Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tropical B: Deep Gold

The island of Cebu has some stunning scenery, but evidently it is far too hot there for the women to wear anything round their midriffs. Fair enough. That makes it the perfect locale to start an old school fun-in-the-sun actioner. The 3-D might be somewhat unnecessary though in Michael Gleissner’s Deep Gold (trailer here), now playing in Los Angeles.

Much like the LarraƱaga family in Michael Collins’ Tribeca award winning doc Give Up Tomorrow (except not really), Amy Sanchez is out to clear the name of her Air Force pilot boyfriend, Tony de la Cruz. He was last heard from flying a shipment of recovered gold (presumably plundered by Marcos) that disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Based on flight trajectories and tide charts, the plane appears to have crashed in particularly deep waters off Talipanan. As synchronicity would have it, Sanchez happens to be the world record holder for free diving.

To vindicate the missing de la Cruz and maybe fix their financial problems, Amy and her sister Jess set out to salvage the gold. The former Sanchez will have to do all the aquatic work though. After a traumatic incident in their childhood, the latter compulsively avoids the water. However, she still looks good in a swimsuit.

Produced entirely in English, Deep is the sort of B-film that used to pop up in theaters regularly but these days movie-goers need to seek out at specialty fests. Indeed, there are several presentable action sequences, plenty of exotic scenery, and two lovely leading ladies. However, the occasional attempts at humor fall rather flat.

Though Vietnamese rather than Filipino, Bebe Pham makes a surprisingly strong action star, handling sister Amy’s two fight scenes quite credibly. Likewise, Jaymee Ong (Chinese Australian, but who cares) has a vibrant screen presence as sister Jess. Unfortunately, director Gleissner is an altogether colorless villain, which is a distinct drawback for a film like this.

Deep certainly looks good, with cinematographer Rick Robinson giving Cebu and Talipanan the right Hawaii Five-O kind of sheen. It is only really missing Sybil Danning as gun-toting henchwoman. It is a hard film to recommend per se, but it definitely has a nostalgic appeal and an attractive cast, all safely (or disappointingly) rated PG-13. For those who get it, Deep is currently playing at the Bigfoot Crest Theater in Los Angeles.