Marine biologist Jack Ellway and his son Brandon are drawn to the Polynesian island of Malau to study the effects of recent seismic activity on the area's marine life. Along with the local ... See full summary »
At least Coppola doesn't call it "Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"
When it comes to interpreting classic horror novels to the silver screen, Francis Ford Coppola is a funny one. Having already directed "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (a bad film) and co-produced "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (a good film), it seems only natural that he would try his luck with a version of Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Unfortunately, the only thing you'll find in common with Stevenson's mini-novel and this film is the title.
One can only imagine how this funny little film got into production. Coppola must have never even read the script. I imagine his agent gave him a call and said, "Hey, they need an executive producer for another Jekyll and Hyde picture. You've already done Dracula and Frankenstein. Another wouldn't hurt...we could sell them in a three-in-one DVD pack, because we're clever Hollywood marketers. What do you say?" Well, someone got fired over this deal, and I have a feeling that it was Coppola's agent (and quite possibly Adam Baldwin's as well).
Adam Baldwin, judging from his previous work (thankless but well-acted roles in "Independence Day" and "The Patriot"), was an ideal choice to play a young, charismatic Dr. Jekyll in Victorian London. Instead, this treatment gives us a Henry Jekyll who adopts a martial-artist crime fighter secret identity as Mr. Hyde, a being he mutates into (think the Incredible Hulk) after being revived from the dead by a mysterious herb while vacationing with his wife in Hong Kong. He then seeks out to avenge the death of his wife by transforming into Mr. Hyde, kind of like a really ugly caped crusader. Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention that he is the prophesized "White Dragon" or something to that effect, destined to save the world, yadda yadda yadda.
The makers have taken what would have been a mediocre martial artist movie and made it worse by adding the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde theme, and loosly at that. My question is, who put this thing together? Judging from its low production values, I can only assume that it was originally a made-for-tv, would-be television pilot in the tradition of "Invisible Man," and, when it didn't find a distributor, was dumped on video as a feature film for the sake of Coppola's name. While some of the martial-arist fighting is indeed quite nice, for a cheap production like this, and Adam Baldwin shows potential as a would-be Jekyll and Hyde, I cannot recommend this film on any level. Gothic horror fans will find no Gothic horror, and martial artist fans won't find anything that hasn't already been done better.
To be fair, however, Coppola's previous efforts at Gothic horror have featured deceiving titles: "Bram Stoker's Dracula" had little to do with the Bram Stoker's novel, and "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" was more an effective homage to it than a literal interpretation. At least he successfully leaves the "Robert Louis Stevenson" out of the title (it might be because he is tired of Stoker's ghost haunting him and he'd rather not take his chances).
Final verdict: C-
*1/2 out of ****
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