Awaken

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“Liver and let die.”

awakenThere’s a stellar B-movie cast here, of faces you’ll recognize, even if you don’t remember their names; let me start by listing a few. Vinnie Jones! Daryl Hannah! Edward Furlong! Robert Davi! Michael Paré! David Keith! Even Benny Urquidez, whom I don’t recall seeing since he memorably battled Jackie Chan in a couple of 80’s flicks. Shame the plot is such nonsensical garbage. The heroine is Billie Kope (Burn), whose sister disappeared five years ago and Billie has been trying to solve the mystery ever since. She mysteriously wakes up to find herself on a tropical island with a group of other, similarly abducted people, who are occasionally hunted by camo-clad soldiers, under the command of Sarge (Jones). Turns out they are, effectively, a holding pen for an organ trafficking ring run by Rich (London). With the help of some of the the other prisoners, such as Nick (Copon), Billie has to fight her way off their island prison and find the truth about her sister’s fate, before becoming a live organ-donor herself.

There’s so much here that doesn’t make sense, with characters wandering in and out of the movie without logic; for example, leader of the prisoners Quentin (Davi) just walks out of the plot, and you never find out either what happens to Mao (Hannah), whose daughter is intended as the recipient of Billie’s liver. I’m not certain of the medical accuracy of much of what’s depicted either, but I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so we’ll leave that alone. Instead, I wallowed in some of the more surreal aspects, such as the football commentary Sarge is listening to on the radio; seriously, just listen to it and see if it sounds like any game you’ve ever heard. Though at least Jones, and to a lesser degree Hannah, appear to have realized the dumbness of what they signed onto, and decided to go full, bone-in ham and have some fun with it. If only the rest of the cast had adopted the same approach.

However, Burr isn’t too bad: she also co-produced and co-wrote the film, so credit is certainly due for her passion. While she could do with some more muscle, she packs the right attitude and the scenes of her training with her father (Urquidez) set the tone early. She uses a brisk, no-nonsense style of fighting, closest to MMA than kung-fu, and the fights in general are edited and put together well – fast-paced, yet still coherent, which is less common than it should be. Unfortunately, it’s the storyline which strangles this puppy, and any viewer who is moderately high up the evolutionary ladder will be alternating raised eyebrows and derisive snorts for much of its duration. Occasionally-decent action makes this just about an adequate time-passer, and there’s worse on Netflix. Yet, that last clause falls more into the “damning with faint praise” category, and is hardly much of a recommendation.

Dir: Mark Atkins
Star: Natalie Burn, Michael Copon, Jason London, Vinnie Jones

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