The Direct to Video Connoisseur
I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Mercenary Fighters (1988)
I was having a conversation with a buddy recently, and he asked me if I'd seen this film. He saw it on YouTube. He had no idea who Reb Brown is, but I could tell he appreciated the movie anyway, which made me all the more excited to check it out.
Mercenary Fighters is a Golan-Globus production of a Cannon film that takes place in a fictitious African country that sounds suspiciously like what was then Zaire (and now the Congo)-- Shinkasa was the capital, as opposed to Kinshasa, though how many action movie fans would know of Kinshasa anyway? Peter Fonda is a mercenary hired by the government to wipe out a local rebel tribe that stands in the way of a huge development project. In recruiting his team, he gets Ron O'Neal, a crack pilot, and his buddy, Reb Brown. Once there though, Brown and O'Neal see that these rebels are more freedom fighters, and that maybe they're on the wrong side. This feeling is only exacerbated by Brown falling for a pretty young nurse who treats the people in the surrounding villages. The problem is: siding with the rebels puts Brown directly in the way of Fonda getting his money, which is not a good idea.
This is pretty fun. There's one scene near the beginning between Brown and O'Neal, where Brown is shirtless and O'Neal is in a button-up shirt with the top five buttons un-buttoned. It might be the best scene in movie history, it's that fantastic. I did realize that Brown and O'Neal carry this film though, especially in one scene where the guys are in a helicopter shooting at a few rebels below that are running away. It's drawn out and not much happens, but the constant cuts to Brown and O'Neal reacting are more than enough to keep me interested. Then you've got the exploding huts, which I'll get to below; the fantastic Reb Brown screaming; and plenty of Cannon/Golan-Globus everything-but-the-kitchen-sink action. It's the movie you want when you see it listed on YouTube.
This might not be the best Reb Brown, but it's still pretty solid. There's one scene near the end where he gets on the back of a jeep and fires off this big gun while giving his trademark scream and trademark Cannon explosions are going off behind him. He also has plenty of other good screams, including this great one near the beginning when he and O'Neal are riding on a bus, and a guy lands a plane on the roof and climbs in through the window. O'Neal is laughing, and Brown screams at him "You knew man!" It's such a great fist pumping moment. I already mentioned that fantastic shirtless scene with O'Neal, and I don't think it's hyperbole at all to call it one of the best in movie history. Maybe best part of all: his character is constantly referred to as "The Kid", even though he was about 40 when this was made.
The late Ron O'Neal is here again, with his great, classically trained acting pedigree used for a Cannon flick doing scenes opposite Brown. This January will mark 10 years since he left us, taken too soon by pancreatic cancer. He was so good in this though, and he and Brown had great chemistry-- or perhaps he was great at carrying Brown, either way it was great to see. This isn't the first time these two worked together either. They did a 70s TV movie adaptation of Aldus Huxley's Brave New World. (I've never seen it though.)
Among the other names, there was Peter Fonda who I already mentioned. He seemed like he was mailing it in, which, in a movie like this, isn't such a bad thing. All we care about is seeing Fonda with long hair looking like Thomas Ian Griffith's older brother, speaking in smooth, aging hippie tones. The country's military leader was played by Robert DoQui, who's been in all kinds of things, most notable RoboCop and the sequels. Finally, another Space Mutiny alum, this guy, who was Santa's Number One. I have no idea what his name is, and I don't think he was credited on imdb with being in the film, and of course he doesn't have an image for his imdb page, and of course I can't remember his character name either.
Okay, so this was not 'Namsploitation, but it had a lot of hut explosions. In fact, on a lot of levels it hit the same beats of the 'Namsploitation, even though it took place in Africa. On the other hand, this wasn't an Italian directed/produced shot in the Philippines deal, this was pure Cannon Golan-Globus, which made for an interesting mix of action subgenres. On that score, this film is very fascinating for the low-budget action fan. On the other score, it's Reb Brown screaming and exploding huts.
And what more do you really need after that? With it still available on YouTube, that's the best way to go. You can also buy it on DVD from Amazon. Again, not the best Reb Brown, not the best Cannon or Golan-Globus either, but for fans of those things, a fun time and worth checking out.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093525/