Well, it had to end sometime. Two weeks (the last one was during the first week of August) and 48 films. Sure, there’s oh so much more Vietnam war raging in the South Pacific — and just as many jungle-based sci-fi off-shoots, such as Reb Brown starring in Bruno Mattei’s Robowar. But we just can’t, anymore. From here on out, you’re on your own to discover the rest of the Sylvester Stallone-to-Arnold Schwarzenegger-to-Chuck Norris ’80s war rips. And lets not forget the ones with Ron Marchini and Michael Dudikoff.
Okay, so right off the bamboo shoot: we want to know who wrote this logline: “Superb action set during the Vietnam War. The prologue shows a French army convoy being ambushed by the Vietcong in 1950.”
What’s wrong with this logline: the use of the word “superb” in a Jim Goldman, aka Jun Gallardo movie.
Okay, so there’s second unit and Assistant AD Rod Davis, aka Davies, aka we’ve never been able to track down if he’s an actual American expatriate or a South Asian doing the Americanization waltz on the lens as well as working the Brother typewriter. Paul Vance, aka Paul Van, however, is a real American who — as with our “star,” here, Gordon Mitchell — never “made it” in the U.S. film industry, but Vance forged a nice career northwest of Down Under with an acting resume of 20 films (starting with W Is War in 1983 and ending with Jungle Rats in 1988). We also have to mentioned that, in addition to co-writing Commando Invasion, Rod Davis also gave us this week’s Slash Exterminator (go back to Monday at 12 noon, folks; were writing ahead, here), and the we-love-it-so-much SFX Retaliator, among his five Filipino writing credits.
Then there’s our real “star,” the lead of these proceedings: American expatiate Micheal James, who was in eight of these jungle romps, including Mad Dog II and Rescue Team (both 1985; yep, reviewed this week and we’re writing ahead, so use that “search box”) for our Jim Goldman, and Searchers Of The Voodoo Mountain, aka Warriors of the Apocalyspe (1985), for Bobby A. Suarez. Michael James actually made a decent war film alongside David Carradine, Mako, and Steve James (a frequent Micheal Dudikoff sideman) in P.O.W: The Escape (1986). (I know: how “decent” is a down-and-out David Carradine Chuck Norris-wannabe knockoff?)
Okay, so since we already went deep with Gordon Mitchell — as well as with his frequent acting partner, Richard Harrison (I wish he was here; he’s not) — in our review of their joint, Neapolitan effort, on Three Men on Fire, let’s blow this one up!
Ol’ Gordo is good-to-bad guy General MacMoreland (he’s barely here and probably from another film, entirely) with Paul Vance picking up a co-starring credit as Lt. Frank Terryl, and Ken Wantanbe — from the 1985 martial arts classic Nine Deaths of the Ninja and the writer behind that same year’s Ron Marchini-starrer, Ninja Warriors! — as our evil General Diap. Hey, there’s Jim Gaines — who blew out 60-plus of these films since 1974, but we remember him best as Reb Brown’s sidekick Sonny “Blood” Peel in the previously mentioned Robowar — as Lt. Frank’s sidekick, Sgt. Morgan. Everyone else: they are somebodies that we think are nobodies because they all have bogus, “Americanized” names like “John Crocker,” “David Scott,” and “Bobby Clinton.” As is par for the Filipino jungle course: not only are the actors, stock (defacto “starring” in some cases as result of their cut-in from other pictures): all that sfx-slaughtering war footage is stocked as well.
So, not only is the U.S. in the jungle, so are the French, whose 1950-era army convoy rife with millions in art and diamonds is ambushed. The booty is stolen.
Meanwhile, 15 years later: We have an American commando unit doing what they do best: kill Asian commies as they track down that booty to VC General Diap’s (Watanabe) underground bunker. The men turn on Captain Brady, the head of the unit who — not again, how many of these flick have this subplot: he makes his scratch stealing diamonds from the locals. Why? Well, we weren’t there to stop Communism. We are there for the diamonds. Brady’s men plan to kill him and take the loot — then Diap and his men show up and killing them all. The exaction unit finally arrives and finds ol’ Cap Brady alive: with a gaggle of dead bodies around him and a fistful of sparkly rocks.
To stop his court martial, Brady is allow to return to “Vietnam” for five days track to down Diap, bring him to justice, and save his own skin in the process. In the jungle, Brady soon realizes U.S. General MacMoreland is in kahoots with Diap, that’s he’s been double and tripled-crossed, and the French military is on his tail to retrieve the stolen loot. And I swear I’ve seen this same plot in another movie we’ve reviewed during these two weeks?
Flash forward four months later . . .
Shite! I did. I just watched the same movie, twice — months part — I just reviewed Commando Invasion, again (it posed back on Monday). Oh, Dear Lord. Okay, well, let me go watch and review the film that I meant to review: Jun Gallardo’s Invasion Cambodia. Oh, man. I can’t. But I have to. Ugh! Just . . . one . . . more. I can do it! You just gotta believe!
See what I mean? Arrrrrgh! NO MORE PHILIPPINE WAR FLICKS! I’m losing my mind. The celluloid coffers are closed. Find the rest on your own. And watch this one on You Tube.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.