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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Dangerous Place (1994)

I was looking up Bulletproof Action's Ultimate PM Entertainment Countdown (which features our friend Will at Exploding Helicopter as one of the panel) to see where they had Skyscraper, and I noticed I had seen all of their top ten except for this one. I mentioned that to Ty from Comeuppance Reviews, and he agreed that I needed to see it, so we're making it happen now. In addition to its inclusion on Bulletproof Action's PM list, it also has been reviewed by Ty and Brett at Comeuppance, and Karl at Fist of the B-List, so you can go to their sites to see what they thought. Now, without any further ado...

A Dangerous Place is a take on the Karate Kid paradigm, and the twist is murder--and flipping cop cars, since it is PM after all. Ted Jan Roberts is a high school freshman, and when his older brother turns up dead, hanging from his school basketball hoop, Ted Jan doesn't buy the initial verdict that it's suicide, he thinks the bad karate crew his brother ran with, the Scorpions, had something to do with it. So he goes undercover to try and root out the truth. But will he find out before they discover his true motives?

This is definitely up there with some of the most fun PM. I have it tenth on my PM top ten list. First, Ted Jan Roberts is a great protagonist, he takes Macchio and gives him a SoCal feel that really works. Then you have Marshall Teague as the evil sensei of the Scorpions. No, he doesn't tell anyone that he fucked guys like them in prison, nor does he do a dance with a pool cue in a bar, but it's still Teague baddie all the way (spoiler alert: his throat stays intact in the film). Feldman as the head of the Scorpions is total Feldman crossed with Dylan McKay--his character's even named Dylan! In addition to them we have Mako as Roberts's sensei, Erin Gray as his mother, and Dick Van Patten as his principal (more on that later). It's like a PM ensemble cast! On top of all that, DTVC Hall of Famer Art Camacho's fight choreography and the classic PM car chase action sequences set this apart from your standard run of the mill Karate Kid knock-off. A PM Entertainment take on The Karate Kid could go one of two ways, and this one went the right way.

Ted Jan Roberts is only about five months younger than me, and may have even made the cut-off to be in the same class as me if we went to the same high school. It's a reminder I guess of how young I was when I was consuming films from this era. What I think made Roberts's character work here is that he's not bullied at all, he had been taking lessons for a long time before the film starts, and I think that makes a lot of difference in the paradigm--and Roberts had the skills in this to pull this kind of hero who isn't bullied off. This wasn't about Crane Kicks and "wax on, wax off," Roberts is like "I'm a practitioner, this is what I do," and when you combine that with what Art Camacho can do in choreographing fights, we don't care if Roberts is only 14, we're happy to see him get after it.

We last saw Corey Feldman here a little over 8 years ago, in 2012, when I did South Beach Academy as part of the Lost Video Archive's multi-blog James Hong dedication. As someone who's a self-professed Feldman fan, that feels like way too long. In this you can see he was definitely going more Luke Perry than William Zabka, but I don't think he was quite as old as Perry was when he did 90210. It's not a matter of whether or not I buy Feldman as a karate expert high school senior in 1994, it's a matter of whether or not if I buy him as a baddie, and he pulls that off for sure. No one ever questioned Feldman as an actor, and he reminds us of that here.

In the Comeuppance Reviews post on this, they describe Dick Van Patten's part as a "sit-down" role--and if he didn't stand up from his desk as the gentleman he is when Erin Gray walks in, it literally would have been a sit-down role. His character name is simply "Principal," which was either very precipitous that he would then have that occupation, or very lazy writing. Either way, when Van Patten doesn't know how to respond as Ted Jan Roberts, having just seen his dead brother hanging from the basketball hoop in the school gym, is crying in front of him, so he just makes awkward faces, you have to wonder how the Academy gave Martin Landau the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1994. I guess PM didn't screen this one for the voters.

Speaking of PM, part of what makes this so good is the PM Factor. In the opening sequence, Feldman and his Scorpions steal some dirt bikes out of a Buick dealership, and are chased by the cops. Just as I was thinking the chase was becoming excitement by repetition, the two cop cars are flipped over a water barrier. "You're welcome" PM says as I beg their forgiveness for ever doubting them. It's like the PM alchemy of great stunts, great fight choreography by the man, Art Camacho, and then this ensemble cast that they throw at us in waves so we never get bored; when you mix it all together in post you have more PM gold.

And I can't think of a better note to leave this on. As of my writing this, it's available on Prime and Tubi. If you're like I was and haven't seen this yet, do it. It's the fun PM flick you came for.

For more info:

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Eternal Code (2019)

After I reviewed Nemesis V, which starred DTVC favorite Mel Novak, one of the producers of this film, Joe Williamson, came to me to see if I'd review it for the site, because it also has Novak. While the Mel Novak part was important, I think even bigger was getting the word out on another indie flick, so that was why I jumped at the chance. Let's see how it did.

Eternal Code is about a medical science company that develops the technology to download someone's mind into another person's body. It's the key to eternal life, the only catch is, someone has to die in order for it to work. For one member of the board, the sinister Richard Tyson in a great turn as a baddie, he thinks this isn't such a bad deal; for another member of the board, played by Erika Hoveland, she has some issues with a company playing God, and is letting her conscience get in the way. That's when Tyson ramps up the pressure by having her and her husband kidnapped so she'll change her vote. The fly in the ointment of his plan: her daughter escapes, and finds a homeless vet in the park she knows--who has a certain set of skills. Will those skills be enough to take down Tyson?

I'm of split mind on this, because there are two things at play here. First, I really like the overarching message: while we say all life is precious and sacred, some lives are more important than others in our society, and this concept of the rich living forever at the expense of the poor is the logical conclusion of our for-profit healthcare system. This is both a metaphor for our current system, and a commentary, and I really appreciated that. On the other hand, the whole kidnapping intrigue aspect felt like it spiraled out of control a bit at the end. People were being moved around like the MacGuffin in a Marx Bros. comedy. To me it betrayed the message, and bogged the film down, especially considering the film is 105 minutes long, already breaking the 88-minute rule. But I have to applaud the depth of the message and what this was trying to say. It's not easy to pull that off in a film that has limited resources like this one. I just wish they had leaned on that message more and less on the kidnapping parts.

Richard Tyson is a major standout in this as the baddie. I'm going to talk a bit more about that later, but he was bad from the first scene--they didn't even need to tell us he was a baddie, he just exuded it so much. To that end, I think that's another area where the kidnapping didn't need to be as drawn out, because we didn't need it as much to establish him as bad, he was already establishing himself in every scene. We last saw him here in the Seagal flick The Perfect Weapon, but that part wasn't as big as what he had here. He found a role he could sink his teeth into, and went for it, which is always great to see.

The director and writer of this is Harley Wallen, who also stars as one of the kidnappers. I was trying to figure out why I thought he looked familiar, and I saw that he had an uncredited part in Superman V Batman: Dawn of Justice, so that's probably it. According to IMDb he's got a fair amount of films that he's written and directed like this--including three others that were released in 2019 alone! Again, this one didn't fully work for me, but there were things in it that I really liked, so I'll be interested to check out the others to see how they are too. It looks like they're all on Prime, which helps.

There are a lot of messages in this about how we perceive money and power in our society, and while this has the standard "don't judge a book by its cover" with our hero, played by Damien Chinappi, as a homeless vet whom the daughter befriends after she and her friend make him food, and then when she needs to turn to him after her parents are kidnapped, it turns out he has the training to save the day. Beyond that basic message, this goes a step further, as his look is transformed when he's cleaned up and put in a suit. That transformation is as much a part of the message in this film as anything. We see Chinappi's character one way when he has one look, and then the exact same person is perceived differently when his look changes, again getting to this idea that some people are worth more than others in our society based on the rubrics we use to judge them. To that end you may even say that the movie's message is already a metaphor for the Iraq war vet, in the sense that the rich already sacrifice the lives of the poor so they can live longer when they send them to war.

I want to discuss the ending here, so if you don't want to know it first, skip to the bottom. As I mentioned above, Richard Tyson was a great baddie, and what do we always want to see happen to a great baddie? That he gets his comeuppance. And in this one, while Hoveland escapes and the baddies seem to be defeated, Tyson is able to get what he wants before that: to have his mind transferred into the body of a healthier person. Perhaps this was setting up for a sequel, but even if it was, I needed some kind of a period in this film first, which involved Tyson not getting away with it. Yes, we know in real life the rich and powerful usually do get away with it, but that's why we come to movies, so we can see them not get away with it.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled review, as it's time to wrap this one up. I think the best thing to do is read my review and, knowing my tastes from the other reviews of mine I read, determine if what I said worked and didn't work for me would make it a go for you. Right now you can stream it on Prime, and we know that's always a good way to catch it, as you're only investing time after you spent on the subscription. And thank you again to Joe Williamson for having me look at this! I'm realizing now I forgot to mention Mel Novak, but he's not in it that much, so that's okay.

For more info:

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Zero Tolerance aka 2 Guns: Zero Tolerance (2015)

I came across this looking up movies on my Roku player, and liked that it had Scott Adkins, DTVC Hall of Famer Gary Daniels, and Dustin Nguyen, who I'd seen in a lot of TV roles, but not as many DTV movies. This one was also covered by our friend Mitch at The Video Vacuum, so you can head over there to see what he thought of the film. Also, this is not to be confused with the PM Entertainment flick of the same name that had Robert Patrick in it.

Zero Tolerance was originally a movie called Angel that was recut with additional scenes. It stars Nguyen as a former CIA operative whose former CIA operative buddy, Sahajak Boonthanakit, let's him know when his daughter, Angel, is found dead. Nguyen, in looking for his daughter's killer, discovers she worked as a call girl, so he delves into Thailand's seedy underbelly, killing anyone who gets in his way on his search for the truth. Adkins and Gary Daniels have smaller supporting parts.

I don't know where to go with this one. I'm not saying it was horrible, but I don't know how well it worked either. It's kind of a search for vengeance with a twist, and there are elements of that that really work, especially when he's taking out a bunch of baddies. When he's just shooting guys who are doing nothing beyond sitting at a table in a gentleman's club, it's not so much. That's one issue with the recut nature of the film, while it's done really well so cinematically we don't know it happened, the film feels as if it's of split minds, not sure if it wants to be a tense revenge thriller, or a high octane actioner. Combine that with the idea that it's packaged like the latter only with tons of Scott Adkins, and I think people will come expecting at least Triple Threat, and will be left wanting.

In watching this, I feel like Dustin Nguyen could carry a DTV actioner. The one thing I didn't realize is he's going to be 58 this year. I have this image of him as a pure Gen Xer in 21 Jumpstreet, but he was a bit older than that then, and the fact that he's older may explain why the movie is more Gun Fu than hand to hand martial arts. The thing is, this movie wasn't really a straight ahead actioner, so it's hard to judge Nguyen based off of that. It would be good to see him as a cop on the edge in a Seattle shot in Vancouver, maybe with a partner like Ian Ziering who isn't as crazy but has his back, and a police chief like Pam Grier who tries to rein him in but knows his being on the edge also gets results. I like Dustin Nguyen in that role and think it could work.

Gary Daniels is the film's one Hall of Famer, and this marks his 48th film, putting him that much closer to the vaunted 50 Club; but this is another one out of his 40-plus films that doesn't feature him much. I think we'd hold this kind of thing against him more if he didn't have so many classics, but he does, so seeing him for a small role is more of a novelty when it happens. Just the same, this is another on his tally as he's making his way to being only the second ever person at the DTVC with 50 movies reviewed. He may pass Dolph for most all time, and these kinds of parts will definitely help him get there.

It's a rarity that it takes us this long to get to Scott Adkins in a movie, but like Daniels, he isn't in this much--more than Daniels, but still not the star or co-star the picture on the tin would have you believe. I think with so much great new Adkins out there, no one really has time for an Adkins bait-and-switch, even if this was after the fact in an attempt to save the movie after it didn't do so well. If you're going to have Adkins save your movie, it needs to be 100% Adkins. He needs to be Nguyen's new partner and needs three or four good fight scenes. That didn't really happen here unfortunately, and though what we had of him of his was good, it wasn't satisfying when you're coming into this expecting him to have a bigger role.

For this last paragraph, I wanted to spotlight Sahajak Boonthanakit, who plays Nguyen's partner in this--I know, I just said when Scott Adkins was grafted in to save the film he should have been Nguyen's partner, and now I want to spotlight Boonthanakit--though to be fair, does that cover at the top look like they wanted Boonthanakit as Nguyen's partner either? Anyway, the point is, Boonthanakit is someone we've seen on the DTVC before, in particular as Seagal's bad henchmen in Asian Connection, and I thought he was good here. The problem is, in the attempt to save the film, Adkins and Daniels were grafted in, and then we're like "who is this other guy they're spending so much time on?" Maybe we need to give Boonthanakit his own cop on the edge movie and see how he does with it?

Before I start handing out cop on the edge movies to everyone, it's time I wrapped this up. Don't fall for the old bait and switch like I did. Yes, Adkins is on the cover, yes it lists Gary Daniels in the cast, but ultimately this is a Dustin Nguyen/Sahajak Boonthanakit action thriller that was refurbished from a previous Dustin Nguyen/Sahajak Boonthanakit suspense thriller, and with all the great new Adkins out there, this should be further down your list.

For more info:

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Sabotage (1996)

I was looking to do more Dacascos--especially a redemption post after Double Dragon--and our friend Ty from Comeuppance Reviews said he was doing a rewatch of this one. It sounded great, and even better, Tubi has it, so I could stream it for free. In addition to Ty and Brett at Comeuppance, Mitch at the Video Vacuum has also covered this, so you can look at what they thought as well.

Sabotage has Dacascos as a special forces soldier who almost dies when a hostage extraction goes wrong. It goes wrong because international assassin Tony Todd makes it go wrong. However many years later, Dacascos is doing private security for a senator, and Todd strikes again, but this time, because Dacascos survives, people think he might be in on it, including FBI agent Carrie-Anne Moss. When it seems like her work is being ignored, she starts to think Dacascos is on to something--the problem is, this thing may go all the way to the top! In addition to these players, Graham Greene and John Neville are lurking about, so their involvement spells more trouble too. Can Dacascos and Moss figure it all out?

I really liked this. It could have had more action, and does slow down a bit in the middle, but what it does that I really like, is it leans on its talent to get through those non-action scenes. Tony Todd is a fantastic villain, giving a masterclass on how a role like his should be played. That's huge, because he makes even "villain planning things" scenes work. Graham Greene is another who's great. He takes the usual banal jerky higher-up probably in on the conspiracy guy, and elevates him beyond the material. Finally, Moss and Dacascos have great chemistry, and with these great villains, it's easy to root for them and want to see them succeed. I think I could have used more Dacascos martial arts, but again, that's a qualm that's mitigated by the other factors above.

As I said, I wanted to have a redemption post for Dacascos, and it's interesting when you compare his career with Carrie-Anne Moss, who only a few years after this is in The Matrix. For Dacascos, this is two years after Double Dragon, and one year after Crying Freeman, the first of which looked like it could be a multiple-film franchise and ended up being a dud; and the second of which wasn't released in the US, meaning the bulk of American film audiences didn't get to see what he could do. This isn't to say Dacascos hasn't had a fantastic career, it's just too bad for someone with his skills and screen presence that he didn't get those big screen leading parts that he deserved. The most recent thing I saw him in was Netflix's Wu Assassin TV show, and the two things I took away from it were, one, it needed more Dacascos, especially in fight scenes with Byron Mann; and two, he was referred to as "an old, bald chef." Bald I can't argue with, but old I can't get behind--50 is the new 40. If I'm that young when I'm old, I'll be very lucky.

As good as Dacascos is in this, Tony Todd really makes it. While this kind of villain can often be a lot of fun, Todd takes it to another level completely. It really is a masterclass, and I feel like anyone playing a similar part in future DTV movies should be forced to watch this to see how it's done. I also think of previous films where Todd played a baddie, like The Debt Collector, and can't believe how this Tony Todd wasn't tapped into to enhance those films. This also underscores how important a good baddie is to make a movie like this work. Had Todd mailed it in, or the part been played by someone that didn't do as great a job, Dacascos still would have been good, but I would've been complaining about the lack of action with this paragraph. Instead I'm saying how great it is, and giving another reason why you should see it.

This though brings up a good point, and that is, with these conspiracy movies, it's hard to balance unraveling the conspiracy with good action, and keep the whole thing around 90 minutes. The problem with modern DTV, is if you get a Tony Todd, you may not have him for a lot of shooting days and a lot of locations, so you have to mitigate that by limiting the screentime and focusing on other aspects of the movie--and that's where you need a bunch of good Dacascos fights to make up the difference. Part of me wants to say, "how do we get modern DTV out of the rut it's in?" but how many DTV movies that were made around the same time this one was did I make the same complaints about? It's the age old issue for DTV--you have to cut corners, the question is, are you able to cut the right ones.

For Carrie-Anne Moss, she was making this not knowing that The Matrix was around the corner. I think the outfits she had to wear in this were probably easier to work in, but beyond that, The Matrix was that explosion that sent her career next level. It's crazy now to think that was 20 years ago, and there was a bit of a dip after, but she was still part of one of the most influential action movie phenomenons ever. Like Dacascos, the most recent thing I saw her in was a Netflix show, in her case she played a cut-throat lawyer on the Jessica Jones show, which I abandoned after the second season due to Netflix Fatigue Syndrome, where I can't handle the ten-hour movie format of their series.

Before I change what is an otherwise positive post into a negative rant, it's probably good that I wrap this up. As of the time I'm writing this, you can watch it for free on Tubi, which is a great deal. This is not an all-out actioner, but the great performances get us over the top.

For more info:

Thursday, June 18, 2020

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation (2020)

Ross Boyask, writer and director of this film, reached out to see if I would review it ahead of its release on June 19th. Based on how much I enjoyed the first offering, I was happy to give it a look. Let's see how it did.

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation picks up sometime after part 1 leaves off, with our hero, John Gold (Stu Bennett), still working on his own, only now in London. That's when his former boss Frost (Mark Griffin) finds him and recruits him for a mission: bring in his former commander Teague (Vinne Jones) who betrayed his team on a mission in Europe many years ago. There are a few catches though. One, he has to work with members of Frost's team; two, he has to bring Teague in alive; and three, there are other people out there who want Teague dead, not to mention Teague has his own mercenary team trying to extract him. Now Gold and his crew not only have to bring Teague in, but they also have to protect him. Will they be able to complete their mission, and survive in the process?

Like the previous one, I really liked this. It was a different paradigm, the first one being he's a lone man on the trail of vengeance, and this one he's working more in a group, which was something I liked. I think it's always good in a sequel to not do the same thing twice, and they didn't do that here. We also had more of Bennett's personality on display in this one, and the film overall had more of an offbeat feel, which I think made for a fun movie in a different way than how the previous one was fun. Just the same, we still had a solid action quotient, with some really good fight scenes. This movie definitely delivers and keeps the train moving from the first one. Well worth a watch for sure.

As I mentioned above, it was cool to see Stu Bennett's personality come out more in this one; we also still had that larger than life presence from the first effort, only now when it's combined with more than simply lone warrior out for vengeance, it becomes that much more enhanced. The only thing I would say about the team aspect of this one compared to him going it alone in the previous one, is we lose him for bits here and there as the team characters are developed, and with someone with a massive presence like that--similar to someone like a Dolph Lundgren--when they're not onscreen, it feels like something's missing. It's a small issue I had though when everything else was great.

A lot of this film feels like a natural progression from the first one, and the addition of Vinnie Jones as the baddie definitely fits that. This is the 12th time we've had him on the site, but usually his part is so small I don't add in a screen for him unless he makes a particularly memorable face or something. Considering the size of his part here, I felt I needed to give him his due and feature him in one of my three screens. In terms of a baddie, he's good here as just Vinnie Jones, but I do feel like we could've used a bit more of something from him before all this stuff happens, like maybe one early scene where he's making a deal and someone insults him, and he smashes the guy's head in a car door--or maybe he has a deal with a French guy and he gives him the "Gascoigne Treatment" in dispatching him after the French guy annoys him. The previous film did that with Gary Daniels and his gang, and it was a bit heavy, so I wouldn't want something that betrayed the offbeat nature of this outing, but maybe just something that fleshed out his baddie bona fides a bit more.

This film features what I think is perhaps the greatest call to arms in the history of cinema. Initially, Gold goes to find Teague with two of Frost's crew, and the rest stay behind; but when Gold and the other two run into difficulties, Frost decides it's time that he and the rest of the team to go in and support them. When he makes that decision, he looks at the team and says "fancy it?" I don't know that it gets more amazing than "fancy it?" Not "who's with me?" or "let's get the bastards!" or "let's go get our friends!" but "fancy it?" And I will say, I was all in, I would've run through a brick wall for Frost if I was on his team after that.

Among the other standouts, I really liked Katrina Durden as the daughter of one of Teague's former team, and Phoebe Robinson-Galvin as part of Frost's team who helps Gold. They had some excellent fights, both between the two of them, and against other characters. You could almost see a spin-off film featuring just those two in something--of course with Mark Griffin's Frost character back as well asking them if they "fancy it" to see if they're interested in taking on the mission. I also really liked Bentley Kalu as part of Teague's mercenary squad. His character was goofy in a lot of parts, but sufficiently badass enough too to make this offbeat actioner work. I'd say as a whole, the cast in this was great in making this work the way I think Boyask wanted it to go.

And with that, I think this is a good time to wrap it up. This will be available on VOD starting June 19th. I would also say, while you should go see the first one if you haven't yet, you don't need to have seen it in order to see this one and get what's happening, so there's no need to procrastinate. People are always saying "I just want a fun action movie," and I think this is the second time in a row that Ross Boyask, Stu Bennett, and crew have delivered that.

For more info:

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Sector 4: Extraction (2014)

Back in 2014, friend of the site Richard Pierce let us know that this film, one he did the screenplay on, would be coming out, and we had him on the podcast to tell us about it. Unfortunately not only did that episode get lost when Talkshoe had a server crash, but my unplanned hiatus ended up coinciding with the release of the film, meaning I never got around to it. When I got back into doing reviews again, and picked Assassin X for my Art Camacho post to celebrate him joining the 40 Club, I saw this under Gruner's IMDb bio and couldn't believe I still hadn't looked at it. Now it's time to right that wrong.

Sector 4: Extraction has Gruner as a mercenary (or "private military contractor" if you want to use the PC term) who takes a job in Sector 4, the most dangerous sector in Afghanistan, and he and his boys end up captured. He escapes, only to find out that his guys are still alive and being held there by Al Qaeda. His boss, Eric Roberts, is too busy chewing scenery to greenlight a trip back there to save them, so it's up to Gruner, after myriad training montages, to go back in and get his boys out. No man left behind.

This feels like a Gruner passion/vanity piece. I think whether you use the term "passion" or "vanity" determines on how you feel about it overall--or what you think of the fact that in some scenes Gruner's beard appears to have been touched up with Grecian Formula--I'm not knocking it, I have gray in my beard too, I'm just saying. It's not a traditional action film per se, it's more Gruner selling us on the fact that mercenaries aren't all the bad Blackwater stories we've heard; but also, that there is a toll that these things take on their families, and he's trying to reconcile that with his son who he's "leaving behind" as well while he does his missions, played by his real life son Nash Gruner. I think that story could have been compelling, but it was almost like they didn't want to go too far into it, and instead hit us with more training scenes. Calling them "montages" is a bit generous, I just didn't have another term for them, but they're too long for montages. The best analogy I can give is an old Family Guy sketch where Peter and Lois are watching Maude, and it's an extended version of the theme song, and Peter keeps yelling, "an then there's Maude!" These training sequences are like that, I kept saying "and next scene," but we'd reset and Gruner would go back to another drill. The thing is, with DTV, we don't know if those montage scenes were long on purpose, or if something else happened causing them to have to extend them to pad out the film. Either way, it's part of the overall vibe this film has, where you don't know if you want to call it a "passion piece" or a "vanity project," but again, I think how you see it will determine whether or not you'd like it.

Part of why this could be termed a passion/vanity project, is Gruner wrote the story, directed, produced, and acted in it. With that in mind, Gruner has done so many ones on here that we liked, and he is in the DTVC Hall of Fame, so if he wants to make a movie like this, I feel like more power to him. What does that mean for you as the viewer though? I think that's the framework you need to watch it in, you're not coming to this for Angel Town, Savate, or Nemesis, this is the movie Gruner wanted to make and the story he wanted to tell, and I do feel he's earned the goodwill to do something like this, it's just a matter of how much the elements that don't work get tedious versus us as fans supporting him in a project like that. It does straddle that line for sure.

Beyond the fact that this is a Gruner flick, as I mentioned above, the screenplay was written by one of our friends, Richard Pierce, and that more than anything is why I'm reviewing it--albeit much later than I intended! What he didn't tell us was he not only wrote the screenplay, but he also had a small part, and was associate producer. I think for all of us who do the kind of thing we do, it's a dream to be able to be involved in a film like this in even a small way, so to see him have this level of involvement was really cool. I feel bad that it took me over five years to finally make this review happen, but we're here now, and it's great to see it all. I promise the next time you need me to review something for you, it won't take so long!

One of the problems with the passion project/vanity piece, is that as a filmmaker, Gruner--or whoever does something like this--is tied to certain elements that might have been changed to make for a more compelling story. Take the aspect of the film with his son. It's his real son, and I think he wanted to add an element about how he's away from home a lot with his work, and he wants to fix that. The problem is, even if it is his real son, between the Grecian Formula and the younger ex-wife, it plays out the way we see in a lot of these films, where the lead is afraid to show his true age. The story we seldom get is the aging soldier who is coming to terms with the fact that he's not in his 20s anymore, and to that end, having an adult child who may have been born in 1990 and is now in their mid-20s, and Gruner as the father is realizing how much he missed in their lives; and maybe one of the guys he's rescuing is the young father of Gruner's real life son, and Gruner sees in the young boy the mistakes he's made, and that's the wrong he wants to right in addition to not leaving any of his men behind. The trope is too ubiquitous: lead born in the 50s/early 60s with girlfriend/wife born in the late 80s/early 90s. Get away from it, go deeper, have an ex-wife that was born the same year as you, and show us that aspect of life that we're all going to go through. As I said, I've got graying in my beard now too, it's not anything to be ashamed of, but I get why anyone would be just the same.

We haven't seen Eric Roberts since 2013, which isn't horrible when you consider from 2015 to 2019 I was on hiatus, but still, for someone with Roberts's massive IMDb bio, you'd think we'd run into another one between then and now, just based off the statistical probability. This is definitely in the realm of what Ty and Brett at Comeuppance call a "sit-down role," and while Roberts does stand from time to time, all of his scenes are in one location. There were moments where I even wondered if he shot his scenes with Gruner with Gruner, but when I saw them in the same shot I was disabused of that notion. People have pushed for Roberts to be in the Hall of Fame, and are often surprised to find out he doesn't have more films reviewed on the site. I honestly don't know why he doesn't have more films reviewed here either, but it's for that reason that he hasn't been inducted into the Hall of Fame. When I looked at his bio and the myriad films listed, one thing I realized is he doesn't do as many action movies, which we tend to skew more towards here; he also doesn't do as many like this with another established Hall of Famer. We'll see what we can do though about getting more of his stuff on here, because he's fantastic in his sit-down role in this, as he is in pretty much everything he does.

On that note, it's time to wrap this up. You can rent Sector 4: Extraction on Prime, or stream it for free here in the US on the Roku Channel. This isn't an action movie, it is more a Gruner passion/vanity project, and I think the way to determine whether or not you want to watch it, is to consider which side of the passion/vanity slash you're on. Either way though, congratulations to our friend Richard Pierce for his part in this. If anything, that was a great thing to see his name in the credits!

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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Nemesis 5: The New Model (2017)

When you look at Albert Pyun's IMDb page, there is a lot of stuff in progress, but this was one that was already in the can and available on Prime and Tubi, so I wanted to make it happen, especially since I'd done the other four films in the series. On the other hand, Pyun didn't direct this, which had me wondering what I was in for. I guess the only way to find out is to dive in.

Nemesis 5 starts further in the future, where Alex Sinclair (still played by Sue Price) is training an orphan she came across after one of her missions. She trains this orphan, and when she grows up (the grown-up played by Schuylar Craig), sends her back in time to take down the Red Army and their campaign of misinformation before they can create the horrible future that everyone is living in. Along the way, she has to fight the Red Army's goons, looking to stop her at any price. Will she succeed?

This is definitely an interesting addition to the Nemesis story--and to some extent it feels like a place holder before Pyun really wanted to bring it all together by combing the Nemesis world with the Cyborg and Omega Doom worlds. That said, it's very low budget, and probably only for Nemesis completists--and from the IMDb user reviews, a lot of them weren't happy with it either. It wasn't as bad as those 1s and 2s would have you believe though, it had its bright moments, like the lead, Schuylar Craig. She's worked with the director, Dustin Ferguson before, but also fit really well into the kind of strong female lead Pyun likes to use. I also liked Mel Novak and Dawna Lee Heising, but they're only in it at the very end. And I think that's where the budget constraints really hurt us. It would've been cool to see the scene where Craig confronts Novak and Heising set in either a large boardroom, or a darkened underground layer--something with a lot of atmosphere that the previous entries gave us. And maybe that's the ultimate conclusion here, it's good, but it could have been better.

Albert Pyun didn't direct this, he was the executive producer, and Dustin Ferguson was the director. Don't get me wrong, I think Dustin Ferguson is very good, and good at what he does in the low-budget realm in particular, but you can see how in that scene I described above with Craig, Novak, and Heising, that he's not quite Pyun when it comes to Pyun's aesthetic. You can talk budget constraints to me all you want, but Pyun did Deceit over three nights for $25,000 using equipment that he already had to rent to do the Cyborg reshoots, and that movie had atmosphere for days. That older Noirish element that Pyun brought to the previous installments, plus the Russ Meyer 60s exploitation and 50s/60s low-budget sci-fi, all mixed with 80s cyberpunk in his own unique Pyun flair is a hard thing to pull off, even if he's approving everything that's happening. There was a part of me, as I watched this, that couldn't help but wonder what this film would have looked like if Albert made it himself twenty years ago. It definitely would have been a different movie.

That being said, when you look at Dustin Ferguson's previous work, it's pretty much all horror, so this is definitely a departure from that, and for someone who's just switching over to sci-fi, this is a challenging way to do it. Yes, we have to judge a movie solely on its merits, but I think for a first sci-fi effort, and working within the confines of a budget, he did well here considering. It'll be interesting to see if Pyun farms more of his projects out to other directors in the future, and which directors he chooses for that. Obviously I'd always prefer Pyun to direct, but for me, if the choice is the work gets farmed out or it never happens at all, I'll choose the former; and I also like the idea of giving it to someone like Ferguson so he can grow as a director and add something more to his toolkit, because that only makes his work better and gives us more enjoyment when we watch his films too.

As I mentioned above, this may have been a placeholder for things to come with Pyun, and you get that sense just by looking at his in-development credits on IMDb. One is Cyborg Nemesis: Dark Rift, which just sounds too amazing for words. We also have Cyborg: Rise of the Flesh Eaters, which Pyun is attached to, but could also be like Nemesis 5, a means to get us to that merging of the two stories. On top of that, Pyun has two Kickboxer sequels listed starring Sasha Mitchell. In looking into some of these, I realized that I missed out on some GoFundMe campaigns while I was on hiatus to back some of these projects, but hopefully, Albert's health allowing, we'll get to see some of these make it to us in some form.

Finally, it would be good here to discuss some of the stars of the film. It'll be interesting to see if Schuylar Craig reprises her role in future Nemesis films, or if she makes her way into more Pyun films, because I think she matches what he wants in that strong female lead. Mel Novak is someone who we've seen on the site a few times, and also has the distinction of being someone who has played the president in one of our movies. I'd say he may be the one people would recognize the most, with Dawna Lee Heising second, and they both share the screen a bunch at the end, but aren't in it much before that. And then Sue Price reprises her role from the original films, but isn't in this much beyond the beginning in her role as the one passing the torch on to Craig. She's done some other films with Ferguson after coming back to make this, so we may have to check those out as well.

And with that we wrap this up. Right now you can stream this for free on Tubi. I think that's a good way to do it, that way you can decide for yourself if you want to pay to get it on DVD. The hope is that, health and resources willing, this is the start of more to come from Pyun, and if that's the case, I can't wait to see what we get.

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Thursday, June 11, 2020

I Am Vengeance (2018)

This is one I caught recently when I was trying to get in as many Gary Daniels films as I could for my Gary Daniels list on Letterboxd. With that in mind, I now have a glut of Daniels flicks that I need to do reviews on, and I had this one slated for a bit further down, until the film's director Ross Boyask asked if I could look at a screener for the upcoming sequel, which is going to be released on June 19th. I figured I couldn't review the sequel without having posted on the first one first, so here we are.

I Am Vengeance is about a former special forces soldier, Stu Bennett, who has gone off the grid after a mission gone bad. When one of his close friends is murdered though, he needs to go back on the grid to find out what happened and make those who were responsible pay. That leads him to the small out of the way town his friend was living in with his family, which appears to be held down by a ruthless drug cartel. Even worse, that drug cartel is run by some other special forces soldiers, led by DTVC Hall of Famer Gary Daniels. It'll take all of Bennett's skills to exact his revenge, and free this small town from their oppressors in the process.

I really dug this one. A straight-ahead actioner with Bennett as a hero we can get behind, and Daniels and his crew as baddies we all want to see get taken down, which makes it easy for me to be invested. From there, the fight scenes worked, the action was consistent, and we had a good runtime of 92 minutes where everything was paced well. It seems like a lot of the best new action films, especially DTV action films, are coming out of England right now, and here is another example of a winner. I'm excited to see what the sequel has in store!

As always, we start with the film's Hall of Famer, which is our mustachioed Gary Daniels. This is now 47 films for him here at the DTVC, putting him only three away from joining Dolph in the 50 Club. One thing I like about Daniels is he plays a baddie as well as he plays a hero, which is important, because I'm so used to rooting for him as the hero that I need to find him just as despicable when he's the villain, and he's good at pulling that off. One thing I wish this did more of though was have him interact with his local surroundings. We very seldom see Daniels in a UK setting, he's usually in America or Thailand, so to have him in the UK and only spend his time in his mansion fortress was disappointing. Maybe if he'd gone out and gotten a steak and kidney pie, or swapped some slang with the locals, I don't know, something to take advantage of a situation we don't usually get with him. Still, that's a minor complaint about an overall great job he did here.

Stu Bennett is the true star of this, and he really carries it off, which is great to see. As a former professional wrestler, he has a massive presence, which can make him larger-than-life in scenes where he's not doing much beyond sitting at a table in a cafe and ordering breakfast. It's funny, in the world of DTV action leads, he'd be considered part of the youth movement, even though he'll be turning 40 this year, but when most of the names we're used to seeing on the tin were born in the 50s, being born in 1980 is young. He did a movie with Scott Adkins in 2016 called Eliminators, which I haven't seen yet, but if this is any indication, I need to check it out. Also can't wait to see what he does when he reprises this character in the next film.

Now we've seen a lot of wrestlers make the transition to DTV movies with varying degrees of success, and I think a big part of it is getting the right parts and having filmmakers put them in the position to succeed, which is where Ross Boyask's script and direction I think plays a big role in making this work. It feels like Boyask isn't asking anyone in this film to do anything they can't do, including Bennett, which allows him to flourish. In particular, for a stripped-down revenge actioner with a singularly-focused brooding hero, Bennett's character does have a good amount of charisma and personality. A lot of that is Bennett's talent, but it's also on Boyask with his script and direction to want that in the part, and often it's those little touches that don't seem like much that ultimately make a movie like this.

Finally, among the other performances, I really liked Anna Shaffer as something of Bennett's local guide. This kind of character is often there to cut the tension and provide some comic relief, but they also get put through the ringer a bit too, so it's not always an easy role to play, in part because they have to endure a lot, and in part because they constantly have to tread that line of being off-beat and playing things up for laughs, while not crossing over into being annoying. Again I think Boyask's script and direction plays a part in keeping things from crossing that line, but Shaffer does well too to manage a character that goes from being high on heroin in one scene, getting thrown around by a baddie in another, and being bound and gagged by the hero in the trunk of his car in a third, yet have the character come out of it all at the end and be likeable and someone we're rooting for. We've seen a lot of times where that character can be an annoyance and hindrance to the plot, which turns a review from "this was great" to a "it would've been great but...", so I feel like it's important to highlight those times when an actress like Anna Shaffer makes it work.

Because, in wrapping up, there was no "but" here, this was just a great one. Right now you can check it out on Netflix, which I think is the way to go. And on June 19th the sequel, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation will be out on streaming and VOD, so we should all check that out as well.

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Saturday, June 6, 2020

Street Knight (1993)

This is another one of those that I thought I'd covered before, but found out I hadn't. When I saw it was on YouTube, I figured I'd grab it as soon as I could, before someone clipped it. In addition to me, Comeuppance Reviews, Movies in the Attic, Video Vacuum, and RobotGEEK have all looked at this--plus someone from the Washington Post, so we're in good company here. Let's see how it did.

Street Knight has Speakman as a cop who, after seeing a girl die at the hands of a hostage taker, quits the force and aims for a quiet life as a mechanic in the barrio. As is usually the case, trouble has a way of finding these guys, otherwise I guess we wouldn't have a movie; the problem is, when it finds Speakman, trouble's gonna wish it picked a different barrio to haunt. As Speakman gets in deeper, he realizes this is no simple LA gang violence that we read about in the 90s and which led to all kinds of mandatory minimums and the militarized police force we have now. Nope, these baddies are Caucasian opportunists, and now he just needs to see the opportunity they're looking for and stop them.

The Washington Post reviewer was a little tougher on this than everyone else, saying it should have been titled "Sleep Tight" instead, but he makes some valid points. First and foremost, it could have had more action. He made fun of Speakman's patty-cake style, but I actually liked that. I do think the idea of setting it in the barrio and having it be "white guy cleans it up" is a bit tired, and they could have done something else; also, the baddies' motive for setting off the gang war was a bit thin as well. By the same token, for 90s bad action, this is pretty much what you came for, and it delivers.

This is only the sixth Speakman film we've done on the site, and of those other five, most only have him in small supporting parts. The thing about this one is, after The Perfect Weapon, it was supposed to be his follow-up and further push him into the mainstream, but it was also the last film Cannon Pictures made, so it died on the vine a bit, and I don't know that Speakman ever recovered. I think that's too bad, because he could have been a good one, he had the skills, and I think he also had the screen presence. He hasn't done a film since 2006, in part because he contracted throat cancer in 2013, which he fully recovered from, and in part so he can focus on his Kenpo karate school. That means he'll probably be one that would make the Hall of Very Good, but not the DTVC Hall of Fame--though with some of the names that the MLB Hall of Fame has let in recently, maybe he has a shot. Would you say he's the Larry Walker or Harold Baines of DTV if we're saying Dolph is the Babe Ruth?

While this is definitely cliche ridden--which isn't necessarily a bad thing--it does do something that I'm not sure I've seen before. So we have the standard damsel in distress, which we also combine with the weird damsel in distress but the baddie forgets the concept of restraints--or kind of does--so she gets away, but that's when they throw a curve ball. She thinks everything is over, so she goes to hug Speakman, but he yells "no, it's not clear!" which kind of makes no sense, "like what's not clear?" but as she gets in the way, the baddie picks up a plastic oil drum and throws it on Speakman. That's a plot device I don't think I've ever seen before, the newly freed damsel getting in the way and allowing the baddie a chance to get back at the hero. "No, it's not clear!"

Another device this uses is one I can't stand, and that's when the friend who helps the hero gets killed for his trouble. Bernie Casey is said friend here. It's a trope that only serves to diminish the hero, yet so many films use it. I'd say the most dangerous person in an action movie is the hero's best friend. Ask Sam Elliot about that knife in his back in Road House. Who really stuck that knife there, Garrett's men, or Dalton? Exactly. Heroes get to save the day and get the girl, while their friends end up on a slab in the morgue. And yet, movie after movie does it. Stop doing that.

I would say a third device this film uses which also diminishes the hero, is when the hero needs to use underhanded tactics to beat an evenly matched baddie. In this, Speakman has a one-on-one battle with one of the baddie's hatchet men, and isn't able to beat him in a fair fight without stabbing the guy with a screwdriver. Speakman's character is supposed to be a man of honor. The baddie is supposed to try to stab him with the screwdriver, not the other way around. Why not just have Speakman slap him a bunch of times in the head and chest? Isn't that enough?

I'm realizing I'm starting to go all Washington Post on this movie, so maybe I need to take a step back and wrap up before I totally kill it. This isn't a horrible one, it's a good time for what it is, which is a 90s actioner. Right now YouTube is the only streaming option, otherwise you'll have to dig it up on VHS or DVD.

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Thursday, June 4, 2020

Android Cop (2014)

As I said in the Undercover Brother 2 post, my plan was to get more Michael Jai White on the site. Triple Threat was part of that, but I wanted more where he was the lead, so that's where this comes in. We also hadn't seen The Asylum in a while, and this marks their entrance to the 30 Club, which is also a plus. In addition to us, our friend Mitch at the Video Vacuum has reviewed this, so you can see what he thought.

Android Cop has White as a detective in a futuristic LA recovering from a major earthquake. The result was the creation of a quarantine zone after radiation leaked out of a power plant. After a trip to the quarantine zone leads to the killing of a drug lord, White is teamed up with the android cop, Randy Wayne, that bailed he and his fellow officers out. He doesn't get along with him, but he has to when the two are sent back into the quarantine zone to get the mayor, Charles S. Dutton's, daughter out. Seems easy enough, except fellow cop Kadeem Hardison is up to no good--like worse than the Dwayne Wayne troublemaking days up to no good. It'll take everything White and his android partner have to get out alive.

Okay, so maybe the face I chose there is a bit harsh, because this wasn't that bad. It borrows from a lot of places, beyond the RoboCop reboot it was mockbusting. We have The Warriors, Escape from LA, Blade Runner, and some classic Italian produced Williamson flicks of the early 80s like 1990: Bronx Warriors. I can appreciate it that, I just need the action to be there, but the problem with The Asylum, is they can never quite do that. We have shoot-outs where people don't get hit. We have a Michael Jai White that we want to see unleashed, but who never completely gets the chance. By the same token, I did fun with this, and I think that's all you want.

You do wonder though, with White in the lead here, what this could have been if it wasn't an Asylum rush job, but rather a franchise they gave more attention to like Sharknado. Beyond being a top notch athlete and martial artist, White is also a great comedic actor, and you feel like if this script had been given more time you could have had a great buddy picture that could have possibly even had DTV sequels. Imagine a Kadeem Hardison as the baddie revenge flick after this. I think the thing is, we can't fault The Asylum that Michael Jai White brings so much to the table, because what if they can't get him for this part? Now they need something that works for someone who can't do the comedic part, or can't do the martial arts part. They don't have time to rework it for someone else. So that means we're left with something where White elevates the material beyond what it was, but then we wonder what could have been.

I had totally forgotten about the 2014 RoboCop reboot, so in that sense I didn't even consider that this would have been a mockbuster until I looked it up on IMDb. This might be the only Asylum mockbuster like this that actually outlived the film it was mockbusting. Part of that is having White on the cover; but another part is just how sauteed in wrong sauce the reboot was. Hollywood is looking for as many franchises as it can find to package and pull in billion-dollar grosses, and in that wake there are many of these failed reboots. The funny thing is, you wonder how that RoboCop reboot would have done if they'd cast White in the lead. It pulled in about $252 million worldwide, but only about $58 million of that came in the US. Do we think White could have pulled in more? And then where would the Asylum have been left? But that's the thing, while Hollywood does a paint-by-numbers RoboCop reboot, The Asylum does something different, and shows Hollywood what they missed out on by not casting White.

Speaking of The Asylum, they now join the 30 Club with this review. Maybe this paragraph should have come sooner, because that's a big moment. In terms of movie houses that I tag, they join Cannon and PM Entertainment with that distinction. It's amazing to think how far we've come with The Asylum, from the early days of Snakes on a Train and Transmorphers, to the non-mockbuster Mega [insert apex predator here] vs Giant [insert other apex predator here], which led to the success of the Sharknado franchise. It'll be interesting to see where they go from here, but since a lot of their stuff is DTV, wherever they go, we'll follow.

As I mentioned above, after White, we had Kadeem Hardison and Charles S. Dutton. I thought this was the first time we've had Hardison on in a non Mark Dacascos film, but I discovered that he was also in the Lambert/Mario Van Peebles flick Gunmen. Again, his character is one we could bring back for a revenge sequel if this were turned into a franchise, and I think it could be fun to see him get after it as a total baddie. This is the second time we've seen Dutton here, the other time being when we did Black Dog for our Swayze memorial posts. While he's good here, Dutton is also someone who would have been a cool choice for the Ronny Cox role of the RoboCop reboot.

Right now this is on Tubi, so the only thing you're investing here is time. I went to The Asylum's website, and it looks like they took down their disclaimer saying they can't offer temporal refunds, but I assume they still can't give you your 90 minutes back if you watch this and decide it didn't work for you. White shines here, and I think this is a fun take for an Asylum Mockbuster.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Acceleration (2019)

This is the second of three films Dolph had come out in 2019, coming just a month before Hard Night Falling, and about three or four months after The Tracker. If either of those two are any guide, we can't expect much Dolph from this. That being said, the fact that it was leaning heavily on Natalie Burn, which was something I said Hard Night Falling should have done, gave me hope. In addition to us, our friend Cam Sully at Action Elite has covered this, so you can go there to see what he thought.

Acceleration has Natalie Burn as an underground enforcer who has the special skills needed to handle tough situations for shady characters. When underground boss Dolph Lundgren kidnaps her son and makes her carry out 5 tasks, she now has to not only do these tasks, but find out where her son is so she can rescue him. The issue is, why does Dolph want these tasks carried out, and what does he have to do with Sean Patrick Flannery, the local kingpin and guy whose name is top billed on the tin? Can she figure it out before her son dies?

Among the recent Dolph efforts, I think I liked this one best, but it still had its flaws, including a very convoluted twist at the end that we didn't need. The biggest thing is that, unlike Hard Night Falling, this film focuses on Natalie Burn, and doesn't even sell itself as a Dolph flick so much as a flick that also stars Dolph. That helps, because you don't go in with any expectations, and then are allowed to be excited by what Burn brings to the table. The thing I wonder is, why not trim it further? Why not get the kid aspect out of it, and just have her doing jobs for Dolph because she wants to get paid? She's a hired gun with no past who just does the job. "I have five jobs for you, if you get them done by sunrise, you get this bonus." Then we can root for Dolph and we don't need a plot twist at the end to redeem him. Just a thought, but overall this is pretty good.

Dolph continues to add to his already record number of reviews on the DTVC, and with all the films of his I watched for the Dolph List on Letterboxd, I have a bunch more in the can that I need to write reviews on--and considering this movie was one I watched after I made the list, it doesn't even put a dent in that backlog. One of the ways we've been seeing Dolph lately is in this role, where he's taking a backseat to let someone else shine, and it really happens here with Burn. It's very similar to another one-word A title he did, Altitude, where he sat in a cockpit and let Denise Richards have the lead, now he's in a control center letting Natalie Burn do it, and it works both times. It looks like Dolph doesn't have anything slated for release in 2020, but that's okay, we have a long way to go before he's finished here with that backlog.

As I mentioned above, Natalie Burn really has a chance to shine here, and she does, which is great to see. Again, I don't think we needed the son construct, and I wonder if there's a sense that, because Burn is a woman, we wouldn't feel it as organic if there isn't a Lifetime Movie mama bear/Taken aspect to underpin it, which is too bad. I think she's plenty badass enough to not need that, and she showed that in this movie. In a way, all of that other stuff about her needing to find her son and her feelings surrounding that padded out the movie and dragged it down, which you don't want in a movie called "Acceleration". Drag works against acceleration, which is bad.

The other big drag on this movie was the whole other plot with Sean Patrick Flannery as the big boss trying to track down junkie Jason London about a deal he screwed him on. That whole thing was as paint-by-numbers DTV as I've seen, so much so they may as well have just went up to Michigan and filmed it with a Bruce Willis without his reverse shots. For me, I think that's one of the big issues with modern DTV, is they don't really do anything new, and when they do, they can't commit to it all the way. We've been seeing that former big screen actor now playing a crime boss paradigm for so long now, complete with their quirky Pulp Fiction wannabe philosophies. And you get the juxtaposition here when Flannery's character is sitting across from Burn's, and he's waxing philosophical about the lemon meringue pie--we're seeing the tired, well-worn territory getting recycled again, while right in front of us is the new and exciting next step that DTV needs to take, but they're just not comfortable enough diving in. I get it, the Michigan/Louisiana-filmed Bruce Willis not doing his reverse shots crime thing gets streams, but it's the kind of thing I'm pretty much done reviewing on this site.

Finally, among the many names in this--and there are many--the one that really stood out in a supporting capacity was Quentin "Rampage" Jackson. I think as far as former UFC fighters in movies go, he's got the most natural talent onscreen, which is a huge advantage for him. It'll be interesting to see if he can get some actual leading roles, and what he can do with them. Other names, Danny Trejo is great as usual. He's developing an Eric Roberts ability to make a lot out of a tiny appearance. Chuck Liddell is another former UFC star in this. I believe this is four films he's done with Dolph, in addition to Riot, Altitude, and War Pigs. He's not the natural Jackson is, and I feel like out of those four, Altitude did the best job of putting him in situations where he can succeed. Maybe what he needs is a turn as one of the good guys in a supporting role.

And with that, I think it's time to wrap this up. I saw this initially on Hoopla, but since then it's been made available on Prime as well. I think it is very much something you shouldn't shell out extra for, but if it's already part of your streaming package, or you can get it on Hoopla, it's worth checking out.

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