The movie's highlight may be a montage of tortures suffered by the bare-chested Gary Daniels. He's hung upside-down by his ankles, staked out spreadeagle-style and tormented by thirst, dragged belly-down behind a charging water buffalo, and bent backward over a pole so that his back is pierced by sharpened stakes. All this is similar to a torture-montage featuring Reb Brown in the 1987 "Strike Commando." See more »
My, this is one hard-to-find film. Made in 1988, in the Phillipines and on a tiny budget, to the casual observer this has little to distinguish it from the swathe of similar low-budget Vietnam films that emerged around the same time (Ninja in the Killing Fields, The Ultimax Force etc). However, to a fan of British kick-boxer-turned-actor Gary Daniels, this film is worth its weight in gold - because we get to see our heroes first foray into the world of acting! As his successful kick-boxing career was drawing to a close, Gary Daniels - no doubt influenced by the success of other martial artists such as Van Damme and Don "the Dragon" Wilson - headed to the Phillipine Islands in search of fame and fortune. While there, he starred in a couple of micro-budget films, Final Reprisal and The Secret of King Mahis Island, before returning to America, growing his hair, and working his way up from starring in terrible films such as Capital Punishment and bit-parts in decent films such as Ring of Fire, to eventually becoming a star in his own right.
But was his future star-potential evident in his debut film Final Reprisal? I would say yes. Though his acting is definitely amateurish, he has a certain charisma about him, and an infectious eagerness. And of course, there's his outstanding kicking ability, which is displayed in abundance! The film starts off in Vietnam during the war. Our hero, David Callahan (Gary Daniels), is briefing his team - there's a conference of Vietnamese war-leaders in a nearby VC camp in a few days and, basically, the good guys are gonna sneak in there and kill anything that moves. So far, so 1980s. But then, a shock! For, it seems, the VC in this film aren't just sub-human cannon fodder waiting to be blown apart indiscriminately. These guys have emotions, just like real people! The Camp Commander is the loving father of a cute little girl. So when the gung-ho Americans blast their way in, discover the conference has been postponed, and take his daughter as a hostage as they make their escape, the Commander isn't best pleased. And when the escape ends in further tragedy, he captures one of the U.S. soldiers, Callahans childhood friend, demanding answers and justice...
5 years later, David Callahan is working for the Thai Government, training the troops in martial arts, and has a wife and young son (he also wears his trousers really high and tucks his jumper into them, but hey, it was the '80s!) Then his old war-buddy, who he thought was long dead, turns up. Not long after, the killing starts...
Who is doing the killing? Why has he targeted Callahan? How did his buddy survive the years in a Vietnamese POW camp? The film has some pretense in being a whodunit but, to be honest, the answers to the above questions are glaringly obvious! In the end, Callahan is forced to return to the hell-hole VC camp he escaped from years before, to settle the score and finish what was started there.
I was pleasantly surprised with this film. I was expecting a cheap, '80s, soulless blast-fest, but it has some depth to it. Of course though, it is the presence of Gary Daniels which sets it apart from the crowd, and his fans will be pleased to see the numerous fight scenes where his kick-boxing skills are put to the test. Of particular note are a fight in a dojo, where Gary takes on a roomful of Thai rebels posing as martial arts students, and the end-fight where Gary and his nemesis engage in a pretty dynamic sword-fight.
All in all, i would say this film is worth the effort in tracking down, but only if you are a true Gary Daniels fan. It is nice to see him at the very start of his long film career, all fresh-faced and eager, before he learned the trade and became the successful, talented actor he is today.
Note to fans - though this film is very rare, you're best bet is to track down the very-limited DVD release. Now to find his 2nd film, the even rarer Secret of King Mahis Island!
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