Welcome to the future of the solar system, when a kind of repeat gold rush has the outer planets and their moons in its grip. A metal generally known as Precious is the new gold, and yes, that does indeed mean every character in the movie is going to say “Precious! Precious!” about every two minutes or so, my precious.
Anyway, a series of very script-like events finds young, somewhat naive
despite the obligatory tragic past, rookie miner – with a nose for Precious as
he never gets sick to tell anyone who will or won’t listen – Ben (Harold
Pruett), former cheating executive now cheating crazy gambler Armond Crile
(Rutger Hauer in full-on-scenery-chewing mode) and garbage hauler Sam (Brion
James, doing nearly as much overacting as Hauer here) teaming up to find and
exploit a Precious claim. Of course there are complications, among them SPACE
FEVER(!), Armond being crazy as a bag full of badgers even before space fever
takes the rest of his sanity, general distrust, claim jumpers lead by a terrible
racist stereotype named Loo Seki (Don Stroud, like, totally an evil space
samurai), absurdly cute roguish space captain Camilla (Joan Chen) and the
shittiest CGI tentacles I’ve seen in a long time.
Calling Philippe Mora’s Precious Find “Treasure of the Sierra Madre
in Space” would be rather unfair. Unfair, that is, to the John Huston film which
does after all feature a psychologically deep, tense script, a plot that makes
sense, 1948-style acting performances of the highest quality and intense
direction, all things you won’t find in Mora’s film at all.
Being a Philippe Mora film – and an ultra cheap 90s SF movie to boot –
Precious Find seems most interested in two things. Firstly, in a type
of self-sabotage that I’ve often encountered in Mora’s films (though I have to
add I’ve not seen all of them by far, I’m not that kind of a
masochist), an unwillingness to ever go into the obvious direction of playing a
narrative straight or using its potential sensibly. Secondly, and closely
related to the first point, doing everything in as weird a way as possible, with
ideas of varying degrees of bullshit inanity or just plain insanity popping up
with light speed and for no good reason.
I mean, nobody can honestly have thought dressing up Don Stroud in yellow
face and letting him speak in a fake Japanese accent was a good idea, right? Not
to speak of Hauer suddenly starting to imitate him – new eyebrows, kimono, sword
and accent included – for the last act of the film. And that’s really just the
tip of the iceberg of the film’s weirdness, with so much goofy, nonsensical, and
just plain bizarre stuff going on throughout it becomes impossible to take
anything that happens in it seriously. On the other hand, you’d be hard-pressed
to call this thing an actual comedy, for it is just too awkward and plain
peculiar to sell as such.
While this approach doesn’t lend itself to making this an actual version of
Treasure of the Sierra Madre, IN SPACE, it does certainly keep the film
lively and interesting, because there’s no way to guess what dubious delight
Mora will pull out of his – probably very strange looking – hat next. While
Precious Find is certainly horrible, abstruse nonsense, it’s absolutely
my kind of nonsense, containing not a single boring second, and giving no hint
it might be ashamed of being the kind of bizarre nonsense it is.