DVD Review

Mania Grade: D

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  • Disc Grade: C+
  • Reviewed Format: DVD
  • Rated: PG
  • Stars: Sam Jones, Maud Adams, Jasper Carrot, Kirsten Hughes
  • Writer: Mervyn Haisman
  • Director: Terry Marcel
  • Distributor: Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • Original Year of Release: 1987
  • Retail Price: $14.98
  • Extras: widescreen; 2.0 Dolby Surround; trailer


No lost treasure

By ANDREW HERSHBERGER     October 11, 2002

Based on "the most famous comic strip in British history," according to no less a reliable source than the liner notes on the back of the DVD, JANE AND THE LOST CITY concerns the wacky adventures of a heroine whose main gimmick is to lose her clothes. Now before you go out and rent this... OK, I see you've rented it... fine, whatever. Well, before you start watching it, you should know that this is based on a 1932 comic strip, so when Jane loses her clothes she's merely being stripped down to her underwear. So before you snap that rented disc in half... alright, so you've already snapped the rented disc in half... whatever happed to those anger management classes?

Somewhere in Africa in 1940 three explorers stumble upon the whereabouts of a fabled lost city. Well, before you know it two are dead and one is severely wounded, though he still manages to inadvertently let the Nazis in on his discovery. Since Nazis are grossly incompetent buffoons who couldn't kill a fly if they wanted to, the badly injured gentleman escapes back to Britain. When the Nazis learn of this they send out their most obviously comical agent, Heinrich's (British Comic Jasper Carrot) equally insufferable brother Herman (Carrot again) to ostensibly dispatch this escaped prisoner, but actually to fall down a lot in a variety of uninspired ways that could accurately be described as anti-comedy.

When the British discover that a fabled lost African city filled with diamonds has been discovered they do what any country would do, they canvas the general area with low flying airplanes, converse with the locals for possible leads and send in troops and negotiators to ensure both safety and fair play. OK, they don't do that. Instead they send Jane (Kirsten Hughes), her Dachshund, the idiotic Colonel (Robin Bailey), and the required Jeeves rip-off, Tombs (Graham Stark). These three wind up lost in Africa thanks to the devilish Hans (Carrot again), Heinrich's other brother. When in Africa all seems lost until the trio bumps into Jungle Jack (Sam Jones, FLASH GORDON) a Tarzan/Indiana Jones type who Jane quickly becomes enamored with. Now it becomes a race against time as Jane and crew must try and beat the Nazis to the lost city while concurrently the screenwriters must come up with a variety of ways to have Jane lose her clothes.

Former DR. WHO writer Mervyn Haisman - who also wrote for the short-lived British TV show JANE, based on the same source material is responsible for the screenplay, and one imagines that would make this film an instant collectible for DR. WHO fans, God have mercy on their souls. Truth be told this is just a flat film that feels like a cut and paste job. Character development is started and then just vanishes without rhyme or reason, all the actors perform without zest with the exception of Jasper Carrot, who is performing with far too much zest and the movie has that ugly late '80s New World Pictures mega-cheep look. As a childhood fan of the '80s FLASH GORDON film, I was hoping that there might be some fun seeing Sam Jones in one of his few post FLASH leads, but nope, the guy is about as charismatic as a bad sitcom actor I'm talking SAVED BY THE BELL bad... make that worse. This also goes for former Bond Girl Maud Adams, who performs the role of Nazi villain Lola Pagola as if she was trying out for a remake of ILSA: SHE WOLF OF THE SS.

The bottom line is JANE AND THE LOST CITY is an immediately forgettable piece of fluff that doesn't do more than waste your time with its sub par comedy and nonexistent entertainment value. Its comic origin is being exploited way past the expiration date - the source material seems of interest only to geriatrics and nostalgia hounds. Why not just check out the reprint of the strip itself, unless you want to watch this film to see Kirsten Hughes strolling about in lingerie for about 10 minutes of screen time? You know what? There's something to that.

Anchor Bay has unleashed JANE AND THE LOST CITY with a barebones DVD package. The film looks great, with hardly any scratches or debris, and the sound is good. The only featured extra is the theatrical trailer.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at feedback@cinescape.com.


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