Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Review - Sanctuary (1998 - Dir Tibor Takács)

I couldn't resist this film when I saw it. Mark Dacascos paired with Tibor Takács (Hardcover, The Gate). And although it's not either of their greatest films, it grew on me.

I have to admit I didn't give it the best of chances on my first watch. I always started it late at night and ended up falling asleep watching it (a long day at work can be tiring, don't blame the film). I didn't completely get it the first time round. In my defence: a) it took me a good few sittings to get through it, b) it's quite complicated due to a fractured storyline that flashes back like nobody's business and finally c) I'm a thick northener.

Mark Dacascos plays Luke Kovak, an ex-Special Ops kind of guy who left the agency for which he worked, to become a priest. I know what you're thinking. A kung fu priest. Plus, seeing as though it's a Tibor Takács film, there may even be a stop-motion spider/nun hybrid for him to kick in the middles. But no. It is way more sensible than that. It's more akin to Bourne and Mission: Impossible. There are even aerial shots of the city so they must have had a bit of a budget to play with.

One thing that carries over from Takács' other films is the gorgeous, Bava-esque lighting. I love coloured lighting and it separates Sanctuary from other similar films. A scene of Luke in his tiny bedsit, lit by a passing train may be a cliche, especially with the camera shake, but it doesn't stop it from looking great. 

Dacascos doesn't get to do that much scrapping, which is a shame, but this is one of his finer acting performances. His relationship with Rachel Malcolm (Kylie Travis), a fellow operative, is one of the strengths of the film. And because he's now a priest it never strays into the more obvious romantic category. Almost, but not quite.

Sanctuary never quite kicks into high gear (although there is a fairly tense sequence involving a golf cart, I'm not joking) but it is well worth a couple of watches, maybe more. It is book-ended by two sequences that potentially were setting up a cracking sequel. Sadly, a it has never emerged. I will carry on dreaming about what could have been... mmm, Spidernun...

Artist's impression.

If you like this you could also try:
Crying Freeman, Only the Strong, Hardcover, The Gate.


  1. I'm liking the spider nun's face! Classy journalism at its best.

    1. You just don't get that kind of thoughtful insight with The Guardian film reviews.

  2. I didn't realise your buddy Mark Dacascos was in Brotherhood of the Wolf until my recent Obscurendure readathon. It's on my pile of stuff to watch as I saw the first half on TV a few years ago but fell asleep. I'm guessing it's worth a watch with Dacascos making an appearance.

    1. I've got it on Blu-ray for the full quality french language version so you can have a lend.