A Movie A Day #261: Tropical Heat (1993, directed by Jag Mundhra)

In India, a maharaja is killed when an elephant steps on him.  His widow, an American named Beverly (Maryam d’Abo) stands to receive five million dollars but the life insurance company wants to make sure that the maharajah is actually dead before paying.  Luckily, insurance exec Carolyn (Lee Anne Beaman) knows the world’s stupidest private investigator, a man named Gravis (Rick Rossovich).  Gravis is busy house sitting a friend’s mansion and says he does not want to go to India but, after having sex with Carolyn in the pool, he changes his mind.  Once he arrives, he casually investigates the maharaja’s death whenever he is not busy having sex with Beverly.  During the course of his “investigation,” Gravis meets a young Indian woman (Asha Siewkumar), who thinks that there is more to the maharjah’s death than just a rogue elephant.  Gravis has sex with her, too.  Eventually, the movie runs out of people for Gravis to have sex with and it ends.

Though it often seems like it should be, Tropical Heat is not a comedy.  An American-Indian co-production, Tropical Heat is a softcore neo-noir, the type that used to dominate late night Cinemax.  By the standards of Skinemax, Tropical Heat is still pretty bad, with both Rossovich and d’Abo looking like they would have rather been anywhere other than this movie.  Filmed on location, Tropical Heat highlights all of the ugliest, most crowded urban areas of India and then, for some reason, has Gravis telling everyone that he meets that he cannot believe how beautiful the country is.  All of the hilariously bad dialogue sounds as if it was written by someone who learned how to speak English from watching someone else play Leisure Suit Larry.

If you want to see a good show about self-centered Americans in India, stick with that episode of Seinfeld where everyone goes to India for Sue Ellen Mischke’s wedding.

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