I love reading IMDb reviews where half are “totally brilliant film-making!” [obviously by people related to the production, who have generally reviewed nothing else] and half are “worst movie ever!” More than half the votes here are either 10’s or 1’s: of course, the truth lies in the middle. This is proficient, with occasional aspirations to competence, along with some nice production values and scenery, yet founders mostly on a bad script, partly on a misguided belief that filming underwater is interesting, in and by itself. That probably hasn’t been true since Jacques-Yves Cousteau hung up his Undersea World snorkel at the start of the eighties. Maybe these sequences worked better in 3D, as originally shot?
It’s the story of two sisters, Amy (Pham) and Jess (Ong): the former is a free-diving champion, but the latter refuses to go into the sea [there are reasons for this, explained in flashback; they are, however, irrelevant. Of course, her hydrophobia is an obvious foreshadow of the movie’s climax]. Amy’s boyfriend is in the Air Force, but vanishes along with his plane, transporting a cargo of gold back to Manilla. The Air Force suspect he and Amy may have staged the disappearance to solve their financial problems, and so the sisters head for where reports indicate the aircraft went down. Which isn’t anywhere near where the search is taking place. Hmm. There, they team up with a local businesswoman (Prudent), and also travel journalist, Benny Simpson (director Gleissner pulling double-duty), only to find they are not the only people interested in recovering the golden treasure.
I’m not the only person to have reviewed this and been reminded of the work of Andy Sidaris, with which it shares a tropical location and actresses cast more for their looks than their variable thespian abilities. This does have a glossier sheen; on the other hand, if you’re hoping for any nudity, look elsewhere. I think the main problem is the old “acting in your second language” issue, which appears to be the case for most of the cast. Pham has to do most of the heavy lifting, and nails only about one line in three, with others sounding more as if they are delivered through phonetic translation. When things are in motion and SCUBA-free, the film fares rather better. The action scenes are decently staged, the pick likely being Amy getting chased around a library by a slew of thugs, though the final ship-board encounter is nicely done as well. However, embarrassing sloppiness counters this, such an abduction scene where it looks like the same henchman climbs into the car twice, once in the back and once in the front, while Amy’s hands mysteriously get bound, albeit with the sort of constraint she can literally shake off.
It works mostly as a very nice promotional piece for the local tourist board, and if you’re looking for something pleasant looking and possessing absolutely no depth, you could do a lot worse. However, the more you look at this in detail, the more you will likely find yourself going, “Hang on…”, and that’s even before a final credits sequence where the actual local mayor reveals some kinda important storyline information. It’s just another part of a plot which strains even my credulity, and leaves the movie, if not sunk, certainly holed below the waterline.
Dir: Michael Gleissner
Star: Bebe Pham, Jaymee Ong, Michael Gleissner, Laury Prudent