Jaws: The Revenge (1987) Revisited

Posted: June 7, 2016 in FILM REVIEWS/COMMENTS
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*** This review may contain jaw dropping spoilers ***

A great white shark stalks a woman to the Bahamas to kill the remaining members of her family…

I’m fond of Jaws the Revenge, there I admit it. Although it may be a bad movie, also an incompetent one, to its credit it ignores Jaws 3- D and stars Lorraine Gary of Jaws and Jaws 2. Yes, Ellen Brody returns, the wife of chief Martin Brody. Director Joseph Sargent opening is probably the strongest segment of the film. We return to an atmospheric Martha’s Vineyard but this time it’s Christmas time where Ellen’s youngest son has his dad’s old job and after a call is eaten by a shark while a choir drowns out his screams. There’s some good to come out of this event as we get some cameos at the funeral by the actors of the original. Grief stricken Ellen flees the Bahamas to stay with her eldest son Michael played by Lance Guest (of fricking Starfighter) – but, get this, the shark has somehow followed her, it wants to eat her entire family possibly as revenge for its parent sharks being killed by Brody in part one and two, who knows?! Yes it’s a paper thin plot with a series of shark attacks but if you can look beyond that and the shoddy shark models there’s something quite endearing about 1987’s Jaws: The Revenge.

At the time criticized for its jumping shark (no Henry Winkler pun intended) it has since been established that sharks in fact do propel themselves out of the water (although in the critic’s defence I’m sure the filmmaker had no idea of their over 15 feet leaps at the time). That said, to date no shark has been heard roaring like Bruce 4 does in this film. Guest’s performance is excellent, he really is likable (honestly) as the marine biologist and over protective son. Mario Van Peebles’ Jake with a terrible accent and an unlikable attitude makes you secretly glad he gets eaten, depending on which version you watched, you still feel sorry for his wife.

There’s a handful of imaginative scenes which makes this instalment worthwhile. At one point Jake attaches a device to the shark so that he can track it through its heartbeat. These heart beat noises build up some tension akin to the barrels in the 1975 Jaws. Interestingly, there’s set up where Michael is chased through a wreck and escapes using his air tank – James Bond style! In addition there’s also banana boat scene where Jaws (Bruce 4) tries to chow down on Ellen’s granddaughter. Another positive is that Gary really shines as the credible paranoid grandmother and mother. It’s refreshing to see (albeit cringe worthy) the older lady falling in love with a local pilot Hoagie (Michael ‘Get Carter’ Caine). Oddly writer Michael de Guzman injects an overbearing amount of sexual dialogue. With every adult character in the film acting at times like a frisky teenager under Sargent’s supervision.

For tradition and impact Sargent wisely uses John Williams classic theme and unsurprisingly Michael Small fills in the rest delivering a near on perfect score. In the closing Caine’s Hoagie is so Dirty Rotten Scoundrels cool he crash-lands his aeroplane in to the sea and when he emerges onto the boat he’s completely dry, “Blood ‘ell, the breath on that thing”. 

So long as you’re watching the version where Jake dies and shark gets stabbed, sinking breaking the boat up and not the one where Jaws inexplicably explodes (recycling footage from the original Jaws) it’s a more fitting closure. Either way both versions are choppily edited and you can’t help feel that with more care or a different director even with the preposterous, yet, novel premise it could have been better.

Overall, hugely flawed but somewhat entertaining.

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