A Rough Diamond
As a child Johnny (Sean Patrick Flanery - Simply Irresistible) was taken in by his father's diamond mining business partner, Jacob Van der Byl (Roy Scheider - Chain of Command), when his father died leaving him an orphan. But when Jacob realised that not only was his own son, Benedict (Michael Easton), always coming second to Johnny but that his daughter, Tracey (Alyssa Milano - Commando), was in love with Johnny he banished him from the home. That is until many years later when having become a top geologist Johnny is invited back to the home by Jacob for Tracey's wedding. But Jacob has ulterior motives other than to throw a cat amongst the pigeons as he is dying and knows that Johnny is better suited to run his vast business empire than Benedict. Less than impressed by what his father has done, the already crooked Benedict, who is siphoning of diamonds from the business, plans to take Johnny down by making his expensive diamond dredging operation a failure and then take over the business himself.
A few facts before I get going. "The Diamond Hunters" is based on a Wilbur Smith novel which back in 1975 was adapted into a movie called "The Kingfisher Caper". Now "The Diamond Hunters" was in fact originally a two part mini-series which came in around the 180 minute mark but as is often the case there is a DVD release of this which has been seriously hacked down to come in at 100 minutes and that version is the one which I got to watch. And sadly you can tell that someone has carved this mini-series up and left chunks out to cram it into a shorter running time. Sometimes it is a good thing when it comes to those melodramatic bedroom scenes whilst other times it removes a character completely with no explanation.
Now the annoying is that "The Diamond Hunters" is actually not bad with its soap opera style drama between a brother and his foster brother over the family empire, switch the diamonds for oil and you could be talking "Dallas". And typically in this sort of soap-opera style drama there is romance, wrong doing, bribery and of course it all builds up to that dramatic climax as Johnny discovers that Benedict has been working with some less than innocent people to siphon of the best diamonds from his dredging operation. In truth it isn't in the least bit complicated but reasonably nicely put together to make it easy to watch.
Most of why "The Diamond Hunters" ends up easy to watch actually rests in the casting as both Alyssa Milano and Sean Patrick Flanery are likeable and that transfers to their characters whilst Michael Easton comes across as your classic villain, greasy black hair and generally negative about everything. Yes the characters are pretty basic but in truth when a movie is as simple as "The Diamond Hunters" over complicated characters would be out of place.
What this all boils down to is that "The Diamond Hunters" is surprisingly entertaining but that is in a soap-opera, melodrama sort of way. How the full version comes across is another matter and part of me wonders whether at close to 180 minutes that version would feel drawn out.