Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Chain (1996)

A scan of my VHS copy of The Chain
The Chain (1996)
Director: Luca Bercovici
Starring: Gary Busey, Victor Rivers, Jamie Rose, Rez Cortez
Format: VHS (Palace Home Video)

Two prisoners hate each other but must work together when they escape captivity, because they are joined at the wrist by a heavy metal chain. As a plot hook it's been done many times, most famously in Stanley Kramer's 1958 classic The Defiant Ones. In 1996 two movies were released with this premise. Fled, starring Laurence Fishburne and Stephen Baldwin, had a theatrical release and made quite a bit of money. The Chain, on the other hand, was shot in The Philippines on a small budget and probably went straight to video, forever consigned to obscurity.

Frank Morrissey (Busey) is an American cop obsessed with catching international gunrunner Carlos (Rivers, BLOOD IN BLOOD OUT). He travels to South America in pursuit of his taunting nemesis, but both end up being captured by soldiers  and thrown into a jungle prison. When they repeatedly try to kill each other, the two rivals are chained together (hence the name). An attack by rebel forces allows them to escape into the jungle, but the soldiers are hot on their trail and they're still chained together, forcing them to put their hatred aside and work together to survive.

If you're like me, you'll watch anything Gary Busey is in. Whether he's appearing in genuinely good movies (Point Break) or action movie escapism (Under Siege, Eye of the Tiger, Surviving the Game), Busey is always entertaining to watch. Is his unorthodox acting style the result of drug addictions or a head injury he supposedly suffered in 1988? Either way there's only one Gary Busey.

Here he's in good form. Not great, but good. There's also a couple of big battle scenes you'd expect from a Philippines production (it's funny that despite this movie being set in South America, the soldiers and rebels in said battle scenes are quite obviously Asian). On the down side, director Bercovici (who interestingly along with co-writer Jefery Levy shares the original Ghoulies movie in his film credits) is clueless about pacing an action movie and some of his camera work is distracting rather than innovative.

Also of note is a brief scene involving Philippino action flick regular Ken Metcalfe (WARRIORS OF THE APOCALYPSE, THE MUTHERS etc) in his second to last movie.

The Chain is by no means a good movie. It's not the worst thing out there, but I think most action fans will find it boring for the most part. If you want another chance to see the Buse-meister in action during his heyday (before he became a complete caricature of himself) check it out, but otherwise there are much better films worthy of your time. Especially disappointing because of its filming locale.

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