Updating Joseph Conrad’s 1909 tale of courage and command in the South China Sea to today’s age of globalisation and Chinese ascendancy is an intriguing idea, but with Secret Sharer writer-director Peter Fudakowski doesn’t quite pull it off.
His version retains Conrad’s protagonist, a callow young sea captain (Jack Laskey) struggling to assert his authority over a mutinous crew, but he switches the gender of the naked swimmer whom the hero hides in his cabin, making the fugitive stowaway a gorgeous young woman (played by Chinese TV host Zhu Zhu).
Fudakowski largely jettisons the idea of the interloper as the hesitant captain’s more assertive double, aiming instead for simmering sexual tension, with Cuban music bizarrely thrown in to raise extra heat, but the fatal lack of chemistry between Laskey and Zhu sinks his attempt to turn the story into a slow-burning romance. Yet if the leads fail to convince, the rusting cargo ship on which they sail is splendidly authentic.
Certificate 12A. Runtime 102 mins. Director Peter Fudakowski.
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