I was pretty excited to see Dead Mine after checking our the trailer and the behind the scenes feature on cable one time. Learning that it was an original production of HBO Asia got me even more psyched to see this movie. Alas, after spending the better part of two hours navigating the abandoned mine that doubled as a Japanese military headquarters in Indonesia, I felt like the Dead Mine led to nowhere but a dead end.
A group of explorers, led by financier Wesley Price (Les Loveday), his girlfriend Su-Ling played by Malaysian actress Carmen Soo, and researcher Rie (Japanese actress Miki Mizuno), together with guns for hire Stanley (Sam Hazeldine), Captain (Ario Bayu), pretty boy Ario (Mike Lewis), Djoko (Joe Taslim) and Sergeant Papa (Bang Tigor) set out on a mission to explore a mine in Indonesia which was said to be the site for a Japanese research facility — Unit 731 which was believed to have specialized in biological experiments intended to create the perfect soldier. However, when the group gets trapped in the abandoned mine, it is learned that Price did not only fund the mission because of research but rather because he believed that the treasure of General Yamashita was buried deep in the confines of the mine. What they find, however, might cost them more than the fortune they seek.
Dead Mine started off on a good premise. Abandoned mine, biological research, supersoldiers — but somehow, the potential just got lost in translation as the execution often bordered on boring with the snail paced pacing not helping the cause.
Dead Mine should have been original, based on what I saw in the trailer, but as it was unfolding, it seemed familiar — like a combination of The Descent, The Cave, The Hills Have Eyes, Hellboy: The Golden Army and Sanctum all rolled into one. The mutant POWs felt like echoes of previous humanoids in the aforementioned horror fests and really offered nothing new. The characters were mainly all talk, and when it came to fighting back, very few proved that they were any good at it. The mercenary Stanley, who was built up in the beginning to be one of the main characters, was a complete dud, whose lengthy dialogue throughout the movie proved to be just that. Meanwhile, the characters of Price and his girlfriend seemed like watered down versions of Sanctum’s billionaire Carl Hurley and his annoying girlfriend Victoria.
For such a serious movie, it was quite funny how the Japanese supersoldiers always had to get a good angle like they were posing a la Power Rangers whenever they attacked. I think that writer/director Steven Sheil was too fixated with angles and showing off how good the special effects were (the detailing in the experiments were great) that he forgot to follow through on how the dialogue connects with the actors, or just for it to make sense. I was fully expecting Stanley to so something awesome because he explained how he turned into a killing machine during his stint as a soldier but up until the last scene, nothing really of note.
In the end, aside from some success with the visuals, the filmmakers seemed to have just got tired of running around in circles and realized how pointless the movie truly is. The ending is in my opinion, was a lazy conclusion to an uneventful underground escapade, and I for one, felt cheated.
All in all, Dead Mine was a complete bust… and a major major disappointment. I kid you not.