Oh, man. This friggin’ movie: Jun Gallardo and Romano Kristoff. Together. In the same movie. Help me, Kobol Lords. I don’t even think Sam the Boss is as excited as I. So, let me break it down as to why this pairing is important to your spiritual state of analog being. Strap on the popcorn bucket.
Jun Gallardo sometimes goes incognito as Jim Goldman and John Gale. After Bruce Lee’s untimely death, he took the 100-odd hours of footage from Bruce’s unfinished final film and “directed” Golden Harvest Studios’ bogus 1974, first version of The Game of Death. Across his 54 credits, Gallardo flushed/dumped the VHS Rambo–Commando cheese-clones that we love: The Firebird Conspiracy (1984)*, Commando Invasion (1986)*, and the BIG KAHUNAS: the Linda Blair-starring SFX Retaliator (1987), and the Shannon “Ms. Gene Simmons” Tweed and Reb Brown (Yor, Space Mutiny) non-war epic, The Firing Line (1988).
Spain’s Romano Kristoff — like his friend and eventual film co-star, Ron Marchini — parlayed his Spain and European Martial Arts championship titles into a Philippines-based film career. It all started with Bruce’s Fist of Vengeance (1980), but Kristoff came into his top-of-the-marquee own with Ninja’s Force (1984), in which he wrote, and co-directed with Teddy Page, and starred. Then there’s Ninja Warriors (1985) with Ron Marchini and Teddy Page, as well as Page’s Rambo–Commando rips Black Fire (1985) and Jungle Rats (1988). Then, there’s Kristoff’s two-fer with Mark “Trash” Gregory in Ten Zan: Ultimate Mission and Just a Damn Soldier (both 1988).
However, out of them all, Slash Exterminator — for moi — is the best Kristoff flick of them all, as it just never stops. What makes it great is not its Rambo–Commando feels-like-home-vibes: it’s the Philippines cinema vibes, with all of the expatriate American actors we know and love, such as Mike Monty, Ronnie Patterson, and Paul Vance. Seriously. Who needed to slog through auditions with U.S. TV series and low-budget films; the careers these guys had down under in the Pacific Rim is amazing. An actor’s gotta work and they worked — and then some. The only crime here is why Romano Kristoff failed to crossover to U.S. shores for a series of action films? Yeah, Chuck Norris was fine for those Cannon actioners. And so was Micheal Dudikoff. But why not Romano Kristoff?
I know, Philippines war flick digressing, again.
Okay, I get it: Romano is no Micheal Dudikoff or Chuck Norris in the acting department. But the action is great, so what’s the Mechado Stew beef? This ain’t a rip of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now or Oliver Stone’s Platoon: it’s a Stallone and Arnie ripoff. So, if you’re coming to the Philippines for the acting, then I have a raw fish-grown tapeworm bigger than a baby’s arm to serve you.
So, this time, our fair Rambo heads off to a small country being steamrolled by a communist threat: in steps Peter “Slash” Harris — and he is an exterminator of the first order. So, as with all of these Pacific Rim’er war flicks: we have a soldier and his commander who are buddies . . . then they are not, usually over a botched mission. Yeah, we wondered the same thing: How did these damn soldiers manage to live along enough . . . to have flashbacks . . . to make this movie? Shouldn’t they be dead?
Ack. Overthinking Philippine war flicks and trying to fill in the plot holes is futile. Just eat your Mechado and smile at the screen. Resist not.
So, Slash Harris is a reasonably well-adjusted chap. But not enough to be the big shot CIA boss his ex-commander, Major Andrew Scott (ubiquitous expatriate-cum-Philippines American actor Mike Monty) has become. So, when Scott and his wife (or was it daughter; depends on the country-dub you’re watching) Barbara (Gwenn Hung; same as Monty) run their missions between Cambodia and Thailand to stomp out the ol’ KBG-backed Communism plot-point, Babs is kidnapped. And Scott calls in the only man for the job. But John Rambo was busy. So he called in Peter Harris.
Hey, wait, a sec . . . Harris and Scott are still friends? Ugh. Unexpected plot twist change-up from Jun Gallardo. I’ve been namsploitation duped.
And that’s about it. Huts — from other movies — blow up. The rocket launchers sound like they’re out of a George Lucas space opera. Eh, whatever, Buck. You never get bored, here, as the bullets and explosions come at you in quick succession. And there’s all the stock footage you can handle. Ah, don’t forget that this is a Silver Star Studio production, so any war flick they produced prior to any other film, ends up in the next film. Oh, and amid the stock footage: a bare-chested and sweat-glistening — if that trips your triggers — Rom running around with bullet belts and machine guns.
Bottom line: Jun Gallardo and Romano Kristoff together is junk movie heaven. And you can head into the clouds with this freebie rip on You Tube.
You know what? I hate Romano Kristoff. . . .
Why does he get the cool name that nicks-down to Rom. Bad ass. Meanwhile Samuel and I are stuck with “Sam” and “Rick” and that’s why we write about movies and never starred in them. Would you rent a movie called Slash Exterminator starring Sam Panico and Rick Francis?
Nope. And you have Rom to thank for that.
* We’re writing ahead, here, so cut n’ paste those titles into that search box, aking kaibigan. But you can always click our “Philippines War Week” tag to populate all of our reviews from August and December.