Sudden Death: ‘breathless directlon’



During the climactic match in hockey’s prestigious Stanley Cup Finals, the tension on the ice is matched by the terror below it, as explosive devices are primed to go oil at various points of the packed stadium. The reason? A ruthless and coolly etticient extortionist (Powers Boothe) is holding the Vice President

and other VlPs to a multi-million dollar


Only when the deliciously evil Foss takes hostage a little girl who stumbles into the WP box does his plan look less than likely to succeed, tor this child is the daughter at the stadium maintenance man. And that maintenance man is played by Jean- Claude Van llamme. Say no more.

It is an undeniable truth that the presence of the Belgian action star in

any film limits its ambition and places it tirme in one unbending genre. llo matter how hard he tries to act and whoever is placed betore him, audiences know the outcome at the story well in advance. That said, Sudden Death is a pleasing - and very loud - action-packed romp that is as

good as anything Van Damme has done

to date. The rough edges are slowly

being smoothed ott his acting style

and he seems to revel in the clichés rather than be limited by them.

The tilm also benefits from Peter Hyams’s breathless direction - the simplicity of this story makes it an improvement over their last collaboration, Timecop- and a decent supporting cast supply the necessary

' dramatic tireworks. All else is lett to

Van Damme, and he does exactly what is expected of him. (Anwar Brett) Sudden Death (18) (Peter llyams, US, 1995) Jean-Claude Van Damme, Powers Booth, Raymond J. Barry. 110 mins. From Fri 26. General release.


\Villi Sir/e. 'lodd Ila} ties has crafted a tale of enxironmental pollution more terrifx ing thaii the hest efforts of the masters ofthc modern horror moxie.

(‘arol White (Julianne .\loorei is one half of a xx ealthx. \\'.-\Sl’ married couple xx ho hecorties allergic lo the 20th centurx '_‘ll\’ll’t)lilllL‘lIl car fumes. her hair perm. household furniture a condition documented as Multiple (‘hemieal Sensitix it_x‘ t.\l('Si Iixposure to a fumigation process at her tlrx cleaner finishes Carol off and. in desperation. she cheeks into a rural healing centre. the sinister undertones of which are rexealed in its ‘.\loonie'- lilx‘e I'cligiotts sect.

Sir/e hegins with a light tone. salirisittg WASP lifestx les. hut. as the full import of('arol's condition heeomes‘ dreadfullx apparent. the film takes on a deeplx unsettling tone and finally a dark. sinister mood. like

.X't'rt'ri. Sir/("s xxorld is an uncomftii'tahlel cacophonx of ttoise pollution. xx hieh llaxnes iuxtaposes to great clfect xx ith the eerie \lllltlcss and solilttdc ol- interior-x (reminiscent ol the Hotel ()xerlook in '/'//t' .V/Hrt/rigi stark home. ehie restaurants and the doctor's surgerx.

Ilaxnes's x iettm is xx ell-chosen. The fall from a financiallx secure lil'e'stx‘lt' to destitution. despair and personal i‘ex'elation is much further. and lllll\ of more dramatic impact. than a xxorking- class .\I('S sufferers might he. .~\part

lrotii the fact

predoriiinantlx _xoung \xorttett. the gender choice alloxx s Ilax'nes to highlight masculine attitudes toxxard xxomen. retiiimhng us ltoxx little the) hax e changed this eetiturx In tackling tnultiple contemporarx issues. Stilt is


(Miles l'iicldct')

Stile l /.‘-l ('liuft/ Httxllr‘x. (W. /‘,/‘/.‘—l ./t//I(tII/I(' .l/tmi't'. /’t'lt'r I‘I'It't/H/ti/I. Strut/r Nomi/tut. //.\' Hill/x [rum /*i'/ 3/) (i/uxqmr: (i/‘U/f lit/I‘Ii/mru/I.‘ /'/:’III/l(1!I\I’.

the Whites

that .\l( 'S sttlfei'ers are

thought pl‘oxol.lttg


Sate: ’trighteningly thought-provoking'

12 Monkeys: ‘an odd, engaging, eccentric creation’


A narrative structure that shifts its

x time-frames with the complex logic of

Jacob's Ladder, a story that’s based on La Jetée, a black-and-white experimental short tilm made in 605 France, and a director whose second- last film made the biggest loss in recent Hollywood history. Surely a formula to be wary of, and yet Terry Gilliam has found box office heaven in the States with his science-fiction thriller 12 Monkeys.

Bruce Willis plays James Cole, 3 convict from the tuture who’s sent back in time to trace the source of a lethal virus that has devastated the world’s population. Instead of reaching his destination of Philadelphia 1996, he pops up in Baltimore 1990, where he’s diagnosed as schizophrenic and thrown into a mental hospital beside hyperactive Brad Pitt.

Pulled back to the tuture, tlung into

World War One, then dumped at last in

1996, Cole unsurprisingly begins to

; wonder if he’s imagining it all,

particularly as he is unsettled by recurrent tlashes of a boy watching a man being shot. Nevertheless, he discovers a trail that leads him to the Army at the Twelve Monkeys and

j closer, he hopes, to the anarchists who released the virus.

Storywise, the film keeps you guessing with its balance of

conspiracy theories, red herrings and ; whodunnit mystery. It may stumble

over its own inner logic, but it’s an odd, engaging, eccentric creation

that’s set apart by Gilliam’s ever- brilliant visual skills and a mood of tragic inevitability that’s rare in a Hollywood star movie. The only real black mark goes to Brad Pitt who

; relies too much on the surface

twitches of typical cinematic crazy acting. (Alan Morrison)

12 Monkeys (15) (Terry Gilliam, US, 1995) Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, Brad Pitt. 129 mins. From Fri 19. General release.

I i I l



la Madre Muerte: ‘creepy melodramatic mood’

A hurglai' casually kills a mother lll front of her little girl. About ten _xears

later. he sees the same girl ' :ttid dcx'elops an ohs‘ess‘ix'e fascination for her. .-\t

first. he wants to kill her loo - |Ilil)'lk‘ slle

recognises him and tries to throw her under a train.

But then he experiences .I more pressing need lo

make the girl smile. Ills

frigid girlfriend doesn‘t

warm to the hi/arie

menage-atrois she finds herself in. especially when she sees her lox'er digging

Ills hand into the

teenager’s erotch. The

man. Ismael. keeps the two xxomen heside him

while one manoeux‘res for

the others death.

[1! .llm/r‘e .llllt'l'H‘ til/re Uem/ il/ul/lr'l'l xx‘eat's its themes of guilt and redemption right on the surface. The girl is a mute xx ith the mental age of a toddler to ltoot ~- perfect fodder for a killer’s

conscience. But. iii a dark

txxist. the film’s moral trajectory is not redemptixe. The killer sax‘es the girl hefore again planning her Iiiurder. lle cares for her and x iolates her over and ox er. Director .luamna liaio ITIIoa pursues amhiguttx

at the expense of all else. . lle denies the ptissllillll} ofcommunication

hetxxeen one human heing and another. As a result. there Is no recognisahle humanitx in aux of the characters. and /.u .l/(lt/l't' Mite/1e is unahle to touch the heart of its audience.

The best thing about the film is a creepx- melodramatic mood that infests the C()ltilll\. lighting and scenery. There is an iinpei'eeptihle rottenness in the look: a certain pungent sinfulness. (Hannah l‘riesi I,” .IItlt/I't' .I/Itt‘l'ltl l /.\'i

l./Il(l/llll(l lid/u (fl/ml.

.S‘lttri/r. /‘/‘).\‘i Ix'tu'm lf/(‘ju/r/t', .‘llltl JI/l‘tll't'f. /.l(r. /()7 lit/m. Kahlil/tax. I‘m/it 'Iire .x'tl .-l/rr: (i/tlxeltlt' I'll/Ill All/[C(H/t'. I-‘rmii /-'ri .i’ .I/(lx‘f fir/iitliurje/t l‘i/Iii/muxt'.

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