Thursday, April 14, 2011

In short: Phantom Raiders (1988)

OMG! Some ex-marine Colonel (Mike Monty) is training evil commie terrorists in the jungles of the PhilippinesVietnam! The end of the Western World is nigh! What to do? Get badass commando ninja Python Lang (Miles O'Keeffe) on the job! And give him the Colonel's son - also a badass commando ninja - as a helper! Python (hiss) grabs three random beardy Vietnam veterans selling heroin from the street and puts them through half an hour of commando ninja training (throwing shuriken! rappelling away from the explosion! jumping around!) until they deserve the honour to wear silly camo hats, while Miles puts his favourite sock on his face.

Then it's off into the jungle to shoot Filipino extrasevil commie terrorists! Shuriken are thrown! Assault rifles are shot! Guys run through the jungle! Huts explode!

Who knew that a film so full of shooting, jumping and explosions could be so dull? Turns out even the most basic of action films needs at least a little bit of dialogue, probably even scenes without action, to work. Alas, directors Don Harvey and Sonny Sanders (whoever they might be) didn't believe in that boring talking stuff, and decided to make a film containing much less dialogue than your typical silent movie. On a certain level, I can even understand their reluctance regarding letting Miles O'Keeffe talk, for the square-jawed one uses his superpower of…putting pauses…at the most…inappropriate parts of every…sentence…he…says whenever he opens…his…mouth, sounding for all the world as if he were reciting really bad poetry - the sort of poetry that has sentences like "don't be a dumbshit" in it.

The internet rumour mill says Phantom Raiders' script only had thirty pages (as we all know, as a rule of thumb, one script page makes one minute of movie), and for once, I absolutely believe what it says. Two thirds of those pages were probably filled with the words "shooty shooty shoot!" and "run run run run", too.

It's not that I expect much of a plot from my shot-in-the-Philippines jingoistic action crap, but there's a point where the same handful of guys running and shooting through the same few square feet of jungle stops to provide even the scant entertainment values I expect from a movie of this particularly sad genre. Italian jungle action crap usually makes up for this kind of deficit by providing oodles of ridiculous dialogue and creative cursing and letting some grizzled veteran actor drunkenly stumble around the screen for five minutes or so, but all this one has is a hatred of the human voice and Mike Monty.

Well, at least the huts explode instead of just burning down.


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