Tuesday, 30 December 2008

BLACKFIRE (1985)

aka CODE NAME BLACKFIRE / BLACK FIRE

VHS / Holland / fullscreen / English dub / Dutch subtitles
[click scan for bigger size]


by Günter Müller
BLACKFIRE aka BLACK FIRE, directed in 1985 by Teddy Page. Story by Jim Gaines. Screenplay by Jim Gaines & Teddy Page. Starring: Romano Kristoff and... surprise, surprise!... Jim Gaines.

Not a bad flick at all. It kicks off in Vietnam, with lots of action, killings, explosions and the likes. Then it slows down and it becomes rather dire and uneventful... until the finale, which is damn great. Romano Kristoff does the 'Rambo' (you know what happens if a Vietnam war veteran is pushed too far, don't you?), and he has a cool arsenal of weapons. I wish the middle part wouldn't have dragged the way it does, but otherwise it's cool, violent, mindless fun. Nice stuntwork too. Great dialogue in those flashback sequences, when little Ron was trained to be a ninja. "You have to be like an arrow, desiring to bounce off the chord."
[first posted on Dvdmaniacs forum]


by FRED ADELMAN
BLACK FIRE (1985) - Another outrageous war actioner from late director Teddy Page (BLOOD DEBTS - 1983; JUNGLE RATS - 1987; BLOOD HANDS - 1990), who also co-wrote the screenplay with co-star Jim Gaines (who was responsible for the screenplays of other Page actioners WAR WITHOUT END - 1986; PHANTOM SOLDIERS - 1987 and FINAL REPRISAL - 1988).

The film opens with a lone Vietnamese peasant docking his small boat on the shore of a river, where he is immediately surrounded by a platoon of gooks who are about to shoot him when he doesn't answer their questions. What the gooks fail to see are the five hollow reeds in the water moving closer to them and, in their best RAMBO imitation, out pops Sgt. Frank Johnson (Rom Kristoff; NINJA'S FORCE - 1984), Jim Anderson (Jim Gaines; FIREBACK - 1983) and Lance (Jerry Bailey) out of the water (don't worry about the names of the other two soldiers as they're about to be killed), guns blazing and killing all the gooks.

Frank and his men are on a mission and two of his men are killed by a couple of treetop snipers (See, I told you!), whom Frank blows-up with an explosive-tipped crossbow bolt. Frank, Jim and Lance make their way to an enemy POW camp, but when they see that all of the American prisoners have been moved someplace else (Frank mentions the "Hanoi Hilton"), they still decide to attack the camp using grenades, more explosive crossbow bolts and good, old-fashioned gunfire. Lance is killed and Frank suffers from a nasty case of head trauma from an enemy grenade, but Jim rescues him and brings him to a hospital, where Frank has flashbacks to when he was a child and his grandfather trained him to become a ninja (Say what now?).

Frank and Jim are transferred to a South American island called San Sebastian to become training officers. After meeting their Commanding Officer (Ruel "Ray" Vernal), Frank and Jim go to a bar for a drink and get into a fight with the locals (What would a Teddy Page film be without a bar fight?). Frank is nearly choked to death, but he has another flashback to his youth and uses his grandfather's ninja training to break the hold. Frank tells Jim about his flashbacks and how he may be a ninja, but Jim just laughs, blaming the head trauma he received in Vietnam.

Frank begins taking late night walks around the base and discovers his Commanding Officer is working in cahoots with local crimelord Luis Sanchez (Anthony Carreon) to ship illegal arms to Africa. When Sanchez discovers the truth about Frank's background (he has a red folder marked "BlackFire" that contains Frank's entire life story), he orders the Commanding Officer to kill Frank. The C.O. has Roberto (Jim Moss) try to kill Frank, but Frank's ninja skills save him from getting a bullet between the eyes. Frank and Jim, with the help of the C.O.'s secretary, Nancy (Charlotte Maine), try to bring all the guilty parties to justice, but when Nancy is viciously stabbed to death by Roberto and Frank is framed for her murder (Roberto dips Nancy's dead finger in her own blood and writes "BlackFire" on the floor), Jim has Frank arrested and thrown into a South American prison (so much for being good friends!), where Frank is tortured and abused (including that old prison standby, the pressure hose shower).

Frank escapes from prison, regains Jim's trust and goes on a one-man killing spree to get even with all those that wronged him. While the screenplay is all over the place (the fictional South American island of San Sebastian sure looks an awful lot like the Philippines!) and hardly makes an ounce of sense, the always entertaining director Teddy Page (real name: Teddy Chiu) fills the screen with violent action, whether it is gunfights, explosions or hand-to-hand combat. This film switches constantly from war actioner, to crime drama to prison escape drama, but Page never forgets to deliver the bloody goods, whether it is neck-snapping, slit throats, stabbings or bullet-ridden bodies.

The final thirty minutes are especially memorable, as Frank uses his ninja training to bust out of prison (his eyepatch disguise fools no one, though) and, with Jim's help, does a lot of explosive damage. Rom(ano) Kristoff is his usual stiff presence as an actor (but he's a damn good action hero) and it's always good to see Jim Gaines get a larger than normal role (even if he has to write it himself!).

BLACK FIRE (also known as CODE NAME BLACKFIRE) is another winner from Teddy Page and uncredited producer K.Y. Lim for his Silver Star Films Company production outfit. Also starring Dick Ilford, David Light, Ralph Johnson, Errol Giberson, Mars Jadali, Fred Collins, Benny Roberts and John Crocker. Never legitimately released on home video in the U.S. (so what else is new?); the print I viewed was sourced from a Greek-subtitled tape from Standard Video. Not Rated.
[first printed on Fred's site CRITICAL CONDITION. Re-printed here with permission]


VHS / UK / fullscreen / English dub / no subs
[click scan for bigger size]


VHS / UK / fullscreen / English dub / no subs
[click scan for bigger size]




2 comments:

  1. Just watched this. A plesant surprise. Cool character background info, without turning into a ninja flick. Not that I mind ninja flicks. Good action in an a typical war flick that is reminiscent of Rambo´s adventures in First Blood (but with a different setting). Recommended to the fan of b action!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Harm,
    Yeah, it is pretty good. :D

    ReplyDelete

Yes, we have a comment filter now! It seems most comments these days come from shit spammers in India so there you go.

Bikini girls with machine guns

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