14 November 2013 | ascheland
Gives Maryam D'Abo an Opportunity to Feel Like Meryl Streep, at Least
After her maharajah husband is stomped to death by an elephant, Beverly (Maryam D'Abo) goes to Los Angeles to file a $5 million life insurance claim. The insurance adjusters are suspicious (though Beverly should be suspicious of the insurance company given that it appears to do business out of a hotel conference room) and hire P.I. Gravis (Rick Rossovich) to follow Beverly back to India and investigate. Naturally, Beverly and Gravis fall in lust with each other, and naturally, things aren't what they appear. The daughter of the maharajah's elephant trainer (busty Asha Siewkumar) arouses Gravis' suspicions, among other things, but can they uncover the truth before they both end up dead?
It's not every erotic thriller that has a death by elephant at its core, so for that reason alone "Tropical Heat" sets itself apart from other movies in its genre. The India setting is another aspect that makes this direct-to-video thriller unique. But apart from the killer elephant and exotic locale, there's not much in "Tropical Heat" that hasn't been seen before, and that includes D'Abo nude. The movie is further hindered by dialog that sounds as if it was lifted from a Hindi-to-English phrase book and production values reminiscent of a 1980s porn video (albeit one of the higher quality porn videos). D'Abo is a mediocre actress but she's Meryl Streep in comparison to the rest of the cast, whose acting ranges from almost passable (Rossovich, Siewkumar) to second-grader-in-a-school-play (Govind Rao as the coroner; Brian Tracy as head of the insurance company). A call out to Lee Anne Beaman, as a sexy insurance adjuster, whose performance suggests she learned her craft doing ads for singles hotlines on late night TV.
When it comes to the erotic part of this genre exercise, "Tropical Heat" mostly delivers, though director Jag Mundhra has made sexier—and certainly better—movies. Much of the softcore action looks like it would be better appreciated as a series of still photos, which might have been enough for 1993 but isn't likely to satisfy audiences in the Internet age. If you must see any of the leads—D'Abo, Rossovich, Beaman, Siewkumar—nude, "Tropical Heat" is the movie for you. Otherwise, these tropics are only lukewarm.