Oh, Ho, Ho
I never believe it’s not so
That your films aren’t “magic” to me
Many have not tried. But I not only tried, but succeeded, in watching (and reviewing!) your Sly-cum-Arnie-cum-Sheen-cum-Norris ripoffs in a marathon weekend. From Soldier Terminators to Mission War Flame to Super Platoon to Top Mission*. And now: here we are with Fatal Command. And some of these are second watches from my first exposure back in the VHS rental ’80s.
Because you’re the David A. Prior of the Philippines . . . and what one of your films doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. At least until the Teddy Page warsploitation flicks start rolling.
Ugh. I wish you’d splice in some Richard Harrison (Rescue Team) or Romano Kristoff (Slash Exterminator) into this patch-hack joint of yours. Well, at least you’ve given us yet another alias to talk about: now you’re Victor Sears behind the lens. And your big “star” this time out is Tao Chang. But since he was in your film Ninja Thunderbolt (1984), I have my doubts that Chang was actually in this film and not just cut-in from Ninja Thunderbolt. Sure, Chein Sun — from my ol’ rental favorite Five Deadly Venoms (1978) is here. But from which of the 40-some films he did previously was he “cast” from into your film? Okay, in your defense, Godfrey: Chang was also in your films Ninja 8: Warrior of Fire, Terminal Angels, Ninja Death Squad, and The Vampire Raiders, so maybe there’s some original footage here to be had.
Uh, there’s not.
For this is another Filmark International Presents boondoggle that is just another puzzling puzzle of an enigma wrapped in riddle stuffed inside a mystery. Yeah, American actress-turned-screenwriter and dialog doctor Sally Nichols (aka Nicholls, also of Mission War Flame fame) is Godfrey Ho’s right-hand girl. She’s on the Brother typewriter and she’s trying and, truth be told, does a pretty amazing job (seriously, no sarcasm intended) bringing some semblance of a “plot” to these bits and pieces of old Pacific Rim films from the ’70s.
So, if you haven’t guessed by now: Southeast Asia is ripped apart by the Russians and the Americans who want to inject their political system into the region. So the KGB sends their agents, led by the rabid killer, Ivan, into Kampuchea to wipe out the American forces backed by the CIA. Of course, greed is good, even when Communism will take over the region. And in this region: Americans turn on Americans. Thus, John Matthews, the CIA agent paired with our good, U.S.-sympathizing Vietnamese agent, Jim, turns on Jim. We think. Or is General Wells — who put John and Jim together — the bad guy?
Okay, well, I see you noticed that nekkid lady on the VHS cover. Well, she’s some type of spy who betrayed General Wells, so she’s kidnapped and dies during the kidnapping. What does this have to do with the plot? Nothing. Well, no. We think she was Jim’s girlfriend. Or wife. Or something. It has to be, because Jim just sneaked into a children’s birthday party to kill the father of the man who failed at kidnapping his lady friend and killed her. Don’t forget: Jim’s the good guy, here. Imagine Rambo firing bullets into a birthday party to get revenge on Charles Napier or Jack Starlett?
And . . . this is the part of the review where, again, we drop the verb “ensues,” to work our way out of the review because nothing else ensues . . . expect a lot of running around a shallow river bed as the machine guns blaze and the grenades toss. And there’s no tanks. And that fleet of helicopters on the VHS cover never comes. But Jim — riddled with bullets and a couple of arrows in the back, dies in a river bed.
The message here? Uh, greed wins? Americans don’t give a damn about democratic freedom in Southeast Asia unless there’s a financial profit to be made? Again, Sally Nichols (aka Nicholls) weaved the dialog and was trying, but when you’re up against the Steenbeck of celluloid fate spun by Godfrey Ho, it’s a craps toss you can’t win, Sally. As with Ho’s Mission War Flame*, it was downright criminal to patch these “movies” together and dress them with Ramboesque artwork to toss onto the home video shelves. Even with my local video store’s 5-5-5 plan — with Ho’s films — you can’t say, “Well, it’s just a dollar.” Even at a dollar rental fee, this one’s a ripoff.
Celluloid masochists can fast forward through Fatal Command at their own peril on You Tube.
* We are writing ahead, here, so use that search box. You’re not that lazy to copy n’ paste, are you?