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. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. 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]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Announcement

Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Contractor (2007)

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I've been meaning to catch up with Wesley Snipes' DTV work for some time now. As recently as 2004 he did the major theater release Blade: Trinity, which was an awesomely bad vampire flick. In the short span since then, he's had six movies come out on DVD, and another slated to hit shelves in 2009 (according to imdb). I'm not sure if his recent troubles with the IRS will hinder his burgeoning DTV career, but I hope not: anyone with the gusto to turn out that many films that quickly is always great for us.

The Contractor has Snipes as James Dial, a CIA assassin and sniper called in for an opportunity to take out the one baddie that got away from him. Things go wrong and in the car chase that ensues with the local law enforcement in London, Snipes is injured and has to lay low in the safehouse of the guy who drove him to the job, a man who also died in the car chase. Anyway, the US government is called in to take care of him before anyone finds out about the hit, and the only one he can turn to for help is a 12-year old juvenile delinquent named Emily. After he's framed for the death of a police chief while he's trying to escape on a plane via Heathrow Airport, he now needs to clear his name in order to get himself back to the States.

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This movie was more talk than action, which is never good thing. I found myself looking for something else to do during the really slow parts. That's a shame, considering how action packed a lot of his crummy major release pictures were, like Blade 2 and Passenger 57. This was one of those sad cases where a director gets all worked up about having a "story" in his movie. Dude, reality check, you're directing a Wesley Snipes direct-to-video action flick. Cut the plot exposition short and blow some shit up.

Snipes wasn't bad here, though. That's a good sign for any DTV actor, if he can transcend the bad movie and come off as pretty cool. Dolph has mastered this, along with fellow DTVC Hall of Famers Peter Weller and Rutger Hauer. This bodes well for Snipes' future induction. Early on in the film Snipes dresses like a priest as a disguise so he can get where he wants to assassinate the bad guy. Later he dons a fake nose so he can get a fake passport made. He also delivers his lines in that super smooth style we've been accustomed to in films like 57 and White Men Can't Jump, but unfortunately missed in films like Blade. In one scene, the 12-year old girl who's helping him brings him a "surprise", and makes him guess before she gives it to him. One of his guesses is "a woman with six toes." Awesome. (In case you're wondering, the surprise was a toothbrush and toothpaste.)

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The police chief Snipes was framed for killing by the CIA was played by a dude named Charles Dance. The name may not be familiar, but if you see him, you'll recognize him. He's one of those That Guys that does a lot of BBC productions of Dickens books adapted for television over eleven parts that are shown on Masterpiece Theater here. Looking over his credits on imdb, I saw that he was in The Swimming Pool. He played the literary agent. I disliked The Swimming Pool, and I think it was only critically acclaimed because it was a French film. I've always wanted to screen a bad Dolph film dubbed in French with English subtitles at an indie art house joint, like the one I used to frequent back home in Portsmouth, NH, and see what the Yuppies would think of it.

Lena Headey from The Sarah Connor Chronicles is the extent of the eye candy in this film. She's the detective who takes over the Snipes case after Dance is killed, and eventually Snipes gives her the evidence that clears his name. I'm curious if Dolph or Van Damme would have done this flick knowing that at no point would they have a love scene with some gorgeous actress half their age looking to break into the biz. Even Seagal, who seems a little body conscious with his sex scenes shot while he wears a sweatshirt, would at least have a sexy woman cast whom the script would allude to his having at one time in the distant past had sex with. I'm curious as to why this privilege was denied Snipes here.

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I'm not sure where to go with this one. I really need to see more of Snipes' DTV work before I can judge this one too harshly; but based on its own merits, it falls short. There has to be a greater action quotient in my bad movies. You and your friends may have fun mocking this, but it's more likely the ADD will kick in during the long periods of inactivity, which is never a good thing. My advice is skip it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0770806/

Never Say Die (1995)

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This film was packaged with Silent Hunter, the Miles O'Keefe/Fred Williamson classic, when I rented it on Netflix. I needed Silent Hunter, because I had it on VHS, but have no way to capture images from VHS to my computer for the DTVC. So I got the pics I needed, then sat down and indulged in this movie, figuring, "what the heck, right?"

Never Say Die is about a man who looks like a lesbian fitness instructor from the early nineties who works as a freelance boat repairman somewhere in the Florida Keys. He was once in an elite military unit with disturbing and annoying yet always working character actor Billy Drago. As you can imagine, Drago's a bad guy, and in this case he's running a cult that fronts as a drug running operation or something. When the FBI raid his compound, he flees, bring him and the suspicious FBI right into the lesbian fitness instructor's path. He's the only one who can take down Drago and his men, it's just a matter of whether the FBI will let him or not.

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I don't know what I was expecting to get out of this film, so it's hard to really gauge whether or not it was good or bad. There were a lot of superfluous explosions, which, for a true action movie buff like myself, there's really no such thing as a superfluous explosion, but I digress. I think if the plot was just thrown out the window, and the film was a serious of explosions, the Lesbian guy kicking people's asses, and a bunch of guns and boobs, I could say this was great, but as such, the plot makes it just good.

The hero made no sense, but I think was awesome just the same. Early on he wears a baseball cap, and looks pretty bad ass. Then he takes off the hat, to reveal a bad lesbian fitness instructor buzz cut. Coupled with the Jennifer Beals cut T-shirt, he just looks ridiculous-- yet, again, awesome just the same. At the end of the movie, he goes to walk off into the sunset, but the girl he saves stops him, so he can kiss her. Then he goes back off into the sunset. What makes this funnier is his Jennifer Beals T-shirt is all torn and draped over his torso from all his dispatching of baddies, and as he walks off, he takes one shred from around his bicep and pulls it over his shoulder, like he's trying to put what's left of his shirt back on. I didn't know what to make of it, but that too was awesome.

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Billy Drago doesn't work for me. He's never worked for me. I just never got the appeal. As a big time action movie and TV buff, he shows up a lot, and that makes me distressed a lot. He's just creepy and annoying... I don't know... I guess that's the point, but if I had my druthers, I'd rather he wasn't in a movie I was watching. I'm not saying he shouldn't work... everyone has the right to make a living. I just think he should get a better agent and do movies that I think suck and don't want to watch anyway like Enchanted or National Treasure. Then we can all be happy.

A man by the name of Todd Jensen plays Roper, the head FBI agent. I'd never seen this dude before, until he showed up as an FBI agent in the Bernhardt film The Cutter (which also starred Chuck Norris-- lame!). Then I saw him a week later in the new Van Damme film The Shepherd (coming soon to the DTVC), as a head border patrol agent. It's weird how these That Guys don't exist one minute, and then they're ubiquitous the next. He's not quite a Norbert Weisser level, where he gets tagged at the end of the blog, but he's getting there. At the DTVC, getting tagged is a high honor for a That Guy.

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From time to time I'm known to make a typo or two while typing an entry, but I try my best to have a solid grasp of the grammatical rules of the English language-- even if I may break them on purpose. That being said, I'm also not one for correcting someone else's grammar, even if I know they're in the wrong. I feel it's rather presumptuous to play the role of Grammar Hammer. The end of this film, though, committed a grammatical sin that I couldn't pass up mocking: the misuse of quotation marks. Movie titles are supposed to be in italics, not quotes; but when the title of a film is being displayed at either the beginning or the end of the movie, the italics are assumed: no punctuation is required. You'd think people making a movie would know that, but these ones didn't, and they put their movie title in quotes. So instead of watching Never Say Die, I watched Figuratively Never Say Die, it was in a sense, an if you will, if you will. Either that, or as the lesbian hero walked off, he was thinking "Never Say Die", and the movie makers wanted to give him credit for his though.

This movie is a bottom barrel production: we're taking Bruce Penhall/Julie Strain type stuff here. I'm not saying don't watch it. I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed myself. But I'm a veteran bad movie watcher and something of a sadist when it comes to these things. If you don't think you have the intestinal fortitude, I say skip this for a Dolph Lundgren flick. If you think you're up for the challenge, though, by all means, give this a shot. I'd still get the Lundgren flick as well, just so you have something to cleanse the palette after.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113964/

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Urban Justice (2007)

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I have been on the lookout for years for this one Seagal DTV flick where he decapitates an old Chinese man from a second-story window by throwing a samurai sword at him. I first saw the film on USA, at a time when I didn't have digital cable and a program guide, so I was at the mercy of the broadcasters, who of course ran the credits too fast for me to catch the name. I've probably seen three or four Seagal movies in the meantime, in looking for this gem. I have to say I didn't really believe this one was the one, and maybe deep down inside I don't want to find it, because it's really the chase that matters.

Urban Justice is about Seagal as a cop who comes to LA after his son's been murdered by some gang members. He wages a one-man path of destruction in an attempt to find out who killed him. As he does, he unravels a potential plot by crooked cops in the LAPD to silence his son, using the cover of local gang members to keep them above suspicion. Eddie Griffin plays the leader of one gang, the one in collusion with the cops. He's not happy that Seagal is taking out all his guys. The ending is inevitable, as it's only a matter of time before Steven tracks everyone down he needs to a kills them. Veteran character actor and DTV favorite Danny Trejo plays a rival gang leader.

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This wasn't too bad. Seagal was omnipotent in it, which led to some sloppy writing. On the other hand, his Ebonics were hilarious, so it made up for it. The plot: your classic revenge tale, was pretty thin here, even more so when you consider Seagal's omnipotence. On the other hand, Griffin was pretty entertaining, which made for enjoyable viewing.

Seagal was so funny in this, and I know he didn't mean to be. He needs to cut it out with the Ebonics-- I take that back, he needs to speak Ebonics in every film he does from here on out, because I need the laugh factor. "I wanna find da motha'fucka' dat killed my son." How does he expect us to take that seriously? In terms of his action, it was all right considering his DTV work. He mixed in more kicks that he had recently, which was pretty cool. I guess that's something.

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Eddie Griffin is the man. He provides the most entertainment, even more so than Seagal. He's great when he gets mad, and when he's ripping other gangsters off, and when he's communicating with the cops. His lines are hilarious. He has only one scene with Seagal, at the end, when Seagal kills the cop that kills his son, Griffin comes at him from behind, holding a gun. Seagal disarms him, tells him "I have no beef with you", then hands him the gun back and walks off. Griffin replies "That's gangstah." And he's right, it is gangstah.

The crooked detective who kills Seagal's son was the FBI agent in Boa vs. Python. I spent a good chunk of the film trying to figure out who he was. Luckily I was able to remember before looking him up on imdb. I always feel inadequate as a film reviewer when I need imdb for people I should already know. The man's name is Kirk B. R. Woller, and among his other credits, he was in a Nightman episode, played a delivery boy on Melrose Place, and was recently in the critically acclaimed Clint Eastwood film Flags of Our Fathers.

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Segal's son is played by a man named Cory Hart, not to be confused with the popular 80s rocker ("Sunglasses at Night", "Never Surrender"). He was also in the horrible DTV bait-and-switch trade-on-a-good-name sack-of-asscrack Road House 2. I hated that thing with a passion, and probably shouldn't even be mentioning it here. It's the worst kind of DTV film: the one that takes an established classic and remakes it for the DTV market, only calling it a sequel. If I ever see a Point Break 2, it's all over.

I don't know what to tell people about this one. If you're a Seagal fan, it's all right. The Ebonics is great, but you'd really have to be one of those people who worship him to be able to handle his omnipotence, and I'm not really at that level. On the other hand, if you're a big Eddie Griffin fan, you may want to pick this up. I know a lot of my friends aren't, so I wouldn't show this to them. One last note: for some reason Netflix lists this as being made in 1996. It was made in 2007, and if you're looking for it listed chronologically like Netflix does, you'll have to scan further down.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0910934/

Crazy Six (1998)

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I found this film looking up Albery Pyun on imdb. The mixture of Rob Lowe, Mario van Peebles, Burt Reynolds, and Ice-T seemed intriguing to me. After Ticker, which was another Pyun film that was something of an ensemble cast (featuring Steven Seagal, Dennis Hopper, and Tom Seizemore), I figured this one had a good chance of being entertaining.

Crazy Six is about Rob Lowe as the eponymous junkie conman living in Prague or something who gets involved with a hot Russian lounge singer right after he pulls off a bad job for Mario van Peebles that involves ripping off Ice-T. People kill other people, people double cross other people, Burt Reynolds plays a US cop living in Eastern Europe, and Rob Lowe gets the girl.

This was really bad. As bad as the name sounds. The beginning had this exposition that read like a post-apocalyptic thriller, only it was describing Eastern Europe post-communism. Not only that, but the titles and graphics in that beginning looked more like a low-budget state funded student film airing on the CBC. I won't lie, I can accept that kind of production if I'm watching Degrassi Junior High, but a film maker should have a different set of goals. Beyond that, the film had it's moments, with the hilarity of Lowe and Mario van Peebles' characters; but overall there was way too little action for this to be anything but boring.

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Rob Lowe has been in the news recently for various indiscretions. This comes after he'd had a huge career comeback post The West Wing. Crazy Six was made before that comeback, when Lowe was still living down his first scandal. That doesn't mean he's a Dennis Hopper or Tom Seizemore-- someone that's a great actor who a Pyun can get on the cheap because of his problems in Hollywood. Lowe doesn't really bring it here. He looks as ridiculous as his name with his mullet and moustache, and his acting doesn't really elevate an otherwise silly character, rather relegates it to that head shaking level, where everytime we see him on screen, we just say "no".

I got a kick out of Ice-T. Pyun really wastes him, and I have to assume because he's a Pyun mainstay, he took this rather small, one-dimensional role, as a favor to his buddy. For the most part, Ice-T spends the films with a look on his face like he smells something funny. Then, at the very end, when he gets his one scene where he has some legitimate acting to do, he actually turns in the best performance other than Burt Reynolds. That one scene might be the coolest thing I've seen Ice-T do as far as acting goes after the Player Hater's Ball on The Chapelle Show.

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Burt Reynolds made no sense in this, but he did a great job. Unlike Lowe, who couldn't transcend a poorly conceived character, Reynolds shined. He played a US cop working in Eastern Europe, for whatever reason. Do a lot of American cops work in Eastern Europe? What do the local cops in those countries think of this? Are we paying for these cops with government money? Either way, if this was the kind of stretch Pyun needed to make to get Reynolds in the film, I can't begrudge him that. He could've made him a Martian sent to Eastern Europe to protect Rob Lowe, and I would've been cool with it. In fact, I'd have liked it better.

Mario van Peebles plays a French ganglord, and he has the worst French accent ever. He's not speaking like someone who speaks English as a second language, but English with a little French mixed in and an occasional "th" replaced with a "d". At some points he loses the accent all together, like he stopped trying. Why he had the hubris to think he could pull this off is beyond me. But if he didn't, though, it wouldn't have been as funny or entertaining, so I guess I shouldn't be complaining too much.

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One quick note. Two Pyun mainstays other than Ice-T feature in this. Norbert Weisser has done 16 films with Pyun, of which I've reviewed 5 (Captain America, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush, Ticker, Omega Doom, and now Crazy Six). Then there's Thom Mathews, who's done 11 films with Pyun, of which I've reviewed 3 (Mean Guns, Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor, and now Crazy Six-- though it's important to note he was also in the MST3K classic Alien From LA, which Pyun also directed.).

Overall, I'd avoid this. It's too boring: the action is too sparse, and the plot itself is too useless to invest anything in. That's too bad, because if you see this at your local rental store or on Netflix, you'll probably want to check it out, just based on the cast. You can watch it at your own peril, but I'm warning you, it's pretty rough.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118897/

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Final Inquiry aka L'Inchiesta (2006)

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I guess this thing's been bouncing around Europe for a while before it finally hopped across the pond and made it to our neck of the woods. Does Dolph not understand that he has legions of fans in this country. We think he's awesome too. Why should Europeans have all the fun?

The Final Inquiry takes place right after Christ's crucifixion. A Roman is sent undercover to Jerusalem to investigate the resurrection by the Emperor Tiberius, played by Ingmar Bergman mainstay Max von Sydow. This Tiberius is much nicer than the history books have depicted. Anyway, this Roman has with him a slave warrior, played by Dolph. While he's investigating with Dolph, he meets this hot chick played by Penelope Cruz's sister. The hot chick's a Jew whose father (played by F. Murray Abraham) wants her to marry an old dude, not a Roman undercover agent with a beefy Swedish slave. As he uncovers the truth that Jesus was in fact resurrected and the Jews didn't like him, F. Murray Abraham beats his daughter, Penelope Cruz's sister, to death... sorta. It's convoluted, and we're left with a weird revisionist history ending where the film makers tell us Tiberius would've made Christianity the religion of the empire if Caligula hadn't killed him.

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This is a Christian propaganda film, so it must be taken with a grain of salt. The Jews who aren't down with Christ, like F. Murray Abraham, are depicted as pretty deplorable. There's also an ancient autopsy done, where the Roman agent examines a body that's supposed to Jesus', but's determined to be a fake. This is no Last Temptation of Christ, so if you're looking for something good, you won't find it here. On the other hand, the action's lacking, because the people making this are trying to give us a serious film. This is not the decent Vercingetorix biopic Druids that Lambert did. It just sucks.

Dolph isn't a main character, so his involvement is kind of low. Why, is beyond me. The dude they got to play the Roman was a total waste of space. Who casts Dolph in a movie as the sidekick? I know from the European standpoint Americans are rather capricious and overbearing, which tends to lend itself to more National Treasures than Umberto D.s, but in the case of making Dolph films, I think we Americans do it way better than our Euro counterparts. Try Showdown in Little Tokyo. Yeah, I thought so.

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This film marks the first ever pairing of two Swedish acting giants, Dolph and Max von Sydow. It's amazing it took so long for this to happen, and it's disappointing it was in such a bad film. Also, the Tiberius they had him portray was nothing like the one I learned about in in Roman history class in college. Benevolent, spiritual, someone amicable to the tenets of Christianity-- these are not ways that I would describe him. I don't know who came up with any of this, but it's ridiculous. Read I, Claudius, then come talk to me.

Penelope Cruz's sister, Monica, is the main eyecandy here. The Roman wants some, and he's having trouble getting it due to local mating customs. Because she's a Christian, though, and not a Jew, she rebels against her arranged marriage. This puts her at odds with her father, played by F. Murray Abraham, who you may know as Salieri from Amadeus. He beats her with his cane, and we think she's dead. In fact she's close to dead, but she has like a bunch of hours to live, and she's kind of awake through it. Also, though nearly beaten to death, she doesn't have a mark on her. It's like she's dying of a lingering illness, but the film makers needed someone to blame for it, so they replaced the illness with a beating, but didn't replace the symptoms. Straight up stupid.

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The F. Murray Abraham brings me to a common rant I make amongst my friends. I'm convinced that Finding Forrester is the second worst movie ever made, after Pay it Forward. I watched this film with my friends, and it made me angry. It was racist, in a condescending, elitist kind of way; and I was especially distressed with the end scene, where Connery's supposed to make this inspirational speech, a rebuff to Abraham, but the film makers were so lazy they skipped the speech and went with a montage of him speaking and people being inspired. F. Murray Abraham's appearance in this made me realize that no matter how bad this was, it wasn't as bad as Finding Forrester.

This could actually be a worthy rental. If you have some friends who are history buffs like I do, they'll have a great time ripping this apart. The inclusion of Dolph, von Sydow, and Abraham will make it even more enjoyable. On the other hand, if you're looking for pure, unadulterated Dolph asskicking, this isn't the best bet for you. He does kick some ass, but not enough to make it worth it to sit through this sack of asscrack.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0491720/

Missionary Man (2007)

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I'd been waiting for this one for a while. Imdb had it on his bio as in post-production or whatever for what seemed like ages. Then, out of no where, I did a search of Dolph on Netflix, and it just appeared along with Final Inquiry. I put them both at the top of my queue, and had a mini-Dolph Fest to commemorate their final release.

Missionary Man is about Dolph as a dude on a motorcycle that also preaches from this dirty old Bible. He comes to this Native American reservation to attend his friend's funeral, and sticks around when he finds out this local dude that looks like Tom Hanks' brother is trying to strong arm the tribe into signing on to build a casino. Dolph, always here to defend the underdog, kicks some serious ass. This should be a lesson to all communities opposed to having casinos built in their towns: hire Dolph, and you won't have to worry.

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This is a pretty awesome film. We're spared the frivolousness of a plot: for the most part, the film's a series of scenes where a bunch of guys in pick-up trucks and SUVs corner Dolph, and he beats the crap out of them. I wouldn't have it any other way. There's this one baddie who's above the guy that looks like Tom Hanks' brother on the bad guy food chain, and Dolph blows his brains out with a shotgun at the end of the movie. It's so sweet.

On the other hand, Dolph directed this, and his directorial work ain't so great. This isn't The Defender, which I felt was passable. Here, he uses this distorted color effect which makes the screen look bad. You can see these moving pixels on anything white, like someone's forehead. I felt like I was waiting for my eyes to adjust to coming inside after sitting in the sun for a few hours. Why he did that is beyond me. Come on, Dolph, did you ever see Bergman or even Scorsese try a stunt like that?

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For UFC fans, Brad Imes, from the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, is in this. He plays a henchman who turns good after a Dolph beating. At the end of the film, when Dolph's gunning for the whole crew of baddies, Imes saves Dolph. He also saves the girl from being attacked by his fellow henchman, which saves him from a second Dolph beating when the girl tells him this.

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The girl in this is fascinating. She's supposed to be 15 (imdb says she's 18 in real life), and she lives on what seems to be a rather impoverished reservation. So with no obvious means of income beyond her mom, who herself wasn't rolling in cash, she managed to dress herself in designer jeans. First off, there couldn't have been any stores nearby that sold clothing like that: I mean I live in Maine, and some places in Portland have lower end stuff, but for the most part you've got to go to Boston to get what she was wearing, and I couldn't imagine a city that big was within 1000 miles of where she lived. Second, that means she needed to order them over the Internet, which would cost even more. I know they didn't want her to look like a scrub, but come on, Dolph... on the other hand, if Dolph didn't have stupid stuff like that in his movies, there'd be nothing for me and my friends to make fun of.

This is a pretty nice film. It's not one of Dolph's best, but definitely not one of his worst. If you're a huge Dolph fan, I would recommend getting this. I'm not sure if you're planning a Dolph Fest if you'd want to showcase it, but if a bunch of you haven't seen it, you may want to stuff it into a full second night of films. I'd put it right behind Detention and right above Hidden Assassin.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0926110/

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dracula III: Legacy (2005)

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The idea of Rutger Hauer as Dracula kind of intrigues me. The idea of Rutger Hauer as anything intrigues me, that's why he's in the DTVC Hall of Fame. What scares me is when I see his name listed on a DTV flick, because I want to see him in it, but I know full well I could be trapped by the Hauer Bait-and-Switch.

Dracula III: Legacy picks up where Dracula II: The Ascension left off. In fact, just in case we don't believe them that III picks up where II left off, we're treated to an opening of flashbacks that work as a Cliff's Notes version of part II. Jason Scott Lee is back, only now the Dracula he's chasing is played by Rutger Hauer. He still has Jason London (not to be confused with his twin brother Jeremy) as his plucky little sidekick (I say little, but he's probably bigger than me), but he's no longer working for the Catholic Church. Good ol' Roy Scheider's given him the boot. Undeterred, he's now on his own mission to kill Dracula-- he don't need no stinkin' church. London wants in to save his girlfriend, who turned into a vampire in the last film. The two track Hauer down to his lair in Romania, in a plot that's similar but not quite as cool as Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf, where Jason Scott Lee has a not-so-difficult time killing him.

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This wasn't too bad. I could've used more Hauer, but when can I not, right? I wouldn't give this the stamp of Hauer Bait-and-Switch, but it's treading on that territory. For a vampire film it wasn't too bad, but it wasn't covering any new ground either. Knowing that the Blade films are my standard for excellence in the DTV vampire genre, I'd say this film was a nice try: entertaining, but not spectacular.

Jason Scott Lee was great in this, and he's one of the chief factors that made this fun to watch. He has sweet one liners, and delivers all of them in this tongue-in-cheek style that let's us know he knows they're silly, but won't betray his character. None of them are that funny alone, but in the context of the film they'll make you laugh. This is the second film of his reviewed on the DTVC (Timecop: The Berlin Decision being the other), and I hope to do more in the future. He's kind of like a Marc Dacascos, where no matter what he's in he's usually good, but he's not often cast as a leading man like a Dolph or a Don "The Dragon" Wilson.

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Jason London is in this. He's the guy from Dazed and Confused. He's not the guy from Mallrats and Party of Five. That would be his twin brother, Jeremy. Don't worry, I was having trouble with the whole thing as well. Usually if twin brothers are actors, one gets the bulk of the big roles. That's not the case with these two. And there isn't much that distinguishes them either: they act and sound identical. My advice whenever watching a film with one of them in it is to consult imdb to see if it's the one from Dazed and Confused, or Mallrats. Again, for Dracula III, it's the one from Dazed.

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SPOILER ALERT: SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH IF YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW THE ENDING!
On the DVD in the extras section, there's an alternate ending. The one they go with in the actual film is pretty cheesy: Jason Scott Lee becomes Dracula, and takes this reporter he's fallen in love with as his bride. The alternate one has London and Scott Lee both losing their chicks, but beating Dracula and walking off into the sunset. Here's my theory on why they didn't go with that one: the film makers were too homophobic. By killing the two love interests, they're essentially saying: "We don't need women when we have each other". I for one am okay with that. These film makers need to stop being so scared to have homosexual undertones in their movies. It worked for Boondock Saints. I can't think of a movie with fewer homosexual undertones, and Alpha Males love that one.

This isn't a bad deal. If you don't expect too much, and are ready for the unintended silliness, then give this a rip. It may not quite be good enough to screen at a bad movie night with a bunch of people, but if you're kicking back on a Sunday and need to kill a couple hours with some friends, you could do a lot worse.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0303929/

Alien Tracker (2003)

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I've said it before and I'll say it again, Adrian Paul, like Kevin Sorbo, would be first ballot inductees if there ever was a Syndicated Action TV Show Hall of Fame. Unfortunately there isn't one, and each of them are trying to carve out a spot in their post syndicated TV acting careers in the world of DTV. Unlike Lorenzo Lamas, though, who has successfully made the transition, Sorbo and Paul are still trying to make their case.

Alien Tracker is either a pilot, or a group of episodes put together to make a pilot, of a show that ran at one time in Canada under the name of Tracker. Adrian Paul plays an alien sent to Earth to catch a bunch of bad aliens, led by Geraint Wyn Davies (of Forever Knight fame). These aliens can take human bodies and have special powers that seem work whenever it's convenient to the plot. Paul is shacked up in an apartment above a woman who owns a bar in Chicago. The woman has taken Paul in after he made her car work when it broke down in rural Iowa. The movie ends with a To Be Continued... and not a silly one like in Baller Blockin'.

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This was straight up dumb. Even for syndicated or Canadian television, it was dumb. Even for bad sci-fi, it was dumb. It just smacks of laziness on the parts of the writers when characters have arbitrary special powers that they can use or not use whenever it's convenient. I also understand that I'm watching DTV sci-fi, so I shouldn't expect top notch screenwriting, but this is worse than an episode of Lost. Is it too hard to just come up with a set of special powers and that's it, you either got 'em or you don't?

Adrian Paul must've been desperate to do this. After an amazing show like Highlander: The Series, what was he thinking when his agent sent him this script? And it wasn't good Adrian Paul either. As much as possible, in Highlander, he was believable as a 400 year old warrior from the Highlands of Scotland. In this sack-of-asscrack he can't decide if he's as smart as a human or completely oblivious to how humans live. Maybe it's the bad writing again, but none of it worked for me.

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I'm a big fan of Geraint Wyn Davies, especially from Forever Knight. He may be this film's only saving grace, but he's not in it much to be a factor. What the film would do is show a little Davies, making you think "Oh, this should get good now", then pull him away, so you think "I guess not." Recently he did a turn on Fox's 24. Hopefully he'll get more roles on mainstream US television.

The WWE's Chyna is in this at the very beginning as a baddie. She gets taken out by Paul. I have to assume she was cast as a way to give the film another name to put on the cover, but her appearance is beyond superfluous. She's not a great actress, which is cool if you're a wrestler, but notsomuch when you want to be in a movie. I'm not sure if she left the WWE because she thought she would make it as an actor, a la The Rock, or if the WWE didn't want her because they've taken their female wrestling division in a new direction, with an emphasis on femininity. Either way, I think as far as this film goes, she doesn't work. Of course, it could be the writing again.

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Imdb doesn't list this as available to buy on amazon, but I found it easily on Netflix. Not that it matters, because this is atrocious. If you're a big time Adrian Paul fan, re-watch some of the better story arcs on your Highlander: The Series DVD instead of wasting an hour-and-a-half of your life on this. Ditto if it pops on the Sci-Fi Channel.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0481932/