An Italian official's wife is kidnapped, and the kidnappers demand that a notorious prisoner be released in order for the man to get his wife back. He gets the man released--but then ... See full summary »
The story of a group of American commandos assigned to kidnap General Rommel. But the soldiers are caught by the Germans who decide to use their plan against them. Replacing the American ... See full summary »
José Luis Merino
In a post-apocalyptic world, a family seeks refuge in Safehaven, a community protected from the ravages of the outside world by a contingency of armed guards. However, once they settle into... See full summary »
Brian Thomas Jones,
A video store clerk stumbles onto an alien plot to take over earth by brainwashing people with a bad '50s science fiction movie. He and his friends race to stop the aliens before the tapes ... See full summary »
Director Robert Bianchi Montero's first step into the war genre turns out to be something of a scared step he has a good story to tell, but whenever he can take it in a new and unique direction, everything stalls and falls back on established, guaranteed clichés. That said, this is a pretty average desert-war flick.
The plot is a simple combination of two decent American war films, namely "Play Dirty", and also "Tobruk". A small band of misfit American commandos are assigned to head across the North African desert to blow up a huge German fuel depot. Why this fuel depot is important is explained in an overly long introduction, comprised of narrated black and white stock footage. That introduction is just a time-killer, but once it's out of the way, the fun begins.
Montero relies on his cast of young Italian actors to give the film its energy, and they pull it off masterfully. The only American in the batch is Dale Cummings, whose only other notable credit is in a later Bianchi war film, "The Rangers". Cummings plays Captain Clay, whose reputation as a dangerous commander precedes him. Marwell (Maurice Poli, "The Longest Day") tries to warn the others in the unit that Clay will get them all killed. Unfortunately, Montero fails to take this conflict anywhere substantial he confines this conflict to some occasional verbal sparring between Marwell and Clay, and seems to disregard it altogether as the film progresses.
The supporting characters add some much-needed juice to supplement the leads. Sgt. Dean (Luciano Catenacci, "Hell in Normandy") tries to keep the dissension among the men at a minimum. Maurizio Tocchi and Fabio Testi (both co-starred in "A Place in Hell") provide good support, as well. As they trek across the desert, complication after complication threatens the success of the mission: a German plane strafes their jeeps, damaging one and wounding a man. Then there's a lack of water and inability to get in touch with the rear.
Montero pays close attention to getting the details of the time period and setting correct, and this adds a great deal to the realistic feel and tone of the film. The Germans are properly armed and wear the right kind of uniforms, as do the American commandos. The exteriors, shot in Egypt, make the vast Sahara desert look appropriately bleak.
Bianchi keeps the action to a minimum, focusing on the conflicts within the group and saving the German threat for the final act. This final act is a truly rousing and suspenseful finale, as members of the unit penetrate the colossal underground fuel dump and then must fight their way out before the explosive charges detonate. This finale is filled with nail-biting scenes and surprises, including the appearance of a key German character from earlier in the film. Only some of the good guys survive, and those who die go down like heroes.
What's unfortunate is that Montero doesn't do anything new and unusual with his film. Every line of dialog sounds very familiar to war film buffs and the action scenes have a very typical look and feel to them. It's too bad, because the cast was capable of handling much more sophisticated material most of the main cast has proved this in their own right in other films.
When compared to other films, "Battle of the Damned" really has nothing new to offer. It's simply a good time-filler, with some fair action scenes and performances thrown in place it a notch above many other movies of the same time period. Montero would do somewhat better later on in "Thirty-Six Hours of Hell", a similarly-themed movie set in the Pacific with more substance.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?