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Posts Tagged ‘DTV’

True Vengeance

Wednesday, February 19th, 2020

TRUE VENGEANCE is a 1997 Daniel Bernhardt movie that I bought specifically because it was written by Kurt Johnstad. I think I was looking him up because he wrote ATOMIC BLONDE, and I remembered that he was the guy who wrote 300, 300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE and ACT OF VALOR. I saw all of those in the theater and liked all of them, and it turns out his only other movie is this earlier DTV one that never even came out on DVD in the U.S. It’s directed by David Worth (KICKBOXER, LADY DRAGON 1 and 2), and I think you can understand why that combination of people made it something I needed to see.

Benhardt plays Griffin, who was a Navy SEAL and then a hired killer of some kind but after the death of his wife he quit the life to take care of his daughter Emily (Tessa Sugay, “Club Girl (uncredited),” TOKYO DRIFT, “Dancer (uncredited)” THE SOCIAL NETWORK). After a brief, incoherent sniper prologue we meet him cutely joking around with his daughter pretending he doesn’t know it’s her birthday. So yes, she is going to be kidnapped.

He has an older guy he calls his best friend named Sam (Harrison Young, Ryan as an old man in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN), who I think runs a garage and kind of seems like he could be the landlord like the guy in ROAD HOUSE? He’s involved in a great bit of b-movie flavor when he’s doing a crossword puzzle, asking for a word for “something that haunts.” Griffin suggests ‘ghost,’ but Sam says it has to be four letters, and just then a scary dude named Adachi (Keo Woolford, “Airport Worker,” GODZILLA) steps in looking for Griffin, who dramatically declares that “The Griffin you knew… is dead.” (read the rest of this shit…)

In Hell

Thursday, January 30th, 2020

IN HELL is a 2003 DTV JCVD joint. At the time it was the best 2000s Nu Image/Millennium filmed-in-Bulgaria DTV movie with an action icon getting locked up in a Russian prison, meeting a guy in a wheelchair who shows him the ropes, being mistreated and strung up outside in the cold, and becoming the champion of their fighting circuit. (Then UNDISPUTED II came out.) It’s Van Damme’s last film with director Ringo Lam (CITY ON FIRE, FULL CONTACT), following MAXIMUM RISK and REPLICANT. I like that some of the Hong Kong visual style and emotional sincerity come through, even though I could use fewer scenes where he rolls around in bed remembering flashes of his wife’s murder. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Mercenary

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

THE MERCENARY is what they’re calling the new one from director Jesse V. Johnson, though it’s just MERCENARY on screen, and was developed under the less generic (if goofy) title LEGION MAXX. Johnson, of course, has been on a hot streak for several years, with movies including ACCIDENT MAN, THE DEBT COLLECTOR and AVENGEMENT. This is his first in a while to not have Scott Adkins in it – instead it’s a vehicle for his lesser known but even-longer-time collaborator, Dominiquie Vandenberg. The Belgian martial artist met Johnson working on MORTAL KOMBAT, and starred in his first shorts Death Row the Tournament and The Doorman, then his first features THE HONORABLE and PIT FIGHTER, and has since shown up in ALIEN AGENT, THE HITMEN DIARIES: CHARLIE VALENTINE, GREEN STREET HOOLIGANS 2, THE BUTCHER and TRIPLE THREAT. He can also be seen in Yuen Woo-Ping’s TRUE LEGEND, but maybe his greatest claim to fame is training Leonardo DiCaprio for knife-fighting in GANGS OF NEW YORK and then becoming fight coordinator and appearing as a gang member. (read the rest of this shit…)

Jack Frost 2

Tuesday, December 24th, 2019

Last Christmas I gave you my heart, by which I mean I finally watched JACK FROST and wrote about it. This year, I wouldn’t say I was in tears, but JACK FROST 2: REVENGE OF THE MUTANT KILLER SNOWMAN wasn’t as special.

I mean… they tried. Writer/director Michael Cooney returned in the year 2000 (three years after the original) with another scrappy low budget bag of silliness. This one does not have a fancy Vinegar Syndrome special edition, because it was shot in shiny ugly digital video, so what would be the point? There are a couple obvious stock footage shots and I thought “Oh, that’s what a real movie looks like.” On his commentary track (respect for including that), Cooney says he hopes people don’t notice that the stock footage looks different. Whoops. (read the rest of this shit…)

Drive

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Unless you count an IMDb listing for an unreleased movie called SIRENS OF THE DEEP (2000), the final (so far) feature film directed by Steve Wang is the 1997 under-the-radar Mark Dacascos action romp DRIVE. Dacascos (ONLY THE STRONG) plays Toby Wong (a RESERVOIR DOGS reference?), reformed Chinese assassin on the run from a corporation trying to reclaim the advanced strength-and-acrobatics-enhancing implant they put in him. Attacked in a bar, he commandeers lonely divorcee Malik (Kadeem Hardison, DEF BY TEMPTATION) and his car, and the two end up becoming buddies, driving around the L.A. area trying to avoid a team of mercenaries led by redneck Vic Madison (John Pyper-Ferguson, who’s also in the Nicolas Winding-Refn movie called DRIVE) and his personal Bob the Goon, Hedgehog (Tracey Walter, CYBORG 2), who when not shooting at them hang out in a mobile home like Justified villains. Vic has long hair, wears a bolo tie and sunglasses seems too proud of his rock ‘n roll cowboy look. I was so relieved when he switched to pony tail and tactical gear. (read the rest of this shit…)

Rest Stop: Don’t Look Back

Monday, February 25th, 2019

I remember REST STOP (2006) being a decent DTV horror movie. I remember nothing else. I thought maybe it was about a slasher who hides in a rest stop restroom or something. I don’t know. So the opening of the sequel, REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK (2008) was a little befuddling. It starts in 1972 on “The Old Highway,” when a “Yes Jesus Loves Me” singing family picks up a hitchhiker in their RV. Weirdo mother Diane Salinger (CREATURE) ends up seducing him and then screaming in delight when her husband (Michael Childers, SOUTHERN JUSTICE) catches them together and kills the guy. The family – also consisting of twin sons and a disfigured dwarf – delightedly bury the body at a (the) rest stop, but suddenly the guy they’re burying appears, chops them all up, and buries their bodies.

Okay, so it’s a ghost movie, I don’t remember this at all. (read the rest of this shit…)

Castle Freak

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

The way Stuart Gordon tells it, CASTLE FREAK was made because he saw Charles Band’s poster for it before it was even really a premise.

“What’s that about?”

“A castle and a freak.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how the majority of Full Moon Pictures come about, but they usually don’t have the brilliant director of RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND as the guy translating the poster into an actual movie, so they don’t turn out this well.

Gordon’s idea of CASTLE FREAK takes inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft. I’m sure you could also say that about what he eats for breakfast every morning. But he credits the short story “The Outsider,” about a man escaping from the castle where he’s lived alone for as long as he can remember. The screenplay is by Gordon’s longtime collaborator Dennis Paoli (RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM, DAGON), and its hook is simple: American asshole John Reilly (Jeffrey Combs, THE FRIGHTENERS) inherits a 12th century castle from a Duchess and brings his unhappy wife (Barbara Crampton, FRATERNITY VACATION) and blind daughter (Jessica Dollarhide, 1 episode of Major Dad, 2 episodes of In Living Color, 2 episodes of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) to check it out with him. Little do they know that his dead relative also left behind the feral, mutilated man she’d been torturing in the dungeon for most of his life. Probly should’ve mentioned that. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Loose Canon: Blood and Bone

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018
Every now and then I write a more-in-depth-than-usual study of a movie I consider important and influential in the evolution of Badass Cinema, or in this case one that I simply think is great. It’s a movie I believe most fans of the genre would love and all should see and have an opinion on. I call this series THE LOOSE CANON.

The Loose Canon: BLOOD AND BONE (2009)

There have been two proud moments in my getting-close-to-20-years of writing about action movies when a truly special one appeared inconspicuously in the DTV market and I was the first person I’m aware of to point to it and say holy shit you guys, check this out. One was John Hyams’ UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, which later gained attention from some of the more respectable critics thanks to its great and very arty followup UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING. The other is BLOOD AND BONE, directed by Ben Ramsey (LOVE AND A BULLET). I do think it has grown something of a following, but not the credit it deserves as a perfect showcase for an under-recognized star in peak form, or as a stone cold classic of its genre. Like another Michael-Jai-White-starring DTV favorite, UNDISPUTED II: LAST MAN STANDING, BLOOD AND BONE isn’t even available on region A Blu-Ray. What the fuck, video industry? Too badass for hi-def?

The ten year anniversary of BLOOD AND BONE is coming up next year, so I’m giving the rights-holders and the gatekeepers a heads up. I want to see a cool, respectful collector’s edition Blu-Ray with added extras and a painted cover and shit. I want to see theatrical screenings. I am positive this will play great with audiences. Make it happen. A parade would be cool too, but that’s negotiable. (read the rest of this shit…)

Love and a Bullet

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

LOVE AND A BULLET was one of the movies that made me believe in DTV when I reviewed it for The Ain’t It Cool News 16 years ago. I include that link only for historical purposes – it’s a poorly written review and I randomly refer to co-writer/co-director Kantz as a “clown.” I honestly didn’t mean anything by it, I just thought it was funny to have hostility toward some guy for no reason. It never occurred to me that the people I was writing about might read the reviews, and I hadn’t yet learned the lesson that shit like that can get you a wrestling challenge. Apologies to Kantz, whether or not he saw it. I have no reason to believe he is a clown.

At the time Ain’t It Cool had run a bunch of my reviews of movies I’d seen at SIFF, and a few at preview screenings, plus these DTV or DTVish ones I’d gotten VHS screeners of:

THE CROW: SALVATION, CRUEL INTENTIONS 2, ED GEIN, GINGER SNAPS, VAMPIRES: LOS MUERTOS, COMIC BOOK VILLAINS (read the rest of this shit…)

Female Fight Squad

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

“Are you mental, brov? She just bashed a man’s skull in. It’s a fuckin devil woman, brov! I don’t want none of it!”

You’ve seen me rave about the martial artist Amy Johnston, her movie LADY BLOODFIGHT, and her supporting role in ACCIDENT MAN. This is her other starring vehicle which going by the order of the IMDb listings, she must’ve filmed shortly before was filmed a while after LADY BLOODFIGHT (both have a 2016 release date). There are many ways it’s not as good as the other movie, which I’ll get into, but I think I loved it almost as much. It has tons of DTV personality and probly the best showcase of Johnston’s acting skills so far.

The DVD I bought calls it FEMALE FIGHT SQUAD, but it seems to have started life as FEMALE FIGHT CLUB. I’m guessing they didn’t want people to go in expecting a FIGHT CLUB remake with Kristen Wiig as Narrator and Melissa McCarthy as Tyler Durden. They’d be disappointed.

The director is Miguel Ferrer (no relation), who has otherwise just done a bunch of shorts. He co-wrote it with Anastazja Davis (DISCONNECTED).

Johnston plays Becca, who’s hit a rough stretch of road. On one hand her dad is Dolph Lundgren – that’s awesome. On the other hand he’s in prison for killing some dudes. We know she’s tough because of a flash-forward to “the final round of the bi-annual free-fighting championships,” where she’s introduced as “a myth, an urban legend, right here before your very own eyes: Bex ‘The Beast’ Holt!” But also we know she’s sweet, because she works at a dog shelter, saving money for her dream of moving to Africa and working for some kind of wildlife preserve there (see: theory of badass juxtaposition). (read the rest of this shit…)