As a huge fan of the first Anaconda film, I was excited to see this one back in 2004, and was thrilled when I got it as a Christmas present that year. I actually really enjoyed this one as well, though I don’t think I’ll be venturing past number #2. The rest are starting to look more and more ridiculous, as many straight to DVD films are, and while that is, of course, not always true, I get a sinking feeling everytime I see one of these films released. That said, I know many people loathed the first one, but there is still a fan base out there, and I think this sequel was a pretty worthy follow-up. As an example of Murphy’s Law, this film definitely shows that when you go out exploring things you probably shouldn’t, anything that can go wrong, will.
We begin in Borneo, watching as a tribe hunts in the deep jungle. They hear a noise, and begin running. A huge anaconda swoops down and grabs one of the men, but he gets away. He ends up in a pond, where the snake finally captures its meal. Obviously, this is foreshadowing the tragic events to come. Cut to New York City, where a team of research scientists is pitching a proposal to gain funding in order to travel to Borneo to track down an elusive plant, The Blood Orchid (Perrinia immortalis) that is said to “significantly prolong cellular life”. The team is headed by Jack Byron (Matthew Marsden), and Gordon Mitchell (Morris Chestnut), and their young protegé, Sam (Kadee Strickland). Their proposal is eventually accepted after some coaxing, much to the dismay of another scientist, Gail Stern (Salli Richardson-Whitfield), who thinks their hypothesis is impossible, and a waste of time. They arrive in Padrang Province in Borneo, during the rainy season, and discover that, thought they’ve paid a charter company, no one will risk going upriver in the storms.
Luckily, they find out about Jin-soon (Bill Johnson – “it’s a pronunciation thing”, played by Johnny Messner), and his boat. He’s always willing to take anyone upriver “for the right price”, so they all go to a seedy nightspot to ask him. He eventually gives in – for $50,000, for his boat and driving services. They don’t want to pay that much, but of course, they do. What choice do they have? The next day, everyone shows up to find a rickety old boat called the Bloody Mary. It’s their only shot, so they have to take it. Joining the group is Johnson’s friend, Tran (Karl Yune), as well as team doctor Ben Douglas (Nicholas Gonzales), and team member Cole Burris (the charming and underrated Eugene Byrd). Cole’s pissed about the rain, and that he had court side seats to Madison Square Garden where he was “gonna sit right next to Spike and Woody”. Once on board, Gail is disgusted by the bathroom quarters, and thinks young Sam is screwing the boss to get her job, when in reality, she’s one smart cookie, who has no interest in screwing the boss. Cole thinks he’s a “bad man” for charting their route on the fancy-schmancy computer system, and Gail is “attacked” by Johnson’s pet monkey, Kong, a cute little booger who will probably be your favorite part of the film.
Sam is constantly being hit on by the cute doctor Ben, but she rebuffs his advances, smiling the whole time. There is some really shitty cell phone reception, leading to some riffs between adversaries Gail and Mitchell, and on the night of the first day, little Kong wanders off in the jungle where he must run for his little life from a great big, bad anaconda. We think he’s a goner, but he appears the next day, scared but safe and sound, so don’t cry! Also the next day, Gail falls in the river, and Johnson must save her from a giant crocodile by riding it like a bull and stabbing it to death, you know, just your everyday occurrence. She walks away unscathed, except for a few stitches, and all she can say is that she lost her phone. No, don’t thank the guy that just saved your life from a huge fucking reptile! That night, Johnson calls Jack into the pilot house and tells him he doesn’t want to keep going on the Mandranang, because of the water levels and the rain. Jack tells him he’ll pay him an extra $50,000 out of his own pocket, and they shake hands, with no one the wiser. Later that night, Gail and Mitchell have a drink together, and apparently all that passive-aggressive behavior pays off, because it’s assumed that they sleep together.
Well, they really should not have kept going, because the next day, the boat’s motor gives out, they miss their turnoff and are flung over a waterfall, rendering them foodless, boatless, and extremely fucked. No one but Jack knows that it was his and Johnson’s choice to keep going, and Johnson feels really guilty. He rings up his buddy on another boat on the Tokut River with one of the SAT phones that survived the waterfall. They agree to meet up at Naga Rock, and the group ventures into the rainforest for a presumed 2-day hike. They hate the idea, but when you’re stranded in the jungle, you don’t have much choice.
As the group hikes through the wilderness, Johnson tells Sam that he stayed on the river because Jack offered him more money, and to blame him. They encounter a section of the river they must cross, and cannot go around. Little Kong warns them with calls from the trees above that there’s a giant freaking snake slithering right past them, but Johnson tells him to hush. Cole feels something brush past him in the water, but the group tells him to keep going and not think about it. Ben is the last in the group, and begins humming the Jaws theme behind Gail. She gets really pissed at him, and turns around, and he’s gone. The group freaks and begins looking for the doc, when he emerges from the water in something’s grasp, screaming and writhing in pain. They suddenly see the giant anaconda attack Ben, as they scream and make their way to the shore as fast as they can.
Johnson explains to them what anacondas are and why they’re so big, as well as how long it takes them to digest. Everyone’s freaking out, but none so much as Cole, who rants and raves about how he thinks they’re all going to die. Gail says they need to just get to his friend’s boat and go home, but Jack’s ego and greed take over, and he maintains that they’re going to accomplish what they came there for. He tries to make it about Ben’s death, but really, it’s his ridiculous ego. He tells Gail she has no authority over them since they’re in the jungle, completely helpless, and as they go to leave, Johnson tells Jack that the expedition is over. Jack doesn’t really buy it, and promises he’ll throw more money at him later to finish their goal. However, he has yet to show all his true colors. As they continue on, Johnson notices that Cole is covered in nasty leeches, so they must stop to remove them. Mitchell takes his shoes off to massage his feet, and goes to put them back on, when Tran stops him. There is a gross poisonous spider in there, one they call “lava lava batu” or stone spider (which is a real thing, by the way). Tran informs them he would’ve been paralyzed had it bitten him. Jack scoops it up in a specimen jar, in another example of foreshadowing, as this will come in handy for his greedy ass later.
They go on their way after discussing leeches and spiders,and hear a crash and explosion. Livingston, Johnson’s friend they’re supposed to meet, has been eaten by an anaconda, causing the boat to crash. Cole cannot believe their run of bad luck, and the group’s morale begins to really deteriorate. They gather any supplies they can find, including Kong who collects a flashlight. Awwwe, he’s just so cute! Tran comes up with an idea to go in search of a tribe of head hunter descendants to hopefully find refuge and a boat. Cole, obviously, thinks it’s a bad idea to walk toward the head hunters instead of away. Tran tells him they don’t practice anymore, and Cole says, “Well, just cuz they ain’t practicin’, doesn’t mean they don’t remember how!” Haha, Cole gets the best lines. He’s the comedy relief, but also a voice of reason. On their way, they discover Livingston’s undigested body, covered in slime and stomach yuck. Johnson tells them that if anacondas are threatened, they will regurgitate. The group is concerned that it’s the same snake, but Johnson says no, that it must just be mating season. He and Tran describe the anaconda mating ball, or according to Cole, the snake orgy, and that there usually aren’t that many anacondas in one area. Anyway, they venture forth, and come upon the village. It is empty, the boats are gone, and there is a huge, gutted anaconda that had eaten a villager.
Since all their boats are gone, the group decides to build a new one out of the wood from the tribe’s huts. This works them well into the night, and as Jack sits down to cool off, he sees a drawing or carving or something of the Blood Orchid that they’ve been looking for. He alerts Sam, and tells her that now they know why the anacondas are so big – because they’re living longer, and snakes keep growing until they die. They see this as proof, but Gail thinks “it’s anecdotal evidence, at best”. Jack tries to persuade the group to keep going just a bit longer since they’re so close, but no one really wants to. Even Sam changes her mind. Gail and Jack argue about which branch of the river to go down, the Mandranang or the Tokut. Sam comes to her senses, and tells Jack the same thing he told Gail when he wanted to keep going, “We’re in the middle of the jungle, at this point, your authority is what we say it is”. Jack storms off, and the group continues to work on the makeshift raft. Mitchell goes in one of the bigger hut buildings to rest his feet, and finds some socks in Jack’s bag. He also comes across Livingston’s kit, which contains a gun, that he never mentioned to anyone. Now, he knows Jack is up to some shit, and when he comes in, he confronts him. One last time, Jack tries to convince Mitchell to keep going, that all they worked for will be gone, and that they’ll be billionaires. Mitchell refuses, so he tries to use the SAT phone to call for help. Jack opens the specimen jar and throws the spider on Mitchell, which bites him on the arm.
Mitchell quickly becomes unable to speak, and can barely move. Jack simply packs up his stuff, and leaves the hut to join the others. The others inquire about Mitchell, and Jack says he’s just resting. Sam, getting a funny feeling and not trusting Jack anymore, decides to go see for herself. She asks Mitchell what’s wrong, and notices the bite on his arm. She tries to get him to talk, but he can’t. All he can do is open his eyes wide in terror as he sees a huge anaconda coming down from the roof right behind Sam. She runs out, not noticing the snake, and asks Jack what he did to him. He says nothing, and suddenly, they all see the anaconda pick Mitchell up in his mouth and swallow him whole. The group runs towards him to try to help, but to no avail. So, they set the place on fire, and attempt to get out of there. But asshole Jack has taken the fucking raft for himself. Cole calls him a son of a bitch, and Sam insists they can get the raft back by circling around the jungle and catching him on the other side. They know he’s going to get the orchid, but they only care about getting out of there in one piece.
On the way, they fall down a hill or something, and end up in some kind of small cave thingy connected to the river. They attempt to find their way out, and Tran and Cole get separated from the group. Tran is killed underwater by an anaconda, and Cole struggles to find his friends. By now, they’ve made their way to the end of the tunnel, and are on their way out. Cole makes it just in time, and is pulled out of the hole by the group just before the snake gets him. At the end of her rope, Sam picks up a machete and chops that fucker’s head off. Everyone smiles, and Cole begins singing Sam’s praises, just as another snake pops up, and grabs him. Determined not to lose anymore friends, the group takes off to save Cole. They find him being constricted in a tree by the anaconda, and Johnson throws a knife, nailing the snake in the skull, forcing him to drop Cole. They do CPR on Cole, who miraculously awakens.
They finally catch up to Jack, who has found his precious flowers, and try to take the boat. But he shows up and pulls the gun on them, shooting Johnson in the arm. He then forces them all to the location of the orchid. They are growing on the side of a cliff, only accessible by way of a fallen log. Underneath is the infamous mating ball, with several snakes writhing around down there. Jack forces Sam to go across the log with a backpack and fill it full. He’s holding a gun to her head at the time, and doesn’t move the gun from his target the whole time, except to point it at Gail and Cole as well. She makes her way across, crying and scared, being soaked by the rain, and fills up the pack. The log begins to fall from her weight, and she drops to her knees. She’s screaming and panicked, but all Jack cares about is the flower. She tosses him the bag to hopefully catch her balance but she is hanging on by a vine. Somehow, fortunately, that stone spider is still on the backpack and bites Jack as he retrieves his orchids. He begins passing out almost immediately.
Sam is struggling to hang on, being cheered on by Cole and Gail, and Jack falls into the mating ball below, unable to grab the gracious hand of Johnson, who somehow felt it in his heart to help the man who just shot him. Sam follows soon after, and is able to make a break for it while the snakes are focused on Jack’s greedy, egotistical punk ass. She climbs up the rock, and is helped by her friends. The snakes being to arise from the muddy pit, and Gail grabs a canister of gasoline, and chucks it into the snake’s mouth. She is knocked backwards by the reptile, but Cole grabs the flare gun, and shoots it into the snake’s mouth as well. The snake falls back and the whole pit blows up, smothering them with falling earth and debris. They’re now safe – from anacondas, and from jerkoff Jack Byron. The next morning, they all jump on the beloved hand-made raft, and take off for home. Cole is rafting, Sam is bandaging Johnson’s wounds, and Gail has a new-found respect and friendship with cute little Kong!
So that’s about it! Nothing too deep, but a fun and exciting film nonetheless. In a fluffy-type way, it does resonate with me on the psychological level – what should you fear, an anaconda just doing what’s in its natural instinct? Or your jerk boss who is greedy, and only cares about his own fame and fortune? Personally, I’d be more afraid of the latter. Any movie about creatures always sort of fascinate me, because I get into all that cryptozoology, unknown animals, unexplored jungles thing. This is one of the better ones of the creature feature genre, and all in all, is pretty well acted considering the content. This one will probably never win any awards, but it’s a wild and crazy film, not to mention, little Kong! We can all agree on that, at least!