aka The Devastator
VHS/Japan/fullscreen/English dub/Japanese subs.
VHS/Greece/fullscreen/English dub/Greek subs
Review by FRED ADELMAN:
THE DEVASTATOR (1985) - Deacon Porter (Rick Hill) has nightmares where he's transported back to Vietnam (in footage cribbed from FINAL MISSION - 1984) and he's fighting the Vietcong. One day, he gets a call from Elaine (Debbie Brooks), the wife of one of his soldier buddies, telling him that her husband, Marty, died in a car crash and she doesn't think it was an accident, so Deacon heads to the town of King's Ransom to investigate. Once in town, Deacon meets pretty gas station owner Audrey (future director Katt Shea) and immediately runs into Sheriff Clay Marsh (Kaz Garas), who warns Deacon that this town doesn't tolerate strangers. Elaine tells Deacon that the town has been taken over by a group of dastardly marijuana farmers and their leader, John Carey (Crofton Hardester), is not above murder to protect his crop. She believes Carey is responsible for Marty's death. Deacon begins asking questions around town, but finds everyone afraid to talk. While out on a date with Audrey, Carey and his men force Deacon's car off the road and beat the shit out of him (Casey also has the hots for Audrey). When Deacon doesn't take the hint to leave town, a couple of Carey's men firebomb Elaine's house, killing her (she burns to death in her bed), which results in Deacon chasing the two goons in his car. Deacon's car flips over and explodes, so Carey thinks Deacon is dead and his problems are over. In reality, Deacon escaped the explosion and he's about to make Carey's life miserable. Deacon contacts his old Nam buddies, electronics expert Spenser (Terrence O'Hara), explosives expert Bartlett (Bill McLaughlin) and insane muscleman Ox (Jack Daniels) and they head to King's Ransom for some good, old-fashioned payback. Audrey puts them up in a secret cabin in the woods, as Deacon and his squad systematically begin to kill Carey's men and destroy the pot crop. As more of his men end up missing, Carey's men capture Bartlett, hold him in a cell at the Sheriff's office and beat the crap out of him, but Deacon and his men pull a midnight rescue and save Bartlett. Carey kidnaps Audrey (and blows up her gas station) and uses her as bait. The finale finds Deacon, his men and Sheriff Marsh (who finally comes to his senses) battling Carey and his gang while trying save Audrey and blowing up a dam to flood the pot crop. Not everyone (both good and bad) will make it out alive. This is another one of Filipino director/producer Cirio H. Santiago's long line of 80's actioners and it's a pretty good little B-film. Even though it recycles some of the same locations and footage used in Santiago's earlier FINAL MISSION (even the main character in both films is called "Deacon", so no new looping was necessary!), these are two totally different films which can still be enjoyed if watched back-to-back. There are some similarities, namely Kaz Garas as a small-town sheriff that's neither good or bad (he tries to do his job in both films, even though he knows there's corruption all around him) and both films contain scenes where bad guys get killed by boobytraps in the woods, but THE DEVASTATOR (also known as THE DESTROYERS and KING'S RANSOM) avoids being the FIRST BLOOD clone that MISSION was, thanks to the marijuana subplot and a finale that involves trying to blow up a dam. Katt Shea (who would later direct her share of genre films, including STRIPPED TO KILL , the excellent DANCE OF THE DAMNED , POISON IVY  and THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 [ 1999]) has a topless scene, there's plenty of gunfights, explosions, bloody bullet squibs, car chases and, hell, there's even a helicopter chase/explosion and some decent miniature work, all packed into a tidy 78 minute running time, so it doesn't overstay it's welcome. Say what you want about Santiago (and I've said some pretty nasty things in the past, especially his films VAMPIRE HOOKERS  and FUTURE HUNTERS ), but when he was on his game (as he is here), he was capable of turning out some entertaining low-budget flicks. It's no wonder Roger Corman funded many of his films, because Santiago knew how to stretch a buck to the breaking point, yet he could still deliver interesting, if unoriginal, product. The script is by frequent Santiago collaborator Joseph Zucchero (who also has acted in Santiago films like STRYKER , NAKED VENGEANCE  and RAIDERS OF THE SUN ), who uses the pseudonym "Joseph Sugarman" here. Another film (not directed by Santiago) made the same year as this, WARLORDS FROM HELL, has a strikingly similar plot, but is the antithesis of THE DEVASTATOR: It's a boring action film. Also starring Steve Rogers, Don Gordon Bell, Henry Strzalkowski and an uncredited appearance by Nick Nicholson as one of Carey's thugs. This film use to play quite often on TV during the late 80's and early 90's and the only U.S. home video release was a big box VHS tape put out by MGM/UA Home Video in the mid-80's. Not available on DVD. Rated R.
[First published on Critical Condition]