The Base (1999)

And you thought Mark L. Lester and Eric Roberts was a Reese’s chocolate-in-the-peanut butter match in our VHS celluloid heaven? The ‘Les also worked with Mark Dacascos — a man only matched by actor-martial artist Oliver Gruner in direct-to-video action bad assery. Yeah, you heard me right: Mark friggin’ Dacascos: Jimmy Lee in Double Dragon, Zero in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Eric Draven in the The Crow: Stairway to Heaven series, and the Netflix series Wu Assassins. Ah, but the direct-to-video oeuvre: American Samurai, China Strike Force, and The Redemption: Kickboxer 5. Yeah, you’re damn right we watched the mockbusters I Am Omega and Solar Attack for our Dacascos fix.

My only grip with you, Dacascos: Why you haven’t done a movie with Eric Roberts?

“Better research before you pop your lip at me, Mr. Francis.”

“Mark Dacascos?”

“It’s cool, R.D. I did three projects with Eric, in fact. I can’t remember if we had scenes together, and if we are in it that long, you know how that goes in these low-budgeters, but our names are on the boxes. We did Beyond the Game, with Oliver Gruner, by the way, along with Final Approach, and Maximum Impact, with Danny Trejo. And I know you dig Danny over at B&S.”

See. Even the uber fans like Sam and myself can’t see ’em all.

So . . . with Arnie’s Commando front and center on the ‘ol DVD box and Paula Trickey from TV’s Pacific Blue and The O.C as the only other named commodity in the military tomfoolery: Dacascos is Major John Murphy, a U.S. Army Investigator, teamed with Lt. Kelly Andrews (Trickey) to shut down Sgt. Gammon’s cocaine smuggling operation (at the former Victorville Air Force Base in California).

Are the clichés and stereotypes afoot? Of course they are. But aren’t they also stumbling about in the A-List Summer Tentpoles? You get what you paid for with The Base: it’s not exactly Rambo, but you gets lots of Commando-styled action and violence on a well-stretched budget. And thanks to Dacascos’s agility, we get — unlike with Arnie’s bulk and Sly’s grunt — lots of martial arts action that rivals the celluloid hijinks of Chuck Norris. And ex-75th Ranger Regiment U.S. Army Ranger Tim Abell — still building on his 112-plus resume, including the cable mockbuster Battle of Los Angeles — is pure pisser as the psycho-drug dealing Sgt. Gammon.

“Hey, R.D. Don’t forget to mention that ‘Dacas and I also did Instinct to Kill.”

“You got it, Mr. Abell!”

“Hey, you forgot about the sequel I wrote and Mark Lester produced.”

“C. Courtney Joyner?”

“It was called The Base 2: Guilty as Charged and it starred Antonio Sabato, Jr. in the Major John Murphy role and, this time, James Remar, you know, Ajax from The Warriors, is the corrupt military psycho.”

“Yeah, I know. Sam and I never saw it and we can’t find any online streams.”

“Yeah, that’s how it is with most of my and Mark’s later films. But here’s the trailer. Happy hunting. Oh, thanks for reviewing Public Enemies, by the way.”

“Hey, remind everyone that I made three flicks for Mark Lester.”

“James Remar? Yeah, we’re reviewing Betrayal with Erika Eleniak. But we can’t find a streaming copy of Blowback with Mario Van Peebles to review. Sorry, James. But we’ve never seen it.”

“Eh, that’s cool. I know how it is with these low-budgeters and their shoddy distribution.”

So, in the words of Sgt. Gammon: “It’s time to lock, cock, and rock” . . . and hit that big read streaming button. You can watch a freebie rip of The Base on You Tube. We also found this very cool interview with Mark L. Lester chatting about his early films on You Tube.

It’s been one hell of a week paying tribute to Mark L. Lester at B&S About Movies. Damn fun.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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