If nothing else, Fire on the Amazon serves as a reminder that superstardom does not occur overnight in Tinseltown, and some unlucky starlets have to hock their wares in bottom-of-the-barrel, straight to video schlock. Yes, like many of those "overnight success" stories, Bullock had to slog through made-for-television weepies and cheapies, raunchy comedies and rip-offs of bigger, better Hollywood blockbusters.
Director Luis Llosa was working his way through the ranks as well (he would go on to produce more generic action-adventure stories with gratuitous steamy sex scenes in the Stallone-Stone vehicle, The Specialist). If Llosa is the best talent Corman has to offer these days, which seems to be the case, I long for the days of Joe Dante, Ron Howard, and Paul Bartel where the films were done on a shoestring budget but had a vivid imagination and willingness to take chances.
Casual moviegoers who don't know about Sandra Bullock's notorious nude scene may never make it to that carnal encounter. It's difficult to blame them, considering that the script epitomizes slapdash quality without interest in sustaining tension, mood or suspense. It just flops about like a dying fish for ninety minutes.
The plot: Photographer Craig Sheffer, who sprouts a leonine mane of hair, investigates a hot story in the Amazon basin. A dotty old activist has been brutally murdered in his shower (which resembles a cheap wooden outhouse) and he has to know the truth. He roams the streets snapping photographs of swarthy soldier types beating on innocent civilians, and dodges thugs at the embassy, all the while offering forgettable wise-ass comments which slowly but surely grate on the nerves.
You'll be reaching for the remote long before Sandra Bullock shows up as "the girl next door", a fellow activist fighting the good fight for her fallen comrade. She and the photographer hate each other so much, trading snippy comments about man's responsibility to the jungle, which is being demolished by industrial businessmen and rotten gangsters.
In their effort to save the trees, Sandra and Craig venture deep into the jungle in a boat. Count the minutes before they're both soaking wet. After maybe twenty minutes of their jungle re-enactment of The Blair Witch Project, they arrive at a friendly native village, smoke some of the wacky weed, and have a nude tussle in their hut.
The only scene worth extensive commentary is the sex scene midway into the picture. It's your standard stuff for those tacky straight-to-video Basic Instinct rip-offs, all dimly lit sweaty bodies gyrating together. Lusty young male members of the species will be appropriately satisfied by the amount of skin Sandra Bullock displays, which leave little to the imagination. It's sultry, she's got a terrific figure, and the scene lasts a good five minutes. I could have done without Craig Sheffer crawling on the floor thinking he's a panther, but who's complaining?
Unfortunately, that's the only halfway memorable scene in the movie. The rest of the time, we're stuck with the painfully bland repartee between Han Solo and Princess Leia as they learn to love each other and their place in this wonderful, natural world of ours. The plot is so muddled and confusing we often don't know exactly what our heroes are trying to accomplish floundering in that forest of grass.
If it weren't Sandra Bullock, this is the type of flick which, with its unimaginative lighting, serviceable plot, routine synthesizer score and forgettable set pieces, this would quickly go to the back of the shelves and be forgotten. As it stands, one quickly understands why she strove to keep it off the shelves - perhaps less because of the gratuitous nudity than the inept filmmaking.
Then again, perhaps I'm wrong. She did act as producer for Gun Shy.
Run time: 87 mins
Distributed by: Concorde/New Horizons Home Video
Production compaines: Concorde-New Horizons
Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5
IMDB: 3.4 / 10
Director: Luis Llosa
Producer: Luis Llosa
Starring: Sandra Bullock as Alyssa Rothman, Craig Sheffer as R.J., Juan Fernández as Ataninde, Judith Chapman as Sandra, Ramsay Ross as Pistoleiro, David Elkin as Lucavida, Jorge García Bustamante as Valdez (as Jorge Garcia Bustamente), Baldomero Cáceres as Pedro, Carlos Victoria as Miguel, Ramón García as Chato
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