March 11, 2020 Uncaged (Movie Review)
New York had King Kong, Tokyo had Godzilla, and now Amsterdam has a man-eating lion on the loose in Uncaged. 4Digital Media brings the Dutch film to North America on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, where it will be available on DVD, as well as on VOD and Digital HD on leading digital platforms.
In the film, an entire family is slaughtered just outside of the city limits and Detective Olaf Brinkers (Rienus Krul: Out of Office short 2018, Lekkage short 2019) realizes that their killer cannot possibly be human. Thanks to the input of a local forensic veterinarian, Lizzy (Sophie van Winden: Leef! 2005, Rood short 2013), the murder suspect’s identity is quickly uncovered and the search for a 450-pound, man-eating big cat hiding out in the middle of Amsterdam begins—much to the displeasure of the politie chief, Zalmberg (Theo Pont: Oud geld series, Den Uyl en de affaire Lockheed series).
As the body parts begin to pile up across the once peaceful city, the AT5 news channel squad—reporter Maarten (Pieter Derks: Helden series) and cameraman Dave (Julian Looman: Pagan Peak series, The Mallorca Files series)—are cautiously stalking the politie’s every move in hopes of breaking the story. It doesn’t hurt that they have an inside woman: smooth-talking Dave is in the midst of trying to woo Lizzy, who is now working side by side with the police to catch the hairy killer.
In hopes of resolving the situation expediently, the chief initially hires his cousin (Victor Löw: Character 1997, Leak 2000 2000), a quote-unquote experienced hunter with a degree in the ‘sport,’ someone who absolutely no one is surprised to see fail. Eventually, Zalmberg listens to reason and hires Lizzy’s estranged ex-boyfriend, the one-legged hunting superstar, Jack DelaRue (Mark Frost: Faust 2000, Mayhem 2017). Finally with a real professional in their corner, the politie hopes to bring an end to the murderous beast, preventing him from making their city his hunting grounds.
Originally titled Prooi (English: Prey) in the Netherlands, where it was released in 2016, Uncaged clocks in at 107 minutes, and was written and directed by Dick Maas (Amsterdamned 1988, Sint 2010). The film also features the acting talents of Marijn Klaver (Serious Crimes series, De afdeling series), Rutger de Bekker (Sinterklaasjournaal series, Levenslied series), Mattijln Hartemink (Koppels series, De spa series), Kees Boot (De afdeling series, De 12 van Oldenheim series), Nienke van Dijk (Celblok H series, Project Fear video 2014), and many, many more.
Presented in Dutch with English subtitles, though with some English throughout, Uncaged is a wonderfully fun blend of Horror, Thriller, and Comedy that is light-hearted enough to be amusing and yet it also has its intense, action-filled moments. Consider the film a seriously elevated episode of CSI: Miami: it’s not all bloody lion-chasing, as it possesses a keen sense of wit, as well. In this, what could have been a gruesome killing spree has an intentionally quirky, oddball delivery, creating a unique film that is able to attract Thriller fans as well as those that enjoy Comedy and fleshy bits of Horror. To be fair, however, the kills throughout the film are likely to be fairly gruesome for anyone that’s not a seasoned Horror lover. So, here’s a hint: if watching an episode of Bones makes you squeamish, then Uncaged might not be the film for you.
You can expect severed heads, tossed limbs, a bone saw, and other fleshy bits throughout the film’s run time. Unfortunately, that time could stand to be shaved down by about 15-20 for the American market, with our frequent attention deficit issues. Otherwise, there are a few snafus here and there, but most can be easily overlooked. Perhaps Uncaged’s greatest flaw, if there is one, is its CGI lion. While it’s entirely understandable that having a massive lion actually running through the streets of the Dutch capital would be a near impossibility to shoot, one cannot deny that any time a CGI creation is used in place of a living creature a little something is lost. This killer cat is well-done, though his size does seem to change in relation to his surroundings from scene to scene.
But none of this ruins the film. In fact, Uncaged is a fully enjoyable experience and much of that is thanks to its stellar cast. In the role of Lizzy, van Winden does a superb job of delivering a fully believable performance as the wise veterinarian who adores two very different men. She is sassy and never shirks away from the action, creating a woman who is able to fight off man-eaters just as well as the men. However, it is co-star Frost, as Jack, who brings much of the comedy along with his appearance. A one-legged, spirited and intelligent man, Jack allows nothing to slow him down as he zips through VondelPark in his all-terrain wheelchair. Frost brings his character’s radiance and determination to life on the screen, perfecting one of the quirkiest roles to grace the big screen in years.
Perhaps the most complicated character of the lot, Looman’s Dave is an attractive, suave lady’s man who doesn’t seem to know when to quit—until he falls for Lizzy. Looman does a beautiful job of toeing the line and remaining a likable player, never dipping into offensive territory. In this, he maintains a character that is enjoyable and not cringe-worthy; the slowly reforming bad boy, if you will.
Many of the other actors are given far less to work with than these three leads, and they all deliver just as wonderful performances, particularly Krul, Pont, de Bekker, Hartemink, and Boot. As far as comedy, in the role of Theo, Löw gives an exemplary performance as a prim, proper, and utterly clueless hobby hunter. From the moment he steps on screen we know his character is doomed, but Löw prances to his death with panache and leaves a lasting impression.
In short, Uncaged has plenty of hijinks and ridiculousness, but that’s because the film never pauses to take itself too seriously. Instead, it provides a light-hearted and witty take on the Thriller, allowing viewers to truly relax into their movie-going experience and forget their troubles for its run time. Humorous, gory, and utterly unique, Uncaged is not just another one of those generic Thrillers that you have seen a thousand times before. Instead, its quirky blend of genres and wonderful cast bring its story to life with zest—and a massive beast on the tram. For this, Cryptic Rock gives Uncaged 4 of 5 stars.