Directed by David DeCoteau
Echo Bridge Entertainment
(1996) 96 minutes
by Tammy Wanchena & Kevin Kocur
“Bandera” shouts the armed prison guard as he bangs on the cell door. It’s moving day. A woman lies in the middle of the road alongside the man who killed her. What law- abiding citizen could resist stopping to help? But, alas, this is a set up. Bad guys are afoot and they are about to free a dangerous criminal mastermind from his sentence behind bars. Sound familiar? Wait. There’s more….
A doorbell rings. The Commander is at the door. How do we know this is the Commander? Because at the door we find a very bloated, ponytail-sporting Stacy Keach; and he is always The Commander, or some other authoritative sounding role. He stands at the door of Special Ops Agent, Derek Leigh (Maxwell Caulfield, graduate of the Lorenzo Lamas School of Acting), and his family. Derek and his family have been in hiding since the day he put Damien Bandera behind bars. He has a new identity as the Village People’s construction worker. He has a loving wife and son, new friends, a new home, and a new baby on the way. How could Bandera possibly find him? How could we possibly predict the end of this movie?
Unless you live in Antarctica, you have hopefully guessed that Derek’s family and friends are brutally slaughtered and poor Maxwell Caulfied is left for dead. And you probably figured out that rather than dying, Maxwell will shave his 70’s porn ‘stache and go on a vengeance fueled rampage to avenge his loving family and friends.
Clean shaven and ready to kill, Derek looks to Master Yee for guidance and training so he can gain the strength, stealth, speed and balance which are second nature to the jaguar. The jaguar that represents the comic book hero his son had fabricated prior to his untimely demise. Never before and never again will you see such a cheesy ass, non-threatening hero as the jaguar. Not only does he look scary with his plastic chaps, plastic headband and Bing Crosby cowlick hanging over its top, but this bad ass rides a Kawasaki Ninja. Bandera beware! What can I say? This film was a “must see”. I loved every minute of it!
“Prey of the Jaguar” suffers from identity issues. It was made in the late 90’s, but with its obscure camera angles, and Jan Hammer-esque soundtrack (more electronic drums, please) it wants to be an 80’s music video. In one dream sequence, Derek’s now-dead wife appears to him, entering the room wearing a flowing white dress and surrounded by lots of fog. Apparently Derek’s dreams look like a Whitesnake video.
It also suffers from wanting to have a better grade of celebrities than the ones that actually appeared in the film. While working at his job site, Derek’s sporting a flannel shirt, baseball cap and his mustache. I couldn’t help but think he looks a lot like Jeff Foxworthy. Stacy Keach, sporting a ponytail and light beard, appears to be going to a costume party dressed as chef Mario Batali. Add to that a pretty boy assassin, two of Derek’s construction workers that look like they’re ready to leave the jobsite and go right into gay porn, and the eee-vihl Bandera—sporting a gold tooth and a British accent—and you have a no-star cast.
The fight scenes are both hokey and lame. Billed somewhat as a martial arts film, there’s actually more Kung Fu in the opening credits than in the rest of the film. In one of the fight scenes, it would appear that Jaguar has landed in a Crash Bandicoot video game. Other scenes looked like they were filmed in random offices and hallways. The Operation that Derek used to work for, is staffed by men in brown turtlenecks and black slacks, working on computers that appear to have been built in the 1960’s. The police appear to be inept, and favor wearing black suits with white gloves while investigating crime scenes. Or maybe they’re just aspiring mimes.
Let’s talk bikes! The Jaguar fights off evil-doers and gets around on a Kawasaki Ninja. The cooler Kawasaki in this movie, however, is the KZ1000P Police bike. I’ve always had a spot for them. However, the police should really reconsider their choice of vans used to transport prisoners. Theirs looks like its previous owner was either a rapist or else abducted children.
The ending was painfully predictable and…..confusing. It’s as if they ran out of budget and just turned off the cameras. I was wishing that I could have done the same to the TV two hours ago.