Sharks In Venice (2008) [REVIEW] | Bambino Sharks In The Canal

I’ve actually already reviewed this one on the old italian blog, but it was years ago, and this is a crapfest worth a complete rewrite: I mean, i kinda have to spotlight a movie called Sharks In Venice during shark month, even though i would have felt the same obligation if i was bulgarian, because of course Sharks In Venice isn’t shot in Venice, but the far cheaper Sofia, Bulgaria.

This one in particular it’s produced by Nu Image, and boy were they pumping out shark movies fromn the late 90s to the 2000s, so it comes at no surprise this is directed and written by Danny Lerner, director of Raging Sharks/Shark Invasion (itself a kind of spin-off of the Shark Attack series), and 2003’s Shark Zone. So we are in… middling hands, at the very best.

I guess he really wanted to make a shark movie with the mafia involved, which brings us back to Jaws once again… the original novel, this time, but still, we are bound to eternally have to notice how all sharks movies in some way spawn from that Spielberg’s 1975 classic. In some way or another.

The plot sees a scuba diver, David Franks go to Venice accompanied by his wife, in order to talk with the local police force and locate the whereabouts of his missing father. While investigating the canal where David’s father may have been seen for the last time, he discovers an underwater cave filled with treasure, and manages to survive the attack of a shark. The mafia gets wind of this and then blackmails David into going to the cave and bring them the rest of the treasure.

Unlike many of these flick, Sharks In Venice could have technically existed as it own thing and doesn’t use the sharks as a narrative crutch to desperately sustain a wafer-thin plot, but i don’t think it’s a case of an old script revised to haphazardly add sharks for marketing value.

It’s just that kind of movie that decides to take mafia, sharks and mash them together with a bit of adventure movie, as the mafia is after the Medici’s treasure. Which results in the only shark movie featuring flashbacks with Templars, ancient middle-east villages being pillaged by crusaders, and people dodging wall-mounted traps like they’re going out of fashion (as they did).

As for the reason there are sharks swimming in Venice’ canals….the main mafioso put small sharks (or “bambino sharks”, as he says) in the canals years ago because – and i quote – “too many people swimming in the canals”. You would think he did to protect the Medici’s treasure, but he didn’t knew about it existing until the protagonist does…. despite hiring David’s father to do the same exact thing. I guess the mafioso wasn’t sure of the treasure actually existing, but still… XD

Wouldn’t be a real David Lerner directed film if it wasn’t full of errors of any variety, from mispellings (“Medicci” instead of “Medici”), continuity errors, the obvious re-use of shots mere seconds after they are presented, people able to speak clearly underwater with breathers on, goofs like the boat in a shot… clearly being a prop on very visible wheels, alongside the expected choppy editing that mixes documentary footage of real sharks with cheap blood/gore effects, or footage of them eating something edited with the actors spazzing out in the non-Venetian waters.

As an italian, i get a kick of how they decided to just use very generic opera (instead of using actual opera arias that do exist) and incredibly forgettable, and just throw in random references to italian soccer stars Del Piero and Totti. Also, the characters all speak english, sometimes sporting a clumsy italian or saying italian phrases like “sì, signore” (“yes, sir”) in the middle of the dialogues, which is to be expected as most of the cast is made of bulgarian and american actors, but also 2 italian actors… one not even playing an italian character. XD

Speaking of which, this movie has the leads (David and his wife) played by Stephen Baldwin and Vanessa Johansson, the brother of Alec Baldwin and Scarlett Johansson’s sister, respectively, both having met with the unfortunate fate of being cast because they couldn’t get their more popular siblings, and doing what they can with the material, not exactly too invested in the roles, but whatever.

The production values aren’t as bad as you might expect, despite everything i said, the cinematography it’s passable, it’s just that the movie is directed and edited like a mess, and it’s indeed a mess of unapologetic mafia clichès, action movie clichès, shark movies clichès, making for ridiculous shoot outs, where the warehouse seems to expand as the fight goes on, despite the comical deluge of cops that keep arriving on the scene, all made even more hilarious by random use of slow-mo, amateur level filter effects, and randomly sudden jumpcuts, and shit like the protagonist slowing down mafia goons by using classical art props.

It’s a delightful gibberish, making for an actual “so bad it’s good” movie, as the extra, unplanned incompentence and the pick-n-mix plot with sharks, mafia and Templar treasure just somewhat works, it’s ridiculous enought but has actually some structure and content to justify the runtime, and make for a really entertaining bad movie.

For bad shark movies lovers, this is worth at least a watch, and might even become a “cult classic” in time, it has some potential, but so far it’s mostly forgotten, even by genre fans. Dunno why, as we often elevate so much worse crap to fame.

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