If you thought the Jaws franchise finished with Michael Caine joining up with Chief Brody’s wife to finally put an end to the Brody/Bruce(do sharks have last names? Bruce Jaws maybe? The Jaws’?) conflict, you’d be right, and that’s actually quite a good thing. After Jaws 4: The Revenge, the series slipped beneath the waves to be buried where it should of because, well it was just getting silly. The shit they make you swallow in number 4 is just so ridiculous, it’s laughable. What was once a film that awoke a dormant fear in everyone that saw it, turned into an interspecies blood feud that I guess can only be compared to something akin to a Jeremy Kyle episode?
It’s a shame because I love Jaws, there’s just no getting around how good it is: the levels of dread, fright and foreboding strike the nerves of everyone and while it would have been great to be able to hang onto that, the machine that is film production churned out sequels just kept getting worse. So, in the end, it just became another one of those horror series that had a good first run but slipped into madness.
But here now, we have a Jaws 5, but it only holds that number in title only, the Jaws isn’t one of the Jaws’, and there’s no Brody in sight. This film is quite extraordinary, and quite frankly laughable too, but it belongs to the 1980’s Italian horror movement and that’s why whatever it is, it deserves to be talked about. I’ve touched on rip-offs before and I will stand by my love for all horror films that belong to Italy from the 1980’s, even if they are blatant copies of something better – there’s just always some identifiable passion for horror found within them, and even if they’re shit, they’re always fascinating.
Thing is, if you were to quote me on it, I would say that Jaws 5, aka Cruel Jaws, comes across like a fan-made film created by someone who used the core of Jaws 1 & 2 and added a few their own flavourings. Yet, there is something charmingly original in it to be found under the surface, even if a lot of its content is poached, and even if a lot of its content is also hilariously bad.
It’s directed by Bruno Mattei, a man who sits on the Iron Throne of blatant rip-off cinema. Some of his greatest hits include Robowar, Strike Commando, and Terminator II which are Predator, Rambo First Blood part 2, and an Aliens (Dafuq amirite?) ripoffs respectively, but he’s also well known for some quite haunting Nazipoiltation which really IS an acquired taste, like huffing glue. Out of all of these, I would actually say Jaws 5 is his worst in terms of plotholes and the likes but I’m not going to look too deeply into this, I just think that the final product is quite unique.
So what’s similar? Well, the core content is the same: we have a sherrif, a shark expert, and a fisherman teaming up against a killer shark; it’s supposed to be a big shark; there’s a mayor that won’t close the beaches; a lot of the dialogue is the same, (although without the same kind of power, which really makes you appreciate the acting in the original film) my favourite being: ‘we’re going to need a bigger helicopter’; there’s a sailing competition; a helicopter explosion; a blown up boat; a skinny dip surprise attack, the list goes on. I know a lot of these things are synonymous with just about every man vs shark film, but you watch this it’s like you melded the best highlights of the first two films. On a hilarious side note, you’ll also find the main Star Wars theme here too in a few scenes, not so cleverly disguised as an original track for this film.
There are some differences, mainly the production values being worlds apart, but there’s some original storyline in this too. For one, the first scene will have you believe that this shark really is cruel Jaws when it appears it tries to seal a couple of divers in a watery sea-tomb once it realises it can’t get to them, which is pretty mean to be fair. We also have the mayor being a true villain in league with the mafia who order him to take out the shark which is a twist I guess, oh and there’s this Hulk Hogan guy with a kid in a wheelchair who the mayor makes cry so yeah, mega-dick. There’s also a rival shark hunter group comprised of teenagers who don’t last very long, and the shark at the root of all this is a Tiger Shark, not a Great White, although that’s only half correct as the footage is sometimes one, sometimes the other.
So yeah, this is quite a bad film which I can see a lot of people seeing as a ‘so bad its good kind of film’ at best, but I do think more people should see it if they like the original Jaws film. It has some terrible moments, and I don’t think anyone could call it scary in the slightest, but like many films of its ilk, there’s this unique charm to it. Plus unlike, the sequels that followed Jaws, this one is at least copying the bits that worked – 3 tried to make the shark attacks 3-D and it was just lazy, and 4 was just too goofy to take seriously. This one is more of a Frankenstein’s monster Jaws film, comprised of the best cuts as well as some new, not so good ones – but what I can say for it over any of the other sequels, it was made for the love of the original’s idea, not for money. As the saying goes, ‘imitation is the best form of flattery’.
For anyone that’s interested, you can watch the whole thing on Youtube below: