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.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mean Guns (1997)

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I saw this on Encore Action while looking for something on a Thursday evening when the Sox were off. I caught it from the middle, and when I saw it again in it's entirety, I got a whole different perspective on the film. Let's just say missing the first 45 minutes might not have been a bad thing.

Mean Guns is about some mob group called The Syndicate, of which Ice-T is some kind of head dude or something. The Syndicate takes a prison they had just built, and uses it to put 100 people who have ripped them off before and have them kill each other off, with the last three standing sharing in a prize of 10 million dollars. Actually, we find out only 99 of them double crossed the syndicate. DTVC Hall of Famer Christopher Lambert plays a nutjob hitman who just happened to be in the area killing his ex-wife and her new boyfriend and kidnapping his daughter, and asked Ice-T if he could join in on the macabre game. There's another hitman named Marcus, who seems a tad more altruistic, and he takes a middle-aged female accountant under his wing to keep her safe. As far as I can tell, this Marcus is the protagonist, and we're rooting for him to win. I won't give away the ending.

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I was annoyed by this film. There was this mambo music that kept playing in the background that was either supposed to be funny, ironic, or both, but was really just difficult to deal with after a while. I'll take a bad Jan Hammer wannabe and a C.C. Deville derivative any day. The director also did a lot of sped up film and sped up shaky film. It didn't look cool, it looked like a bad car commercial. Maybe that's what the guy did before he did this film.

I must admit, I don't always get Ice-T. I get him as a musician or on Law and Order, but in these bad action movies where they try to make him Samuel L. Jackson, it just doesn't wash. The extended slo-motion walk sequence where we just watched Ice-T didn't work for me. Him doing karate on people didn't work either. When I saw this the first time and missed 45 minutes, the Ice-T character just sat in his command base and watched what people were doing, waiting for the final three. That worked for me. Get rid of the silly martial arts and the contrived toughness, and you've got a badass baddie.

Christopher Lambert is pretty sweet in this. He plays a nutjob hitman, as I mentioned above, and he plays it well. He doesn't have much to work with, but he seems to be the most comfortable in the skin of a bad action movie character. Most people I know only saw this film for Lambert, and I'd say it's worth it. It's no Fortress, but it'll do. I guess it's not as ridiculous, but it's also not as much fun to watch.

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I'm not sure if the intent for this film was a send up of the bad action genre, but if that's the case, it was a bad job. I've seen this type of movie done well (Torque), and I think if it's done poorly, it makes the film makers look not as smart as they think they are. There were plenty of moments that looked like they were played up for laughs, like these two buddy hitmen, but the lines were so poorly written and the action so poorly done, that instead of laughing I got a headache. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, and just say they were trying to add some humor to a bad action movie.

The moral of this story is: don't try to dress up a bad action movie with what you think is fancy film FX or humor through irony. We as bad action connoisseurs would rather you skip that and give us the all the shooting and ass kicking we need. I'd recommend this movie as far as a rental, or if you have On Demand, you can get it free from now until July. It's fun to make fun of, and I guess even more fun to make fun of how good they think they are. Also, I'd skip the first 45 minutes, because that's where you really get to the crux of the bad action. The fat's been cut off by then.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119642/

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