Directed by Charles Robert Carner
Produced by Mitch Engel
Written by J.D. Feigelson & Chris Mack
Director of Photograpy Micheal Goi
Music by Dominic Messinger & Louis Febre
Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Kristy Swanson, Coolio, Dennis Haskins & Langley Kirkwood
2003/92 mins/Color/Dolby Surround
1.33:1/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment DVD
Even those who don't care for JAWS (and we won't even get into how crazy those individuals are) must admit that it's the ultimate shark movie. And for over two decades, no other films challenged that title, save for the lame JAWS sequels. However, in the past few years, we've seen resurfacing of the shark-movie genre, led by Renny Harlin's capable thriller DEEP BLUE SEA. Many other films have followed, mostly in the direct-to-video or made-for-TV categories, such as SHARK ATTACK (and its two sequels), SHARK HUNTER, and SHARK ZONE. The latest entry into this suddenly thriving sub-genre is RED WATER, which premiered on TBS Superstation and is now coming to DVD.
RED WATER brings together three diverse storylines. First, we have John Sanders (Lou Diamond Phillips), a down-on-his-luck charter fishing boat captain who lives on the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana. (Although, the film was shot in South Africa!) He previously worked for a petroleum company, where his specialty was drilling for natural gas. But, a major accident ended that career. Sanders is approached by his ex-wife Kelli (Kristy Swanson), a scientist who locates natural gas deposits, and her new employer, Gene (Gideon Emery), as they are having difficulty extracting natural gas from their new drilling site, which is just up the river. Desperately in need of money, Sanders agrees to help. Meanwhile, a gangster from the Caribbean sends two of his henchmen, Brett & Ice (Langley Kirkwood & Coolio) to Louisiana to intercept Jerry (Jaimz Woolvett), a recently released ex-con who can lead them to sunken treasure. As these two diverse groups venture to the same part of the river, an aggressive Bull Shark, the only shark that can survive in fresh water (according to the movie) has entered the river, and is looking for victims.
The problem with many horror films, and especially movies that feature a monster, is that there is too much emphasis on the humans and not enough on the marauding creature. In these films, there always has to be a human villain, as if the murderous monster wasn't enough. RED WATER is more than guilty of committing this cinematic crime. The vast bulk of this film focuses on the human characters and their problems, for when the two groups meet, sparks fly. The shark simply pops up now and then and eats someone -- and while this scenario occurs in most every shark movie, the attacks here seem incredibly random and nonsensical.
While watching the movie I couldn't shake the feeling that the original script dealt only with the clash between the oil company crew and the criminals and that the screenwriters felt that the movie needed a little something extra...hey, how about a shark! For the first 70-minutes, the movie is basically a suspense-thriller, which features haphazard scenes in which the shark appears. To be fair, things to pick up somewhat during the last 20-minutes, when the shark, who apparently has a tapeworm, attacks many of the key characters. The shark special effects are questionable at best, as the mechanical shark looks just like a mechanical shark. The acting is fairly good for a TV movie and there are some clever nods to JAWS. Still, RED WATER is simply a sloppy mingling of genres that doesn't deliver as an action/thriller or as a horror movie. Do yourself a favor and just watch JAWS again.
RED WATER swims onto DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film was originally broadcast on TV and retains its original 4:3 aspect ratio for this release. The image is fairly clear and sharp, showing only minor amounts of grain in certain daytime scenes. There is some mild artifacting and the picture becomes quite soft at times, but otherwise the image is stable and the colors are quite good. The underwater scenes look especially nice and the action is never too dark. The DVD box for RED WATER lists the audio as Dolby Surround, however the surround effects are so discrete, that this may as well be a simple stereo track. The dialogue is clear and audible and the music and sound effects sound fine, both offering nice stereo effects, but don't expect to get any action from the rear channels. The only extras on this DVD are trailers for other Lou Diamond Phillips films, such as BATS and THE BIG HIT.
This Film Features:
Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©