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Jonathon Dabell <BC602070@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
Both Ernest Borgnine and Herbert Lom were born in the same year, 1917, never retired from acting, lived to be 95 and died within two months of each other -- 25 years after the making of "Skeleton Coast" -- in 2012. See more »
Despite the fact that the main premise of the film is a rip off of the 1983 movie "Uncommon Valor" (starring Ernie's 'Poseidon' sparring partner Gene Hackman), this film lacks it's portentous nature and concentrates on non stop action,some great battle scenes (despite what was obviously a limited budget) and a group of veteran actors, knowing full well that this isn't exactly "Shakespere In Love", having fun with their roles: most notably Ernest Borgnine, who gives it everything he's got.
In fact, the ones who will enjoy this movie the most will be fans of the '60s TV sitcom "McHale's Navy" -- or 'mercenary army' in this case. Substituting for Joe Flynn (Capt.Binghampton) is Robert Vaughn playing a German colonel, forever frustrated by the rumors of the approaching army's invasion of the prison fortress and the political prisoners contained within: his constant berating of his assistant Schroeder reminds one of Bob Hastings' Lt.Carpenter in similar circumstances.
Also the mercenaries themselves --(Leon Issac Kennedy plays 'Chuck'....at times one expects Tim Conway to stumble out of a doorway, followed by the inevitable explosion) a religious expert knife thrower, an elder statesman soldier, an explosives expert, a beautiful blonde who can handle herself in a fight and a ninja named Toshiro (no -- no sign of 'Fuji') Led by the Colonel, with the help of a local rebel army, they invade the fortress to rescue the Colonel's CIA operative son -- and pick up anything else that catches their fancy.
A great performance by Ernest Borgnine as the Colonel, in typical 'McHale' wiseguy fashion; his scene of him disguised as a Cuban sergeant and his ordering around of Vaughan's men and later when confronted by an army of angry soldiers is hilarious, reminding one of his 'Cousin Guisippe' twin role on 'McHale'. His scenes with the Angolan rebel leader played by Simon Sabella are beautifully performed and are unlike scenes normally found in action pictures. Also on hand is Herbert Lom as a slightly shifty informer and Oliver Reed as the head of the country's diamond security (The scene when he launches a rocket attack on Borgnine and co. -"Fire! Fire! Kill the bastards!"- is a highlight -- obviously he was looking forward to heading off to the pub when this shot was completed!)
All in all, a pleasant feel good action picture -- and most heartily recommended for all "McHale's Navy" and Ernest Borgnine fans.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful.
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