3.9/10
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1 user 1 critic

Commander Lawin (1981)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dante Varona ...
Reno Lawin
Bonafe Estrella
Danny Rojo
Rommel Valdez
Robert Miller
Usman Hassim
Maritess Castillo
Rene Romero
Mando Pangilinan
Dardo Lungsod
Jose 'Kaka' Balagtas ...
(as Joe 'Kaka' Balagtas)
Rene Salvador
Bert Cayanan
Rico Mercado
Tom Alindogan
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1986 (Philippines)  »

Also Known As:

American Commando  »

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Followed by Commander Lawin II See more »

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Poor Filipino First Blood rip-off
14 May 2016 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

An ultra-cheap gung-ho war film from the Philippines which uses Stallone's FIRST BLOOD as a basis for its derivative plot, which sees a heroic man returning home and being wrongly imprisoned by the corrupt authorities. Of course he breaks out and becomes a rebel in the jungle, eventually leading a one-man war against his oppressors. And none of this is anywhere near as interesting as it sounds, because it's a Filipino film and Filipino movies are almost always pretty terrible to watch. The film seems to movie at a snail's pace and the various plot developments are so laboured as to be difficult to sit through. The cast is populated by unappealing Filipino actors and actresses, none of whom can really act.

The lead as played by Dante Varona is as wooden as they come and also the best actor in the film, so you know you're in trouble right away. Scenes of him loading his weapons and tying on his red bandanna are so closely modelled on Rambo that it's incredible the makers of this rubbish weren't sued. As per usual for this particular obscure genre, the dialogue is monotonous and occasionally made hilarious thanks to some utterly appalling dubbing. This time the actors are dubbed with upper-crust British accents which makes the voices sound totally stupid. My favourite scene is the death of Commander Byron which goes on for about twenty minutes and consists of him giving a death bed speech whilst the dubber goes really over the top with his gurgling and choking.

The film does have a wealth of action but not much of it is very interesting. Shots of guys pretending to shoot each other and just falling down becomes tiring after a dozen times and there never seems to be any imagination in these sequences, each one is the same as the last and pretty unappealing. The finale goes on for about half an hour and most of it is just footage of people running around aimlessly in the jungle to pad the running time out, so of course the entertainment value is minimal. Effects are limited to a couple of disappointing explosions. There isn't even any good gore to speak of, just a few cheap trickles of red paint here and there substituting for blood. The revenge theme which runs throughout the film is ruined by the unconventional ending, which sees Reno shot about sixty times but still alive and surrounded by schoolchildren pleading him to stop the violence. What the hell?! Just seems they ran out of budget and had to think of an inexpensive way to end the shoot. Very disappointing. Entertainment value comes from the novelty of the sheer badness of it all but this is a film only for die-hard Filipino fans. Otherwise, films like this are obscure for a reason.


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