Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Epicenter



EPICENTER (2000)

Directed by
: Richard Pepin
Written by: Greg McBride
Starring: Gary Daniels, Traci Lords and Jeff Fahey

Epicenter is another B-movie du-jour from the PM Entertainment camp. Instead of extended car chases and shoot-outs (pre-requisites in most PM films) we have earthquakes and a former porn star. Nick Constantine (Daniels) is a disgruntled employee of a computer systems company and is stealing their new high-tech military warfare software and selling it to the highest bidder. Unbeknown to him there is an undercover FBI agent, Amanda Foster (Lords) in the midst of the buyers and so Constantine is caught red-handed. Transported to Los Angeles, Constantine is pursued by the nefarious buyers and some corrupt cops who still want to get their hands on the software he stole. But wouldn’t you know it, an earthquake strikes, causing Constantine and Foster to form an uneasy alliance as they dodge determined crooks and falling buildings.



Epicenter is a fairly fun and ridiculous B-movie that gets by on some decent special effects. Daniels (Recoil) is as watchable as ever and it’s good to see him branching out into some non-martial arts roles. Lords (Ice) never convinces as an undercover FBI agent but certainly gives it all she’s got. Fahey (Body Parts) does his usual bad guy cheese and Daniela Nane (Dracula 2) makes a very sexy femme fatale. Even the kids, Katie Stuart and Andrew Francis, are pretty good in this flick, out-acting most of the adults. The whole thing passes along at a fair pace though it does take a while for the actual earthquake to happen. Still, the effects are pretty good and it’s all kind of fun in a very silly way.



What lets the film down is the wholesale rip-off of scenes from other movies. The filmmakers haven’t just copied scenes but lifted them straight from other movies and placed them in theirs. The car/streetcar chase sequence is taken from Eddie Murphy’s Metro and used in its entirety with close ups of this movie’s actors inserted. It doesn’t even work seamlessly as you can see the difference in film stocks as the action cuts between the scenes from Metro and Epicenter. Parts of the opening elevator scene are from Speed and the train crash from Money Train are also used. It is a really cheap and lazy trick that lessens the impact of the movie. It’s a shame as director Richard Pepin has made some quality B-movies before (The Silencers), featuring their own action and special effects. Yeah, you have to cut corners in filmmaking (especially of the B-movie variety) but this is going a bit far and has also occurred in other PM Entertainment films (Running Red nicked the bus chase from Red Heat and The Stray stole the car chase from Basic Instinct). It’s a pity as PM Entertainment has produced some fine action films (featuring some of the best ever filmed car chases) without having to resort to this tactic.

Overall, Epicenter is an entertaining B-movie, especially come the second half, but is cheapened by using stock footage from other, better, films. It would appear originality is dead in Hollywood after all.

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