GREEN ICE (1982)
Director: Ernest Day
Scorpion Releasing

Ryan O'Neal is on the quest for riches and romance in South America in the British action flick GREEN ICE, on DVD from Scorpion Releasing.

Making the best of his unscheduled vacation in Mexico after missing a flight to Hawaii, newly-divorced electronics engineer Joe Whiley (Ryan O'Neal, WHAT'S UP DOC?) picks up beautiful Liliana Holbrook (Anne Archer, FATAL ATTRACTION) on his drive up the cost after her helicopter runs into engine trouble. He drops her off in the resort town of Las Hadas and she pays him back by getting him an expensive suite in the hotel. A mix-up finds Whiley in a room reserved for businessman Prentis (Delroy White, GUYANA: CULT OF THE DAMNED) and in possession of a sample of emeralds left for him. Ever the entrepreneur, Whiley tries to insert himself as a go-between with the dealers and Prentis only to wind up dodging bullets from both parties when he arranges a meeting. He is rescued by Holbrook, who it turns out is not the high society call girl he assumed she was but an American heiress engaged to Meno Argenti (Omar Sharif, ASHANTI), an Italian ex-patriot in charge of Colombia's entire emerald concession (the local government having given up trying to regulate it themselves).

Seemingly aware of Whiley's adventure, the arrogant Argenti invites him down to Colombia with Holbrook to see his high tech fortress in the sky where the whole of the country's emerald trade is refined and cut (including his personal vault that requires voice and video recognition). Whiley is partially lovestruck but also protective of Holbrook since he realizes that her interest in Argenti has more to do with investigating the whereabouts of her younger sister (Tara Fellner, KING OF THE MOUNTAIN) who disappeared in the mountains along with some rebels. When Holbrook discovers that her sister was murdered by the country's military who are in Argenti's pocket, she and a reluctant Whiley decide to help the rebels – lead by New York-educated Miguel (Domingo Ambriz, THE JERK) – in overthrowing Argenti's operation. After a smuggling operation gone bad nearly gets Holbrook and Whiley killed – they survive only because of the motives behind Argenti's plan to marry Holbrook – Whiley puts his electrical engineering skills to use to help the rebels raid Argenti's secure vault.

Bookended by James Bond-esque Maurice Binder-designed title sequences, this Lord Lew Grade/ITC Entertainment production boasts some gorgeous photography by Gil Taylor (REPULSION), production design by Roy Walker (THE SHINING), and a score by The Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman (assisted by former ITV band leader Terry Taylor) that includes various local color South-of-the-Border instrumental cues, one cue that sounds like a variation on the Wyman-Taylor track "Valley" prominently featured in Dario Argento's PHENOMENA two years later, and two fluffy songs for "Midnight at the Oasis" singer Maria Muldaur. Like one of the more lightweight James Bond films from the period, GREEN ICE seems aimed at couples with its chemistry-free romantic leads, swift resolutions to the stickier situations the characters get into (like an overnight stay in the country's roughest prison), and the film fails to wring suspense out of tense situations (one would at least expect some suspenseful music as Whiley and company attempt to land hot air balloons on top of Argenti's fortress undetected, not Muldaur crooning "floating on a cloud of love").

The comic relief is also uneven with a brief appearance by John Laroquette (NIGHT COURT) proving that he's a better straight man. The plans of the rebels are unclear, as are the Holbrook sisters' alliance to them (SPOILER: they are forgotten by the romantic leads as soon as the emeralds are irretrievably lost but presumably Liliana can just throw an equivalent amount of money their way). Sharif at least gets a bit more to work with as a villain here than in his guest star turn in ASHANTI, but he seems more foolish than cunning. Imperfect as GREEN ICE is, it still strikes the right nostalgic cords. THE WILD BUNCH's Enrique Lucero plays a mountain coffee grower, Philip Stone (THE SHINING's previous caretaker-gone-nutso Delbert Grady) plays Argenti's murderous head of security, and an uncredited Carlos East (probably most familiar to cult viewers for his appearances two of Boris Karloff's final quartet of films THE SNAKE PEOPLE and THE FEAR CHAMBER) appears as a village priest who confirms for Holbrook her sister's death. GREEN ICE was the first of two films directed by Ernest Day, a British cameraman who would continue working as a cinematographer, shooting SPHINX, A PASSAGE TO INDIA, SUPERMAN IV, and the cult film PARENTS among others.

Scorpion Releasing's dual-layer, progressive, anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) DVD features an attractive transfer that nicely conveys Taylor's photography in all of its gloss and grain, as well as the aforementioned shortcomings of the optical effects (outlines around the actors during the back projection driving and balloon scenes are more quaint than laughable for those who can accept or overlook them as part of old school filmmaking). The Dolby Digital 2.0 rendering of the Dolby Stereo track showcases Wyman's score, jungle sounds, and gunplay without muffling the dialogue. The sole extra is an isolated music and effects track (in Dolby Digital 2.0), but the disc also includes trailers for trailers for FIREPOWER, BLOOD FEUD, KILLER FISH, THE GIRL IN THE SWING, QUEST FOR LOVE, PAPER MASK, THE OCTAGON, PAPER TIGER, and FORCE FIVE. As with other ITC/ITV titles licensed by Scorpion Releasing, GREEN ICE is coded for Region 1 playback only. (Eric Cotenas)