Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr|
Actors: Ken Wahl, Lesley Ann Warren, Donald Pleasence, George Peppard, Bruno Lawrence
Director: David Hemmings
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Studio: Peace Arch Home Entertain Release Date: 05/16/2006 Run time: 108 minutes Rating: Pg
Similarly Requested DVDs
Amiable Kiwi-UK-US-Oz film; let down by horrible soundtrack
Laon | moon-lit Surry Hills | 01/01/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This should have been a three-star movie. It has merits, chief of which is the use of the same stunning South Island (New Zealand) scenery that appeared in the Lord of the Rings films, but without the digital trickery.
There are a few authentically kiwi moments: the scene where the heroes tow a broken helicopter into an isolated farm, where the farmers turn it into something like a moon buggy using only number 8 wire and four-by-two draws on one of the classic New Zealand myths (kiwi engineering, mate); the mountain hut where people drop round spontaneously to drink and sing old songs is another, and completely true to life (no, seriously, it is); and the scene where the old codger is thrown out of the pub and tries to get back through the wall with a chain saw is adapted from a sequence in Barry Crump's "Hang on a Minute Mate", which starts as a set of charming yarns and steadily turns darker, and is one of New Zealand's best novels. So if you want New Zealandiana, it's there.
There's also a plot about two gangs searching for a lost US plane containing $50 billion in bullion, or some such. One side are supposed to be bad, and are led by George Peppard, with kiwi superstar Bruno Lawrence as his chief henchperson. The other side is Ken Wahl and Lesley Ann Warren, who you may remember from such films as, plus Donald Pleasance, usually a reliably enjoyable actor. The story is the usual stuff no-one could care about, but it's amiably done using brilliant locations, and it ought to have been pleasant enough.
Which brings us to the drawbacks. First, Donald Pleasance's performance is horrible. David Hemmings, directing his second film, obviously told Pleasance to be a wheezing, cackling drunken sot, but unfortunately neither Pleasance nor Hemmings knew when to pull that in once the point had been made. Pleasance just doesn't shut up. He wheezes, he cackles, constantly, without purpose or motivation; it's just what he does. Five minutes of this was four more than I needed to listen to, and Pleasance just doesn't let up. It is one of the most dislikeable film performances I have ever endured, and yet we are obviously supposed to think of the character as a loveable old scamp. Instead I found myself rooting for the bad guys, seriously and with feeling, every time one of them pointed a gun at him. If the only way to get Pleasance to tone down his performance was to kill off the character, it would have been well worth it. Sooner the better.
The other thing that drags down this film also concerns the soundtrack. The film score by the Australian hack Brian May is indescribably awful: witless, noisy, clichéd junk. Unfortunately the sound editor must have liked it much more than the actors' performances, so that May's pointless throbbing and booming and flailing is turned up so loud, relative to the dialogue track, that much of the time you can't hear whatever it is that the actors are shouting at each other.
It's a pity, because Ken Wahl and Lesley Ann Warren actually did a pretty good job of their part of the movie, and there's nothing wrong with the mindless chase genre. But as a result of the horrible soundtrack, disfigured by May's awful music, terrible sound mixing, and Pleasance's horrible performance, the film is most bearably watched with the sound turned off, as a travelogue of the Southern Alps.
By the way, this film, called "Treasure of the Yankee Zephyr" here, is the same film as "Race to the Yankee Zephyr", its original title, and it has also been marketed as "Race for the Yankee Zephyr".
If they re-edited it, putting May's music in the distant background and muting Pleasance's sound effects as far as possible, they'd have a three-star movie. As it is it really only deserves one star, to be honest, but I gave it an extra star for the scenery.
Frenzied silliness in Fiordland
Charles Eggen | Springfield, Oregon, USA | 11/09/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A deer hunter(Wahl)and his bumbling partner(Pleasance) by chance
stumble upon the wreckage of a DC-3 on the shore of Lake
Wakatipu. Included amongst its cargo are medals, booze, money and
$50 million in gold bullion. Before they can begin recovery,
others get wind of the discovery and show up to pressure them in
revealing the location. This is an action/chase, frankly silly,
film with most of its energy occurring in the numerous stunts,
chases and explosions. I'll bet that George Peppard does not put this one
on his resume. Great helicopter shots of Fiordland and the Queenstown
area are the main reasons for seeing this one. VHS copies are NOT widescreen.
The DVD has no extras, but it is presented in the original 2.35:1 Cinemascope widescreen."
Worth the wait, I guess
Kim Laduke | 08/25/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The master wasn't so hot; not much better than the crappy VHS copy I had. But it works, and no tracking worries.
The packaging is amateurish, with a misspelling or two and completely misleading cover art.
The disk menu is bare-bones with no extra features.
I wouldn't have wanted to pay much more for this, long wait or not, but I'm satisfied."