Philippine War Week: American Commandos (1985)

You have to feel bad for the Vietnam vets in this movie. They go back to Nam with the best of intentions, hoping to destroy the Golden Triangle’s drug empires, but when they get there they learn that their fellow soldiers are the ones behind it all.

How did they get there? Well, Chris Mitchum had a gas station that he stopped some criminals from robbing, so they responded by killing his adopted son and assaulting his wife. Instead of, you know, going through counseling and working through it, she decides that the best thing she can do is kill herself while he’s calling the cops. I’m not one to tell anyone how to deal with their grief, but somewhere between anger and bargaining and acceptance and hope is drawing up the plans for a mobile battle RV and building motorcycles with rockets on them.

I mean, this movie starts out as Death Wish, has our hero get arrested and then the authorities tell him to get together with his old commandos and go do some real killing. This feels like the kind of movie a bunch of strange children with too many G.I. Joes and perhaps too much knowledge of cocaine would film on their parent’s camcorder in stop motion. Inside their mind, the movie looks like the stuff of dreams. To adults, it looks like an action figure just standing there while children scream things about adopting babies in flashback sequences.

This is a movie that has a commando unit named the Rat Bastards and an adopted Vietnamese child named Charlie. If you can commit to that — and you love John Phillip Law as much as I do — then you really can’t lose.

Here’s how the hiearchy of renting movies worked in the 80s: Are all the Stallone, Arnold and Van Damme movies out? Then reach for some Michael Dudikoff. Oh, those are out? Does the store have any Cirio Santiago stuff? Good deal. No? They’re all out? Well, I guess Bobby A. Suarez will do. I recommend Cleopatra Wong and another movie he wrote Bionic Boy.

And this movie obviously.

You can watch this on YouTube.

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