Thursday, March 6, 2003

With all the explosions going on during the filming of "Tears of the Sun," it's no wonder Bruce Willis got carried away in describing Oahu's "100-degree temperatures." The film, shot over four months on Oahu, opens tomorrow.

‘Tears of the Sun’
gets mixed reviews

The new movie, filmed on Oahu,
was difficult to shoot, according
to the production crew

By Tim Ryan

Movie critic Richard Roper is giving "Tears of the Sun," filmed on Oahu and starring Bruce Willis, a thumbs up, calling it "a really, really strong piece of work by (Willis)."

Todd McCarthy at Variety, on the other hand, says the film is "uninvolving due to stick-figure characters and off-putting in its images of technology-enhanced Yanks striding like benevolent giants among helpless Third World victims."

The film opens tomorrow for those who want to see how convincing Oahu is in portraying Africa.

Primary locations used for four months of filming were on Windward Oahu at Maunawili Valley, Kualoa Ranch and Waialua, where actors and crew suffered under weeks of heavy rains causing dangerous, muddy conditions.

At this week's premiere in Los Angeles, Willis said the filming was "extremely difficult" because of "100-degree temperatures for three months." (He must have been thinking of the heat from the explosions.)

Veteran executive producer Arnold Rifkin said the Revolution studio production marked the toughest location filming he's ever been involved in.

Rifkin, who has produced every Willis film to date and is the actor's partner at Cheyenne Productions, said because the film was shot in mountainous terrain, crew and actors were "always climbing somewhere, and that meant major pieces of heavy equipment had to be transported and protected."

"The rains were torrential," Rifkin said. "There were times when we had to helicopter the cameras in because the trucks couldn't drive up the road because of flooding. At one point we wore cellophane up to our knees, and the water was still seeping into our boots. When the actors were forced to run, their shoes literally stuck to the mud."

The production considered Africa, Costa Rica and Mexico. Hawaii was chosen because it's domestic, possesses a jungle ambience and doesn't have venomous snakes or insects.

"Hawaii is more expensive, but we had to consider the safety of our people," Rifkin said, praising the Hawaii crew's ability and work ethic. "They were extraordinary," he said. "There was not one thing they couldn't do or wouldn't try to do."

"Tears" reportedly cost $80 million to make, not including Willis' $25 million paycheck. The production's spending here was the most of any film made in Hawaii last year.

That fact isn't lost on Rifkin, whose company applied for Act 221 tax investment credits and reportedly was denied.

Rifkin said he had "tremendous hope" that the state would "recognize the economic impact" the production had on Hawaii's economy. "Just look at all the hotel rooms -- 300 at the Ilikai -- and cars rented, homes leased, food purchased -- 700 meals a day," he said.

In "Tears," Willis plays a Navy SEAL who must rescue a humanitarian worker (Monica Bellucci) during an uprising in Nigeria.

The film has America acting as the world's cop with themes reflecting current events. Variety calls "Tears" "the anti-'The Quiet American,'" and "the closest dramatic representation of 'compassionate conservatism' Hollywood has produced."

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