Tepid potboiler

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 August, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 August, 1995, 12:00am

CLINT Eastwood's Heartbreak Ridge (Pearl, 9.30pm) has drawn flak from all quarters. Many saw it as an endorsement of the American invasion of Grenada. Others saw it for what it is; a dismayingly predictable potboiler in which Eastwood, voice pickled in vinegar, goes through the usual motions.

There are no insights into the human condition here. Eastwood, who also produced and directed, is Tom Highway, a gruff, foul-mouthed Marine sergeant who is ordered to train a group of lazy malcontents who feel they have been duped by the slick military advertising on television.

He trains them, they grow to respect him, and are sent to a tropical island to kick out some Commies.

The Desert Rats (World, 9.35pm), follow-up to The Desert Fox, tries to be a real war film, with realistic photography and a story that will not stretch your credibility to breaking point. It examines events in the first film, this time from the Australian viewpoint.

Richard Burton is a tough British officer who takes over command of the Ninth Australian Division at Tobruk in 1941, at a desert fortress surrounded and hard-pressed by the Afrika Korps, led by Field Marshall Rommel (James Mason, in a reprise of his role in The Desert Fox).

Burton is his usual forceful self, but Robert Newton steals almost every scene he is in, as a floppy, roaring and weepy drunk spouting philosophy and sentiment.

IN Lois And Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (Pearl, 8.30pm) that esteemed organ The Metropolis Star is headlining major news stories before Lois and Clark over at The Daily Planet have got their socks on. Could it be that megalomaniac owner Preston Carpenter (Dean Stockwell) is staging accidents so his publication can be first with the news and sell more copies? NOW that this summer's shark deaths are recent history, television can broadcast all the killer documentaries and films it likes, without fear of being accused of bad taste.

The Jaws series has already been dusted off, as it was last year, the year before that and probably the year before that also.

The Great White Shark (World, 8.35pm) is a documentary, and takes a more balanced view of the greatest anti-hero the world has known since Sid Vicious.

Forget all that stuff about monsters from hell sent to terrorise the ocean; of gaping jaws lined with leering banks of razor blade teeth. The Great White Shark we see here is a beast under threat from Man, trying to remain master of its domain.

Much of the footage was filmed by Paul and Gracie Atkins, who make a living from this sort of thing, with a gadget called the Crittercam. This is a small camera attached to the shark's body, which allows us to enjoy a shark's eye view of breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The documentary's findings vary considerably according to location. The South African Great White is a protected species free to satiate its appetite in the shark supermarket of the huge seal breeding colony at Dyer Island.

His Californian cousin, poor soul, eats elephant seals, who often fight back. As a result his more cautious approach to hunting seems to account for attacks on humans being less common and rarely fatal.

FILMS on Cable Movie Channel: Lucky Encounter (9am & 3pm). A saccharine-sweet comedy-drama on reincarnation, directed by Johnny To, that fails to lift spirits.

It stars Little Pak Lam whose role is to bring tears to our eyes as the kidnap victim whose spirit is trapped in limbo.

Lovable rogues Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Kent Cheng Chuk do their utmost to help the little ghost, creating havoc along the way.

Wild Orchid II: Two Shades Of Blue (11pm). In the original Wild Orchid Jacqueline Bisset was a sex-crazed lawyer playing kinky sex games in Rio.

The sequel has nothing to do with that. Instead it has blonde Nina Siemaszko puppy-loving her high school teacher by day - but by night she dons a black wig in the local brothel to entertain the same unwitting teacher.