"I used to have a female companion. She could press a glass of juice out of a fresh apple with her hands. She was a real woman!"
Strap on the deep waders and be prepared to be ridden like a rampant rhino in season. Forget WWE wrestler Steve Austin's recent fight for survival in the derivative drivel that was The Condemned (2007), and feast upon this Molotov cocktail of adrenalin-driven action that spits a phlegm ball of Russian spunk directly into the dollar-driven eye of Hollywood. The Hunt for Piranha goes down on its intended audience with all the ravenous fervour of a seasoned hooker tongue tickling a Tyrannosaurus. The bad guy here could shave Vinnie Jones' scrotum with a pen knife, not leave a nick, and finish with a tailored tattoo before he could even blink in retaliation. Full on flambeed film fury that reinterprets The Most Dangerous Game (1932) and combines elements of Deliverance (1972), all dressed up in steel-toe-capped bovver boots and sporting the kickass elements of Die Hard (1988) in a jungle.
When a top-secret Soviet experimental laboratory in the Siberian jungle is locked down following a lethal breach, alarm bells ring and all working within must die. The scientists are working on a germ strain that, if not contained, would wipe out most life on the planet. A container of the germ is accidentally broken, and the effect upon human skin is immediate and gruesomely evident. The underwater research facility is shut down and flooded, killing all within with the exception of a young boy who is pulled to freedom as his scientist father dies with his colleagues. Twenty years on, the boy is a full-grown man and a self-made man, but one who carries the memory of the horrific events of that day and has chosen the lifepath of egotistic tyranny. He is named Prokhor.
The Russian military order one of their top special operatives to escort a female biochemist back into the Siberian area to destroy all remaining evidence of the underwater facility. Reluctantly, Colonel Mazur, of the revered Piranha special-forces unit, makes the journey with the opinionated Olga, and together they dive down under the serene surface of the Siberian lake to the research resource and set explosives. The window of opportunity is a tight one, and upon detonation the pair is still close enough to be caught up in the shock wave that throws them into concussion. When the two awake, they find themselves the bound captives of the locals. Like stepping back a century, both Mazur and Olga are thrown into a detention camp out of an age gone by, with a group of similarly captured people. Their captors are jungle bandits, and a sideline to their trade is trapping people who are then set free in a most dangerous game that has them hunted down like animals as sport. The leader of the hunt is the despotic Prokhor, a chillingly calm killer and partaker of the unpleasant pleasures of life that sustain his need for retribution by any means possible. In Colonel Kirill Mazur he recognises the ultimate opponent and relishes the opportunity to pit himself against such a highly trained nemesis. The scene is set then for Prokhor and his less than smart but nonetheless savage entourage to track down and kill their fleeing prey, with Kirill as the ultimate trophy.
Prokhor and his men, including one ferociously feisty femme fatale, begin the pursuit a short time behind the fleeing hunted, armed to the hilt with all manner of weaponry. Big knives and even bigger guns are the preferred implements of death, delivered up against survival instinct bred into the very bone of Kirill Mazur. The early strikes fall to Kirill as he sets his enforced companions off ahead of him in order to lay a false trail for the pursuing pack with their tracker dogs. The special-forces Colonel soon takes out a couple of the front runners of the chasing aggressors with swift and immediate deftness. With not a moment's thought for compassion, Kirill strikes hard and fast, taking out and killing two of Prokhor's men violently. His reward is a rifle and a good pair of boots.
The guts and gusto is evident to see throughout this action-packed movie. Forget political correctness and fear not to have to entertain any Hollywood bravado that protects the innocence of a damsel in distress. Director Andrei Kavoun knows his subject material, and even though he is clearly influenced by the American movies of the action-fed Eighties genre, he deftly introduces the mass-marketed European Italian-styled flavour to proceedings with ferocious flair and over-the-top goodness. The action and stunt work is magnificent, as is the originality of the kills, and there are plenty of kill moments to behold before those end credits roll.
Kirill's ingenuity displays itself with a multitude of traps that impale and skewer the bad guys by the dozen, all in bloody fashion with spurts of blood to rally an audience baying for more. ... The manner in which Kirill takes out the opposition is varied and more often than not satisfyingly rewarding. The stylised violence is bandied about with generous aplomb and manages to throw up more than its fair share of unique moments. The sight of an owl being beheaded is perhaps a first for mainstream cinema and one that animal-rights protectors will be startled by, just as general moviegoers will be surprised by too. Gory embellishments in abundance then, but there is also action aplenty, and a wry delivery of both observational and vocational humour further enhances events as they move along at a cracking pace.
The climatic conclusion is forgivably over the top, particularly as the testosterone explodes with the expected Prokhor and Kirill head-to-head. Think John Woo unrestrained, and the explosive final encounter plays out just as you could wish for. It is not often that a films title is as apt as this one is, and The Hunt for Piranha is just as cool in its delivery as it is in its naming. Russian bare-knuckled, hard-hitting, violent action is here, and on this showing – here to stay!