Gale Force (2002) — A wonky Survivor ripoff

“I’m getting too old for this…”

PoolMan’s rating: Dare I say it…? Vote me off the island!

PoolMan’s review: It all started so innocently. A lovely dinner evening with some friends, a couple of drinks, some laughs, and a choice between two movies they had rented. Gale Force, and another one whose plot summary ran on for so long I don’t know how they fit it onto the back of the box. Being of tired brain, we all decided the “Survivor ripoff” sounded a little easier to take, so we plunked it in, and pressed play. And boy, we just never looked back.

Be warned now, I’m going to say pretty much the same thing as I did for Battlefield Earth, so if you rented that one looking for a laugh and have since been looking for a hitman willing to come into Canada to find me, this is your call. Gale Force is one of the most confusing, unintentionally funny, and just plain bad movies I have ever seen. Laughed my ass off, I did, for all the wrong reasons. But so did the rest of the party, so it’s not like I’m alone on this one.

Let me see if I can explain the driving concept here. The movie opens with a rogue cop fouling up a hostage situation and getting kicked off the force (even though he’s totally correct in his actions). Okay, stop the tape. When you watch the opening car chase, take a good close look at it. Look familiar? The ENTIRE scene, except for closeups of the cop’s face (and no, I don’t care what his name is) is copied from Schwarzenegger’s Last Action Hero. And I don’t mean imitated. They took the original film stock and reused it, even going so far as to dress the lead actor in Arnold’s clothes so the shots match.

Buckle up, this happens A LOT. Everything in this movie is stolen, from footage to plot. I didn’t know this kind of filmmaking was legal! Maybe it isn’t, I have no idea.

So anyway, we follow our rogue cop (who, incidentally, is the nicest guy in the world, which makes you wonder how on earth he’s a ROGUE cop) as he’s offered the chance to join the cast on a reality TV show called Treasure Hunter, which situates eight people on a tropical island where they’ll compete with each other and the island itself to try and win $10 million. Sound familiar? Yep, this is such a blatant Survivor ripoff that by the time they introduce the 60-year-old grouchy ex-Navy Seal (whose name I also don’t remember, but we’ll call him Rudy) you’ll be laughing your butt off. That, or throwing a bowling ball through your TV. It’s all about your tolerance for pain, folks. No less than five times during this movie, I turned to my buddy and repeated the word “EXPOSITION” with a fancy hand gesture, it was that obvious.

I could go on with the story, but honestly, it’s just too painful. The plot wanders all over the place like a drunken llama with three legs. It’s remarkable. First, it’s contestants versus contestants. Then there’s criminally insane soldiers on the island shooting cameramen. THEN there’s Perfect Storm-ripoff with the threat of a humongous storm and tsunami poised to wipe out not only the game island, but Hawaii itself (but don’t worry, you never find out what happens).

And manipulating it all is the Evil TV Producer, who spends the entire movie talking about how he doesn’t care what happens to these people so long as the ratings are up, until the 18th speech by the network weatherman and the red haired Anne Heche lookalike about what a dink he is suddenly gets through, and he inexplicably sits down to help.  Of course, the tsunami’s about to eat Waimea by now, so it doesn’t help. I guess they die, but they don’t tell you, so it probably wasn’t all that important.

The creators of the movie just keep throwing more and more on the screen in the hopes that some of it will come across as some viable threat to the characters. Speaking of those pesky characters, it’s amazing how much time they spend developing certain characters only to totally abandon them from the story. They must reiterate that the big black guy is a security guard who carries guns for a living about a thousand times, and when the action finally hits, he does nothing! Well, nothing except get electrocuted by a tree. And to top it all off, the most enjoyable part of the flick is that it has Curtis “Booger” Armstrong in it. Ever wanted to know what the Revenge of the Nerds star went on to? Look no further.

I’m not going to watch this thing again looking for quotes, but let me tell you this. If you’ve heard a line, ANY line, in another movie, it’s been uttered here. The list of clichés is amazing. From the sassy woman who actually says “If you boys would just put your brains back in your pants, we’ll all get along fine” to Rudy saying “I’m getting too old for this s***!” (I swear to God), the entire script screams “cut n’ paste”.

This flick is, for those into this sort of thing, the perfect thing for a night of MST3K action. If you enjoy talking over your movies and mocking the characters, go nuts. Even my relatively quiet friends started turning into Tom Servo. In this respect, it’s worth watching once, and never again. However, if high budget B movies aren’t your thing, stay away. Stay far away.

Didja notice?

  • Lightning… the shaky killer!
  • The entire car chase scene in the opening is stolen from Last Action Hero, including the bizarre “exploding ice cream truck”.
  • The cast of the show haven’t been told all the rules of the game before they start playing… they’re genuinely surprised to learn about the “pirates” on the island.
  • How many times can the black girl fall down?!?
  • Despite repeated warnings that helicopters can’t fly in the storm, they do. Repeatedly. And perfectly level, too.
  • Did anyone else start singing the Gilligan’s Island theme at the scene with the treasure chest?
  • BOOGER!!!
  • The older girl sprains her ankle, a point which is made quite clearly. Yet she is seen running and leaping throughout the rest of the movie.
  • The love interest girl gets shot in the shoulder. She is seen in perfect makeup for the balance of the film, described as “in shock” and given poor chances of survival, and yet she looks as healthy as she did in her first scene.

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