VHS/Denmark/fullscreen/English dub/Danish subs.
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US ad-mat from Fred [click ad-mat for bigger size]
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VHS/UK/fullscreen/English dub/no subs/cut 7 seconds!!!
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Big thank yous fly out to Hans-Jørn for the mega rare Danish vhs!!
By Fred Adelman
FINAL MISSION (1984) - Think about what a sad state of affairs we action fans would be in if Sylvester Stallone never starred as John Rambo in FIRST BLOOD (1982). No, really, think about it for a moment. If there were no John Rambo, about 80% of the action films that came out of the Philippines, Indonesia, Italy and even the United States during the 80's would never have been made. That's a huge cross to bear (I'm sure non-fans of the genre would disagree with me) but I, for one, am hugely greatful to Stallone. Not that there haven't been some real dogs to sit through, though. Thankfully, FINAL MISSION isn't one of those dogs. It's cheesy fun from beginning to end. The film opens with Sergeant Vincent Deacon (Richard Young) leading his men in an assault on a Vietcong camp in the jungles of Laos in 1972. After gunning nearly everyone down and blowing everything up (even chopping-off a head or two), Sgt. Deacon captures the traitorous Will Slater (John Dresden) and turns him over to the military authorities. Slater curses at Deacon, telling him that he will "see him in Hell" as he is being led away. Cut to present day (well, 1984) Los Angeles. Vince Deacon is now a SWAT team leader and we watch him nearly single-handedly take on a warehouse full of armed thugs (one of them is portrayed by an uncredited Donald Gibbs, "Ogre" in REVENGE OF THE NERDS - 1984) and saves the hostage inside. Deacon also has a beautiful wife, Jenny (Christine L. Tudor), and a young son named Steven (E. Danny Murphy). When a street gang, egged-on by Slater (who escaped from military prison and has been living on the lam), break into Deacon's house and try to kill him and his family, Deacon manages to kill most of them, which infuriates Slater. To show his appreciation, Deacon's captain suspends him from the force for being "excessive" (What?). Deacon and his family decide to spend his suspension time by camping at a lake in the mountains, where Deacon can clear his head, go fishing and reconnect with his family. Things take a sudden bad turn when Jenny and Steven are killed when the fishing boat they are on explodes, thanks to a bomb Slater placed there the night before. Now a widower, Deacon goes on a one-man mission to find the killers of his family, tearing-up bars and shoving patrons' heads in toilets looking for clues. Deacon quits the police force for good and begins putting heat on the street gangs. Slater and some gang members leave L.A. and hide out in the small town of Pinesville, where the sheriff, Warren Slater (Kaz Garas), happens to be Slater's brother. Deacon goes to his old commanding officer, Colonel Joshua Cain (John Ericson), with a piece of the detonator he found at the scene of his family's death. When it comes back that it could only have come from Slater, Deacon heads to Pinesville for some well-deserved justice. Something tells me that the peaceful, sleepy town of Pinesville is about to become very noisy. This is just one in a long line of action films churned-out by prolific Filipino vet Cirio H. Santiago (T.N.T. JACKSON - 1975; FUTURE HUNTERS - 1986; RAIDERS OF THE SUN - 1991). Santiago directed many rip-offs during the 80's, but he always found a way to put his distinct signature on them. This one opens as a straight war actioner, then turns into an urban crime drama, which then turns into a revenge melodrama. The final twenty minutes are lifted almost directly from FIRST BLOOD, as Deacon lays waste to the town of Pinesville and then Sheriff Warren and his posse hunt him down in the forest, with disasterous results. There's boobytraps, do-it-yourself bullet removal (followed by a "cauterizing the wound with a flaming log" scene) and, finally, the National Guard are called in. Unlike Rambo, Deacon begins killing everyone who crosses his path. Colonel Trautman, er, Cain is brought in to talk Deacon into giving up. Let's just say the final shot leaves no room for a sequel. What's interesting about FINAL MISSION is the way Santiago treats some of his characters, especially Kaz Garas' (he was also in Santiago's NAKED VENGEANCE , amongst others) portrayal of Sheriff Warren Slater. He is a man in the middle, not aware of his brother's traitorous war record and yet, deep down inside, he knows his brother is not quite right in the head, but he's still his brother and he'll do whatever it takes to protect him. While some may find this film a little slow in spots, I found the deeper characterizations refreshing (script by Joe Mari Avellana and Joseph Zucchero, frequent Santiago collaborators) and Santiago doesn't skimp on the nudity (every woman in this film has a topless scene), blood or action set-pieces. Sure, this is nothing but a low-budget B-movie rip-off, but it is an enjoyable one. Santiago directed THE DEVASTATOR (1985) next, which features some of the same actors (Kaz Garas again) and even recycles the same Vietnam footage (including an abbreviated shot of the decapitation) that was shown in the beginning of this film. Also starring Jason Ross, Karen Ericson, Jack Daniels, Don Gordon Bell, Willy Williams, Ken Barry and Steve Parvin. An HBO Video release. Not yet available on DVD. For some reason, the majority of Santiago's output has yet to reach DVD. Rated R.
[first published on Fred's site]