• Hotel Colonial (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: November 12th, 2019.
    Director: Cinzia Th. Torrini
    Cast: John Savage, Rachel Ward, Massimo Troisi, Robert DuVall
    Year: 1987
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    Hotel Colonial - Movie Review:

    Italian director and writer Cinzia Th. Torrini’s HOTEL COLONIAL is almost the textbook example of a forgotten film despite the presence of three well-known stars. John Savage (THE DEER HUNTER), Rachel Ward (AGAINST ALL ODDS) and Robert Duvall (THE GODFATHER) star in this tepid film about an Italian man named Marco (Savage) forced to travel to Columbia after getting word that his brother, who was once a well known Italian terrorist with the Red Brigades who turned state’s evidence and fled to Columbia, has committed suicide.

    Once Savage’s character gets to Columbia he’s given a rude shock. The body isn’t his brothers. So with the help of an Italian consulate contact (Ward) he goes on the hunt to track down his errant sibling. This drives him into Bogota where he eventually encounters Roberto Carrasco (a wildly overacting Duvall) who’s quite the criminal bon vivant - he’s a coke dealer, pedophile pimp and python wrestling enthusiast with a pet hawk and great yen for the kind of tasteless animal slaughter you see in the likes of CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (caveat - NO animals were harmed during filming!). Duvall is also decked out in a faintly ridiculous blond wig and sports a Tony Montana level accent and colorful bandanna. But will he help our sleepy hero in his quest? There’s also supposed to be a mystery at play in the film, and I’m doing my duty by avoiding any spoilers, but that aspect is spectacularly botched. Most viewers will figure out the “twist” after the opening credits.

    If this all sounds somewhat exciting or even slightly seedy in a fun way (pedo Duvall? Wild!) it, erm, isn’t. HOTEL COLONIAL moves at a glacial pace, is stuffed with long travel sequences that, while pretty, are better suited for a NatGeo special than a movie you’d like to stay awake for, and is hobbled by a narcoleptic Savage performance. Ward? Completely wasted in a nothing role and the script can’t even be arsed to give her a romantic plot with Savage. So that leaves this all up to Duvall. And as great an actor as he is, this is just too silly to enjoy. He’s over the top, but not enough to deliver a camp classic performance and he isn’t measured enough to make this a believable character either. He also doesn’t even show up until an hour in and you may not be awake at that point.

    HOTEL COLONIAL has designs on being a serious drama in the UNDER FIRE mold. On paper it looks like more like an Italian exploitation setup despite the presence of a director who was at that point an up and coming and respected documentary filmmaker. But the film utilizes exploitation elements with zero energy and is too poorly written to deliver a gripping narrative. The film had a tiny theatrical run and went straight to video to be rented by people who promptly forgot everything about it ten-minutes after watching it and turning off the VCR. Subplots about the plight of the poor, racism and exploitation of the vulnerable go nowhere and when Duvall finally swoops in, it's too little too late. The movie limps to a conclusion that you saw coming a mile away.

    Hotel Colonial - Blu-ray Review:

    Scorpion’s 1080p AVC encoded 1.85:1 high definition presentation is a midline affair. Nothing particularly pops here, image wise, but while color is hardly eye-catching there doesn’t appear to be any annoying digital manipulation either. This is definitely HD though - as evidenced by the clear lines of demarcation on the Duvall syrup (aka toupee). Everything looks natural from jungle scenery to sweaty faces to rundown building facades.

    Audio is a standard 2.0 English language DTS-HD MA track with no serious flaws. Dialog is clear and everything is well balanced. There was clearly a fair amount of dubbing on this though, so be prepared for the usual occasionally jarring moment in that regard.

    The real extra here is a nine-minute interview with Savage, who’s frankly a lot more interesting in this chat then he is in the movie. He clearly has fond memories of making the film and talks quite a bit about the travel involved and how much he loved the local scenery. When it comes to the actors he has some nice impressions to share of working with both Rachel Ward and Robert Duvall. He also has some interesting things to say about the work with animals involved. This is a very film specific talk, so you won’t get much about the rest of his career, but he’s an engaging and interesting subject. There’s also a film trailer that’s about half a minute long on hand.

    Hotel Colonial - The Final Word:

    Scorpion, as always, does the Lord’s work in bringing obscure films to the Blu-ray market. Unfortunately, in this case it’s hard to recommend a movie this unengaging. HOTEL COLONIAL means well but is a misfire. Technical merits on the disc are very good and the bonus interview is a nice addition. but at the end of the day I would have to say this one is only for Robert Duvall completists.

    Click on the images below for full sized Hotel Colonial Blu-ray review screen caps!