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This movie is completely unreviewed, and the first time I saw it was on late night TV in 1990. The likely reason it is so unknown despite starring Ben Gazarra, Paul Winfield, Keenan Wynn, and Britt Ekland is because it just has too much to say about capitalism and economic exploitation of the third world for an American audience. In the mold of Burn/Quemada, WHo'll Stop the Rain, Three Days of the Condor, this is 1970s post-Vietnam revisionism during its heyday.
The movie opens with Keenan Wynn enjoying the fruits of his servants labor in an unnamed third world country, though the movie was shot in the Phillipines. A highly visible and obnoxious wealthy foreigner, he is kidnapped by a local guerrilla group who soon demand a large ransom. Gazarra plays the man forced out of mercenary retirement to go rescue him when Wynn's multinational prefers not to negotiate or pay up.
Unlike the jungle justice films that appeared in the 1980s, this one employs a distinctly unresolved and unhappy chain of events as just about everything that can go bad does, and Gazarra finds himself in the worst case scenario he could've imagined reluctantly going in.
Despite this, it's not a preachy film, and Gazarra and Winfield's attack on the rebel base is well-planned and realistically executed action. What distinguishes this film is how it inserts little moments of unjust actions and tragedy to poison any fist-pumping moments or simple right/wrong analyses.
Gazarra doesn't only hurt people he might admire to save a degenerate who deserves to die, but it costs him everything as the best laid plans go awry. This movie says much along the way about masters, servants, colonialism as well as exposing a believable black humor among mercenaries, including a truly tragic and jarring parting of ways between the partners. I don't think it's an accident that it doesn't make any showings in the USA, and can only be found used on VHS. I'm still waiting for it to show up on the THIS channel. It has much in common with Wild Geese, but is even darker, if that is possible. In WIld Geese, the enemy is not sympathetic, In High Velocity they are better people than the villains and heroes both, although even they are flawed. You get a finale sense of the rank stupidity and confusion of violent conflict and how distant elites in the loftiest realms hold all the cards over the world.
There aren't many missteps in this film, except maybe B-grade film stock, which only adds to its mystique ultimately, but it would be nice to see a new transfer.
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