Man From Deep River/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Foreword: In the dense jungle along the often ill defined border between Thailand and Burma, It is still possible to find primitive tribes which have no contact with the outside world. This story was filmed on location with one of these tribes, and even though some of the rites and ceremonies shown are perhaps gruesome and repugnant they are protrayed as they are actually carried out. Only the story is imaginary.
You wouldn't expect that last sentence to be mentioned in an exploitation film!
So on with the movie. A nature photographer from London named Bradley (Ivan Rassimov) is on assignment in Thailand. After getting in a bit of trouble in Bangkok, Bradley takes off into the jungle. It's unknown if venturing into the jungle is part of his job or if he's doing this out of pure escapism. Either way, he's headed so deep into the jungle that chances are he's not gonna make it back. Part one of his nightmare begins when he wakes up to find his boat guide laying murdered in the river. Native weaponry looks to have killed the guide. Moments later, Bradley is captured in a net by the natives and taken to their village. Since he was caught with his scuba suit on, the natives refer to him as "Fish Man" and force him to go underwater and fetch food for them. Not only that, but he's now forced to work hard labor for them in building huts and such. With the aid of the sympathetic, tribe governess (Who speaks a little english) Bradley is given a specific date on when to make an escape. The date comes and he makes a dash for it, but the native warriors are on his trail. The chase ends in a one-on-one duel to the death. Bradley previals in the struggle and is expected to be returned to the village and executed. Instead, the act of killing a warrior is seen as noble and heroic by the natives and Brad's given the chance of becoming a warrior for the tribe! Part two of his nightmare begins when he has to go through the tribal hazing of becoming a warrior through various acts of torture. Brad passes his test and is now part of the tribe. But that's not all. The tribe governor's daughter, Maryah (Me Me Lai) picks Brad to be her husband. Though some much needed lovin' might have been on Brad's mind through all this, he soon develops deep feelings for Maryah and their marriage is indeed one out of love. Part three of the nightmare begins...Wait, this might not be a nightmare for Bradley anymore! Will he ever feel the need to return back to civilization?
It's almost impossible to bring this film up and not help but to make comparisons to Ruggero Deodato's later Jungle Holocaust. Both movies star Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai. Both movies are about a white man being abducted by a primitive culture. And both movies feature a bit of cannibal action and animal cruelty. But that's where the comparisons end. Where as the Deodato film was a blunt film about survival and escape, this film becomes more of an romantic adventure. And while genre lovers may feel a little let down by some of the sappy romance stuff to be found in MAN/RIVER, I felt it was good to actually have a different contrast of tales between this and Deodato's film (Which was actually planned to be made by Umberto Lenzi after the success of MAN/RIVER) And speaking of Lenzi, this is one of the stronger works I've seen by him. Though he's not alone in help making this one work. The acclaim should also go to some of the rest of the crew including Daniele Patucchi's musical score. Even though it's just a few themes repeated over and over and it doesn't obtain any "Native" sounds to enhance the jungle experience, it's still a nice score to listen to. Special praise also goes to the photography done by Riccardo Pallottini in help of making the best looking film I've seen from Umberto Lenzi yet! Though MAN/RIVER lacks the impact of the hard-hitting elements of gore and (Real) animal deaths seen in the majority of "Italian Jungle Cannibal" movies, it's good to have one that has more of a love story for once. And romance and cannibalism go hand in hand, right?
Reviewed by Laydback