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 10, 2021

The Patriot (1998)

I actually had this for next week's review, but with today being Seagal's birthday, I figured I'd bump it up in the rotation. This film represents something of a milestone for Seagal, as it's his first ever DTV film, so we could say that this is the start of his DTVC Hall of Fame career. In addition to this review, Richard Hawes of the DTV Digest and I discussed this on a podcast last year, episode 73, so if you haven't yet you can go check that out in our archives--and also you can check out Richard with Mike and Stephen on the DTV Digest podcast on iTunes.

The Patriot has Seagal as an immunologist living a relaxing life on his ranch, raising his daughter, and running a clinic in Montana. That's when a White Supremacist separatist group gets their hands on a deadly virus created by the US government to use as a biological weapon, and the separatist group unleashes it on the town. Now it's a race against time as Seagal needs to use everything he knows to try to defeat this deadly outbreak--at the same time using everything he knows to kick the asses of any militia members who try to get in his way.


This wasn't so bad. It doesn't have as much fighting, and I think that was on purpose to keep the runtime shorter--which is a reasoning I can get behind, though it does feel like the opening to get us to a place where things actually happen is a bit long. It also has the feel of a 90s big screen film, even if it's not a huge budget, and that may explain why I thought for so long that this was a big screen film. It's more of a quirk that it's DTV, than it is the DTV kinds of flicks we've grown accustomed to with him, and I think that novelty plays well. In addition to all that, the scenery in Montana is fantastic. 

For Seagal, 1998 was a time when the wave was cresting, and this film is an example of him trying to either keep it from cresting a little longer, or at the very least find another wave to ride. In 2001, he has both Ticker with Albert Pyun, and Exit Wounds, the latter of which ends up being his last theatrical gasp, with one more attempt in 2002 with Half Past Dead to keep up the momentum from Exit Wounds, only to see it not do so hot and Seagal's DTV career start in earnest, giving us another 30+ films (many of which have been reviewed on here). The end of the 90s wasn't just the cresting of the wave for Seagal, as we see the same thing happening for Van Damme, the only difference being that Seagal hit on one of his last gasps with Exit Wounds, and Van Damme never had another success like that.


The question then is, where does Seagal go from here. He's turning 69 today as I write this, which means he's 4 years away from 73, the age Bronson was when he did Death Wish V. We're seeing action stars work longer careers now, and with Fake Shemps and split-second editing, it's possible that Seagal could go longer than 73. The thing is though, he doesn't have anything in the hopper beyond an announced Above the Law sequel, and after he had 6 films come out in 2016, he's been down to 1 or 2 a year until 2020, which was the first year since 1999 that he didn't have anything released. It'll be interesting to see if this is ultimately where he leaves us; or if he does get that Above the Law sequel off the ground, what that ends up looking like. By my count, we have six more of his DTV films to review, so if he doesn't put anything else out, he'll be just shy of the 40 Club--though I guess we could bend the rules and do some of his big screen films to get him there.

Among the costars he had in this, including mainstay character actor LQ Jones as his ranch manager; Camilla Belle, who later went on to star in the remake of When a Stranger Calls; and his own daughter, Ayako Fujitani; for me the best supporting performance was the fantastic Montana scenery. One of the problems with DTV films, is they're either shot in places that are meant to look like others, so we can't focus on the scenery, especially if it'll give away the true location; or they're shot in smaller urban environments in order to save costs. Bringing all that equipment out to an area like that is difficult and puts a huge burden on the crew, so I get why fewer films are shot in places like this--plus I'm not sure Montana needs the money that states like Louisiana and Michigan do, so it may cost more for permits to shoot there. I have never personally been to Montana before, but a movie like this is a great advertisement for it, so hopefully someday I'll be able to make the trip out there.


Finally, while he didn't star in this movie, I thought I'd mention the passing of DMX this past week. He and Seagal are forever linked with Exit Wounds, so much so that in 2019 there was an attempt to trade off that success with Beyond the Law. He was an absolute icon of the late 90s/early 2000s, in part because of roles like the one he had in Exit Wounds, but much more so because of his massive success as one of the greatest rappers of his era. I don't remember a party I went to at that time where I didn't hear one of his songs at least once over the course of the night. To say he will be missed would be an understatement. Here's to you DMX, you were one of the greatest.

And with that, let's wrap this up. Right now you can stream this on Tubi if you're in the States. I can't think of a better way to go. In and out in 90 minutes, and you get to see Seagal's first official DTV flick. Also, if you haven't yet, you can go in to our pod archives to check out the episode Richard Hawes of DTV Digest and I did on this film; and definitely subscribe to the DTV Digest on iTunes as well.

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And if you haven't yet, check out my novel, Chad in Accounting, in paperback or on Kindle!


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