Jiboa (1989)

Jiboa proves something I’ve always long suspected, namely that the Amazon jungle is more heavily populated than the island of Manhattan! If it isn’t a tribe of friendly native Indios walking around topless in their red thongs, it’s the cocaine kingpin living in his compound right down the street who lives just over the mountains from the hidden tribe that zealously guards its secret city of emeralds. Then you’ve got the archeologist Mark Frazier and his crew careening through the reeds while traitorous partners try to kill them periodically. By the time it was all over with, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Mark and his new girlfriend wanted to fly to L.A. so they could just get away from all the hustle and bustle!

This being an Italian jungle flick directed by Mario Bianchi (Satan’s Baby Doll and a raft of other films with even pornier sounding names like Family Bestial Games), that fast-paced wilderness lifestyle involves stuff exploding, people shooting each other and blow guns with poison darts getting stuck in people’s faces. That the movie started with Mark (he looks more like country singer Randy Travis than Indiana Jones) being chased and shot at by a helicopter, falling off a waterfall and having amnesia (and a sexy native gal with her guavas hanging out) only serves to demonstrate why it is necessary to keep destroying the rainforest.

By the time Mark makes it back to what passes for civilization in Crapazeula or wherever, he gets taken to meet the New York businessman who was bankrolling his expedition. Also with him is his goddaughter, Layla. She’s a hard looking bottle blonde who wants to know where her fiancee John is. John was part of Mark’s team, but Mark is the only one who made it out of the jungle.

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Mark has no idea what happened, but in the hurly burly we’ve come to expect from such nasty (I think Mark has lice the way he keeps itching and picking at his head) Third World cesspools, a dude and his goons break in announcing he is the businessman’s partner and that the businessman tried to cut him out of his part of the deal! One dead New York businessman later and Mark and Layla are getting properly introduced to Sewer Rat!

Bobby Rhodes plays Sewer Rat and you’ll either recognize him as the pimp from Demons or the mechanic in War Bus Commando or more probably as “the black guy in those Italian movies who isn’t Fred Williamson.”

Sewer Rat wants Mark to lead him to the Emerald City (the movie is so deadly serious all the time, no one ever thinks to make that joke) and has a unique way of encouraging Mark to come across with the information. He puts a rat inside a big jar, then sticks the mouth of the jar up to Layla’s face and explains that eventually the rat will find a way out of the jar and then it will find a second way out after that – through Layla’s ass! Credit Mark for not laughing out loud at that visual!

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Sewer Rat forces Mark and Layla to march through the jungle toward the lost city (though Mark still doesn’t remember its location), but Mark shows that old Sewer isn’t the only guy who’s been reading up on creative ways to kill and maim folks. While crossing a river, he cuts his own leg so that it bleeds into the water, punches a guy out and hauls ass and waits for the piranha attack! Later when everyone’s sleeping and he’s tied up, he somehow uses a tree branch to knock a big spider into a guy’s face where it promptly bites him! He’s like MacGyver crossed with the Abominable Dr. Phibes! (He also throws the South American version of Sam Elliot into a volcano later.)

A rather uninteresting tromp through the jungle follows until they are captured by the drug lord. They escape and then they exchange revenge with the drug lord when he strafes the native village and then Mark and his crew goes back to the coke camp and somehow blows it up like they had air support from the U.S. military. Then it’s back to the lost city with Sewer Rat in hot pursuit.

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Once in the cave that leads to all the goodies, Mark figures out the mystery of what happened to the expedition (a pretty standard lackluster letdown) and the lost temple (good idea to stop calling a dumpy cave with a few shiny rocks a lost city of emeralds) gets blown up for no apparent reason except that the movie is almost over and these lost hideouts full of chintzy treasure always self-destruct during what passes for a climax.

Once seen, it’s obvious why Jiboa is about as obscure as these 1980s Italian adventure flicks get what with its complete lack of ambition in plot, characters and action. It’s the sort of film full of unengaging action and colorless characters where I can say without hyperbole that the only time I was on the edge of my seat was when Mark was getting ready to drink some magic juice that a bunch of natives had spit in.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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