There was a time when The Boondock Saints was starting to peak as a sort of cult hit that Sean Patrick Flanery's career looked like it was going to take off. He'd come to prominence on The Young Indiana Jones and a transition into feature films seemed the next logical step. Something happened somewhere along the way, however, and now he's starring in movies like Mongolian Death Worm, a made for SyFy Channel TV movie that kind of stinks.
The film starts off in Mongolia, which makes sense, where a corporation is toying around with their new experimental oil drilling technique which the powers that be hope will make them all filthy rich. Things quickly go bad when some of the workers employed at the planet go missing. Some of the locals blame the disappearances on the titular Mongolian Death Worms and this leads to a whole lot of people quitting the job - you can't blame them, really. Well, it turns out that this drill has been built not so much on top of an oil reserve as it has been built on top of a giant killer worm reserve. When the drill gets closer to the worm's underground nest, they're none too happy about things and they start killing off the workers.
Now it should go without saying that the corporation in charge of the drilling is evil and so it will surprise no one when they scoff at the claims of giant killer worms offing their employees and they obviously don't intend to do anything about it. Unfortunately, these worms pose a bigger problem to the area at large, which is where super tough treasure hunter Daniel (Flanery) comes in - he's been combing around the area looking for Genghis Khan's buried treasure. He, along with some help from requisite foxy scientist Alicia (Victoria Platt) who has been treating sick villagers nearby, will figure out a way to stop the worms from taking over and killing everyone and maybe teach the evil corporation a thing or two while he's at it.
Directed by Stephen Monroe before he helmed the remake of I Spit On Your Grave, this film doesn't move very quickly nor does it provide much in the way of giant worm monster thrills. It was made with a modest budget and what few effects set pieces there are have been rendered, for the most part, with bad CGI work. Monroe tries to make up for things by focusing on the characters and so Daniel and Alicia are given their fair share of screen time, but somewhere along the way someone forgot to make these characters interesting and what happens, because of this, is that the movie becomes rather boring rather quickly. The film is bogged down with dialogue that adds little of any interest to the picture and which fails miserably at making our heroes anything more than one dimensional clichés.
Had there been enough monster mayhem thrown in here, this could have been overlooked. There are plenty of monster movies with poorly written characters that are still a lot of fun simply because they are monster movies - here, however, that doesn't happen. The action scenes are few and far between and the worms move so slowly that you never get the impression that they're really very much of a threat at all. There's a little bit of gore courtesy of the characters that are too stupid to get out of the way when the worms appear, but it's not much to write home about nor is it enough to make this anything memorable. Even the big finale in which our heroes go up against the mother of all worms doesn't work or really provide any excitement. In the end, we're left with a dull, talky picture that never manages to quite get off the ground despite a moderately promising premise.
Mongolian Death Worm looks like the low budget straight to video release that is on this 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The film looks okay for what it is but shimmering is definitely a constant and noticeable issue. There aren't any problems with mpeg compression artifacts or nasty edge enhancement but black levels do sometimes get a little bit murky and muddy looking. Skin tones generally fare well enough and color reproduction isn't half but, but this isn't the most polished of films and it's not the greatest transfer you've ever seen either. It's passable, at times bordering on good, but not always consistent.
The sole audio track for the feature is an English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix, though subtitles are provided in both English and Spanish. There isn't a ton of rear channel action here though some good channel separation is noticeable in the front of the mix. Generally levels are well balanced and dialogue is easy enough to understand. It won't floor you with its awesome sonic power but it gets the job done.
Extras? We get a menu and chapter selection, but that's it. Nothing of any actual substance here.
Mongolian Death Worm isn't scary, it isn't exciting, it isn't particularly funny - it's not much of anything, really, just a cheaply made and poorly paced monster of the week SyFy quickie that very quickly throws whatever potential it had out the window in favor of bad effects, cardboard thin characters and a bland plot. The movie looks and sounds okay but the DVD contains no extra features, making this an easy one to skip.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.