Friday, September 28, 2012

Half Moon: "Full Eclipse" (1993)

Mario Van Peebles is one of those underrated actors who should know better than to take this silly werewolf movie as a project.

**The whole review is spoilers** Van Peebles is Max, a heroic L.A. cop. In the first five minutes of the film, we see Max's partner talk about his impending nuptials and retirement. That's right, just paint a target on his head as they go to a dangerous hostage situation. After Max's partner is shot, the fiance and Max grieve at his bedside. They did not stick around long enough, as someone comes in and injects what looks like iced tea into his drip tube. Suddenly, Max's partner is back at work and feeling great. Plothole: why didn't anyone take notice of this miraculous recovery at the hospital? Anyway, soon the rejuvenated partner is jumping over fences, getting shot again, and living through it all with nary a scratch. Those old detective instincts kick in as Max gets suspicious.

Max's partner goes to the local watering hole and shoots himself in the head in front of all of his friends. Max goes to the partner's house, where he notices some books about werewolves, and that his partner melted down a lucky silver dollar in order to make the bullet that killed him. Those old detective instincts kick in as Max gets suspicious.

Max is also having marital problems, and a police counselor calls him in. Detective Garou invites Max to his gothic apartment where he meets a group of troubled cops called the Pack. They take Max on a raid, where they inject themselves with the same iced tea substance, attack a gun dealers' party, turn into monsters, and kill everyone. Those old detective instincts kick in as Max gets suspicious.

Max is drawn to troubled cop Casey, played by Patsy Kensit. Max and Casey eventually, uh, "assume the position," and during the act she makes some growling noises and grows canine teeth (something not a lot of women are capable of doing, I don't care how good looking Mario Van Peebles is). Casey then shoots Max. She injects him with the iced tea, and he heals from his sucking chest wound in record time. They then raid a drug lab, and kill everyone in sight. Those old detective instincts kick in as Max realizes something is up.

To make a long story shorter, Garou is not your average werewolf. He has been around for a few hundred years forming these renegade cop Packs to clean up the streets. Darn those anti-crime types! He is a werewolf who can control his changes, and he is giving everyone in the Pack the serum to turn them into werewolves as well. As we learn, the innocuous iced tea everyone is injecting themselves with is actually fluid out of Garou's very own noggin.

Max gets a conscience, and decides to defeat Garou in another bullet riddled climax, complete with the old "thank goodness the villain is dead, everyone, wait, he is alive!" routine. The ambiguous ending flies in the face of everything we think we know about Max, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Van Peebles is too smart to play such a dumb character. We figure out the werewolf angle immediately, especially if you read the video box, but Max does not quite get it until almost an hour into the film. Bruce Payne as Garou is fine, he just plays the same suave villain he has played in "Passenger 57" and "Warlock 3." Kensit is wasted as Casey, her death scene is so glossed over, I had to rewind to make sure she died.

This unrated version is also extra violent as well, leaving nothing to the viewers' imagination. Carnage, carnage, carnage. There are more men flying through the air with guns in both hands than a John Woo film festival. Some of the actions scenes impress, but the anger behind them gets tedious. I can just picture the pitch that got this film made: "He's a cop...and a werewolf!"

Sadly, someone forgot to fill in the gaping plot holes the film makers left in their speed to get this done. I cannot recommend "Full Eclipse." (* *) out of five stars.