Sunday, December 23, 2012
Jack Hunter and the Lost Treasure of Ugarit (2008)
I have a soft spot for Indiana Jones rip-offs. It's a safe bet most of these movies, with their jungles and deserts, hidden treasures and action scenes, has something for everyone. Of course they're cheaper, tackier, sillier - but still, they're just doing what Indy did: celebrating the good old adventure stories of the past. I'm still a huge fan of J. Lee Thompson's King Solomon's Mines (starring the one and only Richard Chamberlain), even if the sequel - shot at the same time - more or less sucks. Sky Pirates, from
another favourite - and who can dislike Antonio Margheriti's forays into the
genre during the early eighties? By chance I found a box a couple of days ago,
titled "The Adventures of Jack Hunter" and I just couldn't stop
myself. It's a mini-series and for it's home video release it's been divided
into three feature length movies: Lost
Treasure of Ugarit, The Quest For Akhenatens Tomb and The Star Of Heaven. Australia
Ivan Sergei plays Jack Hunter, an adventurer specializing in finding rare artefacts and his dream is to find everything belonging to
some ancient civilization. In this long adventure he roams around Syria, Egypt
and Turky together with cocky lady Nadia Ramadan (Joanne Kelly) and comic
relief sidekick Tariq (Mario Naim Bassil) and their nemesis is an (what else?)
evil German guy named Littman (Thure Riefenstein, who strangely enough recently
shot a movie for the production company I work for!). On their way they meet
corrupt militaries, elderly archaeologists with hidden agendas and a couple of
hidden, underground temples! Ugarit
Jack Hunter is a TV-production but surprisingly enough it's a lot better than a lot of other similar productions I've seen. The budget it sometimes not the best, some scenes feels very rushed and the special effects is uneven in that wonderful SyFy Channel-way we love so much. But instead it boasts a lot of action, some very nice temple-sets and actors who might not be the best actors in the world, but seems to have a lot of fun instead. Ivan Sergei is okay, but feels both a bit young and a bit too handsome to be an experienced adventure (but on the other side, real-life TV-adventures like Patrick Spain from National Geographic's Beast Hunter is VERY cute and fuckable - sorry - so I might be wrong). The other actors is at most okay, including Thure Riefenstein who does his bad guy routine in his sleep again. But that kinda belongs to this form of entertainment. It's not fantastic, but still not bad. It's competent, Sunday afternoon entertainment.
It also steals quite shamelessly from Indiana Jones with Jack Hunter walking around in the exact same clothes, experiencing the same form of adventure (but no ancient traps, sorry) and doing his routine against the other actors just like Harrison Ford would have done it. There's a few lines of dialogue here and there that's almost lifted directly from the old movies. Yes, I know that Indiana Jones "stole" a lot from old movies, but in that case Spielberg and Lucas always was open about the homage-part - in this case, and others, it's just Indy that's been the inspiration.
Anyway, I really enjoyed Jack Hunter! A lot more than I expected. Unoriginal script, but it works and it's never boring or feel padded with unnecessary scenes. It's just fun, fun and a little bit more fun. But don't expect it to change your world. This is just a nice, long, vacation for the brain and nothing more.