aka AMERICAN COMMANDOS
VHS / Japan / fullscreen / English audio / Japanese subs
VHS / USA / fullscreen? / English audio / no subs
By Fred Adelman
AMERICAN COMMANDOS (1985) - A Filipino action film starring Christopher Mitchum (FINAL SCORE - 1987) and directed by Bobby A. Suarez (ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER - 1980)? I'm so there! When Dean Mitchell (Mitchum), a former Green Beret, is attacked in his store by drugged-out street gang, he shoots one of the gang members when he tries to run over Mitchell with his car. In retaliation, the gang invades Mitchell's house and rape his wife and kill his young son. Mitchell, upon returning home and finding his son dead and his wife bloody and bruised, calls the police (He says to the 911 operator, "They've killed my son and raped my wife and you want my phone number?"), not knowing that while he is on the phone his wife is in the bathroom slitting her throat with a straight razor.
Mitchell goes on the warpath and begins to systematically hunting down and murdering all the members of the street gang (He even finds time to have a flashback, where he adopts a Filippino baby and marries the woman handling the adoption, which turn out to be his dead son and wife!). He eventually gets caught by the police, but an Interpol agent named Brady (Ken Metcalfe, who also co-wrote the screenplay) steps in and offers Mitchell a deal: Reform his old Special Forces squad and wipe out the Golden Triangle drug cartel (who are responsible for supplying the majority of heroin to the world) and his record will be wiped clean. Mitchell agrees and begins talking to all his former squad members, including Kelly (John Phillip Law), Creeper (Willie Williams) and Brutus (Robert Marius). The one former member Mitchell can't get to rejoin is Somsak (Franco Guerrero of ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER) and it becomes very clear to the audience why: He is the kingpin of the Golden Triangle.
Somsak tries (unsuccessfully) on several occasions to stop the assault from ever happening, but once the final attack does happen, Somsak has one final ace up his sleeve. One of Mitchell's squad members is on Somsak's payroll. It's a long and bloody ride. This is great, mindless fun from beginning to end, with plenty of bloody action and "What the fuck?" moments. I'm still reeling from the adoption/marriage proposal flashback by Mitchell (which seems way out of place in a film like this). Mitchell also has a habit of saying, "There's noting we can do for them now. We've got to keep moving!" after losing members of his squad. I'm especially fond of the warbus Mitchell and his men (and scantilly-clad women) created.
It looks like one of those short buses retarded kids take to school, tricked-out with steel armor and hidden rocket launchers and machine guns. One scene shows Mitchum on a custom motorcycle (which fits neatly in the warbus) destroying a section of road behind them with rockets, forcing an enemy truck that is following them to fall down a ravine and explode in a ball of fire (note the one stuntman on the right falling down the ravine and tell me he didn't end up seriously hurt!). A mistake in the mastering of the tape repeats an entire reel of footage (where the scantilly-clad women get machine-gunned while working on the warbus), which adds five extra minutes to the running time. No matter, though. You'll be too engrossed in the insane action, plentiful shootouts and bloody deaths.
There's also lots of female nudity in AMERICAN COMMANDOS to keep your eyes busy, too. What more could you possibly ask for? Both Christopher Mitchum and John Phillip Law are stiff as boards acting-wise, but they more than acquit themselves when they are beating the snot out of or gunning down the rest of the cast (including Franco Guerrero, who wears a striking white nehru jacket throughout most of the film). Bobby A. Suarez is fast becoming one of my favorite directors to come out of the Philippines. Originally known as HITMAN. Also starring Don Gordon Bell, David Brass, Kristine Erlandson and Nigel Hogge. A Lightning Video Release. Rated R.
[First published on Fred's Critical Condition]
DVD / Australia / format? / English audio / subs? / bootleg???
Big thanks to Hans-Jørgen for uploading (and re-uploading) the HITMAN trailer for me from an old Danish VHS!!! Also thanks to Sutekh for the Aussie DVD cover.