Awaken : Release Year - 2015

Overall Rating : 5/10

Directed By : Mark Atkins

Natalie Burn (In the Name of the King : Two Worlds)
Michael Copon (The Scorpion King : Rise of a Warrior)
Jason London (Dazed and Confused)
Daryl Hannah (Kill Bill Vol. 1)

Supplied By : Arc Entertainment

Film Reviewed By : Rick L. Blalock

Date Reviewed : June. 22, 2015


A group of young adults wake up on a deserted tropical island in this suspenseful thriller about black markets and body parts. Billie, a skilled martial arts expert, had been searching for her missing sister, Rina, when she was attacked and dumped on an island. She finds others like herit healthy adults in the prime of life, with no idea why theye been kidnapped, then let go, only to be hunted down like animals. Billie searches for a way off the island and finds the horrifying answers to some of her questionsa human organ harvesting operation, that picks and chooses from the strongest and most fit survivors.
In AWAKEN, after a failed attempt to locate her missing sister Katarina, Billie Kope awakens on an island, somewhere in South America. With no recollection of how she got there, Billie finds herself dazed and confused. After wandering the jungled terrain for a bit, it doesn't take her long to realize that she isn't the only one on the isolated island. In fact, there are several people, both men and women, each with a different set of attributes. But they all have at least one thing in common, they all seem to remember feeling drugged, before waking up, and finding themselves on the island plane. Since finding themselves there, the group has been organized by an older fellow castaway named Quentin(Robert Davi), whom not only attempts to keep the group together, but also looks for away off the island, and back on to the mainland. However, this turns out to be easier said than done, as it is revealed that those who have awaken on the mysterious island are being hunted by a pseudo military squad, led by "Sarge"(Vinnie Jones)and Xander(Michael Pare). The military men work for one, Rich(Jason London), who is in the game of harvesting the organs of the most prime candidates. For years, Rich's operation has abducted, readied and hunted individuals, with the goal of extracting the organs of the most fit "specimens", in order to sell them to the wealthiest clients. The film's story finds us on the eve of the arrival of one of Rich's most important clients, a woman who goes by the name "Mao"(Daryl Hannah). Mao, who seems to be quiet wealthy, is looking to score an organ transplant for her ailing daughter, Violet, whom appears to not have much longer to live. Mao, has come to Rich, expecting a hassle free "transaction". But when it turns out that Mao is none too pleased with his proposed "donor", Rich and crew go into panic mode to find a substitute, as they possibly eye Billie for the ultimate sacrifice. However unfortunately for Rich and the others, by this time, Billie is already leading a charge of her own. Joined by two other survivors, "Stitch"(Daz Crawford) and Nick(Michael Copon), they head for Rich's compound, where Billie puts her long taught Judo skills(taught to her by her late father) to use, as she and the others attempt to survive, and thus, successfully escape the island.

At first, glance, one might assume that the Mark Atkins directed film, AWAKEN is one that would ultimately play out like one that takes a direct cue from films such as THE CONDEMNED or RAZE, while borrowing the general idea of "organ harvesting" in the likes of HOSTEL. Or at least, that's what I assumed anyway. As it would turn out, AWAKEN is a film, with only a dash of THE CONDEMNED, none of RAZE, and is much more closer to that of HOSTEL, or even TOURISTAS. Gone is the element of combat, which I initially thought that I would find here. No, instead of fighting for their survival, by fighting against each other, the subjects in the film are being hunted by a team of hired guns, with the goal of harvesting their organs. Honestly speaking, the plot is nowhere near of fun as it would have been, had the characters been faced with the notion of having to literally fight for their lives. But then again, had that happened, the film could have possibly been deemed "too similar" to those other films. So, the film opts for the aforementioned "victims being hunted" angle. It definitely aims to set the film apart, and possibly could have been most effective. However, the viewer never gets a real sense of dread. There is never really a time where we get the feeling that the victims are in complete danger, especially while on the island, where the real suspense is intended to occur. The Jones and Pare military team, are supposed to instill fear in our victim characters, and for us, the viewer, we are supposed to pick up on this. But personally I never picked up on it. AWAKEN's level of suspense picks up near the film's end, but it is at that point that it is just a little too late. AWAKEN would have been a much better film, had it been that suspenseful throughout at least, most of the film's 89 minutes. I think also, that maybe too much focus might have been put on the inclusion of many "known" names, and not on the film as a whole(appearing in the film are; Jason London, Daryl Hannah, Robert Davi, Vinnie Jones, Michael Pare, Edward Furlong and David Keith).

However, this is all a bit of a double edged sword for AWAKEN. Because instead of building on that suspense, most of the film deals with character development(most of it, of course going to the film's main character, "Billy Kope"), and this happens to have been one of my most liked elements of the film. I really liked the introductions of the characters, and what we learn, as the film progresses. Especially when it comes to Billie, which is a good thing for the film. I personally felt that the filmmakers, as well as Actress Natalie Burn did a great job in presenting Billie Kope as a strong female heroine. The character is a joy to watch in the film, and I have to say that I am really impressed by Burn, who, as it turns out, is multi-talented. I will definitely be looking out for more from Natalie Burn in the future.

This, along with a few turns, and unexpected developments, here and there, still make AWAKE a film that is worth watching, but it could have been better. The characters(especially the primary one), as well as the dramatic story elements are there. But unfortunately the film is lacking in its execution overall. But still, even with that said, I did kind of enjoy it.
2/10 While most of its gore is off screen, and merely implied, there are things such as a severed ear, a slit throat, and several extracted organs that are seen in jars. There are also a few instances of your typical cuts and scrapes, as well as a puddle of blood.
5/10 AWAKEN's scoring ranges from Action/Adventure to the frantic suspense type.
Going into this film, I had this vision of a suspenseful film which sees characters desperately fighting for their lives as they attempt to escape a mysterious island. Well, after seeing the film, I do believe that, that is exactly the type of film that AWAKEN is intended to be. Unfortunately, not much memorable action occurs until the final half of the film, with very little build up. Some characters die, while other characters just seem to disappear Just what exactly happened to Edward Furlong's "Berto" character anyway? One minute he's there, the next minute....he's gone. I don't remember seeing him, die, but he very well could have(This goes to show you just how important his character was in the film. Furlong appears here for his "name" only.). But if you should take one thing from AWAKEN, I think it should be the strong showing from the film's star Natalie Burn, who portrays the type of headstrong female that a viewer can root for.

This film will be released on DVD and Video On Demand, on July 7, 2015


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