DNA (1997)

Rating:

aka The Genetic Code

USA. 1997.

Crew

Director – William Mesa, Screenplay – Nick Davis, Producers – Patrick D. Choi & Nile Niami, Photography – Gerry Lively, Music – Christopher L. Stone, Visual Effects Supervisor – John Mesa, Digital/Creature Effects – Flash Film Works, Special Effects Supervisor – John Hartigan, Model Helicopters – Larry Jolly Miniatures (Supervisor – Larry Jolly), Makeup Effects – Kurtzman Nicotero Berger EFX Group Inc, Production Design – Charles Wood. Production Company – Interlight Pictures

Cast

Mark Dacascos (Dr Ash Mattley), Jurgen Prochnow (Dr Carl Wessinger), Robin McKee (Dr Claire Summers), Thomas Taus Jr (Matzu), Roger Aaron Brown (Loren Azenfield), John H. Brennan (Halton), Mark McCracken (Sergeant Reinhardt/Creature)


Plot

In Sarawak, North Borneo, native doctor Ash Mattley is approached by Dr Carl Wessinger who wants Ash to lead him to the source of the insect that Ash once believed could produce a universal panacea for all human ills. However, once there, Wessinger takes the insect and attempts to kill Ash. Ash survives. Two years later, Ash joins CIA scientist Claire Summers in a trek into the jungle in search of Wessinger where they find that he has genetically tinkered with the insect to create a monster.


DNA was the third directorial film from William Mesa. Mesa is a former visual effects supervisor with the now defunct Introvision Inc and later with Flash Film Works where he has delivered work on films such as Outland (1981), Megaforce (1982), Rambo III (1988), Darkman (1990), Army of Darkness (1992), Deep Blue Sea (1999), Red Planet (2000), The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Clash of the Titans (2010) and The Pacific (tv mini-series, 2010). Mesa debuted as director with the incredibly bad Galaxis/Terminal Force (1995) and then went onto the ghost story The Darkening/The Black Gate (1995). DNA was Mesa’s third film.

In DNA‘s favour, it is at least a much better film than Galaxis. It starts out reasonably, with Mesa offering up a Borneo setting, Indiana Jones-styled adventures into lost tombs, a genetic mishap gone wrong and Jurgen Prochnow as a sinisterly interesting mad scientist. Fairly quickly though, the setting and genetic engineering angle turns out to be no more than window-dressing on a slim rehash of Alien (1979) – even more so of one particular Alien copy, Predator (1987).

The actual creature is fascinatingly fluid but Mesa does nothing with it beyond the usual business of people running around darkened corridors and jungles. The action set-ups and the stalkings are all routine. There is one excitingly sustained sequence with the copter pursuing a speedboat with rocket launchers. Martial artist Mark Dacascos plays the lead and, while not a bad actor, does seem miscast playing a doctor.



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