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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Red Water (2003)

"What happened to you, Kelly, and your mighty scientific principles? Come on! Drilling in a wildlife refuge?"
- John Sanders (Lou Diamond Phillips)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: March 09, 2004

Stars: Lou Diamond Phillips, Kristy Swanson
Other Stars: Coolio, Rob Boltin, Langley Kirkwood, Dennis Haskins
Director: Charles Robert Carner

MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Run Time: 01h:32m:11s
Release Date: March 09, 2004
UPC: 043396018617
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C+ DB-B- F

DVD Review

Red Water is a television movie, which right there should tell you all that you need to know about it. The fact that it is a lazy Jaws clone, a genre that really has been mercilessly exhausted over the last 25 years, should be another key indicator that there isn't really much here that either hasn't been done before, or for that matter, is especially interesting. The novel approach here is that the finned baddie is a humongous bull shark, which we're told is the only type that can live in freshwater, and in this case sets up human-eating residence in a backwoods Louisiana river.

It seems that a corporation drilling for natural gas reserves has not only run into some problems, but has inadvertently put this oversized shark in a very bad mood, to say nothing of a feeding frenzy. Company scientist Kelly (Kristy Swanson) is called in to recruit former driller extraordinaire ("he was the best in the business") John Sanders (Lou Diamond Phillips), who coincidentally is her former husband, and even more coincidentally runs a fishing charter business on the very same river. John's business is in the crapper, and he's about to lose his boat, so he reluctantly accepts the gig, though if Kristy Swanson were begging me to crawl slowly on jagged shards of germ-laden broken glass my only question would be "how far, my dear?" As a much needed additional layer to an already skimpy plot, a pair of gun-toting villains (Langley Kirkwood and Coolio) working for a drug lord are on the same river, hunting a lost trunk containing three million dollars.

In between some occasional innocent victim munching by the shark (including a literal copy of the beach sequence from Jaws), all of the main characters eventually end up trapped on a gas-drilling rig deep in a secluded area of a wildlife refuge, and it is up to John Sanders to not only stop the bad guys, but take care of their collective shark problem. Phillips generally gives watchable B-movie performances (check out his wonderfully over-the-top villain in Stark Raving Mad), and he's more than tolerable in the lead here; though his character is weighed down by the genre-required troubled past, he is still able to make that questionable leap from mild-mannered fishing boat captain to shark-fighting action hero in what seems like a heartbeat. And darn that Kristy Swanson, who is left with not much to do but to go conveniently from chilly corporate exec to a soaking wet girl-in-trouble ready for rescue.

Red Water was directed by B-movie veteran Charles Robert Carner (egads, he wrote the gymnastic thriller Gymkata), with South Africa doubling as Louisiana. Instead of exploring uncharted waters (no pun intended), Carner was put in the unenviable position of trying to make something old seem new again, and the script, penned by J.D. Feigelson (Dark Night of the Scarecrow) seems confused whether it wants to be a rogue shark or action movie.

Simply changing the setting to freshwater doesn't really make the repeated use of a half-submerged shark trailing after some forlorn swimmer particularly exciting.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: D


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The 1.33:1 full-frame transfer from Columbia TriStar has some recurring fine grain issues, and late in the film I noticed a number of white specks, which on such a recent film seemed a little disheartening. Most of these issues are evident during the night scenes, though daylight sequences do have a strong, vibrant color palette, with consistently reliable and natural fleshtones. Image detail is generally sharp, except during the few underwater sequences where things are significantly muddier and less defined.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: A straight-forward 2.0 Dolby Surround audio track delivers clear, discernible dialogue, and the absence of any rear channel usage is not really a hindrance here. Some directional imaging across the fronts is noticeable once in a while, but this one is unremarkably plain in its presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bats, The Big Hit, Ride or Die
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Three trailers, a healthy dose of subtitle options and 28 chapter stops are all that's here.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

This is a tired made-for-cable Jaws retread that relies more on putting a perpetually wet Kristy Swanson in low-cut outfits than generating any actual excitement.

We've seen all this before.



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