Editor’s Note: We first reviewed this movie on September 15, 2018. We’ve brought it back for our “Philippines War Week” tribute of reviews. And we always want to talk about a Mark Gregory movie as much as possible. Over and over, again and again, because, again, it’s Mark Gregory! Why else would we do a full week of his movies.
When I was a very young child, my grandfather would come home from working night shift at the J&L Steel Mill and sit in front of the TV drinking Pabst and watching war movies. The entire house would be bathed in blue light and the sounds of machine gun fire. Forty some years later and here I am, doing the same thing. I’m not slaving away in the furnace, but I am writing a project for my real job while watching war movies. I’d like to think the films my grandpa watched were better than the junk I end up watching.
Yes, this is a movie where John Vernon and Mark Gregory somehow end up in the same frame. This blew my mind and made me wonder if I was on my death bed and my brain was attempting to calm me as my soul transitions to the next plane with the kind of Jacob’s Ladder scenario that I have heard so much about.
This time, Mark is playing Johnny Hondo, a special forces commando who never dresses in any form of camouflage whatsoever. I mean, the dude dresses all in black for daytime missions and all in white for night missions. He kills lots of people all over the world when he isn’t chillaxing on his Montana ranch. That’s where General Ross (Vernon) finds him and arranges for Johnny to meet his estranged and dying father.
It turns out that Johnny’s dad once drove a school bus filled with the Shah of Iran’s gold from that country to Afghanistan. With my poor US school system education, I never realized that that’s only a distance of around 800 miles. To get his father’s honor back, he has to complete the mission. And if you’ve seen any 1980’s post-Rambo films, you know that the system is corrupt and against our hero Johnny Hondo.
Luckily, Johnny has backup. There’s a plucky young Dondi-like child and his sister. The moment we meet her, we know that she has only been placed in this movie to die. And then there’s the mechanic who gets the war bus moving again. He’s played by Bobby Rhodes from Demons and Endgame, so he instantly becomes my favorite person in this movie. Literally, every line of his dialogue is profanity, much like talking to me in person.
This movie also has some of the most chipper 1980’s synth on its soundtrack, to the point that you forget that we’ve basically been waging war in Afghanistan since this one was made back in 1989.
This one’s directed by Pierluigi Ciriaci, who brought us pretty much all of the Mark Gregory war movies that we’ve covered this week. And much like every Italian movie made in the 1980’s, it was written by Dardano Sacchetti.
Much like the films that entertained my grandfather, this is filled with explosions, gunfire and plenty of people being riddled with bullets. Unlike the movies that he enjoyed, it also has a hero that has decided to wear a white turtleneck with a beige coat and drive a schoolbus into a warzone.
Want to experience all the action and bus driving for yourself? Then I recommend you head to Amazon Prime, a place where there is nothing but Mark Gregory films as far as the eye can see!