102 Min | Action – Adventure – Crime | March 2000
IMDB Rating: 3.0
Director: Richard Pepin
Starring: Traci Lords, Gary Daniels, Jeff Fahey
Epicenter Review: Epicenter is an epically cheesy B-movie that attempts to cross the disaster and spy-thriller genres with limited success. Not only is it all over the place tonally, but it’s also an extraordinarily low budget production that has just enough money to pay the cast members but little left over for anything else. What could have been an excruciating viewing experience turns out to be an absolutely hilarious film thanks to the producer’s willingness to steal various sequences from other, better movies. No less than four films are ripped off here, making this one of the craziest cut ‘n’ paste flicks I’ve seen outside of Godfrey Ho’s production studio.
In Epicenter, the most notable steal is from Eddie Murphy’s Metro, and involves a car chase and then an out-of-control tram sequence. The funniest part is that, in Metro, Murphy himself is driving one of the cars, and in Epicenter it’s some white Russian gangster guy. No attempt is made to hide Murphy’s face in the long shots, so as you can imagine it’s pretty psychedelic to watch. Other, shorter steals are from Speed (the out-of-control elevator scene) and money train (a subway crash), and then there’s an extensive rip from The Great Los Angles Earthquake later on towards the end, the effects in this are really cheesy, and make me wanna track down that made-for-TV B-movie.
Sadly, this brass-necked cribbing of footage from other movies is the most interesting thing about the story, which involves Traci Lords and Gary Daniels on the run from Russians and corrupt FBI agents. Lords is a horrible actress, and Daniels is wasted in a role that requires him to do virtually no martial arts. Why cast a martial artist if you’re not going to use him for his talent? Oh, that’s right, because you’ve got nobody to choreograph any fights for your movie. Watch out for a clearly embarrassed Jeff Fahey giving one of his cheesiest performances as a generic villain. Later, wonder how the slightly suspenseful opening bit of subterfuge eventually gives way to endless inanity and Z-grade movie chaos. Because Epicenter is one of those films that’s only worth watching.