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.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
This one's been on my radar for some time. Why did I finally decide to watch it? Maybe the 82 minute running time. Or the Netflix Watch Instantly availability. Whatever it was, we're here now, so let's see how it went.
Gun follows Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as he attempts to take over the illegal gun trade in Detroit. In the process of killing of a rival, about six innocent bystanders are caught in the crossfire, and DPD detectives James Remar and Paul Calderon are under intense pressure to bring him in. Enter Val Kilmer, an old buddy of 50's, just out of the clink, and looking for something to do. 50 takes him in and makes him his right-hand man as he looks to make the deal that brings him him up to the next level from small time hustler to shot-caller. Will some missteps in his past come back to haunt him though?
I really liked this. It seems like these Detroit/New Orleans DTV flicks are either hit or miss, but when they hit, they're really good. 50 is solid, and I think the fact that he wrote this allowed him to write a character for himself that was right in his wheelhouse. When you throw in great performances from Remar, Calderon, and Kilmer; plus great cameos from Danny Trejo and John Larroquette, you've got yourself something that's well beyond its DTV paygrade. Well worth checking out.
For many readers, I'm sure the idea of me and 50 Cent sounds like an invitation for me to let rip, but he's been pretty solid in the few films we've seen of him. This one might be his best. It blends the best parts of a sinister baddie, with his own trademark wit that we haven't seen as much of in his previous efforts. Plus you have the double threat that he also wrote this, which I can't imagine any of us saw working out. 50 Cent brought it here, and he deserves all the credit for that.
I liked Kilmer as well. He and 50 Cent were great together in Streets of Blood too, which was also great. Why they work well together is beyond me, but hopefully they'll have more team-ups. I must confess, I've done a poor job keeping up with Kilmer's recent DTV oeuvre, which doesn't speak well of a Direct to Video Connoisseur, so I'll have to either get on that or change the blog title to Direct to Video Dude. As far as this one goes, there's something very Michael Madsen in Kilmer's performance, yet it's also still very Kilmer. I could spend this paragraph talking about the weight he's put on, but when he gives a solid performance like the one in Gun, he needs to be applauded.
As far as all the rest, I thought James Remar hit it out of the park. Who knows how many things I've seen him in in my life, but what separates the good and the bad for me is the fit and the scope of the character he's given. Give him something that works for him, and give him something more than just a two-scene afterthought, and you get the high quality performance we saw here. Not to be outdone, Paul Calderon was great as his partner too. Not quite the part Remar had, but it worked. Then there's Danny Trejo, who has one scene as a Chicago crime boss. I don't know that he could've had a bigger part, but it was a coup that they were able to get him to play one as small as this one. Always great to see him though. And finally, John Larroquette. How did that happen? There's something very Bill Maher-ish about his small role as a Detroit mafioso. Maybe it's the hair. Still, great to finally do a film with him in it.
Before I get into this paragraph, I want to reiterate that I enjoyed Gun, and I don't want what I'm about to say to detract from that. The thing is, as much as I dig these DTV crime dramas shot in Grand Rapids or Detroit, I'm still waiting for a new Detroitsploitation. I'm waiting for someone to come in and give us a new Cannon or PM Entertainment-- or hell, AIP-- with action flicks shot in Detroit. I'm talking, big, schlocky, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink bad actioners. I'm talking Don "The Dragon" Wilson framed for a crime he didn't commit taking on the world as he tries to clear his name one roundhouse and jumpkick of a stuntman through a glass coffee table at a time. I want Gary Daniels driving a dirt bike away from an abandoned warehouse right before it explodes. Why are these films not being made? Yes, I enjoyed Gun, but for every Gun, there're like five of these things that don't work and were never going to work. You know what works? Cannon works. PM Entertainment works. Blowing shit up works. Jumping dirt bikes over '84 LTDs works. Roundhouse kicking stuntmen through sliding glass doors works. There's a void in the market where the old 80s/90s B-actioner used to be, and Detroit is the place to bring it back.
Soapbox done. Gun is plenty worth checking out. 82 minutes, Netflix Watch Instantly, great cast, fun story, it's all there for you. As I said above, these movies are always hit or miss, but this is definitely a hit.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1560954/