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Women in Cages

Posted by Josh Samford On July - 4 - 2011

Women in Cages (1971)
Director: Gerrardo De Leon
Writers: David Osterhout and James H. Watkins
Starring: Jennifer Gan, Judy Brown and Pam Grier



The Plot: When young Carol Jeffries (Jennifer Gan), known as Jeff, is manipulated by her Filipino boyfriend Rudy into holding a large stash of heroine, she is set up for a very hard fall. She ends up sentenced to ten years hard time in a Filipino prison. Once inside she is accosted by the brash and conniving guards who are lead by the nefarious Chief Matron: Alabama (Pam Grier). She ends up making friends with some of the friendlier girls, but she still has much to contend with. She has the threat of being molested by Alabama but she also has her former flame, Rudy, on the outside trying to have her assassinated by some junkies that are currently locked up with her. Will innocent Carol ever make it out of this concrete hell or will she become just another statistic?

The Review
For those who have seen the most recent outing from Mark Hartley (the director of Not Quite Hollywood), Machete Maidens Unleashed, you’re probably well aware of the popularity of shooting films in the Philippines during the glory days of Grindhouse. For those of you who haven’t seen that documentary, but still wonder just why such movies were shot overseas so often, the answer might already seem obvious knowing that this is a Roger Corman production. It all comes down to the same thing that it always does with Corman: prices! Shooting in the Philippines during the seventies guaranteed filmmakers twice as large of a production for the same amount of money. When Jack Hill’s The Big Doll House hit it big back home in the states, it didn’t take Corman long to start flooding the market with a litany of “women in prison” titles. So now we have the Women in Cages collection from Shout! Factory celebrating this very special series of Philippines-based women in prison shockers. Although not the first one ever made, Women in Cages is certainly one of the more popular titles within the genre and features many game performances amidst all of the sleaziness.

The movie certainly follows in the same formula as any other title within the genre, but ultimately what makes this film, and indeed all films of this genre, so special is the exotic locale and the simple twists that differentiate it amongst the many. For instance, the one thing that will draw your immediate attention to Women in Cages has to be Pam Grier’s performance. Although she played a villain of sorts in The Big Doll House, here she is as sadistic as Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS. Grier gets to let her star power shine as she stretches in order to become an intimidating and powerful force of evil, something she would have to do few times throughout her career. As generally the world’s favorite super-powered woman of action, few could picture her as the conniving and purely evil Alabama that she plays so perfectly here. Believable she is though and few times do you question her authenticity once she gathers up some hapless victim inside of her “play room”.

With any film of this type you’re guaranteed a few staples that help define the genre. The first of those is of course the nudity. Women in Cages does not disappoint in that regard either, as a wide variety of beautiful women end up shedding their clothes throughout the duration of the movie. Does it make for the most respectable of cinema or atmosphere for other women? Probably not, but it certainly puts the “adult” in a title like this. Secondly you can expect a decent amount of low-grade action. Whether we’re talking about cat fights in the shower or the inevitable “big action” sequence that always seems to be brewing for the finale. Third we have the characters. These women in prison titles are almost always chock full of stereotypical and gimmicky characters, but that is perhaps what makes them as fun as they are.

Even though it has already been mentioned at this point, I have to give it up for Pam Grier. Watching her strut as the intensely evil Alabama is both a delight, and slightly frightening. She unquestionably steals the show and even manages to make this heartless villain seem slightly likable. That doesn’t mean we don’t have other memorable characters of course. Jennifer Gan, who leads the cast, is a bit on the vanilla side for this type of movie but she plays the sheepish leading lady well enough. Judy Brown is a bit more over the top however and turns out as the most outgoing amidst the main foursome who comprise the story. Fellow Corman regular Roberta Collins gets to play the most chaotic of the main cast, as she gets to delve into the skin of a junkie with ulterior motives. She is likely one of the most entertaining aspects of the main cast as she regularly spazzes out over her need for drugs, but also continually does her best to murder Jennifer Gan’s character. Throughout the movie you will lose count of how many times she inexplicably goes between “fiend-ing” for drugs and seemingly being “okay”.

The torture of the inmates in the prison certainly comprises many of the most memorable moments in the film. As we watch, I can’t help but be reminded of the previously mentioned Ilsa series. The large and dominating figure of Pam Grier is sadistic in her nightly torture sessions where things almost reach the kinky and perverted heights of that aforementioned series about the worlds most buxom and sadistic nazi leader. There’s very little in the way of gore, but plenty of electric shock therapy to go around. Expect to see plenty of beaten, bloody and bruised women whose clothes always wind up in tatters and are splashed with blood that deeply resembles red paint. In that regard, Women in Cages definitely provides some slightly disturbing moments along the way but for the most part I have to say this is a lot more camp than it is horror.


The Conclusion
Overall, you’ve got to give it up for Women in Cages. It attempts so many things and for the most part it is very successful. The action, the characters, the dialogue… it all points toward fun. Freshened up by director Gerrardo De Leon who actually tries to infuse some style along the way by providing silent action scenes that bring to mind films such as Thriller or other arthouse genre titles from the seventies. I give the movie a surprising four out of five. I think if you’re looking for a Women in Prison title, you can’t go wrong with this one. And if you’ve picked up the Shout! Factory Women in Cages collection, then you’ve got two more classic titles to run through!




Take a Hard Ride

Posted by Josh Samford On June - 30 - 2011

Take A Hard Ride (1975)
Director: Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
Writers: Eric Bercovici & Jerrold L. Ludwig
Starring: Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly, Lee Van Cleef and Jim Brown



The Plot: Kiefer (Lee Van Cleef) is a bounty hunter who takes his job perhaps a little too serious. We learn this by watching him gun down a good man who committed a crime decades in the past and has since certainly worked off his crime. He’s not a man concerned with justifying his line of work, he’s just concerned with doing it well. When Morgan, a wealthy rancher who is trying to move $86,000 to Mexico, dies of natural causes he leaves his best friend and ranch hand Pike (Jim Brown) in charge of this mission. This makes Pike one of the most wanted men in all of the old west. He soon meets up with the cunning and dangerous Tyree (Fred Williamson) who wants his own shot at the gold, but is willing to help carry the money to Mexico before making his play. Along the way these two stumble upon a family who have been slaughtered by cowboys. Amongst them is Kashtok (Jim Kelly), the Indian raised African American who uses his fists instead of a gun. This strange group of travelers are going to have to contend with every gun in the west, as well as the dangerous Kiefer, as they travel all of these lonely miles.

The Review
Many things can probably be said about director Antonio Margheriti, but I can’t imagine many people claiming him to have ever been a boring director. Like most Italian genre film directors during the seventies, he was a workman who took on whatever project was sent his way and during that time he worked with many of the more popular actors within his native Italy. It was during this time that he met Fred Williamson on the set of the original Inglorious Bastards, and the two seemingly hit it off in a big way. When it came time for the two to pair up yet again it would be in a co-production between American film studios and Italian benefactors with the spaghetti western title Take a Hard Ride, which seems to be the perfect combination of blaxploitation attitude and western archetype reconstruction via the spaghetti western subgenre. A film that is rarely dark, always fun and features some of the most charismatic actors of 1970’s era genre-film, Take a Hard Ride is a film made entirely for the sake of fun.

Margheriti had to be placed under a certain amount of stress, with this being his first American co-production, but you really wouldn’t think it while watching the film. Considering that studios generally hate experimentation since it breaks away from the patterns that have lead to success in the past, and this was true even in the pre-Jaws 1970’s, it’s interesting to see Margheriti do his best to hit all of the weird high notes that make up the Italian system for building a “Western”. Starting the film off with a massive close-up in the fashion that this film does, it almost seems almost like the entire film is intended as a love letter written specifically for Sergio Leone. Starting off on a close-up of Lee Van Cleef playing a harmonica, this long panning shot backs away in a moving fashion and we see that the camera has traveled through a wooden fence. The shot is complex for this sort of production and hardly seems to allude to any nerves on the part of Margheriti, who seems to enjoy playing with the genre while the producer’s backs are turned.

Although not nearly the dark epic that most of Leone’s westerns always turned out to be, Take a Hard Ride is instead much more taken by the comedy side of the business. Taking a page out of the They Call Me Trinity playbook, the movie becomes a much more slapstick affair and rides on the charisma of its two main stars: Fred “The Hammer” Williamson and Jim Brown. Although Jim Kelly receives equal billing and certainly shares a decent amount of screen time, since his character is unable to speak he never really gets to demonstrate his onscreen presence. So instead we saddle up with Williamson and Brown who have never really been better. Jim Brown is quiet and menacing, which probably wouldn’t be hard for any man his size, but he manages to actually craft a real character within this role and stands up well next to the much more outspoken Williamson. The character that Williamson plays, Tyree, is the perfect sort of loudmouth braggart for Williamson to slip into and make lovable, as only he could. Speaking with a really strange southern accent, “The Hammer” is absolutely brilliant here.

Although this is basically the Western version of the “chase movie” (See: Eat My Dust, Grand Theft Auto and Smokey Bites the Dust), the amount of genre veterans who were in their prime while working on this simply made it invulnerable to formula. Although he was a bit past his prime even at this point, Lee Van Cleef does an honorable job in servicing the film as well. At this point in his career he had started to look pretty old, but he had not yet become the pudgy version of himself that would be involved in the Master Ninja series. Still, when you see Cleef you immediately think “spaghetti western” and he is perfect in doing that for the movie. His character, who sports a long black duster, also works as another visual reminder of Sergio Leone’s work. Why it was needed, I certainly can’t say, but I enjoyed its presence.


The Conclusion
Although this isn’t a title that really deserves a lot of concise evaluation, it is still fairly great in its own right. It rides the dusty and well trodden hills of genre-convention, but it doesn’t get bogged down at any one given point. The cast are all spectacular in their roles and the movie on the whole is riddled with excitement. If there’s one thing that boosts this from being a three into the four territory, it has to be the chemistry between Jim Brown and Fred Williamson. These two steal the show and craft some truly great moments as their friendship unfurls before our eyes. Definitely search the Shout! Factory disc out, which is bundled with Rio Conchos, as you really can’t go wrong with this set.




Camille 2000

Posted by Josh Samford On June - 29 - 2011

 

Camille 2000 (1969)
Director: Radley Metzger
Writers: Alexandre Dumas and Michael DeForrest
Starring: Danièle Gaubert, Nino Castelnuovo and Roberto Bisacco




The Plot: Armand (Nino Castelnuovo) is a young man from a wealthy family who is newly visiting Rome from his home in America. Marguerite, also known as Camille due to her love for camellia flowers, immediately catches Armand’s eye. Seeking to learn more about this beautiful girl, he begins to follow her party habits and before long the two are spending a great deal of time with one another. Marguerite however isn’t the type to settle down, which is much to the dismay of Armand who wants her to be only his. These two lovers will have to overcome a number of obstacles along the way, most notably Armand’s father who would never have his son tied down to a woman of such low notoriety. Can their love make it through or will everything fall apart?

 

The Review

About as polarizing a figure as you’ll find within the realm of cult cinema, directer Radley Metzger will produce very different reactions from every other person familiar with his work. Demonized as a purveyor of sleaze with no artistic merit but also celebrated as a cinematic-artisan and icon of sexual liberation, the relatively obscure filmmaker isn’t one without controversy. Crafting a style that was uniquely his own, Metzger seems to bring to life a general love of voyeurism and spruces the cinematic landscape up a bit with his European arthouse influences. As an American in Rome Metzger used Camille 2000 to make the ancient city his very own personal playground. Taking the famed French writer Alexandre Dumas’ “The Lady of the Camellias” and updating it with a very sixties appeal, Metzger explores many themes of love, sexual growth and the pains of monogamy. With this film Metzger directs an Italian piece of erotica that is more concerned with cinematic experimentation than it is with simple sex scenes. This is a fact that possibly turned off viewers during its initial release, but this same fact gives it new life with modern film fans who are interested in the world of cult oddities and sexual expression.

The lack of sex could very well be a key issue. Although touted as a piece of “erotica”, do not be fooled, this is much more than that. A film primarily concerned with human interactions and relationships, Camille 2000 does not work as a true piece of softcore smut. If you’re looking for titillation you would do much better in searching out whatever is playing on basic cable during a late night on any given weekend. While the movie certainly has its sexy moments and does deliver a heavy amount of nudity, the naked panting and caresses here are ultimately quite tame in comparison to some of the smuttier and enticing “sex films” out there. For me, this turned out to be an even more welcome surprise. With the focus less on sex and more on character, Metzger sheds his reputation and instead shows just why he is one of the more respected directors of Erotica out there. The fuel for his film is not simply the sex, but instead it is the characterization from the actors and the depths of imagination that the director chooses to plunge us into.

The one word that I find expertly describes the film has to be “lush”. I can think of few other words in my vocabulary that so eloquently describes Camille 2000 from an aesthetic point of view. Every real location used is magnificent and large. Mansions are utterly massive and the grounds that surround them are impeccably well kept with labyrinth-like shrubbery. Every interior room is decorated with bizarre and unearthly furniture, and the walls are painted as if they were done in a collage fashion. One wall may be decorated as if three separate designers had went to work on it. There may be a striped multi-color wallpaper for several feet, but in the middle of the wall it might change into a large crystal-like texture and then split off into something completely different. Sets are decorated with strange clear-plastic furniture as well as odd square boxes that emit light whenever the scenes are dim. Despite this being a film that deals with multi-faceted and realistic characters (to a degree), Radley Metzger isn’t afraid to delve into the realm of the surreal in order to create a breathtakingly beautiful piece of work.

Daniele Gaubert in the role of Marguerite, who goes by the nickname Camille which is where the title comes from, is stunning for so many reasons. Although she is most certainly a beautiful woman, her sexy and wise-beyond-her-years attitude adds a lot to the performance. The way she looks at the camera, her flirtatious batting of the eyes and general sweet demeanor makes her performance something to really hold onto. She has a very unique look to her and her exotic flavor certainly adds to the overall mystique surrounding both her, and the character. The cat and mouse, back and forth, game between the characters of Armand and Marguerite takes up a great deal of the film’s running time and could have been detrimental had I not been so heavily invested in their relationship. The character of Armand is endearing as an “every man” with very simple tastes in comparison to his counterpart. Although Marguerite seems to love Armand, her incapability at staying in a monogamous relationship is a real death blow. There is one shot in particular that sticks out where Metzger seems to quite literally say the same thing. A fantastic shot on a balcony where Marguerite finally concedes to a monogamous relationship with Armand, the two quickly embrace and kiss but within the background Metzger directs us to a funeral procession that is going on at exactly the same moment. It’s as if this sort of relationship is seen as either a death to Marguerite’s own sexual nature or simply a death of her former self. Then it also calls into play the inevitable doom that this romance seems to be pointing towards. Although I don’t want to spoil anything, Camille 2000 does not end on a happy note. It is ambiguous to a degree, but has an air of definitive sadness for many involved.


The Conclusion

At times it is delightfully over the top and within others it is somber and dramatic, Camille 2000 is not a particularly “easy” film. High art mixed lightly with the erotic, this is certainly one to check out. If for no other reason than to see the absolutely stunning art design and fashion that decorates nearly every frame of the film. You can pick up the film now through Cult Epics, who have done a fantastic job at restoring the film and giving it new life in both DVD and Bluray format. I give the film a very solid four out of five.




Trailers From Hell Vol. 2

Posted by Josh Samford On June - 20 - 2011

Trailer From Hell Vol. 2 (2011)
Director: Not Available
Writers: Not Available
Starring: Bryan Trenchard Smith, Joe Dante, Guillermo Del Toro and many more.


The Review

Trailers From Hell, which is based off of the website of the same name, has become a true fixture in the film geek community. The concept, in a commercial form, seems even more profitable than other “grindhouse” trailer compilations such as the 42nd St. Forever films, so it was only a matter of time before the DVD’s started to hit the market. Although this DVD might not catch the eye of passive movie-go’ers, for film enthusiasts and all around geeks this might prove to be too entertaining a prospect to pass on. The premise is simple. You take some of the most creative genre-film directors and commentators in the business and you get them to offer commentary over trailers for some of their favorite b-pictures. So, there is no true “plot synopsis” on this disc other than to say that several great minds sit around and talk to the camera about movies that they have loved from their past. This disc isn’t a general movie, obviously, so it’s difficult to critique it as a whole so I’ll glance over some of the most engaging moments from the one hour long set.

The very first director to introduce a title on this set may turn out to be one of my favorites, as we get Bryan Trenchard Smith commenting on both The Devil Ship Pirates and The Stranglers of Bombay. He is everyone’s favorite Australian genre-movie filmmaker and he is also well spoken and almost always interesting. With The Devil Ship Pirates he has a lot of fun, as he points out the Napoleonic ships used in a movie about the Spanish Armada, but he always remains affectionate. The Stranglers of Bombay, the second of Smith’s choices on the set, was another Hammer produced title (along with The Devil Ship Pirates) and Smith goes into a bit of background on the film and its dealings with the BBFC due to its rather grizzly material. He also expounds on the film and its dealing with the very real Indian cult The Thuggee which were the main inspiration for the strange natives in Steven Spielberg’s The Temple of Doom. Bryan Trenchard Smith, who is easily one of the most relaxed and outgoing filmmakers out there and whom will gladly speak with his fans as if they were friends, seems to be as caring about cinema here as he presents himself outside of the camera’s gaze.

Ernest Dickerson (Dexter and Juice) covers The Quartermass Experiment (aka The Creeping Unknown within the US market). Dickerson’s presentation is similar to a very detailed review, which is a bit different from most on the set and is actually impressive since he manages to elucidate his points very clear with such a small amount of time. Dickerson, who is a director I wouldn’t have known straight off the top of my head, is well spoken and turned out to be one of my favorite speakers on the set.

Guillermo Del Toro, who is far from being an obscure choice, presents Dario Argento’s Deep Red in both the English language as well as a special Spanish version. The way that Del Toro describes his love for both Deep Red and Argento is incredibly passionate. In the short amount of time that he talks, he makes some very thoughtful remarks on Dario Argento as a director and what precisely made him special as a filmmaker. The logical versus the lyrical is discussed and Del Toro makes some of his most thoughtful remarks while discussing Argento’s use of violence in comparison to childlike and soft visuals and how that tends to create something bizarre. Del Toro also presents the 1957 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame which is a classic piece of horror that featured Anthony Quinn in the lead role. A sentimental favorite for the filmmaker, he has more fun with less overt praise for the title.

Joe Dante, the brilliant director who never seems to hold back during any speaking engagements, has fun whilst giving his interviews/commentaries. He first covers Donovan’s Brain and, the same with the rest of the gentleman here, he is well spoken and goes into a lot of the background information for the film. Including amongst his dialogue, he talks about its influence on many aspects of the general “mad doctor playing with brain surgery” concept that has been played with time and time again. The second feature that he discusses is The Invisible Ghost which featured Bela Lugosi on his downslide. The film seems like fun and although Dante generally razzes it for the majority of the trailer, he seems knowledgeable about its production and has a true affection for it and the Monogram Pictures studio that produced it. Jack Hill, who has to be everyone’s favorite true “grindhouse” film director, gives an introduction and discussion on his very own second film: Pit Stop. If anyone had information on this picture, it would be him. Hill describes it as potentially one of his best films and certainly one of his favorites, despite it never being given the chance to catch on with an audience. It’s a film about figure-8 racing and features Hill’s go-to actor Sid Haig. A film I never would have pictured coming from the early work of Jack Hill, it’s a title that jumped right up my personal “to watch” pile.

That really seems to be one of the best features of a compilation such as this one. Sure, you can youtube trailers for hour after hour and come up with some pretty strange titles, but when you hear John Landis describe his affection for Gorgo (a British kaiju film of all things) your enthusiasm jumps up several additional notches. The background information provided via the commentaries also gives insight into the context and history of these films, so not only is your interest piqued after watching this DVD but there is a strange connection now between you and any one of these titles.


The Conclusion
There are so many others on this set and so many other outrageous films. Josh Olson (Infested, A History of Violence), Larry Karazweski (Ed Wood, The People Vs. Larry Flynt), Lloyd Kauffman (The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo & Juliet), Mick Garris (The Stand, Riding the Bullet), Mary Lambert (Pet Sematary 1, 2), Michael Peyser (Hackers, SLC! Punk) and of course the godfather of b-cinema Roger Corman pops up on the disc. Corman’s very own Little Shop of Horrors is also included on the Shout! Factory DVD as a supplementary feature for the first time ever in widescreen. For what it is, I have to say I enjoyed this compilation. It’s very simple stuff and it drew me in as a viewer. I give it a solid four out of five.




Strike Commando

Posted by Josh Samford On May - 21 - 2011

Strike Commando (1987)
Director: Bruno Mattei
Writers: Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragrasso
Starring: Reb Brown, Christopher Connelly and Louise Kamsteeg



The Plot: Sgt. Michael Ransom (Reb brown) is part of an elite unit known as The Strike Commandos. While investigating a camp of North Vietnamese during a covert operation, Ransom and his team are double-crossed by Col. Radek (Christopher Connelly) who sets off a series of explosives within the rebel base before Random and his crew were due back at the rendezvous point. The entire Strike Commando force are blown to bits, except for Ransom who is only knocked into a nearby river. As he floats down stream, he eventually stumbles upon a group of friendly natives who inform him of a Russian force making its way into Vietnam. When he manages to escape via a helicopter, the poor Vietnamese locals who helped him are captured. Ransom heads back home to confront Col. Radek but is given the opportunity to head right back to Vietnam as a rogue agent in order to discover proof of the Russian involvement within Vietnam. While doing this Ransom must also track down those who helped him and free them from captivity.

The Review
Have you seen Space Mutiny? That’s a good question for the start of any film review really, considering the reputation it has for being one of the worst films of all time, but in the case of Strike Commando it’s even more apropos due to it featuring legendary thespian Reb Brown (who also lead the stellar cast of Space Mutiny) in the role of our titular “Strike Commando”. There’s no doubt about it, this was a project just begging for a review here on Varied Celluloid. A lone-military-man sort of action caper in the same vein as First Blood Part II, Missing in Action or the utterly atrocious The Deadly Prey, this is a title filled to the brim with b-movie pastiche and all around incompetence… which is everything one could possibly hope for in a title like this!

Bruno Mattei and Claudio Fragrasso are responsible for some of the worst films ever made. Both while working on their own and when working together, their work is universally dreadful but occasionally between the two they were able to land on a few good ideas that were fleshed out into some truly magnificent pieces of b-cinema. Strike Commando is the rare case where these two were actually able to plagiarize enough and appeal enough to the lowest common denominator that they ended up with a movie that perfectly encapsulates all that is great in trash cinema. This is a film that can in no real way be classified as “well made”, but is certainly one hundred percent entertainment. From the braindead writing and the apparent lack of communication between filmmakers and actors, Strike Commando turns out to be a fantastic party movie. A movie that plays things as straight as they can get, but in doing so seals its fate in the great annals of b-movie history.

There are many high (or low, as it were) quality selling points that will no doubt continue to lead Strike Commando into cult status. If I were to choose one shining attribute that keeps this one afloat, ahead of the rest, it has to be the cast. Two men in particular lead this films charge towards the cinematic pantheon. Christopher Connelly, who was known to the mainstream world best as an actor who starred on the soap opera Peyton Place for all five seasons, would make an indelible impression on the genre-film world with his starring roles in both Rugero Deodatto’s Raiders of Atlantis and of course our film here today. Although being a key cast member on Peyton Place is a big deal, I would argue that cult film aficionados likely endear the man more in their hearts than any other group out there.

Connelly plays Col. Redek, who doesn’t get to stand out in the plot as much as Michael Ransom (Reb Brown), but his grizzly performance is startling for a production such as this. He seems to fluctuate at times between simply being upset, to frothing at the mouth with anger. These are the two dimensions that he generally goes between, and he actually makes for an intimidating onscreen character. Reb Brown, our white knight of the film, should be noted for two very different reasons. First of all, the man had an impressive physique, there’s no getting past that. A body that was built for pro-wrestling, he certainly personified the ideal of an eighties action film star. The other notable attribute that Brown brought to the screen was his very unique vocal inflections. If you’ve seen the man in Space Mutiny, then I guarantee you know precisely what I’m talking about.

His scream, which is featured prominently throughout Strike Commando, comes off as sounding slightly whiny but is thrown out with such total conviction that it becomes completely hilarious. Although there are some scenes where you can maybe question Brown’s interest in the role, he subdues that train of thought completely when he lets out one of his grunting blasts of vocal-ity (if that wasn’t a word, it is now). When he’s not yelling or making crazy faces for the camera, he is actually a charismatic leading man. That doesn’t mean he’s a tremendous actor, but he is the perfect sort of actor for this kind of role. Although one has to imagine that it was difficult to shoot such a movie in the Philippines, with an Italian film crew no less, he does a fairly decent job at stabilizing the movie with his macho performance. However, even I have to admit that his attempts at serious drama (Reb Brown literally CRIES during one scene with a young boy dying in his arms) are less than successful.

The action in the movie is handled fairly well, considering the budget, and is probably one of the standout features of the movie aside from the cast. There are plenty of explosions to go around and even some VERY obvious miniature sets that are blown to smithereens as well. The budgetary restraints certainly hold this one back a lot, but that’s part of the fun. The Philippine setting is seemingly tropic and doesn’t have the same look that a Vietnamese backdrop would, which leads to many more unintentional laughs. However, the low budget texture is far from being the key to this one’s unintentional hilarity. Truth be told, there is no “key” feature here. It’s all just so patently ridiculous that it becomes amazing. A movie that will guarantee cries of “JAKOTA!” afterward and will cause you to pontificate on Disneyland as well as cotton candy mountaintops! Sorry, after watching Strike Commando viewers will feel obligated to cash in on all of the ridiculous dialogue.


The Conclusion
Offensive in its absurdity, but brilliant in its stupidity, Strike Commando is pure entertainment in a can. Obviously it won’t be for all audiences, but if you have a sense of humor then chances are you might get something out of this one. Formulaic and beautiful because of it, I can’t help but give the movie a four out of five.




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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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