Traci Lords doesn’t do a bad job, but the whole film is a cut and paste job

Epicenter is a strange beast – an action film taking place over the period of an earthquake. A complete variety of special effect levels, random sex scenes and borrowing footage from other films (gasp), Epicenter tries to fit in a lot in what’s a low-budget film but while it can’t pull it all off, it’s still quite entertaining watching it try.

Released: 2000

Runtime: 1hr 42 mins

The Premise

In a film where practically everyone is just on a different level of the baddie scale, a cop arrests and corrupt government weapons worker and then joins him on the run from the Russians – all during an Earthquake (double yay).

The Disasters Faced

Earthquakes, falling rubble, a lot of changing accents, dodgy wigs, aggressive smoking, anyone with a gun whom can’t shoot anyone standing in front of them and a dirty Russian lady who’ll ride anyone but “not let them in”.

The Execution

Epicenter is strange because it almost feels like a film pulling in two directions. From the outset, we’re drawn into the first half of the film as angry widow takes revenge on a company by stealing its weapons data and selling it to the Russians only to have it backfire. Enter ex-porn star Traci Lords to play a cop and to be fair she doesn’t do an awful job – there’s worse acting in the film. Sadly everyone is out-acted by Jeff Fahey who is b-movie king and the two children who play their parts extremely well (even if they seem really underwhelmed when their elevator drops 10 floors! When it then switches to disaster movie at the fifty minute mark the cracks literally start to show and its at that point the film chases its tail leaving its main goons to become cannon fodder, the script to degenerate further into a shambolic mess and for our main leads to share a “touching” moment before they part ways at the end almost like a forbidden love, despite them being handcuffed together most of the movie. It’s a shame it descends into a by the numbers tv movie as until then it held my attention by being vaguely unique – like a low-budget earthquake version of Hard Rain.

Hi, I’m a baddie, but a goodie, but a baddie – let me give you sexy eyes!

The Effects

Now here is where the film really takes the biscuit. When I first watched the film some parts felt strangely familiar. There is a great action sequence involving a cable car which borrows from Metro. They basically have matched the actors to the original film and inserted clips where the faces are less noticeable into this film! It’s absolutely amazing that they were able to do this and not just once. A train derailment is taken directly from Money Train and then a lift collapse is taken from Speed. As the lift drops, you see the explosion hole from the original film with no explanation as to why it’s there. It’s just shoddy and actually slightly jarring in the latter one of the three as you can tell the footage is shot differently. When it comes to the films actual effects there are just the usual terrible CGI explosions that appear more white than orange and lack smoke and polystyrene blocks of rubble. This makes the good and the bad stand even further apart as strange.

Why It’s Worth Watching / Drinking Games Aplenty

Aside from playing spot the films stock footage from other films game, you can also play a drinking game whenever the lead male Gary Daniel’s accent changes from English to New Zealandy / Australiany / Confusedy and another drinking game when you see random boobs. ,In fact there’s a whole secret sex game going on with all the characters names too. Ivan and Tanya Semen(ov), Agent Willie, Michael Rogers, Steve Strain.. it’s just wrong. The porn star actors needed to leave their porn names at home! At least it held my attention throughout however despite some poor logic.

Favourite Character

There isn’t really a standout character so I’m going to go for the absolutely nutty hairstyle henchmen in the restaurant shoot out as some of them look like they’ve walked out of a Russian death-metal band and others belong to Abba – and none of them can shoot to save their lives (and as a result, all of them pretty much die).

Whilst its own special effects aren’t great, there are some inventive Poseidon Adventure like slides through the screen

Best Death

I want to say death by lamp-post but sadly it doesn’t look as good as it sounds so I’ll go with Ivan Semenov’s death after the end of the cable car sequence – to survive all that and then get killed by something unrelated is just funny.

Weirdest Moment

Well, perhaps the most uncomfortable and unsexy fully nude sex scene in a disaster movie ever. Little Miss Robotic doesn’t even describe it…

Random Trivia

Continuity is the films worst issue. Staying dry in the wet, changing clothes – this is a nitpickers dream.


Epicenter isn’t an awful way to spend 100 minutes of your life. There are worse disaster movies out there and it kept me going all the way to the end happily enough but it’s so unbalanced by borrowing from other films to up the effects ante to stand on its own merits. Due to this Epicenter ranks below the hilarious but above the absolutely mediocre films because as a drinking game, you can have a few laughs from it.

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