The coronavirus outbreak is grabbing headlines everywhere as it plays out like a pandemic from a disaster movie. But at least one group of people should find a silver lining in it, the makers of the Chinese creature feature Crocodile Island. It’s become an unexpected hit on streaming services there due to people staying home for fear of catching the disease. My curiosity aroused, I had to check it out. Worth a watch, or would it be better to risk catching the virus at a theatre?
The film begins in 1945 as a USAF plane runs into a flock of pterodactyls and crashes. One of the pilots makes it, the other is grabbed out of the air by a huge crocodile. Flash forward to the present day when an airliner strays off course and suffers a similar fate. It crashes into the sea, a few survivors manage to make it to the nearby island.
The lucky ones died in the crash. The survivors get to deal with a giant crocodile and some oversized spiders. If this sounds like something you’ve seen a few times in English on SyFy you know what to expect from Crocodile Island.
The survivors include a single father Lin Hao (Gallen Lo), his daughter, Lin Yi (Liao Yinyue) in the credits, Yiyi in the subtitles. There’s her potential love interest who daddy disapproves of, a pregnant woman and her husband as well as some designated victims.
The opening minutes of Crocodile Island are rough going. The CGI of the aircraft is abysmal and the dubbing of the American pilots is laughably bad. So are some of the creature’s early appearances. However, once we get past the crash the effects improve quite a bit. It’s almost as if they saw the first shots and changed effects teams.
The fact that it’s subtitled may bother some viewers, but honestly, there’s no real need for most of the dialogue. Crocodile Island is easy enough to follow without it. There were actually two sets of subtitles on the print I saw, English and Chinese. For those wondering why Chinese subtitles on a Chinese film, apparently spoken Chinese varies widely by region, some of the dialects being incomprehensible to those from other regions. But written Chinese is the same everywhere.
The result is an agreeably silly creature feature. Crocodile Island is pretty predictable and has some far-fetched plot points, Such as World War 2 guns that still fire perfectly after sitting around an island for 40 years. But in a film about giant creatures that’s really a minor detail. Watch it with Mega Crocodile, another Chinese film on the topic for even more fun.