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Killer Shark (2021) Review

Killer Shark (夺命巨鲨) aka Death Shark is the latest in a seemingly endless stream of Chinese films about giant CGI creatures such as Mega Crocodile and Crocodile Island. Rarely released in the West they tend to be difficult to find with English subtitles without a lot of help from Google and plenty of patience. Why they aren’t subtitled and released to Amazon Prime is beyond me. Whether or not it’s worth it depends on luck and how much you like cheese.

Death Shark opens with a pair of fishermen dumping chum into the water to attract sharks. Unfortunately for them it attracts one so monstrous that even a bigger boat wouldn’t have saved them.

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Speaking of bigger boats, we’re soon on a yacht with six obnoxious rich kids, An Qi (Liang Jing Jing), Liu Wei (Qui Pin Cheng), An Kie (Wu Fang Yuan), Ou Yang Xiao Min (Chen Ya Jing), Li Zhi Hui (Wen Hang) and Shu Fei (Shu Tong). They’re so busy flirting and arguing that they manage to run the yacht onto some rocks capsizing it. One of them is injured in the wreck, and it doesn’t take the shark long to notice the blood in the water.

Plot wise Killer Shark is nothing we haven’t seen before in films like The Reef or Open Water. Left with the choice of remaining on the hull of their boat which is drifting further out to sea or taking a long swim to the nearest island most of them take their chances in the water.

Writer/director Shi Qiang is content to recycle plot elements from countless previous aquatic creature films. We even get a variation of the flare gun scene from Jaws 2, only with horrible CGI. Part of the problem is this kind of thing has been done so many times it must be damn near impossible to find something new without going to the lengths of From the Depths, Sky Sharks or the upcoming Sharks of the Corn.

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Instead, we get a few false alarms from whales, dolphins, etc. before the shark shows up and starts picking off the four survivors one by one. Unfortunately there’s little suspense because you can tell who is going to survive and who isn’t.

Killer Shark does supersize their monster to the point it looks like it’s related to Meg. But unlike that film there’s nothing for it to do with that size. I’m assuming that’s for budgetary reasons, otherwise I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t have had it capsize the boat. Or when rescue is finally at hand have it go after that boat. It certainly would have made the ending more exciting and less obvious.

Effects wise, Killer Shark is extremely weak. We see plenty of the shark but the CGI is awful. The scenes of it leaping out of the water are more funny than frightening. And the scenes of it swimming towards the camera made me think of Finding Nemo rather than Jaws. It’s not quite Amityville Island bad, but it’s certainly close. The attack scenes are either jerky CGI or happen underwater and out of sight, blood surrounding the character’s upper body as they scream.

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This makes me curious why the CGI in Chinese films is frequently bottom of the barrel. So many video games are made in China because they can create excellent computer graphics quickly and cheaply. Why hasn’t this talent spread to films? I would expect that even their low budget films would have passable effects by now.

If you like Asylum films like Shark Season you may enjoy Killer Shark. However, I found it lacking even the so bad it’s funny charm of the Italian Jaws rip-offs like Great White or Cruel Jaws. Killer Shark is available on the Chinese streaming service iQIYI which is available in some Western countries.

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