the jungle for their revenge. At the same time, they come across a makeshift hospital, and the woman there tells them about the slave trade this baddie has been running. So we have drugs, slave trades, and jungles. What more could we want? Maybe a Rothrock-Wilson fight?...

I think this was a set up to showcase some up-and-coming talent alongside names we already know, so the question is, how well did it work? Part of the problem is, this is a heavy-duty Jungle Slog, and while the movie may have been fun for Wilson to make (see his comments on the IMDb page), for us watching it, we don't get to see the fun behind-the-scenes stuff he got to enjoy. In fact, for us movie geeks, that probably would have been more fun for us too. It wasn't all bad, the martial arts were fantastic, especially with Mullins, Jawad El Berni, Chiranan Manochaem, and Prasit Suanphaka, they were all in high-level scenes that showed how well they could get after it; plus Wilson and Rothrock were no slouches in their scenes either; the problem is, the modern Jungle Slog is hard to pull off without any of the charm of the late 80s/early 90s, and this suffered from that.

When we last saw Wilson, it was in a tiny part in Showdown in Manila. This is a much beefier role, which helped. The other thing was seeing him cast opposite Mullins, his experience onscreen was really pronounced. Before the Showdown in Manila post, we last saw him in 2011, and part of the reason for that break was he went on his own hiatus in '07, and didn't do another feature film until 2015's Scorpion King 4 (which I haven't seen yet, and am not sure I will, considering it comes in at a whopping 105-minute runtime. Are you serious?). Now he's got tons of stuff out there that I need to catch up on. If it's more this movie than Showdown in Manila, I'll take and am excited to get after it. He's not just a Hall of Famer, he's a member of the 30 Club and one of the best to ever do it, and it was nice to see a film like this where that was well represented.

Our film's other Hall of Famer and member of the 30 Club, Cynthia Rothrock, plays the main baddie's number one hatchet person. As you can imagine, that didn't work at all. When have we ever seen Rothrock in a role where she takes orders? Call it a trope, or a standard movie convention, but we almost never see women as main baddies unless the hero is a woman too. Why does that have to be the case? Rothrock as the main baddie would have been absolutely killer in this. The same barriers that kept movie houses from wanting to cast her as the lead, are here and preventing her from being the top baddie as well. For once I'd love to see a movie take a chance like that, and there's no one better-suited to take that chance with than Rothrock.

What's one of the worst things you can say about a talent in the DTV action realm? To me, it's "I don't understand the concept of [x person]." For example, I personally don't understand the concept of either Vince Murdocco or Ian Jacklin. Many people in this blogging sphere are fans of both though, right? On the other hand, many of my fellow bloggers can't understand the concept of Loren Avedon, and I'm a fan of him. Compare that to Don "The Dragon" Wilson or Cynthia Rothrock. Have you ever heard anyone say that about them? Right, and look where they are. My point is, Matt Mullins is on the edge of those two territories, and I think the thing that will ultimately keep him out of the former is the filmmakers he's working with not putting him in bad situations. High-octane fight scene where he's taking out multiple baddies? Great situation. The image below where he looks like a kid whose mom woke him up at 2pm and is making him clean his room? Bad situation. I don't want to be saying "I don't understand the concept of Matt Mullins," I want to be saying "I can't wait for that next Matt Mullins flick to come out."

And that's the thing, when you pair Mullins with Jawed El Berni, you have some explosive new talent where I'm excited to see what they have next for us. Their fight delivered everything you'd want from it. When we think of who's next, Scott Adkins is at the top of the list. I don't know where you put Michael Jai White, because he's closer in age to Gary Daniels than he is Adkins, so he may not be next wave as much as current wave. Tony Jaa and Iko Uwais are two other names; and then Natalie Burn is another who can bring it. I put these two right up there with them. I get that they don't have the names some of those others do, so maybe they couldn't carry their own two cops on the edge buddy picture set in Eastern Europe without another name on the cover, but it would be cool to see. Maybe you cast Rothrock as the baddie for that for the name recognition.

We made it to paragraph number 8 quick. Right now you can get this on Prime, so if you have Prime, it's worth checking out. I'd like to see it move to Tubi so everyone can get it for free. For a Jungle Slog, there are some great fights that are worth watching, but it's too much of a Jungle Slog for me to suggest paying for it.

For more info:

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Final Impact (1992)

I had always thought I'd reviewed this one before, but when I was putting together my Gary Daniels list on Letterboxd, I realized that that not only wasn't the case, but I hadn't even seen it. It was something I needed to rectify as soon as possible, which I'm doing now. In addition to me, this has also been covered by Comeuppance Reviews, Movies in the Attic, the Video Vacuum, and Fist of the B-List, so you can check out their sites to see what they all think. Also, if you haven't already, check us out on Letterbox. We have lists on movies we want to see, ones we have queued up to review, and lists like the Gary Daniels and Dolph Lundgren lists.

Final Impact is a PM Entertainment flick with Lamas as an old fighter who loses a big match and opens a strip club/fighting ring after. When the Ohio State Champ, Michael Worth, shows up and wants him to train him, Lamas thinks this kid has what it takes to beat Jake, the guy that took him down years ago.

This is what I'm talking about right here. Maybe it could have used more fighting, but beyond that it's just a fun PM Entertainment flick. Lamas is great in the lead, Worth does his part as the young upstart, and Kinmont holds the whole thing together. At the same time, there's plenty of stuff you can get a kick out of, like Lamas's fight with Jake at the Neon Graveyard in Las Vegas; or even the idea of the oil wrestling/strip club/karate club that Lamas runs, which, to be honest would actually be kind of a cool idea if it weren't for the state boxing commissions and the fact that people could die if they got a bad concussion in one of the fights. Now I'm meandering and it's only the third paragraph.

We haven't seen DTVC Hall of Famer Lorenzo Lamas since 2012, and I don't know about you, but I've missed him. I was going through some of the old posts, and at one time he was second to Dolph with the most. While he's still one of only 6 actors in the 30 Club, he's now only tied with Rothrock for the fifth most. I think for an indication of why, we can go back to the last film of his we'd done, Mexican Gold aka Return of the Outlaws. He's all over the cover and barely in the film. And we were finding that a lot. Couple that with the fact that there were movies like this out there of his that I'd thought I'd already done--The Swordsman and its sequel Gladiator Cop also come to mind--and you can see how he stalled while someone like his co-star in this, Gary Daniels, blew past him and into the 40 Club with Dolph. Recently I was on the Jacked Up Review Show podcast with Cam Sully, and I put Lamas 10th on my list of top DTV stars, behind Adkins at 9. It's possible I need to rethink that, that I may have been hasty in having Adkins jump him so soon.

Speaking of Gary Daniels, he only has a small role in this, but when you combine it with smaller fighter roles by another Hall of Famer, Art Camacho, and PM Mainstay Ian Jacklin, the three together work as a kind of PM fighter showcase that was really fun to see. While this is going to go down as a tag for Daniels and Camacho, like I did with Rothrock in the Saber Raine review, it won't count as a film for them, so I won't push any films they've done with bigger parts down my queue. I was going to say that in the past that kept me from doing more films with Daniels in the lead, because I didn't want to do too much Daniels all at once, but the truth is he has the second most tags after Dolph, and Camacho has the third most, so it doesn't really matter. As long as I can find the films, I can do the reviews.

As I mentioned above, Kathleen Kinmont's part was the emotional glue that held things together, especially with Worth and Lamas. Nowadays we applaud someone who can take a low-budget script shot on the quick and do more with it--look at Vivica A. Fox's success with David DeCoteau's "Wrong" movies. I think when we look back at Kinmont's PM career, we find she was just as professional and maybe even endured more--her lovemaking scene with Wings Hauser in Art of Dying comes to mind, and I can see Fox or another actress saying "that's not happening." Coming back to her PM Entertainment films after my hiatus, I think she's one of their unsung heroes, and hopefully as more of these films become available to the various streaming services out there, her contributions will be better recognized.

Finally, with this movie, PM will have 35 reviewed on here, putting them only a few away from Cannon as a movie house--Millennium has even more at 61, but I'm not sure where to put them. For PM to pass Cannon in tags would be a huge feat though. It may also mean I need to consider adding in Pepin and Merhi to the Hall of Fame, considering I already have Golan-Globus and Roger Corman in there. It's a testament to what PM meant to the DTV action world in the late 80s/early-to-mid 90s, and how a site like this wouldn't have been possible without them.

But the site is here, so it's time to wrap up. Right now this is on Tubi and Prime. It looks like a full-screen transfer, which isn't the worst thing in the world--you get to remember what it was like before widescreen TVs. If you want, I still have an old 13" TV kicking around if you really want to have the full experience.

For more info:

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine (2017)

I saw this on Tubi, and with Casper Van Dien and Cynthia Rothrock on the tin, plus the great James Lew, I figured this could be a fun time. Of course, whenever I think something is just going to be a good time, if often isn't, isn't it? So here's to hoping that it is instead of it isn't.

Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine is an adventure as bold as the size of its title, starring Casper Van Dien as the eponymous hero--or at least the name at the end of the long title eponymous. He's a former decorated soldier from earth who is disgraced after he attacks his own ships to help an alien woman escape. Now a hired mercenary, he's helping a troop of soldiers from another planet rescue their prince and princess who were captured and taken to a far away land. Along the way, they encounter all manner of evil beings looking to trip them up, plus everything with the prince and princess and their captor isn't what it seems. The only constant is we know Casper Van Dien is the man, and he knows how to get stuff done. (And wasn't Cynthia Rothrock in this?)

The IMDb user reviews of this were pretty harsh, and I feel like this is earnest enough that it doesn't deserve that. For me, this would have been a fantastic syndicated TV show in the late 90s, and I would've watched it between Hercules and Beastmaster episodes. As a movie, I'm not so sure. I loved a lot of the costumes and the creations for the aliens, but then James Lew's as the baddie with half his head taken off looked gross to me, so it was like it took away from that. Casper Van Dien as the rogue hero was fantastic, but because we had so many characters, we lost him for periods, and he was really underpinning the whole thing--especially since we lost Lew with his half-head costume, and Rothrock was only in it at the very end. The other thing was, I think between Van Dien and the budget for the costumes and the alien make-up, the budget wasn't what you'd want in the special effects department, and that betrayed a lot of what this was going for--again, something in a late 90s syndicated TV show we'd forgive, but maybe not as much in a sci-fi flick from 2017.

Casper Van Dien has become a favorite here at the DTVC--in part because in the past he's retweeted, reposted, and replied to my social media posts about our reviews of his films, which is always appreciated. In the last film we saw him in Showdown in Manila, we talked about how his roguish good guy totally stole the show from the guy who was supposed to be the lead, Alexander Nevsky. Here he's not stealing the show from anyone here, he's meant to anchor the whole thing, and I think he does as great a job as he did in Showdown. We need to get more of his stuff up here, because whether the film works or not, he seems to always be great in it, which is all you can ask for.

Again, I think the problem is we lose him because we have a lot of intrigue going on on the baddie end of things, and that's where a James Lew without half his head missing could have really been the Yang to Van Dien's Yin--or would he be the Yin to Van Dien's Yang? A good baddie really makes it in films like this, and we've seen Lew on the DTVC do many great turns as the baddie, and from my experience he does a better job with the top half of his head intact. I also noticed that it's been almost a decade since we've seen him, so it's too bad that we actually don't get to see him here, meaning I need to find something else he's been in so we actually get a chance to see him again.

Cynthia Rothrock, the film's one Hall of Famer, is in this for a tiny bit at the very end. It's enough for her to get a tag, but when it comes to doing Rothrock films here at the DTVC, we won't count it as a Rothrock post, so we won't move some of the ones where she has a starring role further down the list because of it. I think the idea is this is supposed to be a series of films, and as such, she would come in and reprise this character in a bigger way later. Just because Rothrock's role was scant, that doesn't mean the female action talent in this was overall. We had Brit Laree as one of the soldiers from the prince and princess's plane working with Van Dient; Sarah N. Salazar as the princess; and then Holly Westwood as alien woman Van Dien saves who now works with him. All three of them were great and it would be cool to see what they do going forward in the DTV action sphere.

I'm going to use this last paragraph to talk about the exceedingly long name this film has. We always joke about the number of two-word titles in the DTV world, but now with social media and the different ways we chat about movies online, shorter titles help in a lot of ways. One, they're easier to remember--if this were either just "Star Raiders" or "Saber Raine," I would know exactly what it is to tell anyone else I'm chatting with about it; but two, when I need to post about this review on social media, I'm stuck writing this seven-word title on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. When I look at all the reviews I have lined up after this, even the sequels don't have as many words in the title. Just like I prefer an 88-minute movie or less, I like a nice small title too.

And with that, it's time to wrap this up. This isn't horrible, and I think the fact that it is an earnest effort helps. The other thing that helps is the great Casper Van Dien performance. Overall, it takes me back to those 90s syndicated TV shows I loved, but that may or may not work for you. The fact that it's free on Tubi also helps--the only thing you're out is your time.

For more information:

Thursday, May 21, 2020

One Down, Two to Go (1982)

Back in February I had made a pledge to get more Williamson on the site. That was back in February, and now it's May, so it's hard to say how well I'm doing. One thing about this film is it was also featured in a podcast episode that I did with Jon Cross of the After Movie Diner, Miscellaneous Plumbing Fixtures, and Cross Talk, so you can listen to that episode for more insight; also if you go through his archive AMDs, he's actually interviewed Williamson, which is a great listen as well.

One Down, Two to Go is the de facto sequel to Three the Hard Way, and in it, Jim Kelly gets caught up in a mob boss who's trying to fix a karate tournament at New Jersey's Brendan Byrne Arena. Richard Roundtree tries to help, but he's taken out of commission too. That leaves their friends, Jim Brown and Fred Williamson, to come in and save the day. The New Jersey mobsters won't know what hit them.

If you compare this to Three the Hard Way, that one feels more like a Hollywood film; while this one, directed by Fred Williamson, feels like he took everything he learned in Italy and made the best film he could make despite his budgetary restrictions. Part of the reason he made this was the fact that Brown, Kelly, and Roundtree weren't getting the work they should have in Hollywood, and I think you can feel that in this, that Williamson is almost like "you guys shouldn't have to be in one of my movies, you should be with all those other stars." For us, of course, we reap the benefits, because we get them all in this flick, but we also know that Williamson is right. Kelly should have been Chuck Norris; Brown should have been getting more dramatic roles that showed off his talents; and Roundtree was every bit the leading man that his white male counter parts who were getting the biggest roles at that time were. This is as much an indictment on Hollywood, as it is a fun action romp, which I think is part of genius of Williamson as a filmmaker that never gets recognized like it should.

Williamson is one of four directors in the Hall of Fame (we don't count Dolph because he hasn't directed as many), but I think out of the four, I've done the fewest of his directed pieces here, which is bad of me. His films were ahead of the curve in a lot of ways, but in particular something like this predates what ends up happening on a much bigger scale about 5 years later, and that's having action-heavy films that do their damage primarily in the home viewing market. In a sense this is like a proto-DTV film. The reality is, we don't have the action genre as we know it, especially the DTV action genre, if it wasn't for Williamson and his innovative approaches to filmmaking--born out of necessity more than anything, but still innovative--which is a main reason why he's in the Hall of Fame.

The term "blaxploitation" is a loaded concept, and as Jon Cross explained when he was on the pod, any kind of " 'sploitation" is generally meant as a group of people, whether a nationality or ethnicity, in films that have exploitation elements like violence and sexuality. What we discussed further though, was that Hollywood took the term strictly as it was used with blaxploitation, and made that an excuse to dismiss a large pool of African American actors and actresses. Look at Pam Grier for example. Whenever a click-baity online magazine does their top ten lists of female action leads, it's full of Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson, but not only is Grier not at the top, she often doesn't make the lists. There is no ability to even have a list like that without Pam Grier's contributions, yet she doesn't get that credit because her contributions are written off by some as just "blaxploitation." It was because of that that Jon stressed, and I was in agreement, that a film like this shouldn't be watched with derision or ironically; but also these are contributions to the film industry that we need to celebrate more. And hopefully I can make that happen with more posts.

That being said, this movie has some really fun moments, which is ultimately what we're here for. Brown and Williamson have the chemistry that you want in a buddy flick, and the rural Jersey mobsters are plenty bad enough for us to want to watch them getting beat up by these two. They also do some call-backs to Three the Hard Way, like when they shoot without needing to reload. That's the thing, in having his messages and trying to make sure he was depicting African Americans in a positive light compared to what Hollywood usually did, he still knew how to make an enjoyable movie on a limited budget, which ultimately is what keeps people coming back.

Finally, the opening scene takes place at Brenden Byrne Arena, which is now the Izod Center. I never had a chance to see the Devils play there--in fact, I've only seen NHL games in two arenas, the old Boston Garden, and the new TD Bank Garden in Boston--but watching the Devils in their 90s-2000s heyday, it definitely looked like a fun place to see a game. Now they play at the Prudential Center in Newark, which you can see from the Newark train station as you pull in, so it's a little easier for someone like me without a car in Philly to get to--of course, I live a mile from where the Flyers play and haven't caught one of their games yet, so maybe I should start there.

And with that NHL digression it's time to wrap this up. You can currently stream this on Tubi, and I think it's very necessary, if only for the fact that it's a really fun time with some real greats on-screen getting after it. In fact, there's a good amount of Williamson's 80s stuff on Tubi, so I'll be taking my own advice and getting more of them myself.

For more info:

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Avengement (2019)

This was actually my nominee for the 1000th post, but when I put it out there for suggestions and saw some other great candidates--and also decided based on one that I would be going in another direction--I chose to spotlight the movies people nominated, and left this one out to do on my own. In addition to my review, you can see what our friend Mitch at the Video Vacuum thought; and we featured this on a podcast episode some months back with our friend Simon from Explosive Action.

Avengement has DTVC favorite Scott Adkins as a guy who escapes from prison after he's let out to see his dead mother before she passes. His plan is to get revenge on the people he puts there, so he holds a pub hostage and waits for the guy he wants to show. While he's waiting, we learn his story through a series of action-packed flashbacks, featuring some intense fight scenes by Adkins. All this leads to one big fight at the end. Has his time in prison prepared him to take on this many crazy English gangsters at once?

I have this as one of the best DTV flicks in recent memory. I can't remember something that's generated this much buzz and delivered in such a strong way--Black Dynamite is the only one that comes to mind, and that was almost ten years ago. First and foremost, they take the fight scene to this level of extreme, brutal art, that is fantastic to witness. Adkins underpins all of it with his combination of skills and extreme get-after-it-ness (I couldn't think of another word to describe it) that he throws into the role. Decisions on things like telling the movie in flashbacks, which usually feel gimmicky and contrived, worked here for me to keep it from feeling like every other prison flick. This is the Adkins you came for, and hopefully it'll only get better from here.

I recently gave my list of top DTV stars when I was on Cam Sully's Jacked Up Reviews podcast, and I put Adkins at 9. One could make the case that that's too soon for him to be in the top ten; others may say why only 9? I think he still has some work to do--and you wonder how much of it will continue to be in DTV with flicks like this, though I would put something like Recoil ahead of it, and unfortunately Daniels never made the jump to the big screen, so we'll see. Either way, Adkins is generating a lot of heat, and I feel like this is that movie where you say "this guy gets it," and as a fan of the genre, that's really all we can ask for.

This is another collaboration Adkins did with Jesse V. Johnson--and the third we've covered here, along with Triple Threat and The Debt Collector. As someone who started out in the stunt world, he's come over to directing with varying degrees of success, but I think this film allowed him to showcase exactly what he can do with the DTV action film, especially when paired with a talent like Adkins. Another former member of the stunt world who directs is Art Camacho, and all of his aren't perfect either, but if Johnson can approach Camacho's career, I think for us as fans, we couldn't ask for anything more.

In addition to Adkins, we had Craig Fairbrass as his brother. I think he's always great as the English heavy who adds a little bit more to the role. Whereas like a Vinnie Jones character might slam a guy's head in a car door, and you're waiting for that payoff of him doing it; with Fairbrass, you know his character would do it too, but we're satisfied with just the fact that we know he'd do it, if that makes sense--we don't need him to actually do it for that same Vinnie Jones payoff. I also liked Nick Moran for the same reason, and the two together form a combination that really works in offsetting Adkins's brutality without us feeling like they're any less sinister. Finally, we had Louis Mandylor again, who has become something of a Jesse V. Johnson mainstay. What I like about that is when a director can pull someone in they've worked with for a small role, they tend to nail it better. Ask Albert Pyun about all his mainstays. It's little things like that that can make or break a DTV film, especially when the margin for error is smaller.

Finally, because Adkins is all scarred up in this, I wanted to post a picture of him not scarred and with his hair intact for my former pod co-host Jamie, and everyone else out there that finds Adkins the dreamiest. It would be interesting to know which is worse for people when it comes to Adkins: making him affect an American accent for a role, or scarring his face. For me, it's just slightly the former, so scars over American accent.

Right now this is on Netflix, along with a lot of the Adkins/Johnson catalog. Get after it and make it happen. As Simon said when he was on the podcast, this is one of those that you show your friends who aren't into DTV, and they're like "I had no idea a DTV flick could be this good." I don't know where I'd put it on my best ever list, but it's definitely my favorite DTV flick since Black Dynamite. For the podcast episode, you can follow the link on the left-hand side to choose which platform you want to get it from, then look for episode 64, Avengement.

For more info:

Saturday, May 16, 2020

The Irishman (2019)

We finish our five-movie 1000th post celebration with 1002, a suggestion from our friend Mitch at the Video Vacuum. He suggested this and an erotic thriller, but I couldn't find the erotic thriller as easily as this; plus there was something about doing this as part of this celebration that really fit, so I decided to go with it. It was hard to scan the IMDb external reviews to see who else has done this, but Mitch did look at it on his Video Vacuum site, and then Jon Cross at the After Movie Diner did a great write up on Letterboxd, so I think both are worth reading in addition to this post.

The Irishman follows the life of Frank Sheeran, an Irishman from Philly who has a job transporting meat after he comes back from WWII. He catches the eye of mob boss Russell Bufalino, played by a more subdued Joe Pesci, and Bufalino has him carry out some hits for him. From there, he gets the job of protecting union president Jimmy Hoffa, played by a not so subdued Al Pacino. As time goes on, the marriage between Hoffa and the mob isn't what it once was, and Sheeran needs to make a decision that will affect him the rest of his life.

Mitch gave this 3 and 1/2 stars on his site, and for me, I might deduct a half-star for De Niro's blue contacts. All I heard about was this technique they used to make him younger and how silly that was, but I didn't care too much about that--but look at those blue eyes! Lorenzo Lamas in Terminal Justice thought that looked weird. So everything I enjoyed, like the great scenes between Pacino and De Niro, or Pesci and De Niro, was like listening to a great speaker who has some spinach in his teeth or a snot in his nose--you can't stop focusing on the spinach or the snot. That doesn't mean I hated it, I'm still in the three-star range--okay, maybe 2 and 3/4? But focus on those blue contacts. If having blue eyes mattered that much, just cast William Katt and call it good.

One decision I made in doing this review is to stick with my standard 8 paragraph format, despite the length of the film. I felt like if we're going to consider this DTV, the fact that it's Martin Scorsese and over 3 and a 1/2 hours alone shouldn't warrant a bigger post; plus, because I felt like Daniels was more deserving of that 1000th post spotlight than Scorsese due to his years of work that we've covered on the site, to make this 10 paragraphs like I did for the 1000th post, I felt would have diminished some of honor I was giving Daniels in that post. All joking about the contacts aside, I did enjoy this overall, so the decision to go the standard length should in no way be an indication of how I felt about it.

I was trying to think of an American director I like more than Martin Scorsese. He has my favorite film of the 80s, Raging Bull, my second favorite of the 90s, Goodfellas, plus two of my favorites from the 70s, Taxi Driver and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. I was also trying to think, of all of his films that I've seen (and I haven't seen them all), which ones I really didn't like--I've heard Kundun was a miss for him, so that may be one, but I haven't seen it yet. Anyway, when I heard he was going straight to Netflix for this, I was both excited and disappointed. The reality is, everything he said about Marvel films taking over the industry, whether you agree with him or not, is real and not good. Go to Wikipedia and look at the number of studios and the diversity of film on the 1989 highest grossing films list, and compare it to 2019. Dead Poets Society makes the '89 list. Can you imagine a Dead Poets Society even being greenlit for a theatrical release now, let alone be a highest grossing movie for its year? And this is not like my Dolemite is My Name post, where I felt like that was a movie made through Netflix that the traditional studio system would have either rejected, or messed with so much it would have been unremarkable; here we have someone who might be our greatest living director making essentially a direct to video movie. It would like if Penguin dropped Kazuo Ishiguro because they could only make money with books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, and he could only get his books released through Amazon KDP. We'd say it's a travesty if that happened, but Scorsese's stuck with Netflix, and we say "quit your whining about Marvel movies old man." How long until Tarantino joins him? The Coen Brothers?

Back when I did Wild Card posts on Fridays, I covered Righteous Kill, and called it something of a legends basketball game. This doesn't quite have that feel as far as De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci go, this feels more like them with Scorsese are getting the band back together for a reunion tour. And in this, I can see the things I loved in Goodfellas and Casino, plus the idea of adding Pacino into this mix is fantastic. On the other hand, I can't get away from that TV movie look that a lot of Netflix movies have. Maybe in that sense, this would have been better as a 4 or 5 part Netflix TV series, because at least then if it has the same film stock as a Lifetime "Wrong" of "Stalked By" movie, it's not as distracting. I think there were other things that I wish Scorsese had cleaned-up to not betray these stars and their age, like the scene where De Niro throws a grocer through a glass window and kicks him. Couldn't he have shot that with more close-ups of De Niro grunting, maybe bringing us back to him in Goodfellas stomping Frank Vincent? And ultimately, if we're watching this as a Rolling Stones reunion tour installment in Scorsese's great filmography, for me that works on that score, and I enjoyed myself.

Finally, look at that diner sign I circled in the screenshot. That is the sign to the Melrose Diner, very close to where I live here in South Philly. This is one of the advantages to living in Philly that I never enjoyed where I grew up in Maine, seeing places I've been to appear in movies like this. Now is this enough for me to give back the half-star I took away for De Niro's contacts? Not quite, but it's nice to see.

Right now you can stream this on Netflix, and that's it. I know they're released Stranger Things on DVD, so perhaps someday you'll be able to add this to your Scorsese collection if you have one. Usually I would say if it's on Netflix and you already have a subscription, what do you have to lose, but considering I say anything above 88 minutes is borrowed time, this movie makes a substantial ask. I did it in parts--joking with Ty from Comeuppance when I was diving back into it--and that did the trick for me. And so with this review, we wrap our five-movie 1000th post celebration. Thank you again to Mitch at the Video Vacuum for this pick, and for all the support you've shown the blog over the years; and thank you to everyone else, readers, fellow bloggers, podcast guests, publicists, actors, screenwriters, and directors, everyone who has supported this site over the past 13 years and 1000+ posts, and all the posts we have to go. We may not see another Scorsese flick on here, but I hope to see you all back for our future posts as we try to keep this train going. Also, if you're interested in more from Mitch, you can go to our "DTVC Book Review" page, listed on the left-hand side, for a list of his books and a link to his Amazon author page.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Double Dragon (1994)

As we continue our five-movie celebration of our 1000th post, we come in with Jeff LoPresto's suggestion with number 1001. Jeff has been a longtime friend and supporter of the site, even sending us screeners and copies of films he had for us review. The thing I couldn't believe when he suggested this was that I'd overlooked it for so long. I think I just assumed it was above the $10 million threshold for a theatrical picture, which wasn't even close to the case. Between that and the Patrick and Dacascos factors, this should have been a post years ago, but in a way perhaps it's fitting to have it here in this celebration. In addition to us, Cool Target Action Reviews has looked at this, so you can go there to see what he thought.

Double Dragon takes place in the near future/now recent past, after an earthquake has decimated LA. Robert Patrick is an evil businessman who got his hands on half of a sacred medallion, which on its own is pretty great, but with the other half makes him omnipotent. The other half is now in the hands of two brothers, and they'll do anything they can to make sure he doesn't get it.

This is one of those ones that, in 1994, wasn't anywhere near as fun as it is now in 2020. For one thing, 1994 was a bit past Double Dragon's prime as a Nintendo game, and as I remember, the franchise itself was trying to find ways to reinvent itself, like pairing with the Battletoads in one effort, so it wasn't the hot property other franchises were then. On top of that, this suffered from what a lot of other video game adaptations suffered from, like the Super Mario Bros. adaptation. It plays fast and loose with the canon, tries to make it on the cheap, and just piles up as many cliches and overused film devices as it can. They also have to be these origin story bildungsroman-type deals where our heroes have to be non-heroes to start and then find their heroism by the end of the film. In 1994 it all adds up to a bile of blah; but in 2020, it's a fun 90s nostalgia romp. Yes, there are still elements that are sauteed in wrong sauce, like Abobo's transformation, and later torture by being fed spinach by Alyssa Milano, but for the most part, even the bad works in that fun 90s nostalgia mode.

According to imdb, the original idea was more along the lines of the game, with Marian, who in the actual version was played by Milano, kidnapped by the Big Boss's gang, and the guys have to fight their way through the gang to get her back. It sounds like one reason why they didn't do that was to keep it PG for kids to watch. The problem is, for a 15-year-old kid like me, the one we got was such a turn-off, and I could go to my video store or fire up cable TV and see plenty of PM Entertainment flicks doing Double Dragon right and awesome. If it had been made more like the actual game, maybe this becomes a minor franchise. Maybe Mark Dacascos, who was 30 at the time, by playing someone who isn't a teenager, is seen as a more serious action lead and gets bigger parts in Hollywood films. On the other hand, if Alyssa Milano is essentially reprising her role from Commando, only now as an adult, maybe she isn't as interested and they need to get someone else. Maybe we don't watch this today with goofy 90s nostalgia, but with a "this is so awesome I used to watch it all the time when it came out" nostalgia.

And that gets to a different point when we look at movies like these, that are, for lack of a better term, flops. The people involved have high expectations for it. For Dacascos, maybe it's to get into that Van Damme/Seagal territory on the big screen. Maybe Scott Wolf is looking combine success here with his new role on Party of Five to be the next Andrew McCarthy. Maybe Alyssa Milano is hoping to move on from her Samantha on Who's the Boss stigma; or Kristina Wagner move past the world of daytime soap operas. Robert Patrick was probably hoping to build off his great turn as the villain in Terminator 2, which was one of the biggest films of the first half of the decade. When a movie like this ends up only grossing $2.3 million worldwide, even in 1994 numbers, it's not just a disappointment for the studio, it can seriously damage careers, or be the thing that keeps the people involved from making that move to the next tier of movie. If this becomes the blockbuster they were hoping for all of those careers are different. When we think of a movie like Pulp Fiction, we think about what it did for people like John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson, but look at Ving Rhames or Eric Stoltz--or Tarantino, who is still able to make whatever movie he wants in Hollywood 26 years later.

The two names in this that we know the most on the site are Dacascos and Patrick. For Dacascos, again, the fact that he's playing a teenager at 30 should be considered a stretch; but according to IMDb he sprained his ankle on the set and hid it so he could continue on, meaning he thought this was going to be an important opportunity for him and his career. I saw him recently in Wu Assassin on Netflix, and for me, he was right there with Iko Uwais and Byron Mann as the show's standouts. So on the one hand, we watch this now and joke about how sauteed in wrong sauce it is, but on the other, I can't help but think what this would have meant for his career had it been successful. Same with Robert Patrick. This was a more scenery-chewing villain than the relentless killing machine he played in Terminator 2, but he added a level of fun to it that showed he could have done this villain in any number of great big screen actioners opposite Arnold or Van Damme. I wouldn't say that either career has been a failure after this by any means, but I think seeing them here in '94, you can't help but wonder if this had worked, if we wouldn't have seen them in as many films here on the site.

Finally, back off Warchild, seriously. Would you look at that: Albert Pyun mainstay and DTVC favorite Vincent Klyn is here in a one-scene cameo. How amazing would he have been as a boss-style baddie for Dacascos to have to take out as he fought his way to rescue Marian? Nils Allen Stewart played Abobo before his transformation. Again, another great boss if this were set up more like the video game. Either way, what's great is to see Klyn here during our 1000th post celebration. This is now his 18th tag on the site, which is amazing--and more than many Hall of Famers. Here's to you Mr. Klyn, you're one of the great ones.

And with that, we wrap up another post. Right now you can stream this on Prime and Tubi, so it's there for free to check out. There is also a blu-ray out there if you're looking for something more substantial for your collection. Thank you again to Jeff for suggesting this gem as part of our celebration, and also thank you for all the support you've shown the site over the years--you were one of the earliest. It has always been much appreciated.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

The Secret of King Mahis Island (1988)

So this is it, 1000 posts at the DTVC! Who'd a thunk, not only when we started this thing back in 2007, but also when I went on an unplanned four-year hiatus starting in 2015, that we'd ever make it here. But we did, and I am thankful and so appreciative of all the support everyone has shown me and the site over the years. The idea of doing this for number 1000 came out of Jon Cross from After Movie Diner's suggestion of doing Bloodmoon for 1000. It definitely qualified, but I felt like since I'd done it before, it wasn't quite good enough for a repost. But, I had just caught this on YouTube through JCT, not long after our friend and tireless collector Simon at Explosive Action had obtained a Japanese VHS copy. A Holy Grail film that I've been wanting to see since I started the blog, nothing felt more fitting for this post.

The Secret of King Mahis Island has Daniels as a fortune hunter searching for a secret treasure. On his heels are a series of baddies looking for the same thing, plus dangerous natives who want nothing to do with treasure hunters invading their island. Will our hero find the treasure and make it out alive?

This one is a definite fun time. Part of the charm is knowing this is one of, if not the, first Gary Daniels films. That novelty alone, combined with the fact that I've been wanting to review this for so long, makes it work. We also get some great Daniels kickboxing action, which we can't always say about all of his modern efforts. For a film shot in the Philippines, this is a bit bereft of huts getting blown up. It's not your traditional Vietnam War in the Philippines flick, and in that sense, I think this maybe only works on the novelty factor as Daniels's first flick and being one we've all wanted to see for so long, but sometimes with this kind of thing, that's all you need!

When I decided to not do Dolph for 1000 because I had just celebrated him being the first to 50 film reviews, the question was who's next, and while to some Daniels may not seem like a natural choice, he is second to Dolph in all-time reviews, and one of only four members of the 40 Club, along with Dolph, Art Camacho, and Albert Pyun. In that sense, he was probably more overdo for a spotlight in a milestone post like this than an iffy choice. The one thing that strikes me about this here is not only how young he is, but how much he's just going for it, and I don't know that that part has ever left him--it may have morphed in him with age and become something different, but it's never left. Even if he only has a small part, he does his best to make that small part his, and I think that more than anything is something we here at the DTVC can appreciate. The crazy thing is, when I finally decided on this film and to spotlight Daniels, it just happened that the date of this post falls on his 57th birthday! Sometimes things just work out.

As I mentioned, for many years, this was a Holy Grail film, one of those ones we saw listed on imdb, but we looked everywhere for and couldn't find. There was a feeling though, if anyone could make it happen, it was Simon at Explosive Action, and sure enough, he finally found it. He has a fantastic YouTube page with videos on his collection, and he did one about this find, so you can see more details, like the box, and clips of it. The title of the post is "Three Rare VHS Tapes!" It's been one of the great parts of doing this blog over the last 13 years and 1000 posts, the people I've met and friends I've made, among them Simon and Jon, but also the community out there overall for people who love these kinds of movies, and try to track them down however they can, both for their own collections, but also so we can all have chance to see them. Just looking at Daniels, I've seen his on Japanese VHS like this and rips from Greek DVDs. I started out in 2007 expecting to go it alone and try to get my hands on whatever I could, and found instead a community to which I have graciously been a part for many years. In that sense, choosing this movie for the 1000th post is as much a celebration of Gary Daniels and finding a film we've all wanted to see for many years, as it's a celebration of all the wonderful people I've met along the way, and the great friends I've made.

This lists Philippine DTV mainstay Jim Gaines as the uncredited director. According to the IMDb trivia--which it's amazing there's any trivia at all on this gem!--the original director quit after one week of filming, which, considering it was a low-budget Philippine actioner, I can't imagine there was much more filming going on than that. But I think Gaines is another example of an actor I hadn't heard of when I started this and now know and can recognize when I see him in a film. When I conceived of the idea of this, Direct to Video Connoisseur was a tongue-in-cheek term, trying to evoke this image of me like Alistair Cooke, in a smoking jacket and ascot, smoking a pipe, but watching Dolph flicks instead of a ten-part BBC production of Nicholas Nickleby. I don't know that I've ever lost the tongue-in-cheek aspect, but what I didn't expect was to develop the almost connoisseur aspect of recognizing names like Jim Gaines that only someone who really gets into movies like this at a high level would.

The other piece of trivia on the imdb page is that Gary Daniels almost drowned when he was swimming with a backpack on for a scene, and the backpack filled with water. Beyond the obvious, that we're glad he didn't die, in part because he's had such a fantastic DTV career and has given us such memorable performances, this also highlights the danger that comes in making DTV films that we often forget about. When I had Jacob Gustafson, who wrote Awful Awesome Action Vol. 1 (more info on which can be found on the DTVC Book Review page), we talked about Mankillers, and he said how scary it looked with the explosions, how they had to make sure they got them right so no one got hurt, but how do you know when you do them on the cheap? That's another thing I've learned as I've done this: I'd rather they settle for cheap CGI than do the real thing if it means everyone's safe hahaha

Getting back to Daniels's DTV career, watching something like this, you can see the young actor who's just excited to be in something. Over 30 years and 60+ films later, I think Daniels would be disappointed that he didn't have that one big screen breakthrough. Cam Sully at the Action Elite and Jacked Up Review Podcast said he talked to someone who interviewed him, and Daniels thought Fist of the Northstar would be that one, but it just didn't happen. Unlike Dolph though, he didn't have those early big-screen roles, like the iconic Ivan Drago, that could give him an in with Hollywood later-on down the road, which I think Dolph leaned on in The Expendables and has since road to big-screen roles in movies like Creed II and Aquaman. Daniels has one of the best fights in The Expendables, but really, only people in our DTV watching community knew him and respected his role in that fight. And maybe on that score too, it's better that we're using one of his films for our 1000th post instead of Dolph, because this can be a moment where he isn't overlooked in favor of someone like Dolph for once.

One of the things I used to do a lot when I got my screenshots was get the logo of the production or distribution company. I still do it for ones like Canon or PM, but sometimes it's these ones that are more fun. We've done one other Solar Pictures flick on the site, like the Gary Daniels action Final Reprisal, but according to imdb they have some that Phillip Ko directed in the late 90s/early 2000s starring the late Darren Shahlavi, so maybe I'll have to track those down. One Holy Grail search ends, and many more begin...

Well, that does it for the 1000th post. The celebration continues with two more honorable mentions for posts 1001 and 1002, so we're not done yet. Right now you can stream this on YouTube through JCT's account, and I think it's totally worth checking out--plus don't forget to check out Simon's post about it on his Explosive Action YouTube page. Thank you again to Jon for his suggestion of a Daniels film for this post, and Simon for finally tracking this bad boy down; and thank you again to everyone for sticking with the site through the hiatus and being here now. Without you I wouldn't be doing this, so I appreciate all of your readership and support. Hopefully at some point in the future we'll be here with a 2000th post.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Hard Night Falling (2019)

For the next film in our five-movie 1000th post celebration, we have at 999, this newest Dolph offering, a suggestion by our friend Roy Jordan. I totally agree that a 1000th post celebration wouldn't be complete without a Dolph film in it, but I decided to go in a different direction with the actual 1000th post, in part because I thought maybe Dolph had too many of these kinds of milestone posts--including one for his 50th film at the DTVC--, and wanted to spotlight someone else. Just the same, in this post we're spotlighting the man, so let's get after it. Also our friend Cam Sully reviewed this for the Action Elite, so you can go there to see what he thought.

Hard Night Falling has Dolph as an Interpol agent in Italy whose gun running bust goes bad when the local fuzz gets in the way. As luck would have it, the baddies he couldn't catch show up at the wedding he's attending that evening, and hold the wedding party hostage. As luck wouldn't have it, he needs to do a Die Hard in an Italian mansion to save the day. He calls in his Interpol friends to help, and hopefully they can stop these baddies in time before they kill everyone.

In a way, this is a very fitting post for 999, not just because it has the Babe Ruth of DTV action, Dolph Lundgren, but also because it tried one of the more creative bait-and-switches in the history of the site. Unlike most bait-and-switches, where the star on the cover ends up only having a tangential role, in this case, Dolph is still the main character, despite the fact that the film will sometimes go as long as 20 minutes without showing him--and with an 85-minute runtime, you do the math on that. The problem is, they get it wrong by focusing too much on the baddie and the secondary plots, so it ultimately fails. Had they perhaps had Dolph take a backseat, but still be the lead, and let Natalie Burn, who plays Dolph's Interpol partner, be the focus, I would have applauded them. Unfortunately, despite the fun Dolph we had, a bait-and-switch is a bait-and-switch, and when Dolph swoops in and I'm like "oh yeah, he's in this!", that's a bad sign.

In terms of Dolph, the thing is, we saw this done really well in our last Dolph review, Altitude. In fact, had this film focused more on Burn the way Altitude did with Denise Richards, this could have had the chance to be even better than that, because this had the elements there. What makes Dolph so spectacular is his mere presence in a scene can make it, so wasting time on a group of hostages in a room deciding if they should escape, or having the baddie try to get the Italian millionaire he's ripping off to give him a code or something, is time that needs to be quick and to the point. On the other hand, because Dolph was so great to see in his scenes, in that sense we can celebrate how great he is, and what he has meant to the site over these nearly 1000 posts. At 52 tags, he's been involved in the most (51 movies, plus the post 400 Van Damme film fest), and we still have a lot more in the can to review, so expect us to surge past 60 and beyond.

Speaking of Dolph's history on the DTVC, he was involved in one of the two most infamous bait-and-switches in our history, the Ambushed bait-and-switch. That one was particularly anger-inducing, because it wasn't just a traditional cover bait-and-switch, it was a trailer bait-and-switch, where the movie we were sold in the trailer, a hardened DEA agent in Dolph going up a vicious drug kingpin in Randy "The Natural" Couture, was replaced by an insufferable jackass's story about him being an insufferable jackass. The other, and perhaps most-infamous, is the Extreme Honor bait-and-switch, in which the cover sold us on an Olivier Gruner/Michael Ironside actioner with Michael Madsen in it too, and instead we got a 300-pound pork roast (memorialized with the "300-pound pork roast" tag). This one in no way touches the egregiousness of those two, it was more fascinating to me in the unique way it tried to pull the bait-and-switch off. And they almost had it too.

As I mentioned, the key to pulling this bait-and-switch off would have been in featuring Natalie Burn more. When she shows up, she's fantastic, picking off baddies in a way we love about a good "Die Hard in a [blank]" movie. The problem is, Dolph only calls in his Interpol team after a certain part. What we should have had is Natalie Burn as another guest, so she's in on the action right away. Maybe a dress isn't appropriate for fight scenes? Shiny faux-leather pants would have worked, and also kept her sufficiently edgy yet sophisticated. From there, when she's in the film, we still have this issue that we're focusing too much on the baddies. This isn't Alan Rickman chewing scenery and giving us an applause killing of an 80s Yuppie. I don't care if they need to find a key that they end up not needing anyway because they blow open the lock. Give me more Burn taking out guys in ski masks and throwing them over ornate railings down marble staircases. That's what I came to this movie for, and I'd say after the fun Dolph aspect, Burn's performance is the next standout for me.

I was trying to think of a next to last paragraph to end this one. I could go with Hal Yamanouchi's baddie, but I don't know how well that worked overall anyway. There were the myriad loose ends that the film didn't even bother tying together, like when a guy who has one of the keys to the safe hides his, and then it's never mentioned again; but would any of that mattered if they pulled the rest of the movie off? As I type this, "Karma Chameleon" is playing in my Spotify 80s playlist, and it's at the part near the end where it's just drums and the chorus. Maybe that's another thing this film could have used to make it more fun: more exciting characters. Boy George as a wedding guest would have been fantastic! That takes a boring scene of hostages wondering if they should escape, and makes it that much more fun and makes us feel like we're passing the time better. I'm not wondering where Dolph is or why I'm not seeing Natalie Burn slit another henchman's throat if Boy George is off in a corner giving us his commentary on the other hostage's plans. Something to think about for future film makers looking to pull off a proper bait-and-switch.

And with that, let's wrap this one up. We've seen a lot worse from Dolph, but we've also seem some gems that are executed better. Right now this is only available to rent for streaming. I'd say wait on it until it's included in one of the packages your already paying for. Thanks again to Roy Jordan for suggesting this, and for your support of the site, I really appreciate it! (As I'm finishing the shuffle on my playlist has gone to "Time" by Culture Club, so Spotify agrees with my Boy George idea.)

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Saturday, May 2, 2020

The Final Sanction (1990)

We start our five-movie 1000th post celebration at 998 with this AIP gem, suggested by our friend Simon at Explosive action. I'd been meaning to get more AIP on the site for a long time, but I felt like for a 1000th post, maybe Deadly Prey would be more iconic for that, which I've already covered; but at the same time, I felt like a celebration like this deserved a nod to AIP and all of the great David Prior action that made DTV what it was in the 80s and 90s. In addition to us, Ty and Brett at Comeuppance have done this, as has Mitch at the Video Vacuum; and if you haven't done so yet, check out the Explosive Action YouTube channel!

The Final Sanction has the crazy Grinchy idea of settling the Cold War with a mano-a-mano battle between the Soviet's best and the US's best, Robert Z'Dar and Ted Prior respectively. We watch as each train for their fight in their own unique ways, with Z'dar throwing shovels and getting mentally tortured by William Smith, and Prior crushing cheeseburgers. Who will emerge victorious?

This was a fantastic fun time. With a plot like I described above, it can only go one of two ways, right? And fortunately this one went the right way. This is the AIP you came for, and I think a perfect pick by Simon for a celebration like this. Almost 1000 posts in, this is the kind of movie I started this blog for, and while I tend to get caught up in doing all the most recent Dolph posts or whatever, these kinds of movies consistently deliver the bad movie fun I'm looking for. In a sense, they were made with that in mind, so instead of jacking up the runtime and trying to make something more "serious," they're banging this thing out with as much action as they can squeeze in and let the devil take the hindmost. You can't not applaud them for that.

This is only the third David Prior flick we've covered here at the DTVC, which is a major oversight on my part. He deserves his due among some of the DTV greats, like Pyun, Wynorski, and Fred Olen Ray. I recently had Jacob Gustafson on the podcast--who wrote the fabulous Awful Awesome Action Vol. 1, which you can get more details on on our DTVC Book Review page--and he talked about Prior's late 80s early 90s output. It was like 3 in '87, 4 each in '88 and '89, and 6 in '90. You don't know when he actually shot all of those, if some were in the can before that and held back on release, but that's still 17 flicks in four years, which is something we love here at the DTVC. I say this all the time, but we're going to make sure we get more of his stuff up in the near future--for that podcast we looked at Mankillers, so we already have that one in the can.

The great Robert Z'Dar left us in 2015, right around the time I unfortunately went on an unplanned hiatus, so I wasn't able to give him the tribute he deserved then. A total icon who did it for multiple companies over many years, he's someone who will definitely be missed. In this one we get all of the best of him. He's totally buying in on this plot and his character, and he's giving it everything in every scene. I think that's part of what makes a classic like Samurai Cop work so well too. If you're looking for great Z'Dar after checking out Samurai Cop for the first time, I think this is a great place to go next, it's classic Z'Dar. Here's to you Mr. Z'Dar, you were one of the greats, and you will be missed.

This is the first time we've seen Ted Prior since we reviewed another all-time cult classic, Deadly Prey, which was also directed by his brother. Ted and David teamed up on a lot of AIP flicks, so we have a lot of work to do to get caught up on them, but I think it will be a fun ride. What makes Ted great here is he really plays up the other side of the coin to Z'Dar's cold, emotionless Soviet soldier; he's the rude, chauvinistic, burger crushing American that is part loose cannon, part honorable soldier who we trust will get the job done when the chips are down. Again, like Z'Dar, if he doesn't sell this to us, none of the film works in the fun way we want it to. The fact that a lot of the Prior brothers' AIP work is on places like Tubi and Prime and I haven't gotten to them yet is a travesty, but we're going to try to make it happen soon.

I want to finish this by talking about another element that these movies have that modern movies don't--and it's not the modern movies' fault. There's a nostalgia factor in seeing these late 80s/early 90s movies that, when we watched them back then didn't exist, but now make them even more fun. Whether it's a Bud Dry truck in Skyscraper, or Ted Prior washing down his cheeseburger in this with an RC Cola, they're little touches that add to the enjoyment. They pad out slower moments in ways that are a lot of fun as well--though to be fair, this movie at a cool 85 minutes didn't have much in the way of slow moments.

Let's wrap this baby up. Right now you can stream this movie, along with many more of David Prior's AIP flicks, on Amazon Prime. When I first started the blog in 2007, we had to scramble to find them on VHS, which I think also hampered my ability to get more on the site. Now, with so many available to stream, this is a great time to be a DTV movie fan, and this gem should be at the top of your watch list. Thank you again to Simon at Explosive Action for this suggestion, and as I said, everyone should check him out on his YouTube Channel!

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