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Canuxploitation!

Dans le Ventre du Dragon

(AKA In the Belly of the Dragon) 1989, Starring Remy Girard, Michael Cote, David La Hayne, Marie Tifo. Directed by Yves Simoneau.



By the time director Yves Simoneau's Dans le Ventre du Dragon, he had already made several low-budget thrillers, including the enjoyable Montreal crime film Pouvoir Intime. Like Jean-Claude Lord's Mindfield, the film casts a critical eye at medical experimentation, however this film takes a much lighter approach than its contemporaries.

The plot to this anarchist science-fiction comedy revolves around three co-workers: Bozo, a dull-witted fool, the grizzled idealist Steve, and Lou, a quiet teenager who has just joined the team. The three characters deliver flyers around Montreal for their boss, a greasy gold-chain type. Steve helps out Lou on his first few days, and the three of them drink Tim Horton's coffee and have light political discussions about "the system."

Lou is looking for a way to get some money for new boots, and decides he can make it by testing drugs at the pharmaceutical company. Meanwhile, a large pharmaceutical company is trying to cure the common cold through some kind of mental regeneration. The head of the project, Dr Jonas (played by Marie Tifo) is told that she will lose her funding if she doesn't find some results soon. Can we all see where this is going? Dr Jonas notices Lou's quick reflexes and high scores at mental tests, and decides to use Lou in her experiment for $1500 a week. While undergoing his treatment, Lou meets an old woman, Mrs Murray, who keeps telling him about her many lovers, and how they couldn't keep up with her.

Under the treatment Lou becomes extremely sick. When he finally receives some of his money, he sends some back to Steve. Because Steve and Bozo have no idea where Lou has been for the past week, they find the return address on the money and decide to go and rescue him. Unfortunately they are foiled at the gate by security, so they go back to the flyer truck to initiate plan B: infiltration via Steve's paddleboat.

While the rescue attempt is mounting, Lou has been strapped to a table and is hooked up to various medical devices. Dr Jonas is expanding the power of Lou's brain to overcome cold symptoms, and Lou experiences a strange side-effect--he has become just as old as Mrs. Murray!

Meanwhile, Steve and Bozo have made their way into the giant building, and carefully creep through large rooms and small corridors. They stumble on Mrs Murray, who gives them some advice about where to find Lou. Eventually they make their way to the basement, or as Bozo puts it, "the belly of the dragon," where Dr Jonas' secret is revealed to everyone.

Despite some dull moments, In The Belly of The Dragon is a fairly good film that is a sci-fi story, a political satire and a buddy comedy all at the same time. It is obviously influenced by David Cronenberg's frequently appearing dark, bureaucratic government health clinics. The pharmaceutical company is controlling the people, and one can only assume that this is Simoneau's anti-federalist statement, since the three friends smash the state and find their own paradise. This film is a good entry point into the rich and varied world of French-Canadian cult films.


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