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.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Witness to a Kill aka Diamond Cut Diamond (2001)
I've had this one on Watch Instantly for a while, and since I didn't do a great job organizing my DVD queue, this was my best option for a Gary Daniels film to celebrate his Hall of Fame induction week. Let's hope it's better than GOD was for Olivier Gruner.
Witness to a Kill has Daniels as the Queen's Messenger going to South Africa on a mission to take out a diamond smuggler who's threatening the stability of a neighboring fictitious African nation. He goes with a German woman, who just so happens to be the sister of a UN soldier the smuggler killed, so he kidnaps her, and a reporter that's been covering the situation, and Daniels has to save them. With all spy thrillers, people on the inside aren't who we think they are, and it's up to Daniels to sort out the players, save the girls, and take out the smuggler.
I liked this. It was kind of dumb, and some of the dialog was soap opera-y, but Daniels brings it, and this is a pretty solid showcase of what he does. It makes me wish they had cast him for the role of James Bond. He just makes a more believable spy than Daniel Craig. The action in this wasn't his best, but it was solid, and enough to make me happy, plus his martial arts skills weren't wasted. A great effort.
I feel better about this film than I did about GOD. Daniels is such an excellent talent, and he often doesn't get the recognition he deserves, due to his status as the poor man's Dolph Lundgren. It's really not a fair label. Dolph really is more of a Bronson type, while Daniels is more of a Caucasian Bruce Lee, which makes sense, because he credits Lee as one of his idols. I think I speak for everyone when I say I can't wait to see him as Bryan Fury in Tekken.
Eva Habermann plays the German girl. You may remember her from Lexx, the old Sci-Fi (Sy-Fy?) show. Most of her work was done in Germany. Speaking of Daniels being the poor man's Dolph, I wonder why she hasn't been cast in a Lundgr-flick. She'd be the perfect lead woman. I was going back through all the women who have been in Dolph movies, and I didn't remember that many blonds. Kylie Bax in Storm Catcher is the only one off the top of my head. Now that I think of it, there aren't a lot of blond women cast in DTV action films period. Are there? Does Jillian McWhirter count? Shannon Tweed and Cynthia Rothrock, but they're stars, not the female lead.
This film wasn't all roses, mind you. It had one glaring issue that I just couldn't look past: the main baddie looked like Jake Busey. Are you kidding me? Why the hell didn't you just cast Jake Busey? I don't care if he's busy, you suspend production until he can do the job. I looked up his imdb bio, and Tomcats was the same year as this, so it may have been a stretch. Maybe the people making this tried, and he said no, because Tomcats looked like the better project. If so, that was a mistake on your part, Busey.
In one scene, Daniels says to his superior, after the guy sees Habermann with him, "For Queen and Country." It made me kind of jealous. I generally don't wish I was from somewhere else, but that's a such a cool phrase. I was trying to think what we have that's equivalent. There are all the Southern racist ones evoking the Civil War, like "The South Will Rise Again" and referring to the flag as the "Star and Bars." Those don't work for the North though. Hmm... maybe we should've thought that whole Revolutionary War out better in advance, but back then, they had a king, and it's not as cool saying "for King and Country", so I guess I'll give them a break with the whole Declaration of Independence. (And to all my Republican readers and readers from the state of Ohio, how do you feel knowing that John Boehner didn't know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence? Wow, didn't we learn that in 8th grade?)
If you've seen some of the other Daniels greats, and are looking to sink your teeth into more, look no further than right here. Great martial arts, solid action, and the classic line "for Queen and Country". What more do you want?
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0275611/