TURKEY SHOOT (2014)
Sometime in the near future, following a shocking civilian massacre in a foreign war zone, disgraced Navy SEAL Rick Tyler (Dominic Purcell) is sentenced to rot in a maximum security military prison until he is offered the opportunity to put his life on the line to win his freedom - on the Jill Wilson (Belinda McClory) produced, global smash hit reality TV show, Turkey Shoot. A one-man force of nature, Tyler will have to take-on and take-down some of the world's most ruthless killers in some of the world's most brutal locations to win the game, obtain his freedom and find out why he was set up.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Inspired in its writing and execution, this new Turkey Shoot (not a sequel to the outlandish 1982 iconic & exploitation original, more an homage) offers a complex set of cinematic thrills, from wicked humour and stylistic flourishes to a clever plot, acidic satire and pace that never flags.
The targets for its satire include (but are not limited to) the US military mindset, overt patriotism, reality TV shows, cheap action movies and the moral vacuum of 'the masses'. That's a rich menu, and the amazing thing is the film carries all that within its cinematic bag with ease and still provides exactly what it promises: a turkey shoot.
One live contestant must survive three levels of the game, each time hunted by fierce assailants intent to kill him before he does. It's a global hit and the film gets mileage out of using the game show format as part of its structure.
Type-cast as the TV hit show Turkey Shoot's amoral, power-hungry, ratings driven, tough-as-nails, potty mouth TV producer (I'm kidding) Meredith Baxter, Belinda McClory is the undisputed star of this film, not to mention she co-wrote the terrific script with husband and director Jon Hewitt (both remembered favourably for Redball (1999).
Viva Bianca also makes an impression as the smart and decent Commander Jill Wilson, while Dominic Purcell is solid (literally) as the action hero, Rick Tyler. Robert Taylor gets to do his excellent grunt stuff as Ramrod, the sharpshooting ex-soldier intent on ending Taylor's run on the TV show, while Nicholas Hammond makes a perfect moral cripple as General Thatcher.
Cameos from Carmen Duncan as the US President and a smaller, bloodier one by Roger Ward as The Dictator, add spice to the film, while the anchors for the TV show are both funny and scary, their names indicative of the larrikin humour at work: Teena Fine (Suzannah McDonald) and Tom Faye (Juan Jackson) help create the reality of the reality TV show, helped by graphics and stings that could have come from tomorrow's new program.
This is fun, funny, serious and exceptionally well made, with a power-drill of a score by Cezary Skubiszewski. It's made in Australia by Australians, so the setting in the US is simply a function of the screenplay; judging by its sensibilities, it's very much an Australian film. It certainly doesn't take itself seriously, and has fun with the genre elements.
Review by Louise Keller:
Jon Hewitt's Turkey Shoot is a blast of action and satire, glued together by its reality television framework. Fresh and unexpected, the best part about it that there is a constantly changing focus, without ever losing sight of its goals. As a consequence, it delivers much more than expected, keeping us off balance with its occasional Ozploitation elements. It's got a hard edge, too and an arresting, driving soundtrack by Cezary Skubiszewski. Hewitt and Belinda McClory have jointly penned a clever script and McClory is striking in the driving role as the ratings obsessed, manipulative TV producer who uses people as pawns.
The opening prologue is a tease before fast-forwarding 3 years to a neo Alcatraz military prison, where we meet the film's anti-hero tough-guy Rick Tyler (Dominic Purcell), who is to be the turkey in the high-rating TV show of the title. Like The Hunger Games, the live TV show glorifies death. Rick is a disgraced former navy seal: he's a murderer of women and children, so clearly deserves being the target of commissioned assassins armed with knives, swords and rifles. Or does he? The aim is to stop him from reaching the three boxes that will earn him his freedom. Ramrod (Robert Taylor), billed as the world's greatest marksman, is after Rick too; there is history between them.
It's beautifully set up with the cheesy American TV hosts (Suzannah McDonald, Tom Faye) wearing insincere smiles while the transfixed audience becomes increasingly involved - eventually to the extent that they too participate. There is a touch of romance too - cleverly integrated. All the players are excellent: Viva Bianca as the ace pilot Jill Wilson, Nicholas Hammond as the commanding General Thatcher who always has a motive and watch out for cameos by Carmen Duncan as the United States President and producer Antony I. Ginnane as President of Australasia, who also produced the 2000 Brian Trenchard-Smith original.
Fast moving, action packed and never taking itself too seriously as wry humour and satire play their parts, Hewitt keeps his directing finger on the pulse. As the focus on ratings to outdo even the super bowl and a royal wedding combined, additional story elements are interwoven to satisfy the dramatic requirements. It's unique, it's Australian and it deserves your attention. It will become a cult classic.
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TURKEY SHOOT (2014) (MA15+)
CAST: Dominic Purcell, Belinda McClory, Viva Bianca, Robert Taylor, Nicholas Hammond, Roger Ward, Carmen Duncan, Suzanna McDonald, Juan Jackson
PRODUCER: Antony I. Ginnane
DIRECTOR: Jon Hewitt
SCRIPT: Jon Hewitt, Belinda McClory
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Warwick Field
EDITOR: Jes Simpson
MUSIC: Cezary Skubiszewski
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Potential
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 4, 2014