Abriendo fuego (1985)

(Literal translation: Opening Fire.  aka, Jungle of Death, En busca del astronauta Maya.  Literal translation: In Search of the Mayan Astronaut)

I suppose it doesn’t help that I could only find a singularly bad rip of this rare Mexican film that actually had any sort of subtitles.

And those were auto-translated auto-subs.

But I still don’t think that I’d have considered this a great film even if I’d found a pristine copy, with great subs.

After all, its sound and film quality couldn’t have been that great to begin with.

Now I don’t suppose it will come as much of a shock that the Mexican film industry tried to make an Indiana Jones  ripoff.  After all, we’ve seen a lot of Raiders of the Lost Ark copies from all over the globe, from the more familiar American efforts (like High Road to China or The Jewel of the Nile) to Italian (Top Line), Indian (Hero), Australian (Sky Pirates), Japanese (Crystal Triangle: The Forbidden Message), Hong Kong (The Legend of Wisely), and even Russian (Curse of Snakes Valley) copies.  It seemed almost an obsession for low budget filmmakers everywhere and only a few of these films are particularly interesting.

Like a lot of these, Abriendo Fuego sends the usual group of heroes in search of ancient flying saucer stuff.  I supose it’s a lot easier than trying to research some real-world treasure that might excite an archaeologist.  Professor Ruger, who we are told is one of the world’s greatest archaeologists (not that we’re given any other reason to believe this) finds a little golden pyramid that is the key to unlocking a great, flying saucer related treasure.

This is actually a fairly cool sort of relic as it has patterns on it that look like a far more advanced printed circuit, and it’s made of some sort of superhard alloy of gold.

But we never really hear much more about that, and only moments later, the big bad guy breaks in and kills Ruger.

Before he dies, though, he sends his two attractive daughters (and his nerdy assistant, Esteban) to the one person who can help them, Professor Sagan.

Yes, Sagan.  Keep up with me.

Mind you, Sagan isn’t an archaeologist, but is instead studying mental powers.

Which leads us to the one great scene in the film, where he plays Chess against a little girl.

Only the two move their pieces by telekinesis.

It’s a great bit of setup, and it is presented well, but that little girl Checkmates the Professor.

Obviously her powers are greater than his — or at least her Chess playing abilities are.

But it doesn’t really matter because we never see her again.

Now they go to Sagan because he is the only one who can lead them to the treasure.  Not, as you may have guessed, with his incredible archaeological knowledge, but with his mental powers.

You see?  We really could have used that little girl.

Anyway, before you know it, Professor Sagan and his jungle guide buddy are off to find the treasure, with the two girls and the wimpy assistant in tow.  But the local medicine man doesn’t want them on his tribe’s sacred land so he sends some of his people to kill them.

And the evil Shiek who killed Professor Ruger is after them as well, and plans to steal the treasure from them once they find it.

The pace is slowish, although there are quite a few things going on, and we even get an evil babe with plenty of flesh showing, and a few scenes with the girls in bikinis.  There are a lot of fight scenes and foot chases, lots of guns going off and even a sequence where Sagan and his buddy eliminate one native after another.

But it never quite manages to be as exciting as it should be.

Part of it is that we don’t get many close ups.  Most of the film is at a flat, middle distance, without a lot of edits.  While we do spend time with our main characters, it feels like the film is keeping them at a distance.  The rather flat sound quality also helps create this feeling, although I really do not know whether that would be as true in a good print.

Mind you, the sound reminds me a lot of the Italian and Spanish films from the same era, so I suspect that the flatness may be a feature, not an accident.

For all the talk of a lost city, they end up finding a cave, and then a few stone foundations — along with a new set of natives and [possible spoiler — after all, she’s on all the posters] a girl in a golden bikini.

When they finally do find their flying saucer, well, it isn’t very impressive.  It reminds me of the thing they find in the bad Chopsockey mash-up of Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T., Magic Crystal.  It is about the same size.

Only the one in Magic Crystal is supposed to be some sort of matter transporter.

I didn’t watch Abriendo Fuego because I thought it would be a great movie, but as a matter of historical interest, and as a rare example of a Mexican science fiction film (and, I’ll confess, because I caught a glimpse of that Chess-playing scene).  It isn’t exactly bad, although I would have no hesitation in describing it as “poor.”  It might actually have been moderately entertaining had they done a better technical job on the film.  There’s a lot of interesting ideas here, but they mostly go undeveloped, and lack the little bit of something more they needed.

Oh, well.  It’s on Youtube, and you can auto-translate the autosubs if you really want to see it.

Just don’t go thinking it’s some sort of forgotten classic…



Check out our new Feature (Updated February 16, 2022):

The Rivets Zone:  The Best SF Movies You’ve Never Seen!




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