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, April 3, 2021

Operation Rogue (2014)

In the spirit of getting more Dacascos on the site, I saw this on Tubi and thought I'd give it a shot. The idea is to eventually get all of Dacascos's stuff up on here, so to find a free one on Tubi it's like low-hanging fruit. Often we've found this can also lead to bad results, so I guess the question is what we'll get with this one. In addition to us, our good friends Ty and Brett at Comeuppance have covered this too, so you can go there to see what they thought as well.

Operation Rogue takes place in the Philippines, where--wait for it--a local terrorist group is causing problems, so we need Americans to come in and fight them. Treat Williams is leading the American forces there, with Mark Dacascos as his number one guy. When Treat's daughter--who also happens to be Dacascos's girlfriend--is kidnapped, it goes from imperialist intervention to being personal. After a couple failed escape attempts on her part to pad the film, Dacascos and his men swoop in and save her--only to find him captured, leading to more padding. The question now is, how much torture does he endure before he turns the tables and takes these guys out?


This didn't work for me, and I know it probably should have, and maybe I'm being tough on it, especially considering how cynical my description was above. The thing is, the whole "Brown Menace" theme, whether it's in the Philippines, Vietnam, Africa, Latin America, or the Middle East, seems so tired and dated. Throw in the padding that itself was full of however many lazy devices--like the failed escape attempts, with the daughter's weaker friend getting his head chopped off after they get caught one time because he was too weak to wield a gun properly, that way we feel like he kind of deserved it, but also the baddies get to kill someone so they seem baddie enough. When the whole movie has a lot of fun elements, it can overcome those tired standards, but this didn't have enough good Dacascos action; plus the construct of him getting captured at the end also dragged the film out more. This could have been a fun Philippine actioner--and I think a lot of people could find fun in it, but unfortunately it didn't work for me.

Our man Mark Dacascos has a couple good fight scenes, the problem is, in a 90-minute film, he either needs more, or there need to be more people with him to have scenes too. I saw one of Scott Adkins's interview shows recently, the one where he talked to Michael Jai White, and they discussed how, if a movie doesn't work, they get the blame for it. I've never really seen it that way. Mark Dacascos in a movie like this makes it better than it would have been for me if he wasn't in it; and when he's in a movie that's great, it's usually great because of him. The other thing is, I think this movie did work for some people, so it would be even more inappropriate to blame him for a movie that I just didn't care for. I don't know, maybe Adkins and White were right, that people do blame them when the movie doesn't turn out well, and if that's the case, unless we know it's the star's fault, I don't agree with that. I do understand that they want their movies to have great things said about them no matter what, so I do get that no matter how much I say I like Dacascos, if I say I don't care for his movie, he still might take it personally.


The other name in this (other than Roger Corman) is Treat Williams. I looked, and while this is his fourth tag on the site, we haven't seen him since September 2007 when we did Gale Force. I know, I know, that's no way to treat Treat. Here he doesn't do much beyond tell Dacascos to bring his daughter back alive, no matter what it takes. I don't know what more I wanted to see from Treat at this stage, but I think what we got here adds to the overall unremarkability of everything. If this had been made in the late 80s/early 90s, Treat's character would have been played by Mike Monty, and it would have been tons of fun. Instead it's just Treat playing a one-note and making a paycheck. It's not Treat's fault, he can only work with what he's given.

And maybe therein lies the rub. If the goal is to pump out something paint-by-numbers on the cheap and on the quick, if it comes out relentlessly unremarkable, what are we supposed to make of it? Do we just accept it and say "it's not bad for what it is"? To a large extent, this film represents a lot of what was wrong with the 2010s. Pump out something unremarkable, splash a couple names on the cover, and call it good. There was no PM of the 2010s out there fighting the good fight; but I think the name Roger Corman still meant something, and I feel like seeing his name on the tin meant we'd get something more in line with the fun of the 90s and less in line with the cynicism of the 2010s. I guess it could be worse, it could've been a Bruce Willis Fake Shemp vehicle.


The main problem with a film this unremarkable is it's hard to fill the paragraphs I need to for a review. If it's horrible, I can complain more; if it's awesome, I can continue to extol its virtues; but here we have neither. I guess we could go with the old "Matt, what would you have done better?" There was this tangential chemical bomb plot that I think may have been something better to underpin the film. Just remove the rescuing the daughter thing, and instead maybe have it where she stows away on the transport Dacascos is taking to retrieve the bomb, so the two of them are working together, and the bomb is the thing they need to get. It can get a little jungle-sloggy there, so I think you need a lot of explosions and fight scenes. Also, to remove the "Brown Menace" angle, make Treat the baddie. This way you get more out of Treat, as we know baddies have more places an actor can go with them. He could be more of a scene-chewing baddie than the guy they had in this, and instead the guy they had as the baddie could be Dacascos's superior and father to the daughter character. I think we're getting somewhere now.

Rather than flesh out my entire rework, why don't we wrap this up. Unfortunately it appears that this has been dumped from Tubi, which is no good, because I think paying to rent it isn't the way to go. I think even for the people who enjoyed it, I don't know that it's enjoyable enough to pay for a rental, considering there are so many great ones out there free to stream or included in streaming packages.

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