Here an imaginative premise launches the ultimate low-hairline superhero.
No sooner has rancher Alex Verne (Olivier Gruner) given thanks for his lovely, hymn-singing wife, cute son, and desert dream house than a masked gunman bursts in and shoots them all. Two years later Alex, suspected of the mass murder, is roused from a coma by the melody of his late mate's favorite
tune, "Amazing Grace." He staggers into a cave and is transformed by mystic forces into a Cro-Magnon man with a mission: destroy Reese Burroughs (Kario Salem), the reclusive computer tycoon somehow responsible for wiping out his family. The naked, mute Alex is grazed by a cop car and jailed. The
news reaches the omnipotent Burroughs, who sends bikers and thugs to kill the latter-day caveman. Burroughs, it seems, discovered an antediluvian computer, relic of a scientifically advanced, pre-human civilization so reliant on technology that they created Homo sapiens out of apes to serve them.
The ancient ones attained immortality by mass-migrating into "cyberspace," but the act triggered global disasters that erased almost all traces of their works. With the help of a sexy cryptographer (Kristin Minter), Burroughs gets the Stone-Aged supercomputer up and running again. With the help of
a sexy policewoman (Jennifer Grant), Alex learns that Burroughs slaughtered his family just to grab his land (which is "a vortex point and condensor of elemental forces"). To stop Burroughs from entering cyberspace himself and triggering a repeat catastrophe, the ancient ones turned Alex into
their "savage" tool, just like his ape ancestors. He uses brute force to enter a sealed cave, just as the villain is dematerializing. Alex smashes everything he can, causing a mighty explosion. Burroughs splatters, but the hero survives; the ancient beings reward Alex with a long-term assignment
to right wrongs, protect the weak, and, presumably, romance sexy policewomen.
Gruner, a heavily-accented Jean-Claude Van Damme manque and veteran of cheap martial-arts features, made a wise move taking the lead role, as it allows for as little speaking as possible. Kario Salem chews the scenery as profundity-spouting ("Technology is God!") nerd Burroughs, neither the first
nor the last malicious movie mastermind to resemble Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. Grant plays Hollywood's standard-issue lady cop, better suited to a athletic-beachware catalog than a uniform. Though characters seem shallow or stereotyped (in-joke names don't help), cosmic concepts put some
interest into SAVAGE. The script is reminiscent of themes done--with somewhat more intelligence--by British occult-science-fiction scriptwriter, Nigel Kneale (FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH); the visual effects and production design almost help pull the whole thing off. The modest direct-to-video
budget shows painfully at the climax, when a few skimpy traffic shots represents the Mother of All Earthquakes rocking the American continent. Quasi-religious aspects of the plot aren't terribly uplifting whichever way one looks at them, and the soundtrack reruns "Amazing Grace" over and over
again past the point of tedium. (Violence, nudity, sexual situations, extreme profanity, adult situations)
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