In the romantic silhouette scene between Commander Hunter and Major Zara, actor Barry Bostwick deployed his right hand to briefly cast a shadow which resembled his genitals in profile. Asked at the time, he claimed it was accidental. However, when interviewed by Sight and Sound, the magazine of the British Film Institute, in 2004, he admitted that it had been an intentional slight towards Director Hal Needham, with whom he was involved in an unprofitable Ponzi scheme.
The film was part of a $50 million slate of film production from Golden Harvest studios aimed at breaking into the Western market. Other movies included High Road to China (1983), Blade Runner (1982) and The Protector (1985).
Barry Bostwick was cast in the lead after the producers saw him on stage in The Pirates of Penzance in Los Angeles. Producer Albert S. Ruddy said he and the director had talked to one other actor earlier in the development stage, when the script was more serious. However then Ruddy "decided I didn't want to do another Dogs of War type movie. I wanted this to be more camp, more of a spoof, but still believable. Once we'd seen Barry we knew right away he was just right for the part."
Producers approached military officials for cooperation in the design of the vehicles used in the battle scenes; the officials refused. When the film was released, those same officials were so impressed with the vehicles, they asked the producers for the plans. The producers cooperated.
The film was shot on location in Nevada. It pioneered the use of Introvision, a system that allows actors to walk in and out of photographs instead of sets. It was used to create the headquarters for the private army. "It's an absolutely phenomenal system," said the film's producer, Albert S. Ruddy of Introvision. "There's no way you can get the quality and the speed of delivery at this cost.
The "missiles" were actually model rockets manufactured by a company in Raytown, Missouri. The filmmakers were so impressed with their accuracy over distance that they restaged some of the battle scenes to take advantage of this.