Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strike Commando (1987)

Well here I am with another Bruno Mattei film, and this one's one of his more well-known (albeit still obscure) movies-Strike Commando, his knock-off of Rambo: First Blood Part II!

Strike Commando is a 1987 actionsploitation war film set in Vietnam, about American badass Michael Ransom. I reviewed it's even more obscure sequel a few months back, and that post can be found here.

The movie opens with the Strike Commando team doing a mission-covertly breaking into a Vietcong base and plant bombs there, while outside the base is Major Harriman and Colonel Radek (Christopher Connelly) , who have the detonator on standby. The mission goes well until one of the men is spotted, and Radek sets the detonator off too early and kills nearly all of Strike Command. The only survivor is Michael Ransom (Reb Brown), who escapes, and is knocked unconscious by the blast.

Ransom drifts through a lake, eventually coming into a small village. Ransom later wakes up to what Max woke up to in that kid village in Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome! (Good old Bruno!).

The town is full of Vietnamese villagers and a French guy, Le Due (Luciano Pigozzi aka Alan Collins), and they've been under constant attack from the Vietcong. Le Due tells Ransom that some Russians have also arrived in Vietnam, nearby-a sinister man named Jakoda.

Ransom agrees to take the villagers out to attack the Vietcong, and along the away, they come across a dead American parachuter. The dead man's radio is luckily still working, and Ransom uses it to call for backup to come and help him out of the forest. The request is denied by Colonel Radek, but Harriman convinces him to give Ransom twenty-four hours to get to a rendezvous point.

While on a break from walking, Ransom talks with a little boy, Lao about Disneyland (which will later lead into one of the film's most remembered scenes). The group eventually come across an enemy boat, and several are shot dead. Ransom grabs a grenade bundle and goes over to the boat (no, this isn't an imitation of the boat scene from Rambo...That comes later!). Ransom successfully blows the boat up, and he and the rest of the villagers continue onwards.

While everyone's walking, Le Due stops to drink, and is caught by Jakoda (Alex Vitale), who strangles him to death. Ransom goes looking for Le Due and finds his body. He also sees a Russian insignia in Le Due's hand, torn off in the struggle. Meanwhile, Murdoc...I mean Radek orders the fleet of helicopters going to pick up Ransom to withdraw back to base. They all do except for Harriman, who orders his chopper's pilot to listen to him, not Radek. Ransom totally demolishes an entire rice field full of soldiers (ah, movies!), and in a scene that'll surprise anyone who's seen Rambo II, the helicopter actually picks Ransom up!

Ransom is taken back to base, and after showing Radek the Russian insignia, Ransom is given a mission to get photographic evidence of the Russian presence in Vietnam ("Just photographs?"). Ransom is sent back into enemy lines with a squad, who are all killed in a firefight. Ransom heads to the village from before, and finds everyone dead. The only one alive is Lao, who's slowly dying, and asks Ransom to tell him about Disneyland. (More on this scene later).

Ransom goes to Jakoda's base, gears up his massive machine gun, and fires a few million shots at the seemingly empty base while screaming Jakoda's name. As soon as Ransom runs out of ammo, Jakoda shows up, flanked by dozens of troops (you dumbass, Ransom!).

Ransom is tortured for days on end (in some ways like in Rambo 2, and some that are actually original! Good work, Bruno!) until he is weak enough to be forced to read a demoralizing broadcast to American troops. He starts to read the prepared speech, but suddenly yells patriotically into the mic, then takes out all the guards in the room, and he escapes with Olga, Jakoda's girlfriend (who's expressed some sympathy to Ransom) as a hostage.

After several shootouts, Olga goes the way of Co, but not before revealing that Radek is a traitor, really working for the KGB...

Strike Commando is a cult classic, and rightfully so! It's primarily a knock-off of Rambo: First Blood Part 2, but it takes stuff from other movies too, like Mad Max 3! The movie's full of fun action, and it's never boring!

The acting is cool. Reb Brown is a good actor in Strike Commando, and he's the epitome of badass! Reb Brown's main acting method in most of his films is to yell, preferably while armed and shooting a weapon!

Christopher Connelly (who was in stuff like 1990: The Bronx Warriors, and Raiders of Atlantis) makes for a fun antagonist, and the guy (he's not listed in the film's ending credits, and IMDb doesn't have the character's name) who plays Ransom's superior (the Trautman equivalent) is good too. As for Alex Vitale as Jakoda, he makes for an awesome villain, even if he doesn't have all that much screen time. The rest of the acting is ok. Louise Kamsteeg [credited as Loes Kamma] as Olga is good, but she's not in the movie long at all either.

One of the film's most remembered, and mocked scene is when Reb is telling the dying Lao about Disneyland. In my opinion though, I didn't find his acting to be that bad in this scene, and I didn't find the scene funny at all.

Strike Commando has a totally awesome finale! I'd say SPOILERS, but I don't think anyone will care if I talk openly about these awesome scenes!

When Ransom arrives back at base after Olga is killed, the war is ending. He fires a million bullets at the base and yells Murdo...Radek's name repeatedly, until Harriman comes out of the woodwork and tells Ransom that Radek has fled. The film cuts to 14 years later (although it doesn't seem that way at all, so it makes more sense for it to be a few months later), and Ransom has located Radek in Manila. Ransom storms Radek's 'base', and all of his guards grab arms and fight back (as does a secretary! Lady, how much do you get paid?!), but none are any match for Reb Brown!

After Ransom has turned Radek into several Radek-chunks, he walks off, then is attacked by the thought-to-be dead Jakoda, who now has a cool set of metal teeth! The two fight briefly, then Ransom sticks a grenade in Jakoda's mouth, and it explodes!...And after the body blows up, the echo of Jakoda saying 'AMERICANSKIIIII' can be heard! Then, Jakoda's metal teeth, having survived a point-blank grenade explosion, land in Ransom's hand, and he says what's possibly the worst one-liner in film history!-"Those Russian dentist, make some pretty good dentures!"!

If there's one thing about Strike Commando that can be called a negative, dozens of soldiers in the film have terrible reaction times when Ransom is shooting at them! In the time Ransom takes, they could have easily shot him!

Something that's funny about the film is this part of the opening credits!...

Vincent Dawn and Clyde Anderson. Gee, I wonder who they are!

Strike Commando is a huge amount of fun, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys action!...


  1. Great write-up!

    And after the body blows up, the echo of Jakoda saying 'AMERICANSKIIIII' can be heard!

    It just occurred to me that this might be a The Postman Always Rings Twice reference. This is a surprisingly literate film, despite itself.

    I love this film so much. When Reb Brown is crying at the slaughter of his friends, my heart breaks. BREAKS. He really is not a bad actor, and he obviously has fun and becomes invested in the film, which is why Strike Commando is so beloved. If he was a bad actor who didn't care, no one would care about this film.

  2. Thanks! :)

    I've never seen The Postman Always Rings Twice. Is it worth a watch?

    The sequel, Strike Commando 2, is just as awesome! Its biggest flaw is the lack of Reb Brown as Mike Ransom, but one of its biggest positives is his replacement, Brent Huff! And there's scary Swedish actress Mary Stavin! haha!

  3. I haven't seen the sequel because it didn't have Reb Brown, but now I must.

    The Postman Always Rings Twice has been made about 8 million times. The 1946 version is film noir, kind of tame and glossy but I still like it. There is a 1942 Italian version called Ossessione which I saw on TCM a few years ago and liked quite a bit. Personally, I don't care for the 80s version with Jack Nicholson, but a lot of people do (and there have been persistent rumors that the sex scene in it was NOT staged, so, there ya go.)

    Also, don't read the Wikipedia articles on these versions unless you're okay with spoilers.

  4. Well the whole thing's on youtube, and it's the only available place to watch it, unless you're game enough to try and hunt down an obscure 1988 Japanese VHS!

    Thanks for the explanation!