31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Yo ho ho, this is an interesting, surprisingly gory film,
This review is from: Island, The (1980) [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Now, here's a film that should definitely be available on DVD by now. By the time I got around to watching this, I had completely forgotten what it was even supposed to be about - but I put away any misgiving once I saw that it starred Michael Caine and was based on Peter Benchley's post-Jaws novel of the same name. Admittedly, the movie is a little out there and has a couple of weaknesses in the plot, but the whole thing is realistic enough to be plausible and features some pretty shocking violence for a 1980 non-horror movie - the opening scene is a particularly effective attention-getter.
Michael Caine plays Blair Maynard, a New York journalist determined to get to the bottom of a rather shocking number of boats lost near the Bahamas in the last three years. As fate would have it, his son Justin (Jeffrey Frank) turns up in his office unexpectedly (the ex-wife having forgotten to even let Maynard know he was coming), so the two of them jet off to Florida for the weekend. In case you have any doubts as to the age of this movie, just watch a gun shop sell Blair a handgun for his twelve-year-old son upon their arrival. Anyway, the two take a most memorable air jaunt to a remote island, head out to do some fishing, and discover that being a Good Samaritan is rather highly overrated. Before you can say Yar, matie! the two of them find themselves captives of a rag-tag bunch of filthy pirates - actually, they prefer to be called buccaneers. Their archaic culture, which is a really weird mix of religion, ritual, and savagery, has survived for three hundred years out there in the middle of the Caribbean, hidden from the eyes of modern man (except for those they kill, of course). They keep Maynard alive because they need some new blood in the tribe - if you know what I mean - but the tribal leader has other plans for young Justin. Those plans greatly complicate Maynard's efforts to somehow escape from a seemingly inescapable predicament.
Buccaneers will be buccaneers, which means there is plenty of violence every step of the way toward a real bloodbath of a conclusion. I have some issues with the way young Justin's story played out, but all in all I found this to be an intensely interesting movie. The storyline could easily have degenerated into something rather silly, but the director never let that happen. As amusing as some of the buccaneers' antics might be, this is a serious film (except, of course, for the second strangest kung fu sequence I've ever seen) that steadily increases in intensity throughout. It doesn't have the in-your-face life-and-death drama of Jaws, but for my money it's a mighty interesting - and undeniably unusual - movie experience.
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Initial post: Nov 19, 2011 9:26:20 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 19, 2011 9:26:46 AM PST
Agreed. Truly, the myth of Sawney Beane just keeps coming back in different iterations. This movie would make a perfect double bill with Wes Craven's THE HILLS HAVE EYES. And like Sawney Beane, they're both pretty much variations on old Scandinavian troll legends; this is a seagoing variation. I was impressed with how oddly convincing the pirate's tribal culture was; details like the bit where they rush into battle with their oily beards aflame (an idea that I assume is supposed to have evolved from Blackbeard's lit-cannon-fuses-in-the-hair approach to combat) seemed like genuine tribal-culture behavior. The movie is completely looney, and yet surprisingly convincing at the same time, and the STRAW DOGS-style finale is genuinely intense.
What is the strangest kung-fu sequence you've ever seen? My vote goes to BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLF.
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