Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chain of Morons: "The Chain" (1997)

Gary Busey, who has appeared in exactly one good movie ("The Buddy Holly Story") in his life, huffs and puffs through a Filipino jungle, chained to his arch enemy, and making the viewer wistful for "The Defiant Ones"...or even "Deadlock 2."

Frank (Gary Busey) is a Boston cop obsessed with capturing gunrunner Carlos (Victor Rivers- think Antonio Banderas with John Waters' mustache). Carlos is always two steps ahead of Frank, which is easy since Frank tips the scales at well over two hundred pounds. Frank and his angry wife Ellen (Jamie Rose) fly to the South American city of Vera Cruz to vacation and save their marriage...I know, I know, more on the Filipino geography mystery later.

Frank is in Vera Cruz to track Carlos, and Ellen has had enough. She takes up with a rico suave stranger in the hotel bar while Frank is roughed up and then fired from the police force (over the phone). Ellen gets cold feet and rejects the rico suave who turns out to be Carlos (gasp!). Frank follows Carlos and the two men are captured during one of their many fights. The duo are transported to the ominous Los Muerto prison camp, where the evil commander Zalir (Craig Judd) chains our moaning heroes together, and then decides to execute them. They are saved in the nick of time by a rebel attack and escape into the jungle, bickering and chained together.

Ellen finally heads to the U.S. embassy, worried, and meets with the ambassador and a mysterious CIA man, but don't fret, this subplot is never pursued, and we don't see Ellen again until the end of the film.

I am not sure what writer/director Luca Bercovici was trying to accomplish. From the opening scene involving Frank and his partner (Bercovici) dressed like clowns to bust the gunrunner, to Frank and Carlos' constant arguing, to the disastrously unfunny one-liners, any light or humorous touch attempted fails miserably. Frank is a jerk, and Carlos a murdering gunrunner, so I could care less if they got out of that jungle alive or not. It should have been simple, since many a shot shows that Busey's iron hand cuff could be slipped out of easily.

About that jungle! The video box places the story in South America. All of the place names and most of the native characters' names are Spanish. Yet, the film was shot in the Philippines, using obviously Asian actors. The story is so boring and badly done, I tried instead to figure out just where the hell all of this was happening. By the time Frank heals a sick child by creepily whispering in his ear, I deemed the whole mess unwatchable.

The buddy movies of the 1980's lives on in the overrated "Rush Hour" series, and while this was released ten years ago, it looks and plays like a relic from twenty years ago. This chain should be broken. (*) out of five stars.