In case you never read the site, you may not know how much I love Bruno Mattei. Well, Severin seemingly feels the same as they’re releasing a bundle of three of the Italian maniac’s movies!
These blu rays will have the best-looking versions of these movies yet along with bonus features from Claudio Fragauso and Rossella Drudi. You can get each movie by itself or in a big fancy bundle.
Born to Fight (1989): The third time Brent Huff would work with Bruno Mattei — there’s also Strike Commando 2 and Cop Game — this time finds the actor playing Sam Wood, a survivor of a vicious Vietnamese prison camp who is talked into going back into hell with reporter Maryline Kane (Mary Stavin, the 1977 Miss World who is also in Mattei’s Born to Fight, as well as Open House, House, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Caddyshack II, Top Line and Howling V: The Rebirth, proving that I have seen many of her movies), who really just wants our hero to help her free her father from the prison camp.
Things get more complicated when Wood learns that Duan Loc (Werner Pochath, Colonel Magnum from Thunder 3) is still in charge. Yet instead of being a film that explores the root causes and treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, Mattei and writer Claudio Fragasso give everyone watching what they really want: violence, glorious violence.
The beauty of this film is that Mattei references Casablanca while featuring a hero who is so bored with life that he mixes snake venom into the beer he drinks all day long to escape the pain of his past.
Made pretty much hours after pretty much the same crew finished Strike Commando 2, Born to FIght has everything I look for in a Mattei Philippines war movie, which is totally a genre, thank you for asking. There’s nothing quite like a slow-motion Brent Huff unloading millions of rounds of ammunition into bamboo huts while screaming and repeatedly saying his catchphrase, “It can be done.” Maybe he was a Bud Spencer fan?
As for Ms. Stavin, she also dated Manchester United football hero George Best, who was voted the sixth for the FIFA Player of the Century and one of GQ’s fifty most stylish men of the last fifty years in 2007. One of the first celebrity football players, he was nicknamed El Beatle and owned restaurants, fashion boutiques and a nightclub called Slack Alice. Of his life, he said, “I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars – the rest I just squandered.”
Between 1982 and 1984, the fitness craze swept the UK. Lifestyle Records released a series of celebrity albums in which different somewhat famous folks sang cover songs and discussed what working out meant to them. The first two albums, which featured Felicity Kendal and Angela Rippon, sold well. Later releases, well…not so much. Beyond Isla St. Clair, Suzanne Danielle, Christina Brookes, Jay Aston, Suzanna Dando and Patti Boulaye, Stavin and Best released their album, which even had their cover of “It Takes Two” cut as a single. They also covered The Eurythmics’ “Love Is a Stranger!”
Cop Game (1988): An elite group of commando assassins — Cobra Squad! — are murdering high-ranking U.S. soldiers in the closing days of Vietnam. To stop them, Morgan (Brent Huff, Gwendoline, Nine Deaths of the Ninja) and Hawk (Max Laurel, who played Zuma in two films and Quang in Robowar) must have one another’s back against a massive conspiracy.
Yes, Bruno Mattei — Bob Hunter! — has united with Rossella Drudi and Claudio Fragrasso, headed to the Philippines and made a movie that makes little to no sense whatsoever. I don’t say this as an insult. Few of the man’s movies have anything approaching a coherent plot. Yet every single one of them wants to entertain you to the point that you are rolling on the floor in incredulity and laughter. They are everything you want them to be.
This is the kind of movie with dialogue like “When you go home, you will forget about me. But I will still be here, drowning in a sea of shit.” and “Ah, Jesus Christ, cocksucker motherfucking sonofabitch.” Nearly every line is screamed as loudly as possible, as if a twelve-year-old boy has just been allowed to stay home by himself while his parents go out and he takes advantage of the freedom by repeatedly saying combinations of swear words and never getting tired of using them until he’s hoarse by the time mom and dad come back.
It’s also the kind of film that says that it takes place in 1975 Vietnam but also has plenty of Miami Vice and 80’s buddy cop vibes, along with stolen footage from The Ark of the Sun God, both Strike Commando movies and Double Target. I guess since Mattei made most of those, he’s really just cutting and pasting. You can’t steal from yourself, right? This isn’t a John Fogerty getting sued because his song “The Old Man Down the Road” sounds exactly like a Creedence Clearwater Revival situation!
Cop Game also has an all-star cast and by that, I mean actors that ony I care about like Romano Puppo (Trash’s dad in Escape from the Bronx), Candice Daly (After Death), Werner Pochath (Colonel Magnum in Thunder III), Robert Marius (Mad Warrior), Massimo Vanni (Robowar), Ottaviano Dell’Acqua (who is the “We are going to eat you” undead face on the poster for Zombie), Roberto Dell’Acqua (Nightmare City), Jim Gaines (Zombies: The Beginning) and a Brett Halsey cameo.
Mattei made movies in nearly every junk film genre. I can honestly say that I have loved every single one of them and if you want to hear me ramble on about something, ask me about them.
Double Target (1987): You know, if John Rambo hadn’t gone back to Vietnam and gotten the chance to win that time, we wouldn’t be blessed with an entire video store section of films from around the world. Rambosploitation?
My mother told me that after he came home from working late in the mill, my grandfather would watch war movies at ear-shattering volumes, loudly laughing and enjoying himself while the entire family would be awakened by the cinematic combat echoing through the paper-thin walls.
Forty or so years later, I realize that I have inherited his vice.
After several American and British military personnel are killed in suicide attacks throughout southeast Asia, the U.S. government starts thinking that perhaps — just perhaps — the Vietnamese government isn’t the ally they thought they were.
There’s only one man to call when you need the truth.
No, not that Bob Ross. I’m talking Miles O’Keefe, the very same man who was Ator, now transplanted to the ninth circle of Southeast Asia, seeking the son he has never known, going up against the most sinister of all Russians and backed up by exactly no one.
Seeing as how this is a Bruno Mattei film, you just know that all manner of absolute celluloid cutting and pasting is going to happen. Well, it goes both ways, because Mr. Mattei was an early adopter of recycling, doing his part to keep his scummy cinema carbon footprint small. That shark that shows up? Yep, it’s taken directly from The Last Shark. And since he went to the trouble to lens all this jungle footage, it also shows up in Cop Game, Robowar and Shocking Dark, while the musical score ends up coming back in Interzone.
This movie unites so many of my film favorites, like Donald Pleasence as the incredibly named Senator Blaster, a man who is either coughing or screaming at everyone around him. And look! There’s Bo Svenson as the nasty Russian Colonel Galckin, a man so evil that he puts a gun into Ross’ son’s hands and explains to him exactly how to blow his dad’s brains out.
Kristine Erlandson kind of made a name for herself — well, with video store weirdos — by being in movies like this, Trident Force, Saigon Commandos, Vengeance Squad, Warriors of the Apocalypse and American Commando. She’s joined by Ottaviano Dell’Acqua*, the rotting zombie from the infamous “We are going to eat you!” Zombi poster, Massimo Vanni** from Zombi 3 and Luciano Pigozzi*** (Pag from Yor Hunter from the Future).
Man, this movie tugs at the heartstrings. Ross had a kid over in ‘Nam and never knew his wife, who was taken into a re-education camp, where she died and his kid ended up hating him. Or course, this was filmed in the Philippines, but let’s not argue.
Mattei used his Vincent Dawn name on this one and co-conspirator and potential co-director Claudio Fragasso went as Clyde Anderson in the credits. Speaking of American names for Italians, let’s answer those little footnotes:
** Alex McBride
You know, this movie entertained me beyond belief, but I’m beyond a Mattei apologist. If he was still alive and needed a place to live, I would move him into my basement and cook every meal for him.