Empire of the Sharks is a TV movie released in 2017 from The Asylum, makers of the Sharknado franchise. It was written and directed by Mark Atkins (6-Headed Shark Attack, Planet of the Sharks, Sand Sharks, Snakes on a Train) and stars John Savage, Jack Armstrong, Thandi Sebe and Asley de Lange.
The future: 98% of the Earth is covered by water and humans live together in a series of floating islands, similar to the atolls of Waterworld. in fact, a lot of things look like Waterworld. But instead of dirt, the humans barter for freshwater from a greedy go-between (Jonathan Musvosvi) who is able to control sharks with the Nintendo power glove. Ok, maybe not the power glove, but it sure looks like one. Anyway, one of the inhabitants of the atoll, Willow, has a “sunstone” – a time-telling device passed down in her family. When the leaders of the atoll tell the baddy Mason they don’t have enough fresh water to sustain their numbers, he kidnaps several women to take back to his master, reducing the population.
This doesn’t make our hero, Timor (Armstrong) very happy, and Armstrong’s bad acting didn’t improve my mood either. He takes a shoddy submarine out to try and rescue Willow where we witness the power of the “shark caller” power gloves when a bunch of sharks are sent after Timor.
Beaten and bruised, Timor goes to another atoll and begins putting together a crew to help defeat the leader of the fresh water providers, Fien (John Savage). He recruits a thief, a freediver, and an older woman named Sarah (Sandi Schultz). They end up stealing a boat that has the equipment to make fresh water, which makes Fien very, very upset. He demands the return of the equipment and the group hatch a plan to rescue Willow.
The battle ensues with Fien using the Nintendshark gloves to try and defeat the crew, but Willow reaches down within herself and finds her inner shark-caller to save the day and defeat Fien at his own game.
Empire of the Sharks can only be viewed as a step backward for The Asylum after their hit Sharknado franchise. Atkins, fresh off his other shark film, Planet of the Sharks, does a good job with the basics of the film, but one can’t ignore the film’s groundings in the lore of Waterworld. According to other reviews, this film bears a striking similarity to Planet of the Sharks – but I can’t speak to that (yet).
John Savage does a good job as Fien but is overshadowed by the bad acting of Jack Armstrong, whose voice actually cracks at times in the film. Instead of battling sharks, one would expect him to be doing hair and beard wax commercials while drinking coffee. His character was completely miscast. The only other actors of note were the ones playing “villagers” on the atoll who, even without many lines, were more realistic.
The entire middle of the film where the crew was gathered reminded me both of Legend of the Rangers (the Babylon 5 TV movie) as well as countless other “heist” films where the main character goes out and recruits a rag-tag crew of misfits. There is nothing original in this film.
You can find Empire of the Sharks streaming on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.