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, June 19, 2013

Assassins Tale (2013)

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This is another of the screeners provided for me by Kevin at MTI Video, Assassins Tale, featuring Anna Silk from Lost Girl.  I've never seen Lost Girl before, but I'd heard good things, which made me intrigued to see what this one was all about.

Assassins Tale is about three assassins, Silk, Michael Beach, and Guy Garner (not to be confused with Guy Gardiner, The Green Lantern), who are given a job to take out a dude, a dude that they don't even know what he looks like.  When a local thug looking to make a name for himself in the criminal underworld has his pictures of the mark stolen by Garner, he goes to their middle man, a beach bum, and said beach bum gives Garner up.  Assassins don't like being betrayed by their booking agent; but will they survive long enough to get their revenge?

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I didn't care for this one.  Don't get me wrong, it had its moments, especially the opening scene where the person that hired Garner for a hit wants Garner to deliver the hit alive so he can kill the man himself; but too often we were stuck with either derivative ironic black humor talk, that we've all seen so many times since Pulp Fiction; or overly complicated plot elements when a simpler one would do, like the convoluted system detailing how the assassins were paid in poker chips, which did nothing to further the plot; or we had uneven character development-- in a large part due to the previous two issues sapping important character development time from the script-- which undermined a lot of what could've made this movie great.  For instance, we had this potentially really great scene between Silk and Garner where Garner is strung out on heroin, and Silk stays with him overnight.  It was simple, filled with a lot of raw, sobering emotion, and the actors really pulled it off.  The problem is, it comes out of nowhere because Garner and Silk's characters are so poorly developed; nothing about it feels organic, it feels grafted in.  As much as I wanted to like this movie, ultimately it felt too tedious for me.

Anna Silk's character might be the biggest disappointment, because it was the most compelling, but also the one most ignored and underutilized.  We find out about two-thirds in that she's pregnant.  What?  Where was that at the fifteen minute mark?  And that's it, it really never comes up again.  Ugh!  Pregnant assassin is full of possibilities, where were they?  Anna Silk as an actress playing a nuanced assassin was full of possibilities.  She has this mix of natural beauty, wisdom, and a sardonic sense of humor, and in the few scenes where she was the focus, we get to really experience that.  Unfortunately, it wasn't enough.

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The post-Tarentino ironic humorous philosophical conversation has been ubiquitous in this kind of movie since Pulp Fiction came out.  The problem is, Tarentino is a two-time Oscar winning screenwriter.  He has mastered this kind of discourse in his films in a way very few others have.  The other problem is, his movies are usually 2 to 2 and 1/2 hours long, meaning he can mix well between these conversations, and action sequences and his classic tension filled scenes; in a 90-minute DTV film, those conversations are taking up a bigger percentage of the film, meaning if they don't work there isn't much room for error.  I'm sure these scenes sounds great on paper, but they don't always translate from script to screen, and often it's the scenes with little or no dialog that really make the film.  Case in point, the one between Garner and Silk.

Michael Beach was maybe the next most recognizable name in this.  We've seen him on here before in 500 MPH Storm.  I think he, more than anyone, could've benefited the most from his character having all the ironic silliness written out of his character's dialog.  Let him be a man of few words, yet still suffering from an existential crisis.  He has a fantastic scene where he confronts his wife after he catches her cheating on him, and a level of consistency with that kind of character would've played much better for me.  It'll be interesting to see if Beach gets more DTV roles, and what those roles end up being, because he can be really good in the right setting.

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As I mentioned above, the opening scene involves Garner with the man he's supposed to hit delivered alive to the man who hired him to do the hit.  The idea is the guy that hired him is supposed to do the killing himself.  Garner has the mark tied up and gagged in an alley, and the man that hired him is supposed to either stab him to death or slit his throat.  I really liked this as an idea.  It created a lot of immediate tension as a man who's not used to killing is suddenly given the opportunity; and it also laid the foundation for who our killers are and what they do for a living.  I wish this kind of thing was explored more in the film as opposed to how the killers were paid in poker chips, or how eating breakfast food in the evening is still eating supper.

While it had those moments like the one in the beginning, overall it was too tedious and convoluted for me.  Others of you might not have the same complaint I did, but I just feel like we've seen this movie too may times.  The thing with this one that hurt more though, was that it had somethings that were really original, which would've made it a movie we haven't seen so many times.  Assassins Tale will not be released on DVD here in the States until July 9, 2013, which is a couple weeks away as of this posting; and you can get it on Amazon, and maybe RedBox and Netflix too.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2663744/

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