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.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

One Ranger (2023)

Back in January on episode 143 of the podcast, Ty from Comeuppance and I looked at this as part of our "Malki on the Skids" John Malkovich double-feature. The fact that it also had Thomas Jane and was directed by Jesse V. Johnson, it was a no-brainer. In addition to us, Bulletproof has covered this as well.

One Ranger has Thomas Jane affecting a Billy Bob Thornton in Sling Blade accent while rocking a mustache and cowboy hat as a Texas Ranger. When he runs afoul of Irish criminal mastermind Dean Jagger, he's called in by a British secret service to hop across the pond to help take him down. Now he's working with Agent Smith (Dominique Tipper), with Malkovich as his boss, in this foreign territory, hoping to make it work and take this baddie down. Even though the title is "One Ranger," in fact he'll need some help if he wants to get this done and go back to Texas alive.

And that's the thing, the film is called "One Ranger" based off the idea that there was a riot in Texas, and only one Ranger was sent to quell it. When the Ranger was asked if more were coming, he said "one riot, one Ranger." That would have you believe that Jane and his fellow Rangers are badass Spartan warriors that get shit done on their own. It doesn't work out that way though. First, Jane and a fellow Ranger are transporting baddie Dean Jagger, when they're ambushed, and the fellow Ranger is killed and Jane seriously wounded. You'd think if it's "one riot, one Ranger," two Rangers would be even more unstoppable--except they aren't? And then in the UK, on a couple occasions Jane gets saved by Tipper. One in particular, he's at the desk of a hotel talking to a clerk, when Tipper catches someone before they could shoot Jane from behind. So it's "one Irish terrorist baddie, one Ranger and one UK secret service agent?" If he's such a badass lone warrior type, how is he letting someone get the drop on him so easily? Beyond all that, this is a fun time, and Jane's accent is even more fun. Also, with Jesse V. Johnson, you know there's a floor to his work that means it'll at least have a certain level of quality, and that was the case here. For a free streamer on Tubi this does the trick--I just wish it had a more accurate title.

This is now 12 director credits for Jesse V. Johnson, putting him in a five-way tie for third all-time, which is 31 behind Albert Pyun for top honors, and 3 behind Fred Olen Ray for second-most. While I would've said I don't see him catching Pyun, the speed with which he's making these movies does possibly put it in play. At this point I see 11 of his that I still have to review, and then if he keeps doing two films a year--okay, actually it's not that in play, unless I do this for another ten years, which isn't outside the realm of possibility! What I have to respect with Johnson, even with a film like this that I felt had its flaws, is he always turns out a competent, solid, professional product, which is no small feat in the current DTV action climate of churn and burn. If I'm spending my 90 minutes on a Johnson film, I have a good feeling it won't be wasted, and it wasn't here.

This is now five films for Thomas Jane, but I have a feeling that number will keep growing, because he's been working more in the DTV space recently--er, rather the last 10 years or so! I think his last theatrical film was 2018's The Predator. I liked what he did with this character here, even if the accent was a bit silly, and would like to see Jesse V. Johnson use him again. Maybe not in the UK, but what about LA or New York? Those could almost be unique countries to Texas. Also Vancouver or Toronto. And Johnson was worked in Thailand before too, so maybe we could stick the character there. The other thing is, with Disney bringing back the Jon Bernthal Punisher, it would be nice to see Jane's get some films again. Maybe a direct-to-Disney+ kind of thing, 90 minutes on a short budget, add in some other Marvel characters--like Scott Adkins as Daredevil?--and I think it would be a hit. Hell, Johnson could even direct. Give me a call Kevin Feige, I'm full of ideas.

In the podcast episode, Ty and I joked about Malkovich looking at the projects his agent was giving him, and then looking at the home improvement projects his wife was asking for for their house, and marrying the two. "Oh, this movie will cover the new kitchen island" or "this is perfect to pay for the outdoor pizza oven." Viewed from that lens, it makes sense why Malkovich would make these films--and to be honest, a low-budget Jesse V. Johnson film isn't the same as a Randall Emmett thing, but he's been doing his share of that level of quality stuff too. Also, I couldn't tell if his scenes with Jane and Tipper were shot together, or if he even made the trip to Ipswich where the UK scenes were filmed, which is the kind fun element of these low-budget actioners that I always enjoy. This is only his second film on the site, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing him more, as he has more home improvement projects that need funding.

Finally, we have an appearance by Mark Griffin in this. Who's that you ask? He played a higher up in the film I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, where he had one of the best lines of all time. He was asking some fellow soldiers if they wanted to go in and help the hero, and in asking he said "fancy it?" How do you say no to that? In American English, if you used "fancy" in that context, people would think you were trying to affect a UK way of speaking, so we really can't use it like that. Another I think is "cheeky." Some, on the other hand, we've been allowed to co-opt, like "baddie," or "on the tin" for "on the [DVD] cover"--though I think the latter might be pushing it a bit. Some uses would be confusing, like "chips" for fries, though we do use it in the name of the UK dish "fish and chips" instead of calling it "fish and fries"--I think in that case, "fish and fries" sounds too pedestrian to have on a menu. In Maine where haddock is really good, they use that instead of cod for that dish, so if you're ever there and see "fish and chips" on the menu, it's worth trying--I fancy having some myself when I visit my family up there again soon.

And with that, let's wrap this up. Do I fancy One Ranger? I don't know if I'd go that far, but it's solid enough to get you to the church on time. I just wish it had a more accurate title, like "One Ranger... Plus One British Agent." Either way, you can check out for free on Tubi here in the States, which is a great way to go. And for the podcast episode, check out number 143 in the archives.

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