- Release Date: 5/28/2013
- Running Time: 91 minutes
- Written By: Steven Sheil, Ziad Semaan
- Directed By: Steven Sheil
- Starring: Joe Taslim, Miki Mizuno, Les Loveday, Ario Bayu, Sam Hazeldine, Mike Lewis, James Taenaka, Carmen Soo
DEAD MINE is an easy sell for most of us. It’s got Joe Taslim from THE RAID: REDEMPTION in an action role, it’s got an INDIANA JONES-lite plot revolving around long lost Japanese gold and samurai mutants, all jumbled up in the amusing umbrella of action-horror.
The film isn’t necessarily as awesome as the previous sentence makes it out to be, but it is definitely a fun ride with some solid production value, a decent cast of characters, and just enough mutants, samurai, and POWs to make it exciting.
We begin on a group of pirates, drinking and having fun in an Indonesian jungle. We get the old “one man goes off to pee” segment, which leads to him going into a cave (mine) and falling into a hole to his death (dead). Put the parentheticals together and that’s how you come up with a title, folks.
After the credits, we open on a group of soldiers, some civilians in their midst, on the pretty Unauna Island in Indonesia. We find out that Price (the alliterative Les Loveday), the rich snobby American archetype, has hired these soldiers to find a long lost treasure: Yamashita’s Gold. It’s a myth, but World War II historian, Rie (Miki Muzuno, more desirable than the sports equipment of the same name), has uncovered evidence to suggest that the gold resides in an abandoned mine on the island. They find the mine, and soldier-turned-engineer Stanley (Sam Hazeldine) checks it out to see if the mine is safe to explore. His process is interrupted by a shower of gunfire from the aforementioned pirates, which forces the group to gather in the mine for cover. Of course, the mine collapses and THAT’S when Price tells the soldiers and the audience about their mission. These soldiers should turn on Price right then and there, but it takes about three more lies for that to happen.
It’s speculated that the pirates were after the same thing (gold), but you can throw that information away as soon as you hear it, because we never see them again, their part of the plot (as a device to get them into the mine) long past. Once in the mine, we learn a bit more about the characters. Stanley is a former soldier who stopped his descent into the dark side. Price is a prick who wants gold, and Su-Ling is his bitchy girlfriend who thinks she has power and influence. There’s also the noble leader Captain Tino Prawa, who can withstand a ton of injuries. Finally, we have the soldier who did sustain injuries and will slow them down, as well as the strongman with a mohawk who laughs a lot. It’s a collection of cliches, but it all works, and they keep us interested enough to discover what’s really happened in these not-so-abandoned mines.
Turns out the mine was actually a secret medical research unit where they experimented on POW’s. Price believed this was a smokescreen to keep people away from a bushel of gold. In the end, both turn out to be true, in a way, as Stanley and company encounter a ton of mutant samurai, all in WWII mode. The mutants are pretty cool, and it’s fun to see a horde of samurai plodding their way after these doomed soldiers, but it takes a bit too long to get to the action, which also turns out to be a tad too tame. There’s too much build up and talk, and not enough blood and scares, especially with such a premise ripe for those very things. But even so, DEAD MINE is an entertaining romp through the Indonesian jungle.
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