Directed by: Ji-hoon Kim
Written by: Je-gyun Yun
Starring: Ji-won Ha, Sung-kee Ahn, Ji-ho Oh, Ae-ryeon Cha
In the 1981 TV movie The Intruder Within, Medical Center's Chad Everett plays the commander of an oil rig who inadvertently discovers some prehistoric eggs. One of the eggs hatches, releasing a snake-like malevolent creature that begins to hunt down the crew one by one. Directed by Peter Carter (Rituals), The Intruder Within has the dubious distinction of being one of the first full-on Alien rip-offs on television or film. (Roger Corman’s first attempt, the surreal Galaxy of Terror, would be released theatrically later that year.) It’s a typical early-eighties television yarn with flat visuals, story points timed for commercial breaks and very little onscreen violence. Joseph Bottoms (The Black Hole) is the “Ash” of the piece, attempting to study the life form at any price. There's also a “chest burster” counterpart which is shown, hilariously, in shadow.
Thirty years later, we’ve come no further in building a better Alien rip-off. But, clearly, the public is clamoring for them. How else do you explain not one, but two Alien-on-an-oil-rig films in as many years? Those who braved the 2010 DTV film The Rig will remember a sleepy William Forsythe leading the fight against a sea creature on a rig during a (ubiquitous) tropical storm. (Let’s bypass Jim Wynorski’s 2004 oil rig monster movie The Thing Below altogether, because we can.) The Korean Sector 7 has a bigger budget and some action film posturing, but it’s just as derivative and simple-minded. Deep Star 6, I mean Sector 7 begins with a drilling accident in 1985 that ends disastrously. Cut to the present where the Eclipse, an offshore drilling rig, has been given orders to stop drilling after little success in finding oil.
Perky equipment manager Hae-jun (international action star Ji-won Ha) is adamant that they continue and convinces Captain Jeong-man (Battle of the Warriors’ Sung-kee Ahn) to drill one last time. While oil proves elusive, tiny sea creatures are discovered whose chemical make-up could be a new source of energy. It should come as no surprise that the “company,” I mean the “suits” were already familiar with these creatures and have been looking for them ever since the accident from ‘85. The problem is, when you tinker around with these creatures, bad things happen. Sometimes they even grow into giant horrific monsters compelled to kill and eat humans. Anyone who has seen The Intruder Within (as this is our basic reference here) knows that the small crew will be even smaller by the time the film ends. Surprises? Not many.
Director Kim does manage to bring a sense of scale and weight to the oil rig setting, which is nicely handled through a combination of practical sets and CGI. Motorcycle chases(!) and “wire-fu” fights with the creature might add some visual flair in the 3-D version (not reviewed here), but they come off as rather silly and computer game-like in the flat version. Kim also gets some solid performances from the cast, especially leads Ha and Ahn. But little suspense or interest can be generated when the script adheres so closely to the template of The Intruder Within and Leviathan and Virus — and any number of films from the past 30 years where a confined group of people must battle an angry monster.
The beast itself is a rather derivative CGI design that is basically a giant mouth of teeth on four legs. An attempt was made in the advertising to compare it with the impressive creature from The Host (a pretty great film), but it's nowhere near as inventive or realistic as that design. There are a few inspired moments where the monster seems indifferent to its victims and shambles away. Attempting to deal with the actual behaviors of the creatures in films like this is practically unheard of. Sector 7 would have been a far more enjoyable ride had the creature’s “character” been more fully realized. Alas, true to convention, our menace seems to grow more angry, bloodthirsty and unstoppable as the running time advances. A subplot featuring creature eggs and additional monsters (seen in the trailer) seems to have been lost in the editing. But those story points are no more original or interesting than anything else presented in the script by Je-gyun Yun.
One last thing, and this might be viewed as a SPOILER for those who have never seen a movie before. So be warned! Though I know this subgenre contains certain elements that must be included, is it essential that a self-destruct button be available...regardless of the location? I may be incorrect in this assumption, but having a self-destruct button on an oil rig seems a bit preposterous. Even in movie logic. At least Chad Everett and crew took a more sensible approach in dealing with their prehistoric menace. Then again, they didn't have cheap CGI and 30 years of slavish rip-offs to dictate their derivative movie.
This Shout Factory Blu-ray release contains a beautiful anamorphic widescreen presentation of the film (as well as a separate 3-D disc) and a “making of” featurette.