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  Shaker Run Watch Out For That Cliff
Year: 1985
Director: Bruce Morrison
Stars: Cliff Robertson, Leif Garrett, Lisa Harrow, Shane Briant, Peter Rowell, Peter Hayden, Ian Mune, Bruce Phillips, Fiona Samuel, Nathaniel Lees, Geoffrey Heath, Igo Kantor, Barry Dorking
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Judd Pierson (Cliff Robertson) is a stunt driver working in a touring show in New Zealand with his mechanic Casey Lee (Leif Garrett), having left the United States behind after a tragedy made him unable to race there anymore. Currently he performs such feats as jumping his souped up car over a line of vehicles, and the locals are happy to attend these occasions but Casey wishes there was something better his boss and friend could work as, all too aware that this life is not one either of them chose. Meanwhile, there's a chance they could turn that life around by doing something constructive, for a scientist called Dr Christine Rubin (Lisa Harrow) is growing extremely concerned about a new strain of deadly virus...

How could they be connected? By a great big car chase, that's how, in this fairly rare New Zealand entry in the genre which by the mid-eighties was sputtering to a halt away from its heyday in the seventies. That didn't stop this being made, so if it felt a shade past its prime then so did its two imported American stars, Robertson trying to rebuild his career after it was derailed by a fraud scandal that completely unfairly had him ostracised when he was the victim rather than the perpretator, and Garrett simply trying to hang onto a career at all now his time as a pop star and pretty boy movie star was ebbing away as he grew older. Therefore there's a sense of going for broke about Shaker Run.

Robertson was in full on irascible old geezer mode, probably past his prime as an action star but exhibiting dedication to the role, possibly through gratitude that someone still wanted him for a leading man, while Garrett was landed with the sidekick part with little else to do but cheerlead the Pierson character. For some reason the filmmakers saw fit to place these chaps in a bright pink car, and Robertson sported pink leathers too - and a pink helmet, since you're asking, which was an interesting fashion statement if not exactly orthodox. Harrow meanwhile, with her RADA background and not inconsiderable status as one of New Zealand's more respected actresses, essayed a rather frosty demeanour fitting for the weather they were filming in, which looked rather chilly.

You were rewarded with at least a potted version of the scenery more familiar from the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, which offered a distinctive backdrop to the accustomed high speed pursuits along country roads that were part and parcel of the car chase flick, though the actual culture of the nation was rather neglected in favour of a more trans-Pacific tone all the better to sell this to the major markets over the ocean. Every so often a spot of local colour would intrude aside from the countryside, and this could really have done with more of a sense of humour as the bits that were intended to raise a chuckle gave this a colourful aspect watching the rest of the rampant machismo generally failed to pull off. But this was first and foremost a thriller, and that was where director Bruce Morrison's heart evidently lay.

What Pierson and Casey must do, or at least have been hired to do, is take Dr Rubin and a mysterious box across the island to meet with the C.I.A. representative who has promised her he will see to it that the virus contained inside will be destroyed and not used for germ warfare as she suspects her bosses wish to do. Seems a tad naive, but that's her motivation, and presumably because there were none too many pink racing cars in New Zealand at the time soon the authorities are hot on our heroes' trail, presenting a bunch of nicely staged action sequences in the process. The car in question takes such a battering from being shot at to leaping off a ship to the docks that it's rather implausible it sustains the kind of near-pristine condition it does, though a certain suspension of disbelief is necessary, one supposes (not a reference to the suspension in the car). With a grand finale that sees the bad guys forgetting they have brake pedals and a curious reluctance to show stops for fuel, this was admittedly basic, but moderately entertaining with it. Music by Stephen McCurdy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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