Thursday, December 10, 2009

In short: The Last Match (1990)

Susan (Melissa Palmisano), the daughter of star quarterback Cliff Gaylor (Oliver Tobias), is arrested for drug smuggling when she tries to leave the South American (or is it Caribbean, as the plot description on IMDB says?) country she is vacationing in with her boyfriend.

Shortly after that, her father arrives in the mysterious country, willing and able to buy his daughter out with the good ol' American dollar. Alas, his money doesn't get him far. Neither do the American consul (Charles Napier), nor a sleazy local lawyer (Martin Balsam). It seems as if there is a certain degree of anti-American feeling in the air. Worse for Susan, her jailor is the mean and sadistic warden Yashin (Henry Silva), who likes the US even less than anyone else there.

Fortunately, Gaylor's football team (coached by Ernest Borgnine) arrives loaded with money to help him bribe his daughter out. No, sorry, I was joking, that would make sense. They arrive loaded with money to buy weapons to break their quarterback's daughter out. This will most certainly turn out well.

Quite at the end of the Italian jungle action cycle (chronologically as well as in quality), Fabrizio De Angelis produced this experiment in making a jungle action film without a jungle and without any action, and if that was his goal I have to say he succeeded admirably.

The Last Match is best known in cult film circles for some awesome stills of guys in football uniforms (including helmets) brandishing automatic weapons, and I won't say these pictures are lying. There are in fact at least ten minutes of uniformed footballers shooting people in here. The problem are the other 80 minutes of movie, 80 very long minutes someone less cruel (or cost-conscious) than De Angelis would have cut back to about 10 minutes. I can't even call it filler anymore, because the term "filler" suggests that something is in fact used to fill the running time between more exciting scenes, which would be stretching the truth a bit too much for the way The Last Match plays out.

What we get to see are endless scenes of airplanes landing and Oliver Tobias showing his single facial expression in scenes of him talking at excruciating length to aged actors who have seen better days and aren't even willing to pretend to be on screen for anything else than a paycheck. Not even Henry Silva seems awake in this one, and Martin Balsam was obviously already dead and performed his role as a zombie. The only one trying is poor old Ernest Borgnine. He is - of course - utterly dreadful, but at least in his usual interesting manner.

And that's all there is to say about The Last Match. It is best not to watch it, but to look wistfully at the machinegun footballer stills and dream of the silly entertaining piece of crap the film should have been, instead of the boring piece of crap it truly is.


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