Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Strike Commando 2 - Mattei Hut Massacre!

Strike Commando 2

1988 Flora Film

Director Vincent Dawn

( aka Bruno Mattei )

With Brent Huff, Mary Stavin, Richard Harris

Review by Paul Cooke

‘‘You can’t kill me, you owe me your life’’

Somehow the production team managed to attain the signature to contract of superstar Richard Harris for this sequel to the highly infectious ‘Strike Commando’, who perhaps was looking to saddle up for a successful movie ride somewhat long in the wake of the ‘A Man Called Horse’ movie series. Maybe he had even been led to believe that he was to be appearing in the European version of ‘Rambo: First Blood Part 2’ or perhaps he just needed to pay off a bar tab. Whatever the reason director Mattei must have readdressed his usual thought process for film making as the tone of the final product swings from plain daft, even by his illustrious standards, to semi serious whenever Richard Harris is in frame.

The film starts with Reb Brown replacement star Brent Huff reliving a nightmare in Vietnam, with his superior officer Richard Harris pulling him out of a tight spot as explosions and gunfire sound out all around them. Setting the parameters for the style of the movie, along with the macho male bonding between the two lead stars, immediately borrows heavily from the familiar opening sequence of ‘Apocalypse Now’, but you just know that when this script is from Claudio Fragasso there really is nothing quite like the smell of a bad screenplay!

Soon the film kicks into familiar territory as Richard Harris’ character Vic Jenkins disappears after the war, to then be discovered by Huff’s soldier persona Michael Ransom to be still alive. He tracks him down, only to then see him abducted by a Russian backed militia heavily involved with drug production in the jungles of Burma. The CIA want their distinguished retired ranking officer back and are willing to pay the ransom in diamonds, as demanded by the captors, and of course Brent Huff steps up to be the man to go in after him. Chance to repay a debt of honour for Jenkins saving his life, as well as him being his friend.

With Richard Harris away from the respectful thespian duties Bruno Mattei gets to deliver what he is best at. The Action picks up and the fun kicks in with Brent Huff dominating the silly proceedings we are more gleefully accustomed to from this combination of ‘B’ movie schooling.

When bar owner Mary Stavin is introduced as Rosanna Boom she gets to do her best interpretation of Karen Allen’s boisterous character Marion Ravenwood, straight out of ‘Raiders Of The Lost Ark’. It doesn’t take long before both she and Huff are fighting a group of Ninjas along with the requisite Russian bad guy, all played out in a deliriously preposterous fashion. Brent Huff teams up with the annoyingly loud Stavin, who is outdone only by the truly awful musical composition playing throughout on the background track like a very amateur vaudeville presentation. Together armed with the diamonds they discover not only the whereabouts of Richard Harris but also the revealing truth behind the whole scenario. The drug production encampment gets breached in true ‘Rambo’ style.

Apart from maybe his career at the time the only other thing that the miscast Richard Harris gets to kill is a big bug, leaving the charismatically daft Huff to be held entirely responsible for the loss of a rain forest with his wooden acting alone.

The overall style of filming is to Mattei’s credit as the background scenery is beautifully captured and star Brent Huff is very well suited to his role. He energetically seems to get to perform all of his own stunts, as well as act without the need for a script.

3.5 Exploding Huts

Japanese VHS Cover