For, Friday, Jan. 2, 2015

A forgotten film by John Boorman ("Point Blank," "Deliverance"), "The Emerald Forest" (1985, R for violence, sex, nudity, language) is receiving a hi-def upgrade with a new Blu-ray/DVD by the boutique label Kino Lorber, which has lately been picking up "classic" titles (and more often just "older" titles) for re-release.

And if ever a movie deserved the Blu-ray treatment, it's this lush, gorgeously photographed trek along the Amazon River. It is a stunning visual treat.

The movie itself, however, is more like half a good movie and half a standard-issue action picture, and as such is disappointing.

"The Emerald Forest" kicks off with a bang, earning audience sympathy immediately as an American engineer (Powers Boothe) is building a dam on the Amazon, with his wife (Meg Foster) and son in tow, when the boy is kidnapped in a stealth manner, leaving no evidence behind.

Over the next 10 years, Boothe searches for his son while finishing the dam, and eventually finds him (played as a 17-year-old by Charley Boorman, the director's son), but the boy is now an entrenched member of a tribe called "The Invisible People" and has only hazy memories of his parents.


John Boorman directs son Charley, 'Emerald Forest'

This first half of the film is wonderfully realized and compelling but the second half introduces a tribe of cannibals stalking the Invisible People with automatic weapons as it morphs into a thriller that owes too much to "Rambo." And the ending is particularly unsatisfying.

These are strange choices for a film that is, much of the way, thoughtful and engrossing and quietly effective.

"The Emerald Forest's" R rating is for violence and some profanity, but also for sex and nudity as the Invisible People are quite casual about both. There are also quite a lot of English subtitles for the tribe's dialogue.