Precious Find

  • 1996
  • Movie
  • R
  • Science Fiction

PRECIOUS FIND is a B-western cheekily masquerading as a B-science fiction film. It owes a heavy debt to TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948), but its campy tone undermines that classic film's epic themes of greed and calamitous mistrust. In the future, a neo-gold rush starts because of the valuable ore Au79, nicknamed "precious." Ben (Harold Pruett), a young...read more

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PRECIOUS FIND is a B-western cheekily masquerading as a B-science fiction film. It owes a heavy debt to TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948), but its campy tone undermines that classic film's epic themes of greed and calamitous mistrust.

In the future, a neo-gold rush starts because of the valuable ore Au79, nicknamed "precious." Ben (Harold Pruett), a young would-be prospector, arrives on the boomtown spaceport Moon City and tries to enlist with precious-mining outfits. He forms an uneasy partnership with suspicious gambler

Armond Crile (Rutger Hauer) and maintenance engineer Sam Horton (Brion James), taking Horton's garbage-scow vessel Maggie May to explore the Earth-like Asteroid 18 for a precious deposit indicated on a long-range scan Crile won in a card game. After some false strikes, a dust storm finally turns

up a rich vein of precious ore, but almost immediately Crile accuses the other men of conspiring against him to keep the motherlode for themselves. Relations are further strained by the arrival of Camilla (Joan Chen) and Saloman (Morgan Hunter), seasoned prospectors Ben earlier sought to join.

Raids by claim-jumping samurai cyborg Loo Seki (Don Stroud) compel the quintet to gather their precious samples and leave for home. But treacherous Saloman blows up the mine, leaving the men for dead as he drags Camilla earthward with him. Ben and Sam take the Maggie May back, while the abandoned

Crile allies himself with Loo Seki for a showdown at Moon City, where Camilla guards the gold (having killed Saloman). Ben slays Loo Seki, but a crazed Crile hijacks the Maggie May and all the booty. In his madness, he ignores the ship's autopilot flight plan, jettisoning him and the cargo into a

lunar waste dump. Ben and fiancee Camilla retire to a rural lifestyle on Earth, and Ben declines Sam's invitation to another treasure hunt...maybe.

Science fiction--or at least its superficial jargon and gadgetry--often turns up in cinema as a cosmetic overlay, imposed on plot material that would hold minimal interest played straight. And much too often that material is recycled western cliches. Even when executed as parody (the

straight-to-video OBLIVION series) it's a weak gimmick. While PRECIOUS FIND musters some energy for the interludes on Moon City, complete with a Lunar Hilton hotel, the bulk of the tale takes place on the Asteroid 18 badlands, and except for costumes and rayguns, is indistinguishable from a stale

sagebrush rerun, right down to the detail that varmint Loo Seki murdered Ben's parents. The actors are disadvantaged by stock roles that remind one of how much better Tim Holt, Walter Huston, and Humphrey Bogart were in TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE. Character actor Brion James comes off best,

mainly because his frequent turns as degenerate villains makes the laid-back sidekick routine a refreshing change. Australian director Philippe Mora (COMMUNION), who takes an onscreen part as a sleazy moon merchant, pitches PRECIOUS FIND on a playful level, adding a cute doggie as Harold Pruett's

companion, although R-rated violence, language, and avarice muddy its innate juvenile appeal. The film went direct-to-video in the US, where small screens flattered its computer-generated special effects. (Violence, substance abuse, profanity.)

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  • Released: 1996
  • Rating: R
  • Review: PRECIOUS FIND is a B-western cheekily masquerading as a B-science fiction film. It owes a heavy debt to TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948), but its campy tone undermines that classic film's epic themes of greed and calamitous mistrust. In the future, a n… (more)

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