Editor’s Note: Welcome to the first review of our second — and final, ever — “Philippine War Week” blow out. Clicking that hyperlink will populate all of the reviews from our first week back in August. And we mean it: there ain’t gonna be no rematch rematch, aka a Part III. We just can’t. It’s too painful. But we’ll always have our ongoing fetish with shark flicks, right? After all is said and done, we reviewed 48 Philippine Namsploitation films in all — and it all ends this Saturday, December 11 at 6 PM. Enjoy!
When all of these films “star” expatriate American actors Mike Monty and Nick Nicholson and Paul Vance (who written a few of these, including Slash Exterminator*, SFX Retaliatior and W Is War) and Gwendolyn Hung — under the eye of Jim Goldman, aka Jun Gallardo — you start to wonder if you’ve already reviewed the film. Even the video box art looks familiar. Even the plot is the same. And rest assure: the action is not only the same: it’s identical, as it is cut in from other Silver Star Productions. You just know Silver Star can’t afford those tanks and helicopters: it’s a sure double-your-Philippine Pesos they bought the footage off of Roger Corman. Or stole it from the Italians, as we shall soon see.
Sadly, as with other Philippine war joints: this is not the least bit entertaining because, well, none of those actors I’ve mentioned, above, are here. Warren Flemming, Bianca De Lorean, Stephen Douglas, Patrick Burton — yes, who? is right because, they’re all one and done actors. Yeah, you know your film has problems when Vic Diaz and Dick Isreal (who’ve starred in over 300 South Asian epics, a piece) are your “top stars” as members of the evil “NVA” terrorist cell. Sure, the familiar Nick Nicholson and Mike Monty are here — as “soldiers” — but via that pesky footage cut in from another film.
And speaking of “footage from other films” mucking up the joint . . .
Adding to the Chuck Norris-Stallone-Schwarzenegger fireball of confusion: this is also known as The Firebird Connection and Tornado II: Firebird. And yes, there is, in fact a Tornado I: a macaroni combat, aka a spaghetti combater, directed by Antonio Margheriti (Yor Hunter from the Future and Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye) and released in 1983. And that film was also called The Last Blood (aka Tornado: The Last Blood) — and you know why and what for. And guess what: the cover from Tornado I and II are exactly the same because Silver Star simply took the Margheriti art and added their own info to the box. So, yes: this film clipped Margheriti’s film for its war footage. And while there is no plot here (well, a confusing one), and the acting and dub is awful, there are bursts of entertainment by way of the endless barrage of blanks and squibs and falling bodies — even more so than a Stallone joint.
As for the plot . . . well, we actually have footage from a couple of films, here, such as Margheriti’s The Last Hunter (1980), because, well . . . ‘ol Tony cut footage from that marconi war joint into Tornado. Anyway, the “plot,” it seems, concerns an evil, North Vietnamese tyrant and his NVA organization on the loose in Vietnam as military fathers on both sides try to protect their daughters from the mayhem. The U.S. Ambassador father wants the tyrant at any cost — via Operation Phoenix (squad) — regardless of the body county, yes, even the children that perished during the Troy Mong oli offensive that killed 30 marines. And our plucky reporter (the dubbed Bianca De Lorean) of our U.S. Ambassador won’t shut the hell up about it.
Yeah, it’s all for the freedom-craving people of Vietnam. Yeah, no one on either side is padding their war chests (with that handful of diamonds fueling a subplot). But the film is padded with lots of poorly-dubbed voice overs to push the plot about a critical microfilm that can blow the lid off the “Firebird Conspiracy.” We think. But what we do know is that while it is a completely different film — sans any recycled war footage — Commando Invasion with Gordon Mitchell also has a plucky, won’t-shut-the-hell-up woman (she’s a “guide” instead of a reporter) and another subplot dealing with a fistful of diamonds. And I swear to god — it’s the same friggin’ rock-filled dead hand in both films.