(I haven’t done one of these in so long I forgot I used to do them so I figured – why not now – while I’m having trouble doing regular writing)
I wrote about The Crimson Rivers a while back and just got to the sequel so, in order to keep these things properly grouped, here it is again (in case you missed it) and Angels of the Apocalypse below. Writing that made me think that the last two movies I’ve seen are both derivatives of “an apocalypse” which made me think of the word “thematic” (which these aren’t intended to be) which made me think of a message I got from my friend Matt a couple of months ago when I played the word FART two times in a row in a game of Scrabble: “Thematic”. Anyway:
THE CRIMSON RIVERS (2000) FOUR TOP HATS (KIND OF)
Has it really been eleven years since I saw this the first time? Wow. My man Jean Reno stars with Vincent Cassel in this grisly action / horror about “Nazis” trying to create a modern super race. This movie is very bloody and gory, has excellent scenery, a good plot, very good action sequences and a wicked ending on top of a snow covered mountain. We also get a lot of my favorite types of shots, the 360 degree sweep around the actor as he is contemplating his next move. I am sure it has been around for ages but I remember first getting into that shot in “After Dark My Sweet” with Jason Patric staring at that mountain trying to figure what to do when everything has gone so wrong. In my title I added the words “KIND OF” because the first time I saw this it was in the original French audio which you had to read (that doesn’t bother me at all) and I would give it a solid “Se7eN” style THs. The thing I watched today was dubbed terribly and the volume of the dub was so poor I could barely understand what they were saying most of the time. To boot – Reno, Cassel and the female lead dubbed their own voices in English, which wasn’t so good, but all of the rest of the characters seem to have been given a terrible New York style accent from some 1930′s origin.
“Hey Mack, waddya say, eh, see??”
“Aw, say, this is lousy! Howdya spell ladda, see?”
Whatever… I would give thing I watched today a three.
We start off with the credits rolling over a mutilated, maggoty body until we open with Reno arriving at the base of some good looking mountain in France. Turns out the body from the credits was left hanging up on the ridge and Paris has sent in its “specialist”. In the meantime, someone has desecrated a grave and stolen some kid’s 20 year old paperwork from a nearby school – and Cassel is leading this investigation. As time goes by, Reno is eventually lead to this University up in the mountain that is completely self contained and has been for generations and generations. There he meets the cruel President, his fancy son, and a good looking brunette, with whom they find another mutliated corpse, this one frozen in an ice tunnel. Someone is baiting Mr. Reno – doesn’t he know The Professional can’t be schooled? Eventually Reno and Cassel’s paths lead to the same place and they team up to uncover (no spoiler) that the administrations of the college have been interbreeding athletes and “the intelligent” for years making enhanced humans – and this discovery may or may not cost them their lives. I won’t go into any further detail since there is actually a cool surprise at the end that you likely won’t see coming, unlike most “twists” these days.
Finally a good one in the Netflix queue – although it was the dubbed version and, not so good, I suppose.
CRIMSON RIVERS 2: ANGELS OF THE APOCALYPSE (2004) FOUR TOP HATS
If you’ve come this far you know that I really liked the first movie and here you go: I really liked this one too (although I find it hard to recall any “serious” Jean Reno movies that I don’t like * ). They totally amped up the blood and grizzly effects, there’s no karate kicking-Japanese-video-game-scored fight scenes (sorry Cassel), it’s not dubbed, it’s got a lot more action and I liked the whole Christian mythology thing they tried to pull off with the Revelations and such. Also – you don’t see this too much any longer, but there’s a lengthy, wicked foot chase scene up in the first third, then a completely kick ass shoot out about twenty minutes before the end; I should also mention that the “religion expert” chick in this is really good looking, but underused. I guess there’s not too much wrong with this but I didn’t care for the end sequence, it felt…. forced. But – I thought this was a good watch – totally worth it, maybe even better than the first.
Reno is back as renowned Inspector Niemans, Cassel is out and he is replaced by a fellow named Benoit Magimel as a young cop named Reda – who I thought did excellent. To start this beauty off, a new priest moves into a monastery, promptly nails his crucifix to the wall and it starts bleeding all over the place. Since I am writing this up – now that I have seen the entire movie and know the end – it doesn’t really make sense why Niemans is called in to investigate – but he is and we’re off to the races. Elsewhere, Reda is shaking down a drug lord, gets beat up and his team of goofballs run over – yes – Jesus. Well – someone dressed like him, bearded and long haired and named Jesus anyway. While Niemans is out questioning different suspects and hearing talk of sects and priests and the four horseman and the dark angels, Reda heads to the hospital to check on Jesus and comes across a monk / priest in a dark cowl and robe, with a black, black, black unseen face trying to kill the patient. The really, really cool footrace is on and soon enough Reno and Magimel are on the case together, partnered with the comely Marie (Camille Natta). Jesus and Marie – I see.
I don’t want to give too much of this away, because this should be watched, so I won’t tell, but there are a bunch of these black clad “headless priests” running around town gruesomely murdering people who have the same name and professions as the original Apostles – who are all connected somehow…. hmmmm. There’s also a lot of action going on underground in those tunnels the Germans built back in the war… hmmmm… hmmmm….. Christopher Lee is also in this as a member of the German Ministry… hmmmm….. hmmm….. hmmm…. scratch my beard in reflective thought.
To finish – I liked both of these movies when I watched them when they first came out and I liked them just as much the second go around. I would totally recommend these. If your grammar skills have slipped, an asterisk is used to call out a footnote. Did you catch the asterisk earlier?
* Screw you Pink Panther movies!