A road movie about a young couple on the run, HEAVEN'S BURNING has enough attractive players, stunt-powered confrontations, and whirling camera movements to ensure that it will never get dull. But neither is it vital nor original. Action junkies will get just enough sex and mayhem to avoid
genre withdrawal symptoms.
The Australian honeymoon quickly ends for visiting Japanese executive Yukio (Kenji Isomura) when his unloving bride Midori (Youki Kudoh) fakes her own kidnapping after having second thoughts about settling for a marriage of convenience. Having been left in the lurch by a married boyfriend, Midori
nonetheless imprudently abandons and disgraces the status-conscious Yukio.
Meanwhile, a down-and-out Aussie mechanic named Colin (Russell Crowe) reluctantly becomes a bank heist driver for his Afghani immigrant pal Mahood (Robert Mammone) and Mahood's father Boorjan (Petru Gheorgiu). During the disastrous holdup, which leaves one robber dead, the stickup crew takes a
customer hostage; it is the luckless Midori. After eluding the cops, Mahood's gang decides to execute Midori; while defending her, Colin fatally wounds Mahood's brother.
On the lam from the Mahood gang, Colin and Midori are also trailed by dishonored Yukio (who has spotted Midori on the evening news). The vengeful Afghanis locate Colin through credit card receipts. Mahood and Boorjan torture Colin, nailing his hand to a dresser in his motel room, but he breaks
free and shoots them dead.
After recuperating from his wounds at the sheep ranch of his father Cam (Ray Barrett), Colin takes Midori to an ocean resort. The unrelenting Yukio continues his pursuit, slaughtering Cam and anyone else who has aided the fugitive couple. At the resort, Yukio shoots Colin; Midori shoots and kills
Yukio, but not before he wounds her as well. After a subsequent police chase, the couple's car catches fire. Colin dies, and Midori shoots herself in the head before the car explodes.
Ever since Quentin Tarantino beat Hollywood's crimescape to a pulp with PULP FICTION (1995), brash young filmmakers have set their sights on his territory. Punctuated by scenes of sadistic torture, car explosions, HEAVEN'S BURNING is neither a top- nor bottom-drawer entry in that wannabe arena.
Although magnetic star Russell Crowe dominates the dark scenario, his character's judgment is so questionable, one loses patience with him. The other principals (runaway bride Midori, the vengeful Mahood gang, hubby/spree-killer Yukio) register as little more than comic book sidekicks for an
anti-hero who embraces a criminal lifestyle far too easily. The self-absorption of the film's characters is only memorable for the glee with which they attack each other; the audience only stays awake due to the director's skill in conveying appetites for brutality. In HEAVEN'S BURNING, the
audience becomes a cheering section at a marathon sporting event of Getting Even. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, nudity, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: R
- Review: A road movie about a young couple on the run, HEAVEN'S BURNING has enough attractive players, stunt-powered confrontations, and whirling camera movements to ensure that it will never get dull. But neither is it vital nor original. Action junkies will get j… (more)