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. 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] I'd love to check out what you got. And check out my book, Chad in Accounting, over on Amazon.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Saigon Commandos (1988)

I found this on YouTube when I was looking for more of Don "The Dragon" Wilson's earlier filmography. More on that later, because it looks like it's possible Don "The Dragon" isn't in some of these films, including this one. Anyway, in addition to us, our good friends Ty and Brett at Comeuppance have looked at this, so you can go there to see what they thought; but also, our friend Jack J at When the Vietnam War Raged... in the Philippines, provided the VHS cover that I pulled the image for from IMDb. I always grab my covers from IMDb, and it never crossed my mind that they grabbed them from around the internet. If you're looking for more of this kind of film, Jack's site is the place to go to, because he has them all showcased, and it's a really fun site.

Saigon Commandos has Richard Young as an MP in Vietnam investigating a series of drug related murders. At the same time, there's a political leader riling up the locals. When Young gets in too deep, he gets framed for murdering his superior, so he needs to clear his name. At the same time, PJ Soles is a reporter in Saigon helping him out, and she gets kidnapped by the baddies, so on top of clearing his name, he now has to rescue her. We trust Richard Young can handle it though.


For a movie I was just watching because I thought Don "The Dragon" Wilson was in it, there isn't much here. Like if you were to ask it what kind of movie it was, it might say 'Namsploitation, or straight ahead actioner, or crime drama, so even it doesn't really know what it is. It wasn't as jungle slog-y as others in its genre, but it didn't have the spectacular elements that some in its genre have either. There's no screaming Reb Brown or shirtless Richard Norton; and the hut explode-age was minimal. It had its fun moments, and I enjoyed Richard Young and PJ Soles, but overall it's not as remarkable as it could've been.

This was produced by DTVC Hall of Famer Roger Corman. While his executive producer credits have slowed a bit, 1988 when this was made was a prime era for him, as he was really bringing the heat to fill video store shelves and cable TV line-ups; not to mention movies like this that were also more for markets outside the US like Japan and Germany. With the sheer volume of producer credits he has, we should be seeing him more on here, but this is only 29 films for him. I think the reason is he pumps out so many, and if they don't have a name in them--or a potential name in them like this one--they get lost in the shuffle. Just by statistical probability though, the more I review movies on here, the more likely I am to get more Corman, and eventually he'll slide into the 30, 40, and 50 Clubs... and beyond.


PJ Soles was an interesting inclusion here, but a welcomed one as well. When you look at her bio, in the 70s and early 80s, it's all TV and big screen stuff. Then this comes in 1988, and that's it, it's more DTV stuff. I think she could have either had a bigger part here, or been used a bit more. Reporter who becomes love interest who becomes damsel in distress is a trope we've seen too often, and I guess in her case if the parts were drying up and she had to take something, I think she did well to try to make her character more than just the wash, rinse, repeat I described above. I think that's one reason why having actresses like her in roles like this is important in a DTV film, because she can elevate the cliched above cliche, and when we're talking DTV, every bit counts.

Richard Young is solid as the lead. I haven't seen Final Mission yet, but I've heard that's the real Richard Young go to, and this one's not quite at that level. I can see how with the right material, Young could be great. According to IMDb, he hasn't done anything acting-wise since I was in high school. Maybe all he was getting were these kinds of roles, and he decided he'd had enough. I think it's interesting to consider which actors keep going in films like these once their career turns, and which actors hang it up and move onto other things. I'm sure money plays a part, but I wonder how many, when given an opportunity to transition into something else, stuck with acting because they love it, and would rather make money doing that no matter what the films are, than making the same money in another industry.


What do you think, could that be Don "The Dragon" Wilson? Probably not, right? But I think that was the closest I came to spotting him. Then when I looked him up on IMDb, I found that this, along with some other "Donald Wilson" credits were moved off his IMDb page and onto one specifically for a "Donald Wilson". When I was doing the site in the late 2000s/early 2010s, these films weren't on Don "The Dragon's" IMDb page, but then when I picked things back up in 2019, they were all added. Now they're gone again. This includes Siege of Firebase Gloria, which we reviewed and tagged Wilson in, and has also been moved off of the Dragon's page. The interesting thing is, "Donald Wilson's" career stops in 1990 with Delta Force 2, where he's actually credited as "Don Wilson," the same name Don "The Dragon" is listed under in IMDb, and that's around the same time Wilson is being credited exclusively as "Don 'The Dragon' Wilson." Is there a mysterious "Donald Wilson" who was acting in films shot in the Philippines at that time who isn't the same person as Don "The Dragon"? Wonders never cease, but until we get to the bottom of it, I'm keeping the tags for this film and Siege of Firebase Gloria.

And with that, let's wrap this up. Beyond being a possible Don "The Dragon" film, there isn't much here to latch onto. If you're a fan of 'Namsploitation, there is some here to like, but overall I think it's not remarkable enough. JCT has it uploaded onto his YouTube page, so that's the best place to see it I think.

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