19 January 2004 | rsoonsa
MEDIOCRE, YET LIVELY
Shot with a primarily South African cast and crew, this feature portrays an adventure of an American ecologist, Wayne Garrison (Philip Brown) who has journeyed into Africa, along with his father, in an attempt to bring about a cessation of toxic poisoning of vlei land, but must instead endeavour to liberate the senior Garrison along with his female assistant, both kidnapped for use as hostages in a plot to spring the leader of the bandit abductors from a regional prison. Young Garrison sets out alone to retrieve the captured pair and is promptly joined by nightclub chanteuse Nicole (Carla Herd) whose amorous connection with a local security chief, Colonel Lavara (Edward Albert) is planned to be useful in any attempt at victory over the kidnapers. Unfortunately, the imaginary country of which the Colonel is head of security is but a convenient location for the apparent Cuban based Lavara to obtain booty for his personal coffer, and he is therefore less than cooperative with the presumptuous rescuers. As with most South African cinematic efforts before the nation collapsed into anarchy, this work benefits from vital technical skills, not alone through startling photography, but especially due to excellent sound supervision of Lawrence Applebaum who applies resources native to the land to intensify the visual. The script, penned by director Percival Rubens, is the weakest element here, as continuity is discriminated against through a protracted series of revivings from apparent death by the film's various villains. Brown has a very limited emotional range and is most suitable for action scenes, but Herd is effective , and there are adroit turns as heavies by Danny Keogh and Ben Kruger, while always estimable Albert carries his scenes handily, generally providing engrossing nuances in a nicely created role. In addition to a scenario that becomes increasingly more trite and predictable, there is some difficulty with details, as with Garrison's omnipresent white shirt, unblemished, in fact, after numerous thrashings about in the dirt with a multitude of adversaries; indeed, although Brown may not be great shakes as actor, he certainly knows how to keep a shirt clean.