Tuesday, 4 May 2010

ULTIMAX FORCE (Philippines, 1986)

aka RUCKUS 2 - UNTERNEHMEN: CONDOR

Argentina / VHS / fs? / English audio / Spanish subs


Dir: Willie Milan
Cast: Vivian Cheung
Vincent Giffin
Jeremy Ladd
Arnold Nicholas
Patrick Scott
Rey Vhen
Eric Hahns
Brad Collins
Henry Strzalkowski
Ronnie Patterson
Audrey Miller
Debbie Henson


by GÜNTER MÜLLER
Aaaahhh… the 1980s! The sheer unbelievable Ninja craze! More cheap but cheerful Namsploitation flicks you can shake a severed foot at! Insane post-nuke mayhem! Yeah, those were the days… Enter Wilfred (aka Willie) Milan. In 1986 the auteur behind such cinematic Filipino gems (well, not really) as MAD WARRIOR (1985) and W IS WAR (either 1983 or 1986 – depending on which source you believe) – two lesser known entries into the crazy post-nuke cycle initiated by George Miller’s MAD MAX 2 – THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981) – tried his hands on a movie that mixes two of those very promising subgenres in order to make some quick cash.

It’s Ninjas in Vietnam this time, and although this sounds too good to be true, ULTIMAX FORCE falls a bit short of my expectations. Perhaps you remember Cirio H. Santiago’s hugely entertaining action nonsense NAM ANGELS (aka HELL’S ANGELS IN VIETNAM, 1989), that has got quite a similar concept, but is ultimately more satisfying. In Santiago’s case a few ultra-tough members of the rocker gang Hell’s Angels go to Vietnam to rescue a bunch of prisoners, and this film works so well because no one (neither the makers nor the cast members) takes this ludicrous concept too seriously. By way of contrast ULTIMAX FORCE seems to be deadly serious in all respects.

It tells the story of four Ninjas who search for one of their friends who is held prisoner in Vietnam by a sadistic camp commander. Will our tough-as-nails heroes manage to free their friend before he rots in one of those dirty hell-holes? Much to my surprise they fail, thanks to the evil Colonel Minh who prefers shooting his prisoners before the rescue team arrives, but that’s about the only original point in this cliché-ridden, lowbrow action flick. The characters are so extremely one-dimensional (particularly Arnold Nicholas as stone-faced leader Chris Burton and Rey Vhen as mean, arrogant Colonel Minh) that they make John Rambo look like the most complex character on earth.

Produced by Pierre C. Lee and written by Joe Avalon, ULTIMAX FORCE is at least good if dumb fun, provided that you lower your expectations immensely. PLATOON (1986) it ain’t – it has much more in common with the MISSING IN ACTION trilogy (1984 - 1988), only cheaper, sillier, and less spectacular. So our Ninjas (who have really cool names like Chris Burton, Dick Foster, Bill Norton and Mike Dobson) stroll through the jungles, talk stupid things and bump off Vietcongs by the dozens. Not in that order, necessarily. Mostly they rely on their machine guns to wipe out their enemies, but sometimes they also use grenades, chains and – of course – their swords.

There are a few shootouts (often spiced up with the sight of unfortunate men being riddled with bullets), punch-ups, fights and explosions, but it’s neither spectacular nor the least bit memorable. Sure, it’s entertaining, in a naïve, trashy way, but it’s far from being great. At least ULTIMAX FORCE is a real Ninja movie, in contrast to all those chaotic Joseph Lai/Godfrey Ho/Tomas Tang patchwork flicks.

The British DVD has got a very poor picture quality, and – to add insult to injury – it is supposed to be cut too! ULTIMAX FORCE was also released on tape in Germany on the Mike Hunter label under the title RUCKUS 2 – UNTERNEHMEN: “CONDOR”. For whatever reason they wanted to make us believe that it is a sequel to the action flick RUCKUS (1981) that stars Exorcist-babe Linda Blair. ULTIMAX FORCE is good, undemanding fun, shot on a low budget, with no redeeming values whatsoever. In other words: eighty minutes of stupid entertainment, no more, no less.
[originally posted on Günter's "The Return of the Ninjas" website]











Denmark / VHS / fs / English audio / Danish subs


Thanks to Frank (Australian Video Covers) for uploading the trailer off an Aussie VHS. And thanks to Cristian S from RaroVhs for the Argentinean VHS cover. Thanks to Henrik Larsen of Obskuriøst magazine for the Danish VHS cover (and for selling me the tape! Cheers).

10 comments:

  1. I LOVE this flick!

    The main guy takes it all so seriously, which just makes it all the more enjoyable!

    Shame my UK DVD appears to be cut... :(


    Karlos

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  2. Sounds good! (about the the film, not your cut DVD, obviously). Another one I'll have to find. :D

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  3. I would like get scan cover RUCKUS 2.
    Could you send to my e-mail ppeterv38@gmail.com

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  4. All you need to do is click on the covers so they go full size and then copy them. As they're not my own scans I don't have them in a higher resolution anyway.

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  5. I have been looking for this movie, i saw ultimax force when i was kid, i´m desperate by download or buy this movie? can you help me?

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  6. Hi there,

    I don't actually have this film myself. There's a DVD on Amazon UK by the same title but there's no cover scan so it may or it may not be the same movie. @_@

    It any case it's only £2. But like Günter Müller said in his review the UK release is cut so it's really a matter of how much you wanna watch the film and whether you're prepared to watch a cut version. Here's the link:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ultimax-Force-DVD/dp/B000TCSWKO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292717247&sr=1-1

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  7. Far out this looks like the best film ever! I gotta hunt me down a copy!

    here is the Aus trailer for you too buddy:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uINOAJlnSI&feature=youtu.be

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  8. It does look great and I'm afraid it's one of the few films on this blog I still haven't got.

    Thanks for the trailer, mate!

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  9. Lol my uncle is in this movie he plays as Chris the main character. Fun fact his name is not actually Arnold Nicholas, his name is actually a Russian name and it was just changed because of the cold war and people not liking Russians

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    Replies
    1. Hi Bob,
      It's your uncle! Very cool, mate! Thanks for the info.

      Delete

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

Yep, this video is from the one they're watching in Tarantino's JACKIE BROWN. It's an awesome video; I mean all it is is a bunch of scantly clad sexy babes with automatic guns going: "This is an AK47" pow pow pow pow - Haha. Absolutely fantastic! xD.