|Index||6 reviews in total|
First off, I like this movie but not for the movie. It's an Alfonse
Brescia movie, you see. Al Brady -- as he is perhaps more commonly
known as to English speaking audiences -- was one of the least
respected but most well-journeyed directors of the Italian genre school
of B grade filmmakers from the 1960s and 1970s who sadly passed away in
1999. Bresia's most often seen movies as far as American audiences go
would either be his Barbarian Women epics from the early 1970s (ATTACK
OF THE BARBARIAN WOMEN and RETURN OF THE BARBARIAN WOMEN) or the STAR
WARS inspired series of science fiction Spaghetti potboilers made back
to back in 1977 & 1978 (WAR OF THE ROBOTS and STAR ODYSSEY being the
most common of the five, all of which are equally threadbare &
This was one of his forays into the RAMBO ripoff idiom of Fillipino financed and Italian produced Jungal Trash potboilers made in the mid 1980s, though this one is supposedly set in South America during Nancy Reagan's "War on Drugs". Instead of smashing commie POW camps, this Rambo is going after a drug lord. The common elements of the Bannana Boater Rambo Ripoff Formula are all present: The beefy macho hero (Richard Randall, looking like Fabio's younger brother), the sultry professional female love interest, the slimy duplicitous misplaced James Bond villain, the cartoonish paramilitary forces aligned against each other and of course the superimposed social message in the form of a people's popular uprising against some kind of social dictator who is also the slimy villain. Saves on cast budgeting and dialog to compress the two elements into one, and Bescia was a pro at keeping all associated costs with his productions at a bare minimum.
While it may not result in a particularly memorable genre film it's over quickly and is mercifully entertaining enough to not be annoying or engender much resentment over the 90 minutes it mages to kill. None of what happens is original or particularly well staged, so like a Spaghetti Western (which Brescia made about six of) what distinguishes the end result is the fact that it's an Alfonse Brescia movie with music by Stelvio Cipriani that just happened to have been produced by genre movie legend Walter Brandi, and features RATMAN's Anna Silvia Grullon in an eye candy role. The specifics of the story or kinematics employed are actually a secondary consideration, which makes this a perfect project for Alfonse Brescia to have directed.
Which isn't meant to be a put-down of his skillz as a filmmaker but more to acknowledge that once you get down to brass tacks it could have been made by anyone and the story could be about anything. I like what one commenter said about there being lots of people driving around in open air vehicles frenetically firing automatic weapons while things explode, which are a vital part of the formula of what these Italian Rambo Ripoffs ultimately end up looking like. You can also bank on scenes with helicopters, the heroine being trained in martial arts, a big mass attack battle scene at the end instigated by a bunch of lady revolutionaries pretending to be hookers, and a scene where the villain offers the hero a fortune if allowed to escape.
In many ways this one reminds me of a Timothy Dalton era James Bond film: There are scenes in casinos, elegant drinks in expensive settings, fistfights with the hero dressed in a suit, a gorgeous femme fatale in a Versacci dress and a villain who only aspires to be a rich scummy drug lord rather than destroying the world. That this movie pre-dates LICENSE TO KILL by 2 years may be more telling than anything else, since quite often the derivative action films of Italy, the Phillipines and Hong Kong usually ended up being themselves re-cycled by Hollywood, creating a kind of chain of causality between that which came first and that which rips it off. So here is another chicken inside of an egg laid by Alfonse Brescia. It's a terrible movie for sure but an interesting object lesson in cultural ephemera. Nobody ever really asked for a legion of RAMBO ripoffs but they served their purpose well enough, which once you think about it is usually the very definition of an Alfonse Brescia movie. And that's why I like it, even if it isn't really all that good.
3/10: Look for an extremely rare Japan made VHS release featuring an uncensored widescreen print, it's about as good as it will ever get for this movie anytime soon.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This bland and frankly aimless action outing sprung fourth from Italy
during a time when it's once prosperous movie industry was experiencing
a major slump. Obviously, judging on the strength of this effort, it
wasn't just a case of budgetary cutbacks which were in evidence
..the film in question positively reeks of tiredness.
The plot concerns a powerful South American General who is making a profit on the side by secretly manufacturing drugs. To cover his nefarious tracks however, he takes to publicly burning the countries marijuana fields to appease the UN inspectors (whilst of course secretly preserving the main bulk of the crop)
An American undercover agent (who is later revealed to be a macho Marine to boot!) and a female reporter get mixed up in matters and end up opposing the General by joining up with the countries liberation front. Yep, you can probably guess that there's a fair bit of shooting and a good number of explosions that inevitably follow although it has to be said, the mentioned scenes are generally handled with minimal directorial flair. In addition, the said sequences further suffer due to some dreadful organisation and usage of the extras, whereby the same actors can be clearly seen dying multiple times in the same scenes! Tut, tut indeed!
Now I normally accept that films such as these require one to suspend one's disbelief, but some of the plot contrivances and stupidity displayed in this are just unforgivable. As an example, in one scene our intrepid female reporter manages to get left behind whilst she's snapping some shots of bodies in a cave (!) Amazingly, no one even notices she's gone missing! - Even the hero in this who is supposed to be madly in love with her doesn't bat an eyelid that she's gone! Hell, some deep affection eh?!
There's another scene which had me scratching my head to, in which the hero is talking to the leader of the liberation group and proceeds to wander into the river for no apparent reason (!) Eh? What the hell?! Did immersing his feet (complete with combat boots!) in water help his chain of thought or something?!
But the above absurdities pale in comparison to this films main claim to fame (and the only memorable factor within the entire movie) and that is the baffling inclusion of a vertically challenged demon (played by none other than the world's smallest actor Nelson De la Rosa!) who the villainous General is able to summon at will!!! Yes, this amazingly bizarre sub plot comes completely out of the blue when it is revealed that the General is also apparently a master magician who can evoke the devilish little fellow on any given whim to do his bidding (usually to fire some hopelessly rendered electricity effects from his tiny fingertips!) erm ..okaaaay.
The above enjoyably hat-stand twist aside though, I really can't recommend this film sadly. To describe it as pedestrian would be overly complementary. In fact at best it is a lazy effort although to be equitable, it is nonetheless not really any worse than many of Italy's other genre offerings from this period of decline in the countries movie industry.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
General Romero (Poli) is the iron-fisted leader of a small South
American country. He appears to be working with the U.N. in trying to
expel the drug trade that's going on in his backyard, but, as you might
expect, the U.N. are a bunch of dupes, and Romero is actively involved
with the narco-trafficking. When a Marine named William (Randall) comes
from the U.S. and attempts to investigate, things quickly take a turn
for the worst. Teaming up with the stereotypical female reporter, this
time in the form of Helen (Porsche), our two heroes soon find
themselves caught in the CROSS MISSION - with all the shooting,
exploding huts, and jungle-based madness you might expect. But Romero
has an ace in the hole. Read on to find out more...
Cross Mission, for the most part, is your standard exploding hutter, but because it's Italian-made (this time by Alfonso Brescia, using his usual anglicized name, Al Bradley), it's, at minimum, watchable, with quality shooting and explosions and is good technically. It's an El Presidente...well, not slog, per se, but maybe because they call Romero "El Predestinato", we can call this the first El Predestinato slog. But here's the difference. General Romero has magic powers that consist of being able to summon a diabolical midget named Astaroth (De La Rosa) at will. They also can shoot blue lightning at people. Voodoo is mentioned as the source of Romero's powers. You don't see that everyday. This might be the first time I've ever written in my notes "macumba consists of summoning magic midgets". For that reason alone, Cross Mission is worth watching at least once.
That craziness aside, Cross Mission hits all the typical notes you might expect if you watch a lot of jungle slogs: destroyed villages, female reporter, Prerequsite Torture, shooting, blow-ups, jungle setting. Though the fact that it makes the U.N. look like the fools they are gains it some extra points. Richard Randall puts on the time-honored "revenge outfit" towards the end to show he really means business. There is a silly park fight, as well as an exploding helicopter, but, except for the supernatural twist, this is jungle business as usual.
Sadly, this was the only film appearance for Brigitte Porsche, and the only theatrical feature for Richard Randall. They both could have done more in the Italian film industry. What happened to them? How did they get involved with Cross Mission? As lovely as they both were, it could have used one of the usual stars that always turn up in movies like this, perhaps an Oliver Reed, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance, or Richard Harris. But we do get Nelson De La Rosa, and, as supernaturally evil as he is, the way he's finally dealt with is quite novel.
Brescia followed this up with the Richard Roundtree/Harrison Muller Jr. team-up Miami Cops (1989), for those keeping track. At least Brescia tried something different here. It didn't totally succeed, but we give him points for trying to inject a modicum of originality in what could be a rather staid playing field. The utterly crazy Romero sub-plot should have been expanded upon - but on the whole we'd say Cross Mission is a more than decent one-time watch, thanks solely to the nuttier elements at work.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Corrupt General Romero (robustly played to the eminently hissable hilt
by Maurice Poli) runs his small Latin American country with an iron
fist while profiting from the illegal drug trade. Crusading
photojournalist Helen (foxy brunette Brigitte Porsche) convinces
Romero's right-hand man William (mighty macho meatball William Randall)
to change his ways and assist a scrappy guerrilla army in taking Romero
Director Alfonso Brescia keeps the enjoyably inane story hurtling along at a brisk pace and loads the picture with lots of lively fights, energetic shoot-outs, and plenty of stuff blowing up real good. Donald Russo's blithely ridiculous kitchen sink script even tosses in an absurd subplot about a freaky magical midget (super tiny Nelson de la Rosa of "Rat Man" infamy) who fires lasers from his fingers (!) for extra campy measure. The expected cruddy dubbing delivers a wealth of unintentional belly laughs. The bouncy score by Stelvio Cipriani and Carlo Maria Cordio keeps things hopping along throughout. A real tacky riot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Everything you need to know about this movie shows up in the first two minutes - explosions, martial arts, big guns, helicopters, and did I see this right - a midget firing electrical sparks from his fingertips! I wish I were as eloquent as Squonkamatic who posted a superb review of the picture on this board. If you want the real lowdown, just shoot over and read his review because he's put a considerable amount of time and effort into this genre of film-making. For my part, it's a chore just to sit through stuff like this but I do it for my craft - writing reviews of everything I watch even when it causes great pain. Honestly, I can't think of a single thing to recommend this flick, and as I sit here contemplating the Italian translation of the title, I do believe it's message is right there before my very eyes.
The uninspiring story of a Latin American General who has a firm grip on his country. He is involved in drug trafficking while he poses as a positive influence in the United Nations. A young woman journalist goes down there at great risk. There's lots of driving around in the jungles, many armed mercenaries. Very formidable forces working away to protect the drug trade. She works the General's associate in an effort to institute change. It's all so random and unbelievable. These are nasty guys. There should have been no infiltration at all. Too many narrow escapes and carelessness on the parts of these evil people to make it palatable. There are so many movies like this where much of the time spent with cars storming around, people firing automatic weapons, and the plot going nowhere. They don't get much more forgettable.
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