3 Reviews
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Sabretooth (2002 TV Movie)
Bwana-Bwama Wannabee
30 May 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I'm hopelessly addicted to the "Bwana-Bwana" movie genre, which is why I stayed tuned despite the cliché Characters, gawdoffal CGI, and outworn ("Human Greed + Quirky Science = Disaster") Premise.

The allusions to the 1996 Big-Screen Thriller, "The Ghost and the Darkness" are unmistakable. The Big Game Hunter is even dressed up to resemble Michael Douglas' "Remington" character. The cave two of the teens explore by torchlight may remind you of the Tsavo Lions' (far spookier) Den, investigated by Douglas and Val Kilmer. The final showdown echoes the sequence in which Kilmer and John Kani together take on the second of the twin Man-Eaters.

As a horror movie, this sucked. (What, nobody goes up and --stupidly -- pokes the "carcass" at the end?? ) As an "Adventure" film this could actually have been a "Contender"……
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Red Dawn (1984)
"We're not in Montana, Vassily...."
13 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
When I first saw this movie I hated it. The premise seemed right out of an ultra-conservative's fever dream and the "message" incredibly corny. But that fantastic score by Basil Pouledouris (who did the music for "Red October") kept me from reaching for the remote every time this film popped up on cable. And I've begun to view it in a totally new light.

The film opens in a small town highschool classroom. Appropriate--we're about to get a "lesson" ! If you were a teenager in Afghanistan, how would YOU have reached to the Russian Invasion? What would it take to change you from an "average" soccer-playing, chore-laden kid into a bloody-minded Mujihadeen? And just how could this transformation have take place? The film actually handles this rather well, as we watch the "Wolverines" go from naivete to outright nastiness, their psychological evolution paralleled by that of their costumes -- team jackets and jeans giving way to scavenged military garb. The crude propaganda pumped at their hapless parent Internees, who show such pathetic courage as they warble a quavering "America" before the firing squad cuts them down, may seem "over the top" to a Westerner.

But would it seem at all absurd to an Afghani--or other unfortunate National -- facing a brutal invader from a thoroughly Oppressive regime? These are the questions that make this film revelent, even in a post-Soviet, post-9/11 world. How do the distant events that we watch with such detachment on CNN, etc., really "feel" to the people who must live them?
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A Far Crueler Ocean...
3 March 2007
This comparatively little-known film should have done for the Merchant Sailors of WWII what "The Cruel Sea" did for the image of the Royal Navy. The men who sailed the convoy ships were treated appallingly by the owners of the vessels they crewed, who indeed where quick to institute "retroactive stoppage of pay" clauses upon receiving word of a ship's being lost. They also were subject to verbal --even physical-- abuse by their own countrymen, who routinely mistook them for "Service Shirkers". "Action" is one of the few films that gives them their due.

This film is remarkable on many counts. Not only is the acting rock solid, and the story in itself a fine "sea saga", but the director has managed to avoid many potential pitfalls thrown into in his path by the War (Propaganda?) Department. The obligatory leave-taking scenes are touching, but not maudlin; the even more obligatory "speech-making" is impassioned, but never embarrassingly so. And the Enemy is portrayed as a thoroughly competent if ruthless professional, as dedicated to his own trade as the convoy Sailors are to theirs. (I for one did not find the lack of English "subtitles" a problem --I could pretty well figure out what the U-Boat skipper and his crew were up to.)

To repeat my opening comments,-- this film, though not as well-circulated as "The Cruel Sea", certainly should rank as its equal.
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