Philippine War Week II: Soldier Terminators (1988)

Leave it to Godfrey Ho to mash-up Sly Stallone and Arnie Schwarzenegger into one film. But not First Blood and Commando: Rambo and The Terminator. Only one problem. Well, there’s more than one problem with this film, but the main one: there’s no “Terminators,” as you know them, in this film. Luckily, Godfrey didn’t put a robot on the cover to frack with us. Sorry to slag ya’, Godfrey, but you are the Pacific Rim exploitation king that out-cheaps the crowned King we hail that is Cirio H. Santiago.

Alas! I know this is hard to believe: but this isn’t the usual Godfrey Ho hack job, where he buys up forgotten or unfinished Hong Kong and Philippine films, cuts them together, dubs new dialog, and releases the end product. If you read our reviews for Devil’s Dynamite and Robo Vampire (yes, it is exactly what you think it is; there is, in fact, a robot . . . just not in this film), then you know what we mean. But for those of you that are not familiar with the cinematic “style” of Mr. Ho: Soldier Terminators is one of his 150 films that he credit-rotates under the names of director and screenwriter Joe Livingstone and screenwriter Willie Palmer, aka Godfrey Ho, but here’s Charles Lee. During Ho’s 25 years of making genre films in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines, his mostly Z-grade movies never lost a dime. And he parlayed that experience into teaching film — I know! — at Hong Kong Polytech.

So, with that being said, Ho actually made a fluid movie. We think. It actually looks legit — for once. It’s still rumored that Soldier Terminators is two films cut into one: but if that’s true, it’s all effectively spliced together. Now, that’s not to say the Stallone-inspired proceedings make a whole lot of sense — and what Ho flick does — but either it being one film, or the rumored two, it is still the most consistent film he’s made in my memory. Again, back to Devil’s Dynamite and Robo Vampire, which are the same film, but, with creative editing and dubbing, became “two” films.

So, from what we gather in the “plot” of Soldier Terminators: The People’s Freedom Army is a union of Southeast Asian soldiers out to rid their lands of communism. Hey, that’s mighty “American” of you. But the PFA want nothing to do with the Americans. We think. So we send our best man: Alexander Samson. Sammy-boy travels to Malaysia and infiltrates the PFA, so as to feed information back to his superiors. We think. Successfully inside, Sammo begins training with the group. They like him. He’s a good fighter and walks the talk. Meanwhile — we think, from that “other film” — we have a crazed commander who doesn’t want the PLA’s activities to succeed; for if they do, then the Americans will gain a foothold in the region. And, we think, the commander has a financial concern in the area with the Commies. Or something.

Now, the actor portraying our lead character of Alexander Sampons, Anthony Alonzo, is listed on the IMDb for this film as “uncredited” and as “archive footage.” Uh, oh. “Archive” means it wasn’t shot for this film. And it’s true: Anthony Alonzo is, in fact, uncredited. In a double fact: No one is credited, sans two actors: Paul John Stanners and Anders Hallerg. Another fact: Actor Vincent Pratchett leaves a comment on the You Tube upload of Soldier Terminators and makes the point that he worked on the film (he does, so says the IMDb; his only film) and he’s not credited in the film itself.

Now, Paul John Stanners turns up (“uncredited” per the IMDb) in . . . uh, oh, Robo Vampire. Shit, Godfrey: Here I am saying this is your “best,” and you’re fucking it up. So how much do you want to bet Stanners’s work, here, in Soldier Terminators, was cut into Robo Vampire? As to whom Anders Hallerg is . . . your guess is as good as ours. Hallerg is not listed on the film’s IMDb page and he doesn’t populate with his own actor’s page. The “star” here, Derrick Bishop — who’s not listed in the film’s opening titles or end credits (in Ho’s defense: there are no “end credits” to the film; all we get is a “The End” title card) — appeared in three more late ’80s films: Magic Emerald (aka Hell Hunters), Instant Rage, and Angel Force. Oh, and something called Advent Commando 5: Sweet Inferno. And Ho made all of them. Did Bishop star in one — Advent Commando 5 or Soldier Terminator — then got spliced in to “starring” in the others?

Hey, it’s a Godfrey Ho film, so your guess is as good as ours — and it’s probably right, just like ours.

Now, for that pesky title prefix of “American Force”: Okay, the alternate titles on this are American Force and American Mission. As for the “American Force 4” prefix: we have no idea what the other three films are in the “series.” Chances are, with Ho, there’s no continuity between the four films. Only the Kobol Lords know what films ended up with the “Advent Commando” prefixes. I gave this perplexing celluloid titling enigma 15 minutes of investigation . . . and came up with a goose egg. It’s — as with all Godfrey Ho films — a mystery. And none of his films should exist, yet they do. And we talk about them. And they all made money. So the joke’s on us. Are YOU teaching school at Hong Kong Polytech?

There’s no trailer to share, but we found two freebie streaming copies. Hey, it’s Godfrey Ho and video junkoids love ’em, so, of course, there’s more than one upload. Soldier Terminators is on You Tube HERE and HERE.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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