Main cast: Johnny Messner (Bill Johnson), KaDee Strickland (Sam Rogers), Matthew Marsden (Dr Jack Byron), Nicholas Gonzalez (Ben Douglas), Eugene Byrd (Cole Burris), Karl Yune (Tran), and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Gail Stern)
Director: Dwight H Little
Firstly, the unnecessarily verbosely-titled Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid is not related in any way to the 1997 movie Anaconda, although the feisty Latina character in this movie, Gail Stern, is a diva-like parody of Jennifer Lopez‘s real-life personality. The sneaky people in Malaysia, however, add a “2” after “Anacondas” in the title, hoping that moviegoers will be led to believe that it is.
The mistakes fly fast and loose. There are anacondas in Borneo? Wow, I’ve lived in this region of Southeast-Asia nearly all my life and I have never heard of anacondas terrorizing the folks in Borneo. The motley crew of people in this movie are supposed to be in Sabah? Call me skeptical but this movie looks like it’s filmed in Vietnam. And the town is called Kota Bharu when the real Kota Bharu is the capital city of Kelantan, a state in the Peninsular Malaysia and definitely not located in Borneo. That would be Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the state of Sabah.
Having said that, this movie serves its purpose well as an entertaining eat-them-all silly monster flick. Everything about the movie is predictable: a team from an university in America decides to look for a famed species of blood orchid in Borneo that can extend our longevity. They hire rugged adventurer Bill Johnson and his buddy Tran (who isn’t, as some people insist, Johnny’s gay boyfriend) to lead the way. Alas, the blood orchid is located right in the middle of the anaconda mating ground. It’s mating season as we speak. Talk about bad timing. And since the orchid blooms at this time, somehow it releases some chemicals into the waters that cause the anaconda to grow to supersized creatures. Wow, this blood orchid chemical thingie seems to work better than Viagra. No wonder the mad scientist Dr Jack Byron is obsessed with finding the orchid before it dies out in two weeks. Dr Byron doesn’t care if his team mates die in the process.
I find this movie far more enjoyable than the 1997 movie, mostly because there are some decent action hero and heroine characters in this one. Johnny Meissner is pretty solid as the action male lead while KaDee Strickland plays the female lead well, with the movie allowing her to be strong without becoming a victim. The character of Gail Stern provides some bitchy humor while there is a monkey that steals the show from the cast. Also, the villainous character is not played by Jon Voight, which is a great plus because Matthew Marsden does not have a face that is begging for bitchslaps like the supremely irritating and repulsive Mr Voight.
The snakes (there are more than one here) eat and eat, the people scream and run, and really, this movie is prime fluffy entertainment all the way. It’s predictable, silly, hokey, and the special effects are on the B-grade side. But since this movie is also entertaining while being stupendously hokey, I’m all for it. Yes, it could be better but it could be worse – it could very well feature Jon Voight as the villain.