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.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Wrecking Crew (2000)

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Like Corrupt in the post before this, I figured with Albert Pyun's Urban Trilogy getting the axe from Watch Instantly, I might as well review the two I hadn't done yet. I was hesitant though, because, as I mentioned in the Corrupt post, half of each of these films was lost en route from Eastern Europe to LA, meaning what we got was the best Pyun could do to make lemonade out of lemons, and not films that are indicative of what Pyun usually gives us. But I think it's good to get the word out as to why these didn't come out so good, especially with so many people checking them out and vituperating against them on their own sites or imdb message boards, so that's why we're here now looking at these.

The Wrecking Crew is about a street gang led by Ice-T that's been hired by some high-level governmental authority whose job it is to take out other gangs in other cities. In this case they're in Detroit, and, after conning the three major gangs into meeting in a warehouse for a truce, Ice-T and his boys go in there to clean them out. Can the three leaders of the gangs squash their feuds and come together to defeat Ice-T?

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Maybe not as bad as Urban Menace, but definitely was hit pretty hard by that missing footage too. We start with these distorted archive shots of Snoop from when he was Snoop Doggy Dogg. We assume he's some kind of important figure, but that's all we see of him. Then we get Ice-T cleaning up another gang in Chicago, while our Detroit gangs are having big rallies. From there, it devolves into Die Hard with gangs, based around three characters that aren't all that remarkable. I'd really be curious to know what this movie was supposed to be. How did Snoop Dogg figure in? Was there more Ice-T? Was it really only Die Hard with gangs? The thing is, if you see this on the shelf and think "Oh, Snoop and Ice-T, this should be good", and then you watch it and are totally disappointed, just know, what you got wasn't what you were supposed to get.

I know some of my readers are not big Albert Pyun fans-- and many of them don't miss an opportunity in a comment box to tell me so-- so hearing me in these two posts trying to explain away some real duds probably has them thinking "Sure, I bet, and why were all the rest of his films crap?" I guess the first thing I would say is "what are you doing at the Direct to Video Connoisseur if you don't like Albert Pyun?", because Albert Pyun's approach to film making is the kind of thing we celebrate here. But the other thing is, you can't be all like "I can't stand big Hollywood", but then not be cognizant of the difficulties film makers face when they try to work outside of the major studios. For me, I like hearing these stories, and I think it's really cool that Pyun took the time to comment here and tell us what happened with these urban films. Unfortunately, part of that charm that we like in low-budget independent films, that they have to be innovative and make do with less, means that when shit happens and half the film is lost by Air France and they have to try and salvage something, you end up with this.

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The Ice-T here is more of your run-of-the-mill Ice-T, the vintage mean-mugging over-enunciating Ice-T. Not the chilling baddie we got in Corrupt. I don't know why we get the guy from this more than we get the guy in Corrupt, but we do. Maybe it's him wanting to get out there and try new things. I don't know, he played a kangaroo man in Tank Girl, what more does he want? He also produced this movie, so I imagine he was as disappointed as Pyun was when half the film turned up missing-- I imagine everyone involved with the project was.

It doesn't escape me that, while this was filmed in Eastern Europe, it took place in Detroit, which is probably where this would've been shot had it been made today-- which also would've meant that there would've been no need to ship it with Air France to LA. The majority of the action in this takes place in an abandoned warehouse. Well, they'd have their pick of abandoned warehouses in Detroit.

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I'm skipping the Pyun Mainstay game for this post, because, like Corrupt, all we had outside of Ice-T was Vincent Klyn. Instead, I wanted to bring up something that caught my eye as a former wrestling fan. You can barely see it in that pic there, but that dude is giving the other guy the Camel Clutch. Remember that? When Sgt. Slaughter became an Iraqi in the early 90s? He'd get Hulk Hogan in the Camel Clutch, trying to make him tap out. Man, those were the days.
Other than the Camel Clutch, there isn't much going on here. If you haven't seen this before, and see it on the shelves, just know what you're getting yourself into-- an attempt to make lemonade out of lemons--; and if you have seen it and wanted to know why it was so bad, well, now you know. It's hard to make a movie come out the way you want if you've lost half of your footage.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0196219/

2 comments:

  1. I had read that the footage was lost, and my immediate thought was, "Why even forage ahead?" I do understand the "why" of it, but knowing it is a recoup effort has kept me away from it. Reading your review let me know I was right.

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  2. Yeah, I can appreciate your view on Pyun. I've got to say I sometimes love his stuff (Dollman, Cyborg, Nemesis, Sword and Sorcerer, Knights) and other times hate it (Any of those cheap Nemesis sequels).

    Overall, though I appreciate that he's a unique figure in the DTV world and it would be less interesting without him.

    I'm guessing he was strong armed by the producers into cutting these three films despite the missing footage but I think it really hurt his reputation. No film should be put out knowing that only half the footage is there.

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