Rob van Vuuren
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Shark Attack II (2000)
15th Mar 08
Take the plots of the four Jaws movies, mix them up and there you are.
With the inevitably of night following day and crusty patches on the lounge curtains following a good night in with a hot girl, Shark Attack gets a sequel, whether anyone wanted it or not. Casper Van Dien, presumably busy making some low-rent action flick in Bulgaria with a title like Fatal Target, neglected to return for Shark Attack II, directed by David Worth in 2000. Leagues livelier than its predecessor, this one earns “you’ve got a bloody cheek!” points for managing to rip off elements from all four Jaws movies while cannily balancing unintended laughs, pacey plotting and - hooray! - plentiful shark attacks. Only a miserable bastard would fail to wring some enjoyment out of this one. (After reading this, search reviews on the net and find plenty of miserable bastards doing just that).
Jaws 2 provides the, um, inspiration for the opening sequence in which our growling, roaring (!) shark attacks two female divers. The survivor of this assault is pretty, Heather Graham-esque blonde Nikita Ager, who gets it on with our marine biologist hero (Thorsten Kaye) during an amusing romantic beach montage set to a sub-Mariah Carey power ballad by Tina Meeks. This particular song will make you consider sticking your face in an industrial-sized fan or, if you catch it in a forgiving mood, merely perforating your own eardrums with sharpened HB pencils. Try not to succumb to temptation - the rest of the movie is better than most films with the word “Shark” in the title!
The setting is Cape Town, South Africa, which for some reason is overrun with people speaking in fake American accents. The town is gearing up for the grand opening of its theme park “Water World” and, as in Jaws 3, the park owner is eager to have a Great White as its main attraction so it can boast of having the first shark of its kind in captivity. It all goes pear-shaped, of course, and a hapless shark-feeder is dragged into the water and ripped apart by the creature on opening day in full view of numerous screaming brats. Ah, if only this kind of thing happened at Sea World, the admission price might be considered good value…
The shark escapes into the ocean and obnoxious Australian Discovery Channel host Daniel Alexander is brought in to assist the hunt. He says things like “You little beaut” and “Lets give these bloody dingoes what they deserve” just in case we were in any doubt that he’s Australian. He also bemoans “Sharks are evil, they need to be destroyed!” (there’s a positive, Discovery Channel attitude for you!) but, despite being successfully established as a total arsehole, the script encourages us to root for him. In the pic’s only direct link to Shark Attack, the Great Whites in this movie, who swim in schools, have grown at a dramatically accelerated rate and are extra-aggressive as the result of the first film’s experimentation.
This movie rivals the notorious The Last Shark in terms of pilfering ideas and scenes from the Universal franchise. One shark, which has a fondness for annoying kids by eating their remote control boats, sports disfigured features just like the villain of Jaws 2, because a character stabs it in the eye at the outset. The Mayor refuses to close the beaches despite the threat and allows an ill-fated surfing competition to take place. The score none too discreetly performs various riffs on John Williams’ classic discordant shark theme. Characters use shark-tracking devices just like those in Jaws The Revenge. Much like Mario Van Peebles in that film (or perhaps LL Cool J in Deep Blue Sea), the annoying Ozzie bloke (“Imagine the ratings, I’ll be bigger than Cousteau ever was!”) somehow survives being dragged by the shark in the final act. And, in the most blatant bit of cinematic cloning, director David Worth employs an identical dolly-zoom shot to the famous one in Jaws for a very similar sequence of the hero watching as the beach descends into panic.
For all its thievery, however, Shark Attack II is more fun than either of the final two Jaws movies. There are suspenseful situations -a shark cage assaulted by a school of Great Whites -, enjoyably gory scenes of surfers being munched on and even hilarious sub-Baywatch scenes of the hero running purposefully in glorious slo-mo.
This time out, the sharks are depicted by a surprisingly acceptable combination of stock footage, CGI and animatronics. The frequent cutting from real sharks to dodgy plastic fins sometimes jars and, when they pop out of the water, the fake sharks look much like the monster on Universal’s JAWS ride, but at least this sequel delivers the amount of big-fish action that its straight to DVD rivals often short-change on. The script even finds time for a pro-shark speech from the hero and an impersonation of South Park’s Cartman. What’s not to like?!
Versions Available on R1 and R2. The region 1 version is 1:78 which might cost you perhaps an extra pound on Amazon Marketplace. Go on, you're worth it.