Sunday, December 13, 2009

Curse of Snakes Valley (1987)

Holy Batarang, baby! I've seen a lot from Poland, Soviet and the rest of these fantastic ex-communist countries, but I never thought I would see a Indiana Jones-rip off shot in Vietnam starring the manly hero from swedish action-classic The Ninja Mission, Krzysztof Kolberger! The original title is more catchy, Klatwa Doliny Wezy, but I will stick to Klatwa whenever I reference the title in the reviews. So you all know.

Krzysztof Kolberger plays Jan Tarnas, a professor in ancient asian writing. He works and teaches in Paris. One day the old ex-military Tarnas (Roman Wilhelmi) contacts him and shows a very rare document that he found in Vietnam in the fifties. The document hides another document, a treasure map, and together they go to Vietnam (I guess it's Vietnam, but in the end they also mention Thailand... so I have no idea)... followed by the curious female journalist Christine (Ewa Salacka, who died way to early in 2006 by a wasp-sting!), to find the cursed snake valley where the treasure is hidden. The problem is that the ancient document warns them of four dangers that will kill them if they don't do everything right...

This is really an amazing little movie, at least for us that like obscure european genre cinema. It's a almost to perfect combination between classic polish sci-fi and mystery and with a real Indiana Jones-movie. Kolbergers character is part Robert Langdon and part Henry Jones Jr, but most of the most dangerous stuff is left to the character Tarnas. The locations are glorious, and I would love to get some more info where they shot Klatwa. The hidden temple is under an old ancient temple up on a hill, with jungle all around it, which looks beautiful. In Europe the setting of Paris looks very fine, but Vietnam steals everything. The underground temple itself is a lovely set, right from an Indy-movie - with traps and all! One character even throws his hat and sets of a trap! We have laser-shooting statues, a big monster-snake and a cool surprise in the end of the trip.

The twist is actually quite original, though I don't understand everything of it. I can see the danger of this fourth thing... but it can also be a good thing for those that put it there. You'll have to see it yourself. Sure, the budget isn't that big, and some effects looks a bit hokey even by the standard of that time. But the overfall feeling of the story and quality of the production makes this a very nice little adventure-movie. It's also quite violent with some bloody squibs, rotting corpses (of course, this is a Indy-rip off!) and a buddhist monk with lethal throwing stars!

A movie I recommend, but try to get a good version of it. I had to watch a downloaded TV-rip, but I heard there's a DVD-release from Ruscico - but only with russian dub and no subtitles! So Let's all hope it will arrive in better, more english-friendly version soon.


vaultkeeper said...

This movie was awesome yes. I watched the Russian dubbed dvdrip, very good quality but it is dubbed into Russian. The dub is not as bad as Russian dubs use to be though, there is voice actors for each charater and not a cheap dub where everyone is dubbed by one man while you still hear the original language in the background. Dubbing and loss of subtitles is the main problem with many Russian dvds of classic movies from behind the iron curtain. There is many, many great movies from countries like Poland, Estonia, Ukraine, East Germany, Latvia, Belarus, Lithauia and Moldova made during the USSR period that recently were released on remastered Russian dvd, but dubbed in Russian and without subs, seriously they even dub Ukrainian and Belarusian movies into nationwide Russian even if the languages is more simular with eachother than Swedish and Norwegian. Let us hope that there soon will be a remastered Polish dvd of this movie in original language with English subtitles!

Alex B. said...

This film recently came to my attention as I was researching the work of Estonian film composer Sven Grünberg. I've heard the soundtrack but not seen the actual film yet.
Looks like it's a must-see.
So, thanks for the enthusiastic review and screengabs!

ALOTE said...

Realy scary movie. If you 10 years old boy, living in USSR, and never see Holliwood movies. I was really scared.

Catalin Mihalache said...

I have seen this movie 3 times in 1989 in Romania. It was a really scary movie! (of course, at that time there were no Hollywood movies in Romania).

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,
the movie was shot in Vietnam.
The director, Marek Piestrak, is also very known (and famous) for another his jewel called "Wilczyca" (She-wolf) - with English subtitles available at:

"Klatwa Doliny Wezy" can download it from here:

Polish horrors from my childhood:)

Ninja Dixon said...

Thank you for the information! I love this movie! :)

It's also out in a very nice Polish sci-fi box, with English subtitles. Which I own of course!

Ah, I have Wilczyca also, in a horror box from Poland! :D