Bullet Points: Savage (1996)
I can say with all sincerity that Savage is the best movie I have ever seen to combine virtual reality and ancient cave drawings. I can also say with all sincerity that it is the only movie I have ever seen to combine virtual reality and ancient cave drawings.
But therein lies the charm of this Olivier Gruner actioner. Savage is a one of a kind, unique movie watching experience and possibly the most entertaining Olivier Gruner movie I’ve ever watched.
- Back at the Ranch: Savage begins like many action movies do, with a glimpse into the life of our hero during happier times. Gruner plays a simple rancher named Alex. We see him playing with his young son (who has one of the most annoying voices in the history of movies) and Alex’s wife cleaning the house and preparing dinner all while singing Amazing Grace (thanks Public Domain). But this happy scene is soon disrupted by mysterious men who show up and kill everyone… everyone except Alex. He manages to survive but is so traumatized by the event that he becomes a mute and is locked up in a mental hospital. For years he just lays in bed, not saying a word until one night when the guy working nights at the hospital is watching a little local TV and the all Amazing Grace channel interrupts the movie he was watching. The song awakens something inside Alex and he soon escapes.
- Been Through the Desert: Now Alex has voices guiding him through the desert. They lead him to a cave. Alex unleashes his inner Savage as he learns from the ancient cave drawings on the walls of the cave. The cave becomes a training ground, as he mentally and physically prepares himself to hunt down and kill the man who was responsible for the death of his wife and son.
- Technological Titan: The main antagonist in the film is Reese Burroughs. He is the CEO of Titan, the worldwide leaders in the field of virtual reality. He is sort of a Bill Gates/Steve Jobs character, although with a lot more “mad scientist” thrown in. We learn that he was the man that ordered the deaths of Alex and his family after Alex refused several generous offers from Burroughs to buy his ranch. During his research, Burroughs discovered there was ancient alien technology on Alex’s property that would make Burroughs an immortal, hence the interest in Alex’s ranch. Burroughs’ go to guys to do his dirty work are Allen Poe and Edgar Wallace (played by Sam McMurray, who you may remember as Clark Griswold’s friend from work Bill, in Christmas Vacation). Wallace has a sort of skunk thing going on with his hair, a straight razor is his weapon of choice and he’s not a big fan of people calling him Edgar. Burroughs is also assisted by a sexy computer hacker named Marie Belot. We are introduced to the Marie character as she is banging some dude at her apartment.
- Beauty and the Beast: Assisting Alex on his quest to avenge the death of his family is the young female cop who processed him when he was brought to the police station, Nicky Carter (Jennifer Grant). Nicky goes all in, siding with Alex against her fellow officers and in the process becomes a fugitive on the run right along with him. Nicky is also a huge hockey fan, something that is established with her attire and some of the posters in her apartment. In fact, Nicky and her friend are leaving their Thursday night hockey league game when Nicky spots Alex walking down the street… the same Alex who was supposed to be back in the mental hospital!
One of the reasons I believe Savage succeeded where other Olivier Gruner movies have failed, is it enhanced his positives and minimized his negatives. With the Alex character turning into a grunting Savage for most of the movie, it cut down on the amount of dialogue that Gruner was required to deliver. And if you’ve ever seen an Olivier Gruner movie, you know less is more when it comes to Olivier delivering lines.
The other reason this movie worked was just how out there it was. The mixing of the ancient technology with the modern day virtual reality is a high concept for any movie, let alone a direct to video flick. And while I’m still not sure I can make heads or tails of any of it, I admire the ambition of the filmmakers on this one.
For those of you who haven’t had enough Savage Bullet Points, there’s no need to unleash your inner beast, just scroll down to enjoy some bonus Bullet Points…
- Bad Clips: The spirits that are guiding Savage to the evil Burroughs, instruct him to break a store front window and use some electric clippers to cut his wild mane of hair. He then proceeds to give himself one of the worst haircuts in the history of the world.
- Familiar Faces: One of the goons that try to take out Savage when he is locked up in jail was played by Peter Navy Tuiasosopo, who you may remember as E. Honda in the Street Fighter movie… Veteran character actor, Luke Askew plays a police captain in Savage. Askew’s career began in the late 60’s and he’s worked with everyone from John Wayne in The Green Berets to Gary Busey in Bulletproof.
- Memorable Quote: “I don’t give a rusty f*ck!” – Edgar Wallace
- If You Ever: …wanted to see Olivier Gruner rip all his clothes off and act like a wild man, then this is the movie for you.
- Bat Cave of Solitude: When Alex/Savage sees a vision of his dead wife telling him to avenge her death in his cave, I couldn’t help but think back to Superman The Movie and Superman’s conversations with his long deceased Kryptonian parents in his Fortress of Solitude.
- High Score: One of the most popular virtual reality games that Titan produces is Rump Wrangler. The object of the game, to walk around and grab the asses of unsuspecting females.