Skyfire begins with a the Tianhuo volcano that’s about to explode for the first time in decades – so long since the last time, that the tropical island has become a paradise of greenery. Naturally, not everyone will survive, but they’ll make sure that when they die, they’ll do it in an Oscar-worthy way.
Like The Bombing (aka Air Strike), with Bruce Willis, this is another Chinese film with a token big-name actor in a prominent role, this time being Jason Isaacs (The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance) as Jack Harris. His character is Australian.. or could be South African… I couldn’t place the accent. I doubted it would matter.
The plot is predictable: Xiao (Hannah Quinlivan, above-right, and also in 2018’s Skyscraper) is angry with Dad, Wentao (Xueqi Wang), for not being around for the past 10 years or so, having lost a loved one before the opening credits, hence they spend the majority of their time onscreen at loggerheads.
There’s a post-opening title scene (above) which is like a copy of Spock going into a volcano in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and some years after the opening, the young woman dropping in is Xiao, who was just a young girl when things kicked off before, and she’s there to place sensors inside it.
Alas, these days, the island is now a theme park, orchestrated by Harris, and with an observation deck set 200m above the volcano, which can be lowered inside. Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Boris Johnson is probably running it. As such, it’s all about to kick off again, making it as safe to visit as that Jurassic World theme park. Eh-oh…
The technical dohickey back at base shows the volcano’s about to blow at the time when there’s a young couple going for a swim underwater, and who seem to be able to hold their breath for about an hour. In addition, there’s cliches like trying to find sick old relatives, hilariously daft situations as people die at random, CGI that’s better than I was expecting for a low-budget movie, and lots of hot Chinse women.
Skyfire is better than Dante’s Peak, and it’s not 2012 – but at least there’s no mawkish American sentimentality like the latter. Also, there’s nothing original here, such as how you can guess who’s going to sacrifice themselves, because it’s that type of film. That said, it does have a lot of action in it, plus the ‘edge of your seat’ moments to make this a reasonable 90 minutes.
Almost finally, there’s behind-the-scenes footage during the end credits; and given what’s in the end of the credits, it looks like this was shot in 3D, too, which is quite a rarity these days. However, the Chinese do love their 3D movies, as do I. I still have the TV to play them on – I just wish this was available to see in 3D. I’d certainly give it another spin.
Finally, maybe next time, we’ll have a vampire theme park!
Note: This is just a review of the film only.
Running time: 97 minutes
Release date: November 23rd 2020
Studio: Patriot Films
Director: Simon West
Screenplay: Wei Bu, Sidney King
Producers: Chris Bremble, Jib Polhemus, Emma Shan Wang
Music: Pinar Toprak
Xiaomeng Li: Hannah Quinlivan
Wentao Li: Xueqi Wang
Zhengnan: Shawn Dou
Jack Harris: Jason Isaacs
Jiahui Dong: An Bai
Bo Teng: Lingchen Ji
Professor Jiang: Liang Shi
Grandpa: Tongjiang Hou
Young Xiaomeng Li: Bee Rogers
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.