Operation Nam (1986) Poster


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Not a prime example of Italian action.
tarbosh220008 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A group of disgruntled Vietnam vets, led by Mike (Wayne), Roger (Connelly) and James (Steiner) decide to go back to 'Nam and find, then free, missing POW's. Once "in country", they get their guns and ammo from Father Lenoir (Pleasence) , a priest willing to help the "five men against all", to quote the Italian title of the film. Once loaded up with their supplies, it's like the war never ended, as Viet Cong soldiers battle them every step of the way to protect their camps, seemingly unaware that there had been a ten-year break in the action. Naturally, the discovery of the POW's leads to a government conspiracy that goes all the way to the top - and is the gruff Colonel Mortimer (Mitchell) involved? Will the men free the hostages and make it back home? And if they do, what then? Operation Nam (or Cobra Mission) is a standard jungle action/drama you've seen before, but it does have its moments, as well as a cast familiar to anyone who loves Italian exploitation films. Besides familiar faces Steiner, Connelly, and Luciano Pigozzi (AKA Alan Collins), we also have cameos by Enzo G. Castellari and Ennio Girolami, and the whole affair was directed by Fabrizio De Angelis (the infamous "Larry Ludman") without much panache. He's a better producer than director, most people would agree.

While the idea of moody, misfit Vietnam vets adjusting to a changed society is a fascinating idea for a film, these ideas are only touched upon in the first half. The second half is the mindless shooting, guard tower-falling, hut-exploding, grenade-throwing , bar-fighting action expected of this type of film. It would have been nice if the psychology and emotion of the men was explored more, but perhaps I'm asking too much of a churn-'em-out genre film such as this.

In the plus column we have the fact that the film was made pre-political correctness, a character plays Pole Position on his Atari 2600, and one character insults another by calling him, and I quote, a "Suckfish". Speaking of awesome dialogue, we also get an interesting glimpse into the future: right before one of the protagonists throws a grenade at a baddie, he says "You've got mail". This comment, which precedes AOL by many years, must have served as an inspiration to that company. Not to mention inspiring the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan crapfest, as that was a "bomb" as well! Ha! In the minus column we have the silly, Southern yokel-y dubbing for John Steiner's character, and some overall malaise. But John Wayne's son is in it! Anybody? Anybody? If you liked American Commandos (1985), you'll also probably like this film, as it has a similar concept and execution, but this is not a prime example of Italian action.

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Almost there...
Volstag7 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Boy, oh boy. This movie came very close to becoming my favorite unintentionally hilarious b-movie ever. The first half was priceless (after a slow start). The 2nd half, however, prevented this movie from enjoying a spot in my Bad Movie Top 10.

What makes the first half of this movie so awesome? Well, to put it bluntly, it's so inept that it's nothing short of (unintentional) comic gold. Basically, we have four Vietnam veterans who become increasingly agitated by the fact that there are known POWs still languishing within prison camps inside of Vietnam. They develop a "plan" to return to Vietnam to rescue the aforementioned POWs. What's insanely amusing about their "plan", is that there really isn't a plan at all. They simply up and leave their families and jobs and fly to Vietnam. Once in 'Nam, they walk around until they bump into someone who has sensitive information concerning the whereabouts of POWs. If this movie is any indication, just about everyone in Vietnam knows sensitive information about POWs and POW camps.

Our stalwart veterans keep bumping into folks with sensitive information, and keep referring to their nonexistent plan. Through a series of nearly incomprehensible, and comical, events, they obtain a large cache of weaponry. Now suitably armed, they begin their trek into the jungle via boat and truck.

From here the movie becomes standard action movie fare. Like most action movies of similar ilk, our heroes display remarkable... nay, supernatural... abilities when it comes to open combat. They never miss, they're never hit, and they have no problem even when grossly outnumbered. The "ambush" segment is priceless: our heroes waiting in the brush, clearly visible to the horde of advancing enemies (who, apparently, thought they were merely approaching foliage eerily shaped like Vietnam veterans armed with M16s). At the decisive moment, one of our heroes yells "Fire!". The end result: 30+ dead assailants, and 4 unscathed Vietnam veterans.

This begins the desultory second half of the movie. From here, our heroes encounter more enemies, refer to their mystery plan, and, ultimately, locate a POW camp -- which they summarily destroy, rescuing all the POWs in the process. In a surprising twist, one of our main characters, Mark (Ethan Wayne), is killed by a jilted Vietnamese woman.

Our heroes, with POWs in tow, begin the process of extracting themselves from Vietnam. As you can imagine, this involves several combats involving imbecilic opponents, and super-human accuracy on the part of our heroes.

Near the very end, our heroes are informed that all their work was for naught -- due to some bizarre political arrangement, the POWs must remain in Vietnam, and know one can know about their existence.

The end.

Bad movie score: 7/10 Good movie score: 5/10.
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a typical Fabrizio De Angelis-produced cheapo action outing with the occasional surprise.
Aylmer7 March 2002
Perhaps the main appeal in watching De Angelis's films (for me) is in coming in with low expectations and every now and then being surprised by how well some of the elements work. COBRA MISSION is a weird example because it features an excellent cast of B-movie stalwarts and even some cameos by Enzo G. Castellari, Luciano Pigozzi, Gordon Mitchell, and possibly Dardano Sacchetti. Francesco De Masi composed a moving, yet jarring and unmemorable orchestral score for the film but it is seldom used in favor of stock music from De Masi's previous films with De Angelis (a good call maybe, but distracting).

There's lots of action and explosions but most of the time it's ruined by veteran producer Fabrizio De Angelis's budget-minded approach to filmmaking. At times the film is edited and shot in a very hands-off and lazy fashion. For some reason De Angelis likes to end his scenes with something exploding, but unlike in THUNDER WARRIOR uses his slow motion really infrequently. Some of the non-slow-mo explosions don't look very dramatic at all, and it seems like an incredible waste considering how much De Angelis must have dished out on the transportation and production costs associated with making the Philippines look like Vietnam.

Maybe the most surprising aspect of the film is its fairly well-done downbeat ending. Christopher Connelly does some pretty hilarious scenery chewing, but in the end the audience really does feel sympathy for Ethan Wayne as the soldier that got left behind. The final shot of Wayne kneeling in the field while the camera pulls away from him to reveal a huge army of advancing Vietnamese soldiers surrounding him is one of the best and most memorable shots I've seen in a low-budget action movie.

As is the case with DEADLY IMPACT, THUNDER WARRIOR, and THE MANHUNT, it's a mid-80's De Angelis film which I know is bad, but for some reason I just love watching it over and over.
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Operation Blam!
Bezenby3 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In retrospect, I'm sure the surviving members of the Cobra Mission would admit that their mission to rescue post-war US prisoners of war from the jungles of 'Nam wasn't a resounding success. After all, they just got nearly everyone killed, and came back with less men than they started off with.

Sure, mysterious Colonel Gordon Mitchell could have prevented a lot of deaths by being explaining things a bit better when he tried to dissuade the quartet of veterans from going back to the jungle to rescue the boys left behind, but then again they were egged on by Major Enzo Castellari, director of Keoma and The Big Racket. If Enzo had asked me to go over the top during the Somme, I would have done so without questions, screaming 'No man born free shall ever die!' before dying in a hail of machine gun fire.

It's not only Gordon that's trying to subtly explain that getting tooled up with machine guns and blowing away most of South East Asia is a bad idea. Ennio Girolami tries to do so too, but then the guys are so enrage that Ennio's bumping the parents of the POWs that they just give him a kicking instead. Even Donald Pleasance embarks on a confusing ramble about the US...before helping them into the jungle to massacre everyone.

I haven't even spoken about our grunts yet - there's Christopher Connolley, a man who predicts the lifestyle of modern, 2018 man by lying about on his couch, playing video games while barely registering anything his wife is saying, then there's badly dubbed John Steiner, a drifter, and Mark, a violent guy who loves a punch up. Last of all is Richard, who has voluntarily committed himself in an asylum. There's a fifth guy, but he chooses not to go so...that bit was pointless.

These fellows do find a POW camp, but they also find out the hard way that the Vietnam and US governments don't want these POWs to get home. That's not going to stop these guys, however, as most of the jungle goes up in an explosion, numerous extras are blown away, and even after the grim, depressing ending, one of Cobra Mission says...."Forget about it - It's Nam." You didn't forget about it! That's why you went back there!

Strangely disjointed (Connolly goes on an overnight mission somewhere that isn't explained in the slightest), this film is packed full of the good stuff, but also has a contrasting anti-war theme, with scarred villagers and hints that at least one or two of the group have killed innocents before. It ticks all the boxes of an Italian eighties jungle warfare film - straw huts explode, boats explode, one liners don't make much sense, Luciano Pigozzi turns up, and people pretend to fire machine guns from helicopters they clearly aren't anywhere near.
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Dreary and cynical
dinky-420 December 2001
This movie is cheap and ugly to look at and the cast is a hodgepodge of leftovers. There's little of the excitement or suspense one might expect in even a Grade-B "action-war" movie. What's more, the movie's cynical tone about the whole POW question leaves one with an unpleasant feeling after watching the proceedings. Perhaps the only scene of note here is a flashback showing Oliver Tobias being whipped in a POW camp. Unlike virtually every other whipping in the history of the movies, Tobias is shown (from the rear) to be completely naked in this scene, with blood from his back running down his buttocks and legs. This may have been included strictly for "shock" value but it does illustrate the fact that torture and forced nudity are often linked.
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Deserving of some kind of DVD Special Edition Re-release
Sic Coyote4 June 2000
This is one of the movies that I'm attatched some affection for, it is quite gritty and shows the fact that it is quite low budget but this doesn't harm it to much. It has a nice healthy amount of action and only a small amount of gore which is justified. The acting is acceptable and competent although some of the lines just stink "you've never seen an american before, this close". But if you can get through that it's a nice if quite bleak action adventure about (quoting from the EIV trailer) 'Vietnam, ten years after. The war is officially over, but the fight for freedom continues. The veil of secrecy that blinds the truth is about to be ripped apart. The soldiers that didn't return are soon to be avenged, while those remain alive at last taste freedom. Four men in a private army. Four men with one ideal. Four men who will change the meaning of bravery. They will bring their own kind of justice, they will bring their own kind of hate, they will bring freedom, they are Cobra Mission. The war is over but the fight will continue' At least that's the plan. I would certainly recommend that you see it, if you can find it. Also to any distributors out there, any chance of a double bill DVD of Cobra Mission 1 & 2 with audio commentaries and stuff?
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Action aplenty in this clichéd but truly enjoyable movie
dbborroughs18 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Three old army buddies are brought together again at the wedding of one of them. Going out for a drink afterward the men go to look up an commanding officer to talk over old times. The officer was drummed out of the military for insisting that there were still soldiers in Viet Nam. The buddies needing something to believe in head to Southeast Asia and with the hep of a radical french priest, head off to rescue the Americans still being held. Good exploitation film echos Uncommon Valor and Rambo 2 keeps moving fast enough that the silliness of it all falls by the wayside. The action is good enough that you end up wanting to know what happens. Definitely a film to watch when you want mindless action while you curl up on the couch. Between 6 and 7
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Most downbeat Italian war film ever?
Leofwine_draca10 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Dark and downbeat war epic which is a far cry from Antonio Margheriti's frivolous earlier offerings along the line of CODENAME WILDGEESE and TIGER JOE. Here Fabrizio De Angelis is determined to make his film as gritty as he possibly can so there are no happy endings or surprise victories. It's like some unrelenting horror film and, be warned, is pretty grim to watch! Don't get me wrong, though, as the film still offers up lots of mindless action. We get exploding helicopters, shoot-outs, dozens of bad guys being mown down at a time by a single soldier, shacks exploding, violent torture flashbacks, boats and vehicles exploding, chases, grenades, guards being blown from their towers and prison breaks. The case with the action in these films is, if you've seen one you've seen 'em all. The most popular is Margheriti's THE LAST HUNTER, mainly because it was just about the first real Italian gung-ho jungle adventure movie made and many more followed in its wake.

What COBRA MISSION does have is a great cast to recommend it. The four heroes are made up of the ageing Christopher Connelly (who died of cancer a few years later), European hearthrob Oliver Tobias, John Wayne's son Ethan (!) and genre stalwart John Steiner, here playing an American after many years as a Brit in Margheriti's movies. Support comes from the reliable Donald Pleasence in a small role as a priest who doubles as an arms supplier, Margheriti's regular Luciano Pigozzi in a tiny role as one of the parents of the P.O.W.s and former strongman Gordon Mitchell as the tough Colonel Mortimer, surprisingly not playing the bad guy this time around as is usual for him (well, he is bad, kind of, but he's just obeying orders and the script gives him a human character). Finally we have action director Enzo G. Castellari cameoing as a cohort who helps our heroes on their mission.

The film opens with a prison escapee being mown down by enemy soldiers. This same kind of image recurrs throughout the movie giving it a hard edge, and it's a more thoughtful film than the rest. Most of the characters we see are tired, sweaty, drugged up or simply peed off. A shocking flashback shows one of the men being bloodily whipped while tied naked to a tree. Probably the film's most harrowing moment for me was when the Vietcong girl turns around and shoots one of the men in cold blood, at the same time displaying the scars on her chest which are a result of the American napalm. This comes as a real surprise and was totally unexpected on my part, although in retrospect with similar scenes in APOCALYPSE NOW and the like I really should have seen it coming.

Despite offering up plenty of cheesy action for genre lovers, COBRA MISSION is a very downbeat movie so you won't come away with a smile at the end. It may make you think though, which is why I recommend it. A sequel followed shortly afterwards, which ISN'T a surprise to me!
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Brainless film trying to be serious?
walletminati31 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Well, here we have a typical "exploding huts" film, which starts off with a bunch of 'Nam veterans living casual lives. When in a bar, they see a POW returning from Vietnam camp through diplomatic efforts, 10 years after the war has ended. The bunch then proceeds to team up and return to Vietnam to rescue all the the American prisoners of war. Mind, all of this happens within a day or two (!). They then arrive somewhere in Indochina, near Vietnam (although the street scenes feature the "Jeepney", traditional Philippine public transport vehicle). According to their "well-thought out plan" they acquire weapons provided by a priest, and head out into the jungle, where, like someone else pointed out, Vietnamese army continues to patrol the woodlands despite war ending years ago. Dozens of killed extras later, the team manages to infiltrate deep into enemy territory, where they finally find a POW camp. While examining the place in order to make a plan on how to seize the place, one of the "commandos" just starts blasting away, and others follow. scores of Vietnamese soldiers burst out of the huts through one door, only to be mowed down by one guy.

The camp is free. POWs in blue uniforms "visibly distrustful and worried" try to get a grasp of the situation while one of the heroic bunch yells at them that they're free, and that they need to get aboard the truck - something very odd happens at this moment - 8 POWs jump on the truck, while 3 are still standing near the prison building, staring quietly. They don't move, nobody persuades them to come, nobody mentions them. The truck drives away, and they are left there without a second thought (!). A couple of shootings here and there, including a Vietnamese woman, victim of Napalm bombings killing one of the heroic bunch out of vengeance, we come to the second mystery - When two Vietnamese helicopters (which are in fact American Huey choppers) begin assault on the empty village that Americans sought refuge in, POWs and the heroic bunch escape before all the huts explode - but, without a reason or explanation, two of the POWs are never to be seen again. It all goes downhill from here. The remaining 6 POWs are being killed at an alarming rate, up until only one, which has an injured knee, remains.

The finale is ridiculous, not because of silly shoot-outs, but I'll leave you to see that for yourselves;)
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Different titles but same generally boring story
brainpuddle29 November 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Cobra Mission aka Operation Nam

Warning: synopsis/spoilers -

A too-slow "Uncommon Valor" wannabe where four vets go back to Vietnam to rescue POWs, wind up getting most of them killed and discover a secret US conspiracy to keep the prisoners in captivity. Only good part: Christopher Connelly (of Atlantis Raiders) calls someone a "suckfish".
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