A big-budget but mediocre adventure yarn, THE SERPENT OF DEATH circulated through the domestic film market in videocassette form, which is not unusual but still a pity. Watching on a small screen diminishes the movie's undeniable star--the exotic and historic Mediterranean scenery of
Greece and Egypt, sumptuously rendered by cinematographer Fred Tammes.
Jake Bonner (Jeff Fahey) is a novice archaeologist with elastic ethics, who occasionally sells a museum piece on the black market to support himself. These underworld dealings come back to haunt Jake when his colleagues recover a small stone serpent from the Mediterranean Sea. The ancient writing
on the object holds the key to the hidden booty of Alexander the Great, and Jake is besieged by crooks who want him to steal the serpent. Naturally Jake gets blamed when an intruder murders one of the archaeologists and swipes the priceless artifact. Expelled from Greece, Jake races the evildoers
to reach the treasures first and maybe clear his name and maybe become unbelievably rich. Along the way he picks up Rene (Camilla More) as a glamorous companion-in-peril. There's danger, there's betrayal, there are countless strange characters the pair encounter on their odyssey, some who turn out
to be friends--and some who don't.
The best way to follow THE SERPENT OF DEATH's plot is not to. Sit back and relish the breathtaking locations. From the alleys of Cairo to the Oracle of Amon, from the remote Siwa Oasis to the island of Poros; this is an armchair traveler's delight. Too bad it's not a movie-lover's as well. The
hero, no doubt inspired by Indiana Jones, comes across as arrogant and dislikable in his early scenes and never quite wins the viewer's respect or empathy. Rene is a bit of an airhead, but Michael Gothard makes cold-blooded assassin Xavros reminiscent of a James Bond foe. The filmmakers know their
priorities. At one point the bad guys chase Jake up the jagged side of a pyramid. Midway to the top all parties agree that this particular pursuit is pointless, and they come down. Nothing is accomplished in this sequence--it only exits to provide the rare sight of a dash up a pyramid, and for the
National Geographic crowd that alone might be worth the price of a rental.
Native Egyptian films inevitably have a censor on the set to weed out all naughtiness, yet THE SERPENT OF DEATH contains some explicit violence and nude love scenes. Actually Syrian-born producer-director Anwar Kawadri has done his past work in Britain, on such exploitation fodder as SEX WITH THE
STARS and NUTCRACKER SWEET. (Violence, profanity, sexual situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: A big-budget but mediocre adventure yarn, THE SERPENT OF DEATH circulated through the domestic film market in videocassette form, which is not unusual but still a pity. Watching on a small screen diminishes the movie's undeniable star--the exotic and histo… (more)