Return to the Blue Lagoon Preview

“Oy, mates!” screams Alligator Steve as he hops down from Bessy and greets Rich and Poe. Apparently, in the scuffle with the gamemasters he also fell through the portal and ended up back in his homeland. “All for the best,” he says with a wink. He watches in amusement as Tiniman’s army moves quickly away through the fire desert. With a slap on the back he invites Rich and Poe back to his village where they partake in some traditional shrimp on the barbie and hear the legend of their giant alligator friends. It’s all very exciting and interesting. “Do you think, Steve,” Poe asks, “that maybe we are supposed to help you win this war? That that’s the purpose of this part of the game?” But Steve isn’t so sure. The gamemasters seemed mighty suspicious of their behavior back at the school. “War is war, mates. You don’t want any part of it. Take Bessie and head out to the islands,” he says pointing to some beautiful tropical islands off the coast. “No will find you there. You will live a beautiful natural life full of natural beauty and wonder. It’ll be a magical time that everyone will be interested in because of how beautiful it is. And perchance you will find love there with the beautiful natural denizens of the island and it will be beautiful and natural and not creepy because how could something so beautiful and natural be creepy, right?” …. right. They try to convince him that they don’t need Bessie, but Steve is insistent that he’ll be alright. There’s a reason they call him Lil’ Bessie, mighty warrior. Just before they leave Rich and Poe look back at Steve one more time and ask hesitantly, “so this definitely isn’t a weird, creepy place, right?” That’s right! We’re watching the double feature of The Blue Lagoon and The Return to the Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields and Milla Jovovich, respectively. Panned at the time by critics for a variety of reasons they’ve mostly been remembered as films about nude young people falling in love on an island… which isn’t a great look. They are both set on an undiscovered island in the Pacific, which was good enough for us. Let’s go!

Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991) – BMeTric: 50.6; Notability: 21 

(Wait, this one also has that same 2012-2014 inflection. Looking through other films it really doesn’t seem that common. Just wait for this theory: The Blue Lagoon: Awakening, the totally unrelated third film made by Lifetime … came out in 2012. So when that came out people went and watched the whole series, and rated the film. That is blowing my mind.)

Leonard Maltin – BOMB –  The two-year-old son of Lagoon 1’s deceased parents is rescued by a ship carrying a widow and her year-old daughter; circumstances (read: cholera) force the trio onto another tropical island, so the kids can eventually partake in PG-13 prurience.

(There are so many amazing things in this review. Calling it “Lagoon 1” with the number 1 is amazing. The semi-colon quickly followed by “read: cholera” … there is just something so charmingly quirky and shrunk down about the entire review. The BOMB designation is shockingly rare, so that’s super fun.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qDaxkLUcTM/

(Hahahahahahahahah it was the first film to explore natural love? More like it was the first film to show 20 minutes of uninterrupted underwater dick shots. Oh gosh, “I’ve become one” they put that in the trailer? Out of innocence comes the most sensual love of all? Yiiiiiiikes. Guys, this one might be a doozy.)

Directors – William A. Graham – (Future BMT: Change of Habit; BMT: Return to the Blue Lagoon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Return to the Blue Lagoon in 1992; Notes: Was a prolific television director in the 70s and 80s, getting nominated for an Emmy for a television movie about Jim Jones. Was in the Navy and an avid sailor, which is maybe why he was tapped for this.)

Writers – Henry De Vere Stacpoole (book) – (Future BMT: The Blue Lagoon; BMT: Return to the Blue Lagoon; Notes: Was able to retire after the success of The Blue Lagoon and write fiction full time. He occasionally wrote under the name Tyler De Saix.)

Leslie Stevens (screenplay) – (Known For: The War Lord; The Left Handed Gun; Incubus; Future BMT: Sheena; Gordy; BMT: Return to the Blue Lagoon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1985 for Sheena; and in 1992 for Return to the Blue Lagoon; Notes: A Navy brat, he ended up writing for Broadway. Created the late 90s revival of The Outer Limits before dying in 1998.)

Actors – Brian Krause – (Future BMT: Sleepwalkers; BMT: Return to the Blue Lagoon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst New Star for Return to the Blue Lagoon in 1992; Notes: He starred in the Bandit series of television movies which act as a prequel to Smokey and the Bandit. Cristopher Atkins  (the star of the original Blue Lagoon) was in the first of those films. He played a main role in the series Charmed in the late 90s.)

Milla Jovovich – (Known For: The Fifth Element; Dazed and Confused; Zoolander; Paradise Hills; He Got Game; A Perfect Getaway; Chaplin; Stone; The Claim; Dummy; Future BMT: Future World; Resident Evil: Retribution; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter; Anarchy: Ride or Die; Survivor; Resident Evil: Afterlife; Two Moon Junction; The Fourth Kind; No Good Deed; The Million Dollar Hotel; Resident Evil: Apocalypse; Kuffs; Resident Evil: Extinction; Bringing Up Bobby; Joan of Arc; A Warrior’s Tail; Dirty Girl; Shock and Awe; Resident Evil; BMT: Ultraviolet; Zoolander 2; Hellboy; Return to the Blue Lagoon; The Three Musketeers; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actress in 2000 for Joan of Arc; and in 2013 for Resident Evil: Retribution; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for The Fifth Element in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Return to the Blue Lagoon in 1992; Notes: Her daughter Ever Anderson was just cast as Wendy in the new Peter Pan film.)

Lisa Pelikan – (Known For: Circle; Julia; Swing Shift; It’s My Party; Future BMT: Ghoulies; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; BMT: Return to the Blue Lagoon; Notes: Was at one point married to Bruce Davison (the Senator from X-Men), and has going to be a dancer, but a surgery cut her career short and she went into acting.)

Budget/Gross – $11,000,000 / Domestic: $2,807,854 (Worldwide: $2,807,854)

(Somehow a huge bomb! I guess back in 1980 people were much more willing to watch a film of this style. And then this one came out and was roughly the same 12 years later … and people just had zero interest.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 0% (0/30): Despite its lush tropical scenery and attractive leads, Return to the Blue Lagoon is as ridiculous as its predecessor, and lacks the prurience and unintentional laughs that might make it a guilty pleasure.

(A zero percent is really really rare. I think this summary might have missed a bit of the point of why it was universally derided: this is the same as the previous film, but as a big dose of cynicism as it is (at least perceived to be) a cash grab. Reviewer Highlight: The sincere idiocy of this film really has to be seen to be appreciated — not that I think there is any need for you to see, or appreciate, it. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times.)

Poster – Return to the Creepy Sexy Lagoon

(Much better than the first film’s poster. I like the orange sunset tones and Brian Krause’s face nicely conveys the plot of the film: bad acting. Wish the font was better and maybe this would have jumped past mediocre. B-. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: There we go, I love when I really get to color my face a crazy color. I have to assume there is a way to do this while keeping the whites very whit (like Jovovich’s eyes and teeth) … probably a filter. I think my pale complexion would end up registering as “tooth colored”.)

Tagline(s) – The story of natural love continues… (D)

Alone… wild… untamed… (B+)

(Hahahaha, that second tagline is quite hilarious. There certainly would be some things wild and untamed on that island… I’m talking about their hair… I’m saying they’d be wildly ungroomed… Anyway, the first tagline is stupid. The second one is actually OK… you know, if it actually had anything to do with the chaste, totally not wild love story of this franchise.)

Keyword – tropical island

Top 10: Jurassic Park (1993), Moana (2016), Jurassic World (2015), Cast Away (2000), Serenity (2019), The Thin Red Line (1998), The Beach (2000), Ice Age (2002), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991)

Future BMT: 39.0 Club Dread (2004), 34.0 Robinson Crusoe (2016), 14.7 The Beach (2000);

BMT: Serenity (2019), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991)

(Small keyword obviously. The Beach is the big one. BTW you can notice it more here, but yeah, The Blue Lagoon technically doesn’t qualify for BMT because technically there is no confirmation that it was released to 600+ theaters in the US. But it also made like $60 million apparently, so it was definitely a wide release. But it means it won’t show up in any analysis.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Milla Jovovich is No. 1 billed in Return to the Blue Lagoon and No. 1 billed in Ultraviolet, which also stars Cameron Bright (No. 2 billed) who is in Godsend (No. 4 billed), which also stars Rebecca Romijn (No. 2 billed) who is in Rollerball (No. 3 billed), which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 2 = 16. If we were to watch Joan of Arc, Hook, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – Milla Jovovich said that this is the worst movie she has ever done.

First starring role of Milla Jovovich.

Milla Jovovich said of this movie, “I think that the idea of falling in love on a deep and spiritual level without the distractions of the material world will always be appealing.”

When she was 13, during her days as a teenage fashion model, Milla Jovovich had been hailed by critics as “The New Brooke Shields .” Shields played Emmeline Lestrange in The Blue Lagoon (1980), to which this film is a sequel.

On Taveuni Island in Fiji, production designer Jon Dowding began work on the movie’s main set pieces 60 days before the cameras began rolling. Having served as the art director on The Blue Lagoon (1980), Dowding welcomed the opportunity to expand and improve upon his work from the earlier film. Both Dowding and his wife, wardrobe designer Aphrodite Kondos, drew extensively upon the cultures of Oceania for the design elements of the film. Dowding said, “In addition to the rich cultural influences of Fiji, Australian aborigines, New Guinea, Micronesia, Melanesia, the Marquesas and Easter Islands, we made every attempt to use raw materials found on Taveuni in the construction of the props, sets and costumes”.

Although it was touted as a sequel to The Blue Lagoon (1980), many reviewers criticized it as more of a remake than a sequel.

Nominated for five Golden Raspberry Awards at the 12th annual ceremony in 1991. It was nominated for Worst Picture and Worst Director –both for William A. Graham; Worst Screenplay–Leslie Stevens; and two for Worst New Star–one each for Milla Jovovich and Brian Krause. It didn’t win in any category.

Taveuni in Fiji, the only land mass in the world that the international date line runs through, proved in the end to be a challenging but rewarding filming location of singular beauty. Cast and crew alike traveled countless miles on the island’s only thoroughfare, bouncing along an unpaved dirt road with harrowing curves to reach filming sites. Equipment was hauled in on stretchers through thick jungles and brought in on barges through dangerous coral reefs for some of the less accessible locations.

The novel this film is based on, “The Garden of God” by Henry De Vere Stacpoole , was published in 1925. (Oh … so it is based on a sequel of some sort? I figured it was literally a vague sequel to the adaptation of Stacpoole’s novel)

Final film of director William A. Graham. (… final feature film)

Filmed on Taveuni, one of 300 islands in the Fiji archipelago. With an average of 400 inches of rain a year, Taveuni is usually overgrown with magnificent greenery and is rightly referred to as Fiji’s “Garden Island”.

The production team was concerned about preserving the island’s ecological balance during the making of the movie. When they expressed concerns that a mile-long path that had to be cut through thick jungle vegetation–to get equipment to one of the more difficult locations–might harm the local ecology, the chief of the local village assured them that it would grow back within a matter of months. (That’s pretty cool)

The movie’s opening prologue states: “The South Pacific Ocean 1897. Fifteen years before our story begins, two children were shipwrecked on an uncharted island. The little boy and girl grew up alone in this lost paradise. As man and woman, they discovered a pure and natural love. In time, a child was born. But in a tragic accident, they were driven out to sea away from their island. Drifting for days, they believed that their lives and the life of their baby were at an end. Then a passing vessel drew near . . . “. (Yup that is the original movie)

Despite scenes of nudity and near nudity involving Milla Jovovich, the film was advertised as a “family-friendly” movie. (Gross! I do not enjoy that at all!)

Takes place in 1897 and 1912. (Okay, I wonder if they explicitly indicate that date for when they were rescued in the first film)

With the commencement of filming in June 1990–which is the dead of winter in Fiji–nature began to become a major “player” in the production. Director William A. Graham said, “When we first visited the island in early 1990, the weather was perfect. As soon as we began filming, we quickly learned why Taveuni is called the ‘Garden Island’. It rained for two weeks straight, which would certainly account for the lush tropical foliage.” Despite the adversity of working under less-than-ideal conditions at first, Graham remained undaunted and came out of it with his sense of humor intact: “The reason you have a 70-day shooting schedule on a film like this, as opposed to 40 to 50 days, is that you attempt to anticipate the unpredictability of nature. While we didn’t get the puffy clouds and blue waters everyone expected initially, the island presented us with a whole other kind of beauty. Nature exerted an undeniable force in the making of this movie, which the film journalists will probably give me credit for. I can see it now: William A. Graham wisely avoided the clichéd postcard look of paradise’.”.

While based on the novel sequel, “The Garden of God” the only thing “Return to the Blue Lagoon” shares with that book is the very opening where Richard and Emmeline are dead and the baby is rescued by the crew. In fact, in the novel, Arthur Lestrange himself decides to stay on the island with Baby Paddy (called Dick M) and dies while taking a walk, his body never being found. (That’s morbid)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (William A. Graham, 1992)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (William A. Graham, 1992)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Leslie Stevens, 1992)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Milla Jovovich, 1992)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Brian Krause, 1992)

The Blue Lagoon Preview

“Oy, mates!” screams Alligator Steve as he hops down from Bessy and greets Rich and Poe. Apparently, in the scuffle with the gamemasters he also fell through the portal and ended up back in his homeland. “All for the best,” he says with a wink. He watches in amusement as Tiniman’s army moves quickly away through the fire desert. With a slap on the back he invites Rich and Poe back to his village where they partake in some traditional shrimp on the barbie and hear the legend of their giant alligator friends. It’s all very exciting and interesting. “Do you think, Steve,” Poe asks, “that maybe we are supposed to help you win this war? That that’s the purpose of this part of the game?” But Steve isn’t so sure. The gamemasters seemed mighty suspicious of their behavior back at the school. “War is war, mates. You don’t want any part of it. Take Bessie and head out to the islands,” he says pointing to some beautiful tropical islands off the coast. “No will find you there. You will live a beautiful natural life full of natural beauty and wonder. It’ll be a magical time that everyone will be interested in because of how beautiful it is. And perchance you will find love there with the beautiful natural denizens of the island and it will be beautiful and natural and not creepy because how could something so beautiful and natural be creepy, right?” …. right. They try to convince him that they don’t need Bessie, but Steve is insistent that he’ll be alright. There’s a reason they call him Lil’ Bessie, mighty warrior. Just before they leave Rich and Poe look back at Steve one more time and ask hesitantly, “so this definitely isn’t a weird, creepy place, right?” That’s right! We’re watching the double feature of The Blue Lagoon and The Return to the Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields and Milla Jovovich, respectively. Panned at the time by critics for a variety of reasons they’ve mostly been remembered as films about nude young people falling in love on an island… which isn’t a great look. They are both set on an undiscovered island in the Pacific, which was good enough for us. Let’s go!

The Blue Lagoon (1980) – BMeTric: 39.0; Notability: 17 

(Huh … I can’t really think of setting something like this with 2012-2014 shooting up and then levelling off after. I can’t really explain that. The rating is really a lot higher than I would have expected … I would have thought this would be in the low 5.0s at highest. So maybe a good sign for it being at least vaguely interesting?)

Leonard Maltin – 1.5 stars –  Remake of the 1949 film is little more than softcore cinema for the heavy-petting set, as two children become sexually aware of each other after being shipwrecked on an island for several years. Nestor Almendros’ photography can’t save it. Followed over a decade later by Return to the Blue Lagoon.

(Yes this seems like a fair review. The entire series just seems like an exercise in seeing how far some people could go to making a film where teenagers have sex on screen … turns out it isn’t very far, they (blessedly) show very little throughout the series in the end.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nC0EdXk_2g/

(Lol the VHS tracking. That legit seems like Rochelle, Rochelle, an erotic journey from Moscow to Minsk … but in real life. Wait … I think I have a totally different perspective on this film now. It could be my Rochelle, Rochelle.)

Directors – Randal Kleiser – (Known For: Grease; Flight of the Navigator; Honey, I Blew Up the Kid; White Fang; It’s My Party; Getting It Right; Future BMT: Lovewrecked; Big Top Pee-wee; Summer Lovers; BMT: The Blue Lagoon; Notes: A television director in the 70s his career took off after he landed Grease. He was nominated for an Emmy for The Gathering in 1978 starring Ed Asner.)

Writers – Henry De Vere Stacpoole (based on the novel by) – (Future BMT: Return to the Blue Lagoon; BMT: The Blue Lagoon; Notes: Born in 1863 he was a ship’s surgeon for forty years and was considered an expert in the South Pacific where his novels tended to take place.)

Douglas Day Stewart (screenplay by) – (Known For: An Officer and a Gentleman; Future BMT: Thief of Hearts; BMT: The Scarlet Letter; The Blue Lagoon; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Screenplay for The Scarlet Letter in 1996; Notes: An Officer and a Gentleman (for which he was nominated for an Oscar) was based on his life. I think The Scarlet Letter killed his career as he hasn’t really written anything since.)

Actors – Brooke Shields – (Known For: The Other Guys; Pretty Baby; Hannah Montana: The Movie; The Midnight Meat Train; Freeway; Alice, Sweet Alice; Chalet Girl; Freaked; The Muppets Take Manhattan; Daisy Winters; King of the Gypsies; Future BMT: The Bachelor; Black and White; Cannonball Fever; The Hot Flashes; BMT: Furry Vengeance; Endless Love; The Blue Lagoon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress for The Blue Lagoon in 1981; Winner for Worst Supporting Actor for Sahara in 1985; Winner for Worst Supporting Actress for Speed Zone in 1990; Nominee for Worst Actress in 1982 for Endless Love; and in 1985 for Sahara; Nominee for Worst Actress of the Century in 2000 for Endless Love, Sahara, and The Blue Lagoon; and Nominee for Worst Actress of the Decade in 1990 for Cannonball Fever, Endless Love, Sahara, and The Blue Lagoon; Notes: Notably was 14 during filming and they had to use a body double extensively during the film. Was mainly famous as a model, and was briefly married to Andre Agassi. Also starred in as the titular Susan in Suddenly Susan for which she was nominated for two Golden Globes.)

Christopher Atkins – (Known For: It’s My Party; 13th Child; Future BMT: The Pirate Movie; BMT: The Blue Lagoon; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actor for A Night in Heaven in 1984; Winner for Worst Supporting Actor for Listen to Me in 1990; Nominee for Worst Actor for The Pirate Movie in 1983; Nominee for Worst Actor of the Decade in 1990 for A Night in Heaven, A Night in Heaven, Listen to Me, Listen to Me, The Blue Lagoon, The Blue Lagoon, The Pirate Movie, and The Pirate Movie; and Nominee for Worst New Star of the Decade in 1990 for A Night in Heaven, A Night in Heaven, Listen to Me, Listen to Me, The Blue Lagoon, The Blue Lagoon, The Pirate Movie, and The Pirate Movie; Notes: His first film role, he became a TV movie star in the 90s, and was in the third Blue Lagoon film.)

Leo McKern – (Known For: The Omen; Ladyhawke; A Man for All Seasons; Omen II: Damien; The French Lieutenant’s Woman; Ryan’s Daughter; Help!; The Mouse That Roared; The Day the Earth Caught Fire; X the Unknown; The Shoes of the Fisherman; Molokai; King & Country; Children of the Damned; BMT: The Blue Lagoon; Notes: Australian, he had an incredibly long career, although he stopped taking roles in the 90s and died in 2002. He was Rumpole in the British television program Rumpole of the Bailey from 1978 to 1992.)

Budget/Gross – $4.5 million / Domestic: $58,853,106 (Worldwide: $58,853,106)

(That is a giant success. Such a big success I’m actually skeptical of that number … it kind of makes no sense when I think about it. $60 million? To watch a boring film about people lost on an island? And then you don’t make a sequel for 12 years? I’m not really buying it.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 9% (2/22): A piece of lovely dreck, The Blue Lagoon is a naughty fantasy that’s also too chaste to be truly entertaining.

(All of the reviews are really along those lines. That we should be ashamed of ourselves for wanting to see the ultra-sexual version promised … but that ultimately you end up being equally disappointed that we got the opposite of that. Reviewer Highlight: The Blue Lagoon is the dumbest movie of the year. – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)

Poster – The Creepy Sexy Lagoon

(My god, what mad man would look at that poster and be like “yup, nailed it. I gotta see that film. It is both horrible aesthetically and practically. Were they aiming to put the entire novel on the poster hoping that huge Blue Lagoon fans would come a-running? This is nonsense. D-. Getting a bump from whatever that terrible font is. Patrick’s Shallow Fake: I feel like I shouldn’t bleach my hair and get a perm. The font was actually quite fun to recreate if a little arduous. This poster is bonkers, but easier to mock than you would think.)

Tagline(s) – A story of natural love. (C-)

(Having already watched the film, I find this tagline curious. It really does seem like they want to lure people in under the guise of titillation. And yet the film is so tame that I can’t really imagine that was actually the purpose. Not offensive though… not structurally as a tagline, at least.)

Keyword – shipwreck

Top 10: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015), Titanic (1997), Dunkirk (2017), Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Midway (2019), Aquaman (2018), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Life of Pi (2012)

Future BMT: 68.1 The Darkest Hour (2011), 56.0 Ri¢hie Ri¢h (1994), 42.2 Pan (2015), 39.4 Into the Blue (2005), 34.0 Robinson Crusoe (2016), 33.9 Shark Tale (2004), 33.1 Leviathan (1989), 31.0 Rugrats Go Wild (2003), 27.7 Insurgent (2015), 22.8 After the Sunset (2004);

BMT: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017), Transformers: The Last Knight (2017), Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), Point Break (2015), Ghost Ship (2002), Fool’s Gold (2008), Godzilla (1998), Pompeii (2014), Lost in Space (1998)

(Titanic is the big on there, but then Cast Away is in 2000, so really it had a moment from maybe 1997 to 2005 or whatever. We are actually watching The Darkest Hour coming up, so that’s exciting.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Brooke Shields is No. 1 billed in The Blue Lagoon and No. 3 billed in Furry Vengeance, which also stars Brendan Fraser (No. 1 billed) who is in Escape from Planet Earth (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jessica Alba (No. 4 billed) who is in Mechanic: Resurrection (No. 2 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 1 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 3 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch Extraordinary Measures we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – After seeing the movie, John Gibbons, a herpetologist (reptile scientist) at the University of the South Pacific, realized that the iguanas that appeared in the film were a distinct species that had never been seen or documented by scientists before. Afterward, he visited Nanuya Levu, the Fiji island where the movie was made, and named the species the Fiji Crested Iguana.

Most of the nude scenes depicting Emmeline Lestrange include a body double. Brooke Shields always had to have her hair glued to her chest for the other scenes. (Makes sense considering the next note…)

Brooke Shields was only 14 when the movie was made.

Brooke Shields’ original body double broke her back. Her replacement was originally hired to catch or train dolphins; she was the right body type, so she was used as a nude double. (She broke her back? That … is crazy)

It was the director’s original concept to have the two grown characters play the entire film in the nude, which scared off many actors (including Jennifer Jason Leigh, who was the first choice for the female lead). After Leigh passed on the project, the producers offered Diane Lane and Willie Aames the film after screen-testing them together in Mexico, where Lane was shooting a Western, but the pair discussed the nudity together after the crew left and called a few days later to say they wouldn’t do the film, either. With shooting set to begin in a matter of days, the desperate director agreed to let Shields make the film predominantly clothed, with a body double employed for the nude scenes. With that settled, the casting director returned to the thousands of audition tapes they had made over the course of a year, and decided Christopher Atkins would be all right if he permed his hair to look more savage. (Ha … I mean the only amusing note is that he had to have his hair permed)

The double for Christopher Atkins was initially one of the seaplane pilots flying staff and crew from the Fiji mainland to the island where the movie was shot. He did most of the nude scenes with Brooke Shields’ double as well as a few of the minor stunts.

Although the movie had a lukewarm reception in the US and was disliked by a great many critics, it is a highly popular nostalgic movie in countries like Romania and Hungary, as well as in Brazil, and is frequently rerun on television. (Huh, was it just kind of cheap movie they could run on television?)

Carrie Fisher turned down the role of Emmeline Lestrange due to her commitment with Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980). (Good)

Sean Penn lost out to Christopher Atkins on the final day of auditions for the role of Richard Lestrange. (Ugh … good)

This was the ninth most popular film of 1980 at the US and Canadian box offices. (Which is why it was definitely a wide release film, despite there not being any data on how many theaters it was released to)

The novel on which the film is based was inspired by the classic French novel “Paul et Virginie” (1788), by Henri Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. (Huh, so it is a movie based on a book that was also based on a different book?)

This film is listed among the 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book “The Official Razzie Movie Guide”. (That book is a rough read let me tell you, just really poorly put together)

Christopher Atkins claimed that after this movie came out, every role he was offered contained a nude scene that “wanted to show off” his buttocks. (HA)

Included on Roger Ebert’s “Most Hated” list. (Makes sense)

In the US the film was given an “R” rating, and in the UK it was given the AA rating before getting a 15 certificate upon its VHS release for its graphic nudity and sexual content. However, when it was released in New Zealand, it was given the R13 rating, which was changed to PG when it was released on VHS. It was also given the PG rating in Australia.

Awards – Nominee for the Oscar for Best Cinematography (Néstor Almendros, 1981)

Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Brooke Shields, 1981)

Primeval Recap

Jamie

Looking for the next big story for their news network, Tim, Steven, and Aviva are sent to Burundi to track down a giant, man-eating crocodile named Gustave. But Gustave isn’t the only thing they need to worry about as the area is terrorized by a local warlord nicknamed Little Gustave. Will they be able to catch the croc before it’s too late? Find out in… Primeval.

How?! Ace reporter Tim is in some hot water. Not (yet) because of a large killer croc, but because he screwed up a news story using an unreliable source. Uh oh! In order to make it up to his boss he is sent on a sensationalist story about a killer crocodile named Gustave in Burundi with hack (or is she?) reporter Aviva and his cameraman Steven. The place is a literal war zone, so they are immediately in danger from a local warlord nicknamed Little Gustave. Add a cranky local guide and an egotistical crocodile expert determined to catch, not kill, Gustave and you got a recipe for a horror film… you know… if a big crocodile who just wants to eat and be an animal is your type of monster. After their first attempt at capture goes awry and Steven catches Little Gustave’s minions killing a local priest on camera things quickly fall apart and they are trapped in the wilds with only Gustave for company. They start to be picked off one-by-one by Gustave only for things to get even worse when Little Gustave’s men show up to finish the job. In the chaos Steven is killed by Gustave and Tim and Aviva are able to just barely get away only to fall into the hands of Little Gustave himself. Meaning to destroy the evidence of his criminal activity, he forces Tim to take him into the swamp. Tim uses this to his advantage in order to bring Little Gustave and Gustave together, much to the detriment of Little Gustave. Tim and Aviva run off and are just able to escape with their lives from the clutches of Gustave. Flying back to America they are all happy and probably smooch or something. THE END.

Why?! Fame and fortune, kinda. Aviva wants to legitimize herself in the world of journalism and uses her connection to Tim’s boss to get this crocodile story off the ground. Tim on the other hand just had a story go awry and needs to get back in his boss’ good graces. Thus is born the super team of Tim and Aviva, animal hunting journalists extraordinaire. How didn’t this spawn a franchise? The crocodile on the other hand is just a giant animal and is hungry.

Who?! Every once in a while I realize that there is a new category we should probably be looking out for in this part. That’s because none other than Kent Shocknek appears in this film as a news anchor. He is best known as… well a newscaster who parlayed his popularity into a long career in film and TV. We’ve actually already seen him in such films as First Daughter, Envy, and xXx: State of the Union. Most often he appears as a newscaster, but other times as a “contentious reporter.” Oooo, feisty.

What?! The things that go on sale from film is sometimes bizarrely wonderful. In this case you can find a closed auction for the prop corpse of Orlando Jones. I mean, I guess I can understand why the studio decided they could let that prize go, but I can’t really understand why anyone would buy it. Maybe for a bachelor party or something where you get to go around town toting Orlando Jones for funsies. But afterwards that’s going in a trash can.

Where?! The true prize of this film is the Burundi setting. It’s so in your face that you could argue that this is more of a Burundi film than a crocodile film. I thought for sure we’d be uneasily sitting here asking ourselves whether mentioning Burundi once is enough to be sure the film takes place there. Nope. This is very very very very very very much set in Burundi. A. When?! I couldn’t catch a specific time for this film, but it is interesting that it seems to be a period piece. At the end of the film they talk about a 2005 Burundi Civil War cease fire in 2005 as if it took place after the events of the film, which was released in 2007. This seems confirmed by Variety which also concluded that “Since action is set in pre-2005 Burundi, violence is still rife between warlords and anyone who gets in their way.” Weird. D+.

Meh… like, really. Meh. Not scary to a degree that makes you wonder whether they were even aware they were making a horror film. On the edge of dropping over into “Drama about a civil war in Burundi that also happens to feature a crocodile” territory, they seem even less interested in the crocodile that I was. It got to the point where in the end of the film, presumably where I was supposed to be rooting for our heroes to escape with their lives, I was mostly thinking that it was kinda lame that these randos walked into Burundi and started messing with this crocodile. The only other thing to say is that this is a good reminder why Dominic Purcell mostly spends his time promoting possible spin-offs and new seasons for the greatest thing that ever happened to him: Prison Break. He was… not good. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Like what if we made Jaws, but instead of a shark it is a crocodile whose CGI is so bad we can only really show it sporadically at night … that’s like the same thing as Jaws right? Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – Obviously I was delighted at how Burundi this film was in the preview. Always fun seeing a strong setting. Otherwise there were two defining features of the preview. First, that the film is basically just television actor galore, which is a good sign for it being ultra cheesy. And second, the ad campaign surrounding this seems nuts. It is hard to tell how much they pushed the “serial killer” angle, but it apparently was confusing enough that The Numbers genuinely defines this film as a serial killer film … it is not. What were my expectations? I figured it was going to be just a bad creature feature. Trying to play the Jaws angle for a not very impressive ultimate reveal, as bad creature features are wont to do. And I figured the main actors were going to be terrible because … I mean they are the stars of The Net 2.0 and Prison Break so …

The Good – I guess one could say the political nature of the film is a bit admirable? Like it is trying to do something at least, and I want to give it credit for that. I enjoy how directly they address the creature in the film. They don’t beat around the bush. They go to the creatures stomping grounds, set up a trap, and then the creature kind of hunts them down as they pretty effectively try to escape. No cheesy ultra-intelligent magic creature nonsense, it ends up being just mostly unfortunate that our heroes keep getting corralled back into the crocodile’s area, which is a nice change of pace.

The Bad – This actually might be the worst creature feature I’ve ever seen. A lot of it I can forgive, like the acting and some of the writing seems like an unfortunate side effect of the budget. But the political A-story (because it is just that, the main story of the film) is just gross enough to beg the question: why am I hearing about the Burundi genocide during what is basically just Lake Placid in Africa? It boggles the mind. Combine that with a bad CGI crocodile who actually doesn’t kill a good number of people in the film (I think he kills seven total, whereas I think five people are killed by other humans), and it makes me wonder whether the producers were looking for a political film or a creature feature. I can’t think of another creature feature I enjoyed watching less, so that at the very least is a thing.

The BMT – I don’t think this has much legs beyond being mentioned in connection to other creature features, but as usual … it is a bomb Burundi film obviously. It is almost guaranteed that this will remain our one and only bad Burundi film for all of time, so there we go. Did it meet my expectations? No, a bad creature feature can still be fun, especially if the creature is a practical effects nightmare that looks like a puppet and the director insists on showing too much of it. This though, is just a movie about African politics dressed up as a creature feature, and it makes the whole affair unpleasant.

Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – I wish I could give an award for Best Buds in the World for Dominic Purcell and Orlando Jones, but that isn’t a category. I looooooved the Range Rover Product Placement (What?) where a character just shouts “It can’t be stuck! It’s a Range Rover!”. Obviously a fantastic Setting as a Character (Where?) for Burundi which offered both a wildlife and political backdrop to the affairs. Can you call the crocodile a MacGuffin (Why?) … I’m going to allow it, fight me in real life if you disagree. Just an okay Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that their guide from the beginning of the movie is, in fact, Little Gustave. Pretty dumb. I don’t think it is entertaining enough to get any superlatives.

StreetCreditReport.com – Let’s see. It doesn’t get mentioned in any 2007 lists, not even for worst horror or among numerous honorable mentions (admittedly, 2007 was a murderer’s row for bad movies with such things as The Number 23 featuring shockingly low on many lists). And it doesn’t get mentioned on many worst creature feature lists which are, naturally, dominated by the B-horror of the 50s. But it does feature 8th on this Worst Giant Animal horror list! Honestly, that is about it, and the small review there is the issue: it is barely a creature feature! It is mostly like Blood Diamond than anything else.

You Just Got Schooled – Naturally when watching one of the worst creature features I’ve ever seen, it made me think of all of the great creature features I hadn’t seen. So what better time to check out Piranha from 1978. One of the copy cat features that come out after 1975  in the wake of Jaws, it uses some of the same type of technology (lots of practical puppets with not-very-good underwater camera work), and comes across as a whole lot cheesier (to the point of feeling intentionally comedic). Overall I liked the film, even though it wasn’t very scary. And that is mostly due to the two leads in the film Bradford Dillman and Heather Menzies who worked well together as a drunk and a skiptracer who kind of accidentally release the piranhas into a river. Some nice vistas, and definitely a good pair with Jaws to give you an idea of the origins of modern creature features. While Jaws is the attack of Nature against man, Piranha is the man-made abominations punishing human arrogance (like Godzilla originally), and so it kind of shows the two paths creature features tend to take. Primeval and Anaconda go the Jaws route, for example, whereas Bats is the Piranha vein. B, a little old-fashioned, feels aged, but good nonetheless.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Primeval Quiz

Oh boy guys, I think when that killer croc came out of the river and attacked me I must have bopped my head on something, because I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Primeval?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Why does Dominic Purcell get sent to Burundi to track down the killer croc Gustave?

2) And why does Gustave, the killer croc of Burundi, get the attention of the US media at this particular time, what happened?

3) What is the plan to catch Gustave, and why does it fall apart?

4) What is the big twist, who is Little Gustave really in the context of the story?

5) How many people die during the film? This counts either just general deaths we see, or specifically Gustave inflicted deaths.

Answers

Primeval Preview

In a fun montage we see Rich, Poe, and Roach enact their scheme to construct mashed potato based deep fakes of themselves to escape from Tiniman’s camp. Step 1: Enter the big camel race. Step 2: win camel race, beating Gen. Tiniman’s prized camel. Step 3: get potato peeling duty. Step 4: use natural artistic abilities to craft potato people. Step 5: place potato people in bed and sneak away. “Come on, Roach,” Rich says before accidentally plunging his hand into who he thought was Roach, but was in fact his potato person. They all laugh nervously at the unsettling photorealism of the duplicate and tiptoe their way out of camp. Just when it seems like they are in the clear, a light shines in their faces and Gen. Tiniman steps out from behind a spotlight. “But… but how?” Rich and Poe say, but when they turn to Roach he has a badge out and grunts “Cop.” Saboteur! A group of military police approach them and it seems like the end! Oh, woe is them, woe is the Earth! Suddenly the beacon of light shines from Rich’s chest again and Gen. Tiniman is temporarily blinded. Taking action, Rich and Poe escape Roach’s last blind grab and sprint into the fire desert. Rich and Poe’s muscles aren’t just for show and boy howdy do they demonstrate that here. Their endurace is stunning and their legs churn with lightning quickness taking them away from the pursuing trucks. They would almost certainly outrun the vehicles using their unrivaled athletic abilities, but suddenly Poe pulls up with a cramp. My god, the climactic tension is almost unbearable! Once again the military police approach, but no light is there to save them now. Suddenly a deafening roar rings out. The alligators are here. That’s right! We’re watching the not-so-original big crocodile horror film Primeval. Set in Burundi and “based on a true story” it has been high on the list of craziest settings for BMT. Let’s go!

Primeval (2007) – BMeTric: 56.6; Notability: 28 

(Creeping up, but seems like it is settling right around sub-5.0 which is nice. Notability hits right where I imagine. I think the sense I’m getting it that 25ish is like a normal wide release. Above that and it scales with the size of the production. Below that (down to like 10) and you’re looking at a really small film (intriguingly so). Nice string of 50+ films recently it feels like.)

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars –  American reporters reluctantly trek to Africa to capture a huge man-eating crocodile the locals call Gustave, and becomes embroiled in a local war. Peculiar blend of Jaws and a Blood Diamond-like subplot has its moments, but is mostly routine, with herky-jerky editing in the frequent action scenes. Loosely based on real events.

(I am down with that. Mixing Jaws with some bizarre B-plot? Yes please. I’m very ready for a creature feature, and I’ll even take one with … herky-jerky editing? Alright, Leonard, let’s go with that description.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RARfk8cXPeg/

(The entire marketing campaign around this film was about this mayyyybe being a serial killer film … nope psych it is about a crocodile. This trailer is garbage though, way too many cuts to black and choppiness.)

Directors – Michael Katleman – (BMT: Primeval; Notes: Huge television guy. He directed individual episodes from the early 90s, and has been a major producer since 2000. I think my favorite one is the very short lived series Reunion … yeah I watched that live.)

Writers – Michael Ferris and John Brancato (written by) – (Known For: The Game; Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines; Future BMT: The Net; The Hunter’s Prayer; Surrogates; Terminator Salvation; BMT: Catwoman; Primeval; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay for Catwoman in 2005; Notes: Most of their credits are for The Net and subsequent spinoffs of that. I vaguely knew there was a television series, but I didn’t know there was a straight-to-video sequel The Net 2.0. Ferris wrote Bloodfist 2 prior to them working together.)

Actors – Dominic Purcell – (Known For: Mission: Impossible II; Equilibrium; Straw Dogs; Blood Creek; Gridlocked; Vikingdom; The Gravedancers; Scenes of the Crime; Future BMT: The Carrier; Blade: Trinity; Bailout: The Age of Greed; Elimination Game; Killer Elite; BMT: Primeval; Notes: You will know him from Prison Break (which yeah, I’ve seen basically the entire series, want to fight about it?), but I first saw him in the short-lived series John Doe … man there are so many television people involved in this film.)

Orlando Jones – (Known For: Magnolia; Office Space; The Replacements; Bedazzled; Evolution; Runaway Jury; Drumline; Liberty Heights; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Biker Boyz; I Think I Love My Wife; Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant; Double Take; The Time Machine; Woo; Beyond a Reasonable Doubt; Sour Grapes; The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea; BMT: Primeval; Say It Isn’t So; Notes: Roomed with Artie Lange when both were on MadTV. That is basically where he got his start.)

Brooke Langton – (Known For: The Replacements; Swingers; The Deal; Playing Mona Lisa; Future BMT: Terminal Velocity; Kiss the Bride; BMT: Primeval; The Benchwarmers; Notes: Ha! She starred in The Net television show! No wonder she got the job in this case. Was on 68 episodes of Melrose Place.)

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $10,597,734 (Worldwide: $15,291,277)

(That is likely not going to do it. But I also imagine, given the talent was mostly pulled from television, that you maybe could have gotten away with a budget of $10 million? While trying to figure this out I ended up stumbling onto The Numbers page for Primeval. Their categorization of this film is “serial killer” … this is not a serial killer film from what I can tell, but for a hint as to why someone might think so go check out the tagline section.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 19% (11/57): Primeval is a low-quality horror film, which due to the inane political messages does not even qualify as campy fun.

(Oh wow. Read the description of the film on Rotten Tomatoes … like, for a split second I thought “wait … is this a serial killer film?!”. Again, I don’t think it is, but some descriptions make it seem like it is. So many of the reviews slam the film for the political message, described as blending a giant crocodile film with Hotel Rwanda. Reviewer Highlight – The sub-sub-Anaconda bottom-feeder Primeval makes the mistake of taking itself far too seriously; with its exploitative images of civil war and genocide, it’s the Blood Diamond of 25-foot-killer-crocodile movies. – Scott Tobias, AV Club)

Poster – Sklogeval

(But… why? This looks like shit. The alternate poster with a bunch of bones that pretends the film is about a serial killer is much better. This just looks like a bad photo. Nice font though. C-)

Tagline(s) – Inspired by the true story of the most prolific serial killer in history. (D)

He’s 20 feet long, and has taken 300 lives. Now, he’s about to resurface. (D)

(Both of these aren’t great. The first is just being tricky with what the film is about. While I like when a tagline tells you about the plot, I don’t love when they basically lie about it. The second one is just using numbers and I guess that’s supposed to be interesting. Hard to say. Both are too long and not nearly clever enough to make up for it.)

Keyword – crocodile

Top 10: Suicide Squad (2016), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), Jumanji (1995), Annihilation (2018), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), Pan (2015), Octopussy (1983), The Legend of Tarzan (2016), Romancing the Stone (1984)

Future BMT: 43.8 King Solomon’s Mines (1985), 42.2 Pan (2015), 38.6 Firewalker (1986), 34.5 Suicide Squad (2016), 33.9 Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), 31.0 Rugrats Go Wild (2003), 30.2 Eraser (1996), 29.6 Inkheart (2008), 27.5 The Legend of Tarzan (2016);

BMT: Runner Runner (2013), Crocodile Dundee II (1988), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004), Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles (2001), Primeval (2007)

(The second recent film where we’ve used this keyword. The other is obviously Crocodile Dundee II. Really just crushing those Crocodile features recently. Maybe we’ll look into Firewalker soon, that would be a weird one.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 9) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Orlando Jones is No. 3 billed in Primeval and No. 3 billed in Say It Isn’t So, which also stars Chris Klein (No. 1 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 2 billed) => 3 + 3 + 1 + 2 = 9. There is no shorter path at the moment.

Notes – In real life, as seen in this film, an attempt to bait the crocodile failed. The team used a live goat as bait one night, and the team continued this for days. One day the goat disappeared. The camera failed the night before due to a storm, and then political issues in the area forced the team out of the country. Leaving them unable to know what happened that night.

Since Gustave has not been captured, his exact length and weight is unknown, but in 2002 it was stated that he could be “easily more than 18 feet (5.5 m)” long, and weigh more than 2,000 pounds (910 kg). He was estimated to be around 100 years old in order to achieve such outstanding size; however, further more careful observation of Gustave revealed a complete set of teeth when he opened his mouth. Since a 100-year-old crocodile “should be nearly toothless” (according to the documentary), he was estimated to be “probably no older than 60, and likely, still growing”. Gustave is also known for the three bullet scars on his body. His right shoulder blade was also found to be deeply wounded. Circumstances surrounding the four scars are unknown. Scientists and herpetologists who have studied Gustave claim that his uncommon size and weight impede his ability to hunt the species’ usual, agile prey such as fish, antelope and zebra, forcing him to attack larger animals such as hippopotamus, large wildebeest and, to some extent, humans. According to a popular local warning, he is said to hunt and leave his victims’ corpses uneaten. The documentary film also stated that since crocodiles can go several months without eating, Gustave could afford to select his prey carefully. In 2009 the croc had reappeared in Ruzizi River near Lake Tanganyika.

Gustave was named by Patrice Faye, a herpetologist who has been studying and investigating him since the late 1990s. Much of what is known about Gustave stems from the film Capturing the Killer Croc, which aired in 2004 on PBS. The film documents a capture attempt and study on Gustave.

Knock Off Recap

Jamie

Marcus Ray is a Hong Kong counterfeiter trying to go legit in the fashion world. But when a plot to use knock off products as bombs puts him in the crosshairs of his business partner/CIA operative Tommy he finds himself wrapped up in trying to stop the scheme. Can he stop the scheme (and perhaps uncover a larger conspiracy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Knock Off.

How?! Everyone loves Marcus. He’s super cool and got muscles and stuff. So he sees a way to use this charm to get out of the illegal business of counterfeiting and straight into the business of high fashion (a.k.a. jeans). But when some of his fellow counterfeiters are getting knocked off, he comes to find out that his business partner Tommy is actually a CIA agent trying to stop a dangerous international terrorist plot. Teaming up they use all of Marcus’ underworld contacts to start piecing together what’s going on… which is… uh… I guess that there are bombs and stuff in these knock off products and also everyone is getting killed and Marcus has to kick and punch people. Honestly it’s a little vague. At this point they find that their fashion world contact, Karen, is also CIA (is anyone actually working in fashion? Who is designing these dope jeans?!) and it’s revealed that the Russian mob is orchestrating the plot (or are they?). The mob kidnaps Tommy and Karen and Marcus has to go rescue them. It’s revealed that Tommy’s handler at the CIA is actually the puppetmaster pulling all the strings on the plot and Marcus and Tommy are like “what a twist?!” A big fight ensues and I mean, come on… It’s JCVD. He wins. THE END.

Why?! In a weird turn of events the good guy, JCVD, actually has somewhat interesting motivation. That’s because he just wants to be a legit fashion mogul and sell jeans to all the dope tweens of the world. Unfortunately a terrorist plot is getting in the way. As for the bad guy, why would a CIA operative turn around and orchestrate a terrorist plot. That sweet green, baby. He wants to have all these products with bombs in them distributed around the world so that then he can threaten governments with blowing them all up if they don’t pay him a ransom. “Crime pays” is almost a default motivation for every bad action film that needs a twist.

Who?! You would think that Rob Schneider would be a Planchet here. He certainly fits the bill, but not nearly to the extent that I would like. They barely make fun of him for doing a merely OK job in the investigation… you gotta really ramp up those Planchet vibes when you got a Planchet talent like Rob Schneider on hand.

What?! I do enjoy a fake product here and there. This one has a number of them, since it deals with knock off products (some real, some not). For example during the very exciting rickshaw race JCVD dons a pair of Pumma running shoes. The extra ‘m’ gives away the fact that those shoes explode off his feet midrace. We also have their main company, V-Six jeans, which apparently markets itself as jeans that specifically won’t fall apart… the knock offs obviously do.

Where?! Exclusively Hong Kong. It’s actually less common than you’d think that we get a film set entirely in one city. Usually we have people jet-setting around or schemes being concocted in remote locations. Not here. Just Hong Kong. It also plays a role in the plot due to the prevalence of knock off merchandise in the city. A.

When?! Not So Secret Holiday Film Alert. It’s not even a subtle point that the events of the film are leading up to the handing over of Hong Kong to China on July 1st, 1997. Images are shown of the event and it’s talked about a lot, but it pretty much just functions as a backdrop for the events of the film… I honestly can’t remember if it plays a role in the plot beyond that. A-.

As you can tell from the brief plot description this film seems like it was mostly written on a napkin. The parts that make sense are just standard action fare, while the rest is so incomprehensible that it slips right off your brain. It left an impression that I watched a film, but my brain assures me I did not. It really is like you’re watching a movie in an entirely different language… and yet it’s in english. I think there is a temptation to forgive a lot of this craziness on my own inexperience with Hong Kong cinema. There were moments where I had to stop and think “is this bad or do I just think this is bad because it’s different than what I’ve come to expect.” By the end I came to the conclusion that it was just bad… but I’m not sure where and how it actually went wrong. Maybe everything. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Knock Off? More like Knock It Off! Amirite? We watched … well I think it was a movie. Jean Claude Van Damme was in it, so I assume it was a movie. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t know very much about this beyond that it was a classic team up of *checks notes* Jean Claude Van Damme and Rob Schnieder? Oooof, that can’t end well. Anyways, during the prep I found out it takes place in Hong Kong and specifically during the handover to China on July 1, 1997. The Hong Kong director was also intriguing as I hadn’t seen much Hong Kong cinema (unless you count like … Hard Target or Face/Off, but I don’t). What were my expectations? I guess a Hong Kong martial arts film? Whenever there is a heavily asian cinema inspired film (see Ecks vs. Sever) there can be a bit lost in translation, so I was really hoping it was just bonkers direction instead of a rote Hong Kong action film with bad acting.

The Good – Oh man, I mean … nothing? This film is a complete mess. It is such a mess it made me wonder whether there were even people on set who could give direction to the main three leads of the film. Alright, calm down Patrick, you have to say something nice about the film, that’s the rules. … Jean Claude Van Damme kick boxes and isn’t the worst actor in the film. They use Hong Kong well I think, playing up a bunch of different aspects of the city and the transition that was happening at the time. And I think the B-story of the jean company is hilarious. At least two of those things are genuinely good things.

The Bad – Ah back in my element. Here’s the thing, the film is directed insanely. Which, after watching A Better Tomorrow which I’ll discuss below, is very odd because Hark is a titan of HK cinema. It makes me think that some Hollywood exec gave him complete control over the film, to the extent that JCVD just had to fly to Hong Kong, and the production was probably run via a multi-lingual crew, and … then some Hollywood guy got this film back and was like “Oh no, I don’t know how we are going to edit this into a releasable product.” Spoiler alert, it isn’t releasable. This film is crazy. There are like insets at one point, you’re flying through CGI shoes and computers and stuff, there’s a rickshaw race, everyone is a CIA agent by the time the film ends … what is happening!? Reminds me of Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever in the end.

The BMT – I think this film is incredibly amusing. For a JCVD night? I would definitely think of throwing this on. As a matter of fact, a line up of Universal Soldier (Emmerich), Hard Target (Woo) and this (Hark) would be pretty funny. And close out with The Quest which was directed by JCVD himself. It was basically the last major release for JCVD prior to him occasionally showing up for smaller parts like The Expendables. It has a lot of cache and is so so weird. Did it meet my expectations? Yes, I think it exceeded them in the end. I cannot overstate how weird the direction is. It was a different time in US cinema, at the tail end of a decade where any martial artist could get at least a straight-to-video release under their belt. And this really closed that era out with a bang leaving basically just Jackie Chan standing.

Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – I certainly think Rob Schneider’s character fits in as a Planchet (Who?) which is fun. There is also a strong argument for Product Placement (What?) for Puma which gets mentioned multiple times via a counterfeit version of the shoe called Pumma. Obviously an amazing Setting as a Character (Where?) for Hong Kong, which dovetails nicely with a Temporal Setting / Not-so-Secret Holiday Film (When?) for the entire film taking place during the week of the handover of Hong Kong from British control to China on July 1, 1997. There is a strong MacGuffin (Why?) for the search for an elusive set of counterfeit jeans fitted with explosives. And then a solid Worst Twist (How?) with the “reveal” that the higher up CIA character played by Paul Sorvino was the bad guy all along (for reasons …). And then it will get consideration for BMT as well … wait, was this a clean sweep?! This film qualifies for all the potential awards. I think that is just a testament to how badly this film is written, it is just one giant cliche.

StreetCreditReport.com – Once again, despite all of the potential cred described above, this film is the kind of film which would have flew under the radar of critics and audiences alike. It seems to rarely get mentioned as even a bad Van Damme film, or a bad martial arts film. I think all of the cred just comes from it being a Van Damme film, and hopefully once Bad Movie Twins goes global we’ll be able to give it the recognition it deserves.

You Just Got Schooled – I have to admit, I’m just really not that familiar with Hong Kong cinema. The closest I’ve come is that I have seen Drunken Master with Jackie Chan. So what better time to familiarize myself with a true classic: A Better Tomorrow. Directed by John Woo, and starring Chow Yun-Fat, the film tells the story of two brothers on opposite sides of the law, both fighting against the criminal underworld that threatens to overwhelm their lives. This film is a bit of a revelation. It is no wonder Woo would find success in Hollywood, as this film draws from the greats of both Hong Kong cinema and US cinema to create a pretty compelling blend of both. A kind of western film set in the criminal underworld of Hong Kong. Weirdly apropos as both Knock Off and this deal with the counterfeiting criminal underworld of Hong Kong. But then the director of Knock Off produced A Better Tomorrow, and ultimately directed the poorly received A Better Tomorrow 3 and failed miserably to kick off his US career. Hark is objectively a good director, he has five films on a list of the 100 best Hong Kong films ever … perhaps Woo was just better at absorbing and reproducing elements of western cinema in his work, and that’s why things like Face/Off work so well. I don’t know, I’ve seen a grand total of three films made in Hong Kong, so I’m far from an expert. Maybe I’ll watch Police Story next though. A. An extremely good film I would recommend to anyone interested in Hong Kong cinema or gangster films like The Departed. 

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Knock Off Quiz

Huh, so I was facing down Jean Claude Van Damme and then all of a sudden I was bopped in the head by a can thrown by Rob Schneider! Well the long and short of it is that I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Knock Off?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Our hero of the film is Marcus Ray, who we meet seemingly as a fashion designer in Hong Kong alongside his handy assistant, Tommy, played by Rob Schnieder. What is Marcus Ray’s nickname though? HINT: It has to do with his somewhat unseemly past.

2) Why is there a rickshaw race almost immediately? One of the greatest sports moments in BMT history.

3) Now there is a nefarious plan going on though which ends up getting Marcus and Tommy caught up in a bit of light criminal activities. What is the big bad plan they are attempting to foil and what does it have to do with them?

4) And what secret is Tommy (and about four other people) in the film hiding from Marcus?

5) What big event is happening throughout this entire story?

Answers