Deep Rising (1998)

Deep Rising (1998), written and directed by Stephen Sommers.

In a remarkable set of coincidences one stormy night in the South China Sea:

A night to remember!

Nine years after a burst of deep sea creature-features -- DeepStar Six (1989), Leviathan (1989), The Abyss (1989) -- we have another entry in the genre. It's set on the surface but fits especially well with the first two films.

The emphasis is less on horror this time and more on action/adventure. Pure "horror" suggests the nightmare of getting into situations that cannot be handled. Not in this case: our three favorite characters are handling both human and marine monsters with wit, clever repartee and abundant gunfire. We have high confidence they will survive.

Treat Williams and Famke Janssen instantly strike sparks in a meet-cute monster survival setting. Love at first sight, trust a little later. Lover-not-a-fighter Kevin J. O'Connor provides extra comic commentary. He has a girlfriend -- Korean actress Una Damon -- who I wish had lasted longer.

We love to hate ship owner Anthony Heald. We are also not fond of the mercenaries because they are cruel to our heroes. All are monster food in the end: Wes Studi, Jason Flemyng, Cliff Curtis, Djimon Hounsou. We always like it when tough guys meet something worse.

We never get attached to the rich gambling tourists on the luxury liner. Just as well. Maybe we like thief Janssen better because she is stealing from them, as well as being sharp and pretty.

You won't believe it, but we have a countdown race against a missile warhead detonation. How do the writers come up with this stuff?

Director Sommers -- The Mummy (1999) -- tends to overdo everything. He boasts about it. I think we eventually have enough of muscular tentacles charging down corridors, and when our favorite couple are fleeing on a jet-ski down flooded passages, firing a shotgun, we are ready to be done.

Harrison Ford turned down the lead, which I think was wise. This is way too overblown for him, which is saying something given some of the other action films he has been in.

Jerry Goldsmith score, returning from Leviathan (1989) and dozens of others.

My thumbnails are from the Mill Creek Blu-ray, a double feature with The Puppet Masters (1994). Kino also has a Blu-ray but I have not seen it.