Hey gang, Valkor here. Any time I hear anything good about an upcoming film, whether it's gonna be scary, really funny, or it'll damn near break your heart (in a good way), I'm usually all over it. This next flick to come across my desk – Dead Mine, is one of those films that I read about before watching it and my expectations were high from what I learned. However, it's never good to have high expectations because in the end Dead Mine looks great but falls short of greatness.
Dead Mine centers on a group of treasure hunters and their mercenary escorts as they search an abandoned mine, for what they believe contains General Yamashita's lost gold that has been buried within the mine during the World War 2 era. But before the group can begin their initial survey of the mine, they're forced and trapped inside by a group of rebels soldiers. In an attempt to find a way out of the mine, the group discovers they're not completely alone as infested throughout the mine are a bunch of mutated creatures with their brainwaves set on "kill". Turns out the mine was used to conduct crazy experiments, which not only created the creatures, but also Yamashita's Samurai Elite, who have awoken and are now on the hunt alongside the mutate freaks to track down and kill the remaining survivors.
Dead Mine is the first film for HBO Asia and was shot in Indonesia by Singapore company Infinite Studios. The film boasts amazing backdrops, stunt pieces and special effects. And while I would agree with that statement, for the most part, there's a lot here that holds the film back from true awesomeness, especially that ending. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Dead Mine reminds me of Monster, not comparing the story but by how it was filmed, and the overall presentation is quite stunning. The backdrops, especially the Indonesian jungle areas are quite stunning and the attention to detail in and out of the mine is superb. The story walks familiar territory and it's almost Predator-esque, but without the fun and cheesy lines. There's a lot of tension buildup, a few scares, and that ending that you'll either like it or lump it (I lumped it). The makeup effects on the creatures, the samurai guards, and that one lost soldier who has been holding down the fort for decades looks amazing, repeating what I said from the start of this section, very nice attention to detail. And the look of the mutant creatures? Gruesome. The acting is a mix bag and while I don't mention any names breaking down the plot, there are a few stands outs such as snobbish dick Price played by Les Loveday; if the goal was to get people to hate that character then you sir have nailed it and I loved to hate on Warren Price. Another strong actor is Ario Bayu as Captain Tino Prawa; dude gives a commanding performance as leader of the mercs. Finally I gotta give a nod to Miki Mizuno who plays guide Rie; she comes across very timid at first, but breaks out later in the film. So there's a lot to like about Dead Mine, but there are some elements that hold this film back from true horror status.
For one thing, the film isn't all that scary; in fact it's kind of slow and somewhat boring even with all those cool elements in place. The film does pick up towards the end, but by then I almost nodded out – almost. Thankfully I stuck it out, however the ending is where I lost it because it finishes so abruptly. Actually I shouldn't hate on the ending as much because it plays out realistically, but when it happened I could tell that most who'll watch this film, will not be pleased – yours truly included. The film also has a few "dumb moments" that make you scratch your head and wonder "who thought that was a good idea?". For example, at the beginning when the group is being forced into the mine by the rebels, one of the soldiers falls and right next to him lands a grenade. It goes off and you'd think the guy was blown to bits? Nope! He only gets his legs busted. How in the hell does that happen? And keeping him alive makes absolutely no sense and it would have definitely sped up the pacing as that's just one less soldier to think about.
The Ugly: Oof! The look of them mutant creatures!
Dead Mine, while it has some decent acting, beautiful backdrops, and nice effects, it comes across as an average horror with an ending that may or may not anger up your blood. You can pick up your copy on DVD and Blu-Ray now, but as it stands, out of TOV 5 stars, Dead Mine gets a 3.