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, November 8, 2013
Blood of Redemption (2013)
New Dolph Lundgren movie, Netflix shipped it out to me the day it was released, and now we're reviewing it. Is there anything else you need to know? All right, let's see how it went.
Blood of Redemption has Dolph as Axel, a bodyguard and fix-it man for mob boss Robert Miano. When Miano finds out his protection in the FBI is done, he decides to retire, but his son, Billy Zane, isn't interested in that, so with Vinnie Jones, who is the nephew of Miano's partner, Robert Davi, he goes for one last gig, a counterfeiting operation. But things go bad, Miano ends up dead, and Zane's behind bars. Now it's up to Dolph to get to the bottom of things.
While I was watching this, my girlfriend asked me how it was going, and my response was "well, at least it has Dolph in it." This thing was just all over the place from the word go. Zane's character uses the term "too many moving parts", and that's what this film suffered from. On imdb it lists three writing credits, and this had the all-over-the-place feel of a film with three writers. For instance Gianni Capaldi plays Zane's younger brother, and in the middle of the film his character is developed like he'll be a key player, only to have him have zero impact on the film's finale. Then what are we doing here developing a superfluous character? We're wasting valuable time, time that could have been some great Dolph Lundgren action instead, but because we have so many writers, we have no consistency. "Blood of Redemption" denotes a simple formulaic action plot about a man on a revenge quest, instead of this convoluted over-complicated mess that focused so much energy on a web of intrigue and a plot twist at the end that no one didn't see coming. As is often the case with DTV action: the simpler the better.
In terms of Dolph, he's great as usual, but this is a movie that doesn't use him the way the cover would have you believe. This isn't really his story, though he's telling it, he's usually talking about things other people are doing. He actually says at one point "I needed to sit this one out." Are you kidding me? Dolph Lundgren in a Dolph Lundgren movie doesn't ever sit anything out! I'm not watching a Dolph Lundgren DTV flick so he can "sit this one out"! Cut the shit man, that's as sauteed in wrong sauce as it gets. Now he does have some great moments, especially one scene where he has to fight a dominatrix, which might go down in the Dolph canon as one of his classics, but the film itself will not.
If you've been rockin' with me for some time now, you know that I'm a solutions oriented guy. I'm not content enough with saying the movie was bad and why, but what I think could have been done to make it better, especially from a writing standpoint. As I said in the first paragraph, the obvious first step is to simplify and streamline it. I'd go for a simple revenge plot, where Billy Zane betrays his father, and maybe even frames Dolph for it, and now Dolph needs to clear his name. Simple but sweet, and Dolph cuts such a compelling lead that it wouldn't take much to develop him, nor would it take much to develop Zane who's a great baddie. No convoluted flashback storytelling style either. Let's just go start to finish and every 15-20 minutes you have an action scene. Maybe you'll say "but we've seen that before Matt?" Well we've seen the kind of film that we got before too, and we know which of the two has a proven track record. Again, simple always over complicated.
As you saw above, this film has a lot of names, so let's go through them. Billy Zane was as cool as ever. He was wasted though by not being made the out and out baddie. Vinnie Jones was great too, and this was a bigger role than we're used to with him, which was nice to see. The more Vinnie Jones the better, that's what I always say. DTVC favorite Robert Davi attempts to affect an English accent for his role, and it was interesting how it was really good in the scenes he acted out with Jones, and non-existent in the others. Hey, why not, he's Robert Davi. Finally, one of my favorites, Robert Miano, had a small role as the patriarch of the mob family. Always good to see him. Great names in a not-so-great film.
From a technical aspect, this had the pernicious modern DTV rapid-jumpcuts coupled with bad camera effects, which just made things even worse. In one of Capaldi's fight scenes, there was this effect that I guess was supposed to mimic what a seal's vision is supposed to be, I don't know. I know it made me sick to my stomach though it was such a mess. Even worse was the gratuitous use of the character title cards. I mean, it was so bad that characters were literally introduced to us in a prior scene, then they did that. What? What the hell are you doing? And see that one with Dolph? Guess when that comes in? At the very end. How the hell is that helping us? All it's doing is disrupting the flow of the film, and believe me, this movie needed all the help it could get to maintain any kind of flow with the way it's story hashed out by multiple screenwriters was all over the place.
I wish I could recommend this. I wish on the strength of Dolph alone I could recommend it, or because of all the other great names. Unfortunately Dolph has been bitten by the bad DTV bug, and even he couldn't save it. I mean this was so much cliched modern DTV that I was surprised that "Wake Up to the Bleeding" or whatever it's called song didn't come in at the credits. You know the one I'm talking about, the one that's in all those UFC punchfighting flicks. Anyway, whatever, this is available from all the usual suspects on DVD if you want to check it out.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2510268/