REPOST: The Patriot (1986)

Editor’s Note: This review ran on March 9, 2020, as part of our Mill Creek Explosive Cinema 12-Pack of reviews. We’re bringing it back as we unpacked Mill Creek’s B-Movie Blast 50-Film Pack (Amazon). And guess what? Mill Creek includes The Patriot on their Excellent Eighties 50-Film Pack (Amazon) — and Sam, the Movie Themed Drink Mix Master, will be back with another take on the film for our unloading of that box set. Unlike most of the films (well, some of them) on Mill Creek sets (Cavegirl and Brain Twisters, we’re lookin’ at ya), this is actually an entertaining movie — like all Frank Harris flicks — that deserves your time. Enjoy!

Yesterday (again, back to our Explosive Cinema March 9 review) we took a look at two of writer-director Frank Harris’s Leo Fong-starring films: Killpoint and Low Blow (also both on the Explosive and B-Movie Blast packs). The Patriot—which reminds of the later Steven Siegal war-actioner, 1992’s Under Siege—is the third and final Crown International release from writer-director Frank Harris’s resume included on Mill Creek’s “Explosive Cinema” 12-pack.

I remember going to my local, small town duplex to see what was Harris’s best-distributed film—with its splashy newspaper print and TV ads. The film was an early attempt to transition prolific television actor and Brian De Palma troupe-actor mainstay Gregg Henry (1984’s Body Double) into a leading man. You more likely know Henry from his later work on 1998’s Star Trek: Insurrection, The Guardians of the Galaxy franchise (as Grandpa Quill), ABC-TV’s Scandal, and the CW’s Black Lightning. The Patriot also stars Leslie Nielson (Airplane and the Naked Gun franchise), the always-happy-to-see-him Michael J. Pollard (where do I even begin with his incredible resume), and Jeff Conway (ABC-TV’s Taxi; 1978’s Grease).

The plot concerns ex-pro-boxer Stack Pierce—from Killpoint and Low Blow—as an ex-military wacko who steals a nuclear weapon and Henry’s dishonorably discharged ex-Navy Seal gets a chance to redeem himself.

The Patriot is a low-budget ‘80s action movie from Crown International. Now for the younger readers new to B-cinema: that may not mean anything. So just go into this not expecting “explosive,” but mediocre action and you’ll have a fun time with this dependable Frank Harris work. You’ve seen worse from the rip-off reels of ’80s Italian and Philippines cinema.

The film’s soundtrack is composed by . . . well, is there any chance you’d be familiar with . . . well, with today’s state of narrow-playlist repeating American FM classic hits and classic rock radio stations, you may not be familiar with the hits “Thunder Island” and “Skakedown Cruise” by Jay Ferguson. Further back, he was a member of Spirit, which has the ‘60s progressive FM radio hit “I Got a Line on You.” The Patriot is one of Ferguson’s many soundtrack works, which includes The Terminator and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. He currently composes the music for CBS-TV’s CSI: Los Angeles.

Screenwriter Katt Shea’s writing-directing resume includes the direct-to-video potboilers 1987’s Stripped to Kill, 1992’s Poison Ivy starring Drew Barrymore, and 1999’s The Rage: Carrie 2. She most recently directed 2019’s Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase. (As an actress, Katt starred in 1985’s Barbarian Queen.)

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