Wow, where to begin. This is another one of those "This is another one of those ..." movies that has so many poor qualities that one could pick it apart like a Christmas goose and still have plenty left over for soup fixin's. The exploitation/war thriller is still fairly new to me, but we sense a pattern. Some are over the top entertainments (Margheriti's THE LAST HUNTER), some are more subtle character studies (FATAL MISSION with Peter Fonda & Tia Carrera), and then there is stuff like this. Filmed inexpensively in the Phillipines with American money, this is an exploitation film in search of something to rip off (maybe 84 CHARLIE MOPIC?) and few reasons to truly recommend it, other than the fact that it's incredibly obscure, meaning literally "hard to see". It's just not available outside of some old PAL video cassettes, which is how I happened to find it.
Like most pants wearing red blooded guy types I got caught up in the Rethinking Vietnam Movie craze of the late 1970's to mid 1980's and I guess this would fall in that category. Richard Harrison -- looking ill at ease without either a Gladiator spear or his trademark fringe leather Spaghetti Western cowboy shirt -- plays a gruff talking, thickly muscled legendary Special Forces veteran & mercenary for hire who leads a group of Yankee and Southeast Asian guerrillas on some form of raid into Charlie territory to do something which is never really made clear, and then to die. There are jive talking' Soul Brothers, the crazed Italian American gunnery officer, mystical & shifty locals who may or may not sell this "Secret Crack Unit" out to the Cong, and then the Babe.
Exploitation/war thrillers are distinguished by the lead footed way that attractive, fairly round-eyed & firm breasted caramel skinned actresses would be worked into the plot, and even more lead footedly deprived of their clothing and/or abused on screen for the vicarious sex criminals in the audience to get a few jollies. This time the Babe is strung up by her wrists and beaten with a rattan cane in what could have been a tastelessly carnal scene of torturous sexual assault that is content to simply be tasteless. Thank God.
Fans of on-screen brutality will still be well catered to by the Unspeakable Atrocities interlude that comes earlier. This is a pattern I have noted (even PREDATOR falls prey to the device) where the "Good Guy" soldiers stumble upon or otherwise witness the Bad Guys inhumanely raping/massacring/mutilating a group of poor villagers with such ferocity that they stare in Unspeakable Horror at the carnage. The point of the scenes is to reinforce how despicable the Bad Guys are & justify their being slaughtered on the spot and without hesitation by our Good Guys -- see ROBOWAR, THE LAST HUNTER, THE GREEN BERETS or any of Sergio Corbucci's Spaghetti Westerns for more. The audience gets to root for the Good Guys as they chop off people's heads as a sort of cathartic release after all of the plot which leads up to the scene. This one is distinguished not only by the bared breasts of a rape victim on display but the sight of a piggie supposedly munching on the charred remains of a dismembered body.
Most may find it disgusting but I sort of chuckled, "tuned-in" to how low the film would stoop to try to generate any real interest, and failing. The ending (SPOILERS A' COMIN'!!!) consists of a drawn out firefight in which the party members are inevitably hurrying to a chopper pickup, and inevitably they are killed in reverse order of number of lines allotted by the screenplay. If it seems like I am being cynical by describing the film's "climax" as such it is only because the whole movie was apparently made in a downright cynical + cost minded manner. Nobody seems to be really interested in what was being filmed, and the best thing that can be said about the project (other than the previously mentioned aspect of it being incredibly hard to find) is that the budget was able to afford not just an authentic looking Huey helicopter, but a tread driven Armored Personell Carrier, and both are shown on screen, in action. Wow.
These are also the most cleanly scrubbed and freshly equipped looking Viet Cong I have ever encountered in a movie -- Each one of them was given a bright red neckerchief to wear as a part of their costuming, which makes them easier to shoot in the middle of all those trees. They look about as authentic as The Village People, and their NVA commandant is about as intimidating as Mr. Greenjeans from Captain Kangaroo, even as he cackled like a power crazed James Bond villain. If Filipino made indie 1980's Vietnam Thrillers are your cup of tea then this movie may be a revelation of one kind or another, right down to the ambiguous conclusion which doesn't even bother to show us what happens to Richard Harrison -- I say they circled back to pick him up & just ran out of film. But by then all manner of care for the movie has been sucked out through your eyeballs, with another 90 minutes of your life in the can, down the drain, and never coming back.
4/10, just for being so damn hard to find.
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