Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Archie Adamos, Frederick Bailey, Rick Dean, Romy Diaz, Kevin Duffis
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Military & War
"Yer gonna regret the day you took on the Hells Angels, a-ho
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 06/23/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The title for my review of Nam Angels (1988) is a line taken from the film, although I did abbreviate one word just to keep it clean...can you guess which one? Anyway, this Philippine production, originally produced by Premiere Productions, was directed by Cirio H. Santiago (T.N.T. Jackson, She Devils in Chains, Caged Fury) for Roger Corman's New Concorde company...I guess by the late 80's it was cheaper to import schlock than to have it homegrown...starring in the film (his first) is ex-Marlboro Man Brad Johnson (Flight of the Intruder, Left Behind), who looks a heck of a lot like actor Tom Berringer. Also appearing is Rick Dean (The Skateboard Kid, Carnosaur 2), Kevin Duffis (The Expendables), Jeff Griffith (Battle Rats), Mark Venturini (Friday the 13th: A New Beginning), and staple B-movie bad guy Vernon Wells, whom many sci-fi fans will remember as the psychotic warrior of the wastelands Wez, from the 1981 film The Road Warrior aka Mad Max 2..."They kill us, we kill them! Kill them! Kill them! Kill! Kill!"
At the outset we see a squad of army guys, led by Lt. Lance Calhoun (Johnson), mucking about in the jungle (I think the film is supposed to be set in Vietnam in the mid 60's, but its kinda hard to tell). Soon they encounter some enemy soldiers and eventually retreat into a cave (which, by the way, contains a large amount of gold). The enemy soldiers dispatched (by bow and arrow) by an unknown 3rd party, which also captures Calhoun's group, although Calhoun himself manages to skitter away...I gotta say, that must not have looked too good for Calhoun to return to base sans his group, but whatever...Calhoun wants to go back and rescue what's left of his squad, but time is against him as the army is planning on performing a heavy duty air strike on the area within the next couple of weeks. Calhoun devises a plan, one that includes recruiting some wayward Hells Angels who are currently cooling their heels in jail due to a barroom altercation with some members of the Special Forces (I strongly doubt the veracity of the claim that the schlubs depicted were members of that highly elite group). His plan involves taking a small group in on motorcycles, extracting the remnants of his squad, and then zipping out before the bombing begins. He lures the bikers into his scheme by not only promising them their freedom, but by also appealing to their sense of greed with talk about the gold. After a hairy insertion by helicopter (everyone was throwing lead), the rag-tag group is off into the heart of enemy territory...and the Viet Cong will never know what hit them...
While premise of this film is completely idiotic, perhaps intended to come off as sort of an Easy Rider meets The Dirty Dozen, but I will say this, in terms of action, it doesn't disappoint (the quality of the action may be lacking, but the quantity is there). The characters were lame, but then no one watches these types of film for character development. Johnson wasn't bad in his first role, even despite the weaknesses within the script. Get a load of this...his character is from West Texas (we know this as he says it a number of times), and one of his weapons of choice is a lasso...git it? Because he's from Texas? This allows for a scene featuring him, on a motorcycle, chasing down a Viet Cong and roping him like a steer. And then there's Vernon Wells, who, in case you haven't figured it out by now, plays the main villain, sort of an extremely cheap and shallow copy of Brando's Colonel Walter E. Kurtz/white warlord character from the 1979 film Apocalypse Now. Actually Wells didn't have as much screen time as I would have thought, most of it being within the last 20 minutes or so which was disappointing as he was one of the better aspects of the production (thet ain't saying much). As far as the actors playing the Hells Angels characters, somehow I didn't see them as being an accurate representation as they just seemed, well, too stupid and nowhere near sadistic enough, at least from my past biker film experiences. By the way, I heard the real Hells Angels ended up suing New Concorde for using their likeness without their permission, and just making them look stupid...I certainly would have...if you are expecting the characters to roar through Southeast Asia on huge Harley hogs you're going to be disappointed...they made some lame excuse about how the bikers Harleys wouldn't make it, so that's why they had to use Yamaha motorcycles instead (I bet the real reason is probably because they were cheaper and more readily available). As I mentioned, despite the shortcomings, the film is loaded with action (and not just scenes of the group on motorcycles, of which there are many), as the Viet Cong are literally coming out of the woodwork, just dying to get shot at...another positive aspect about the film is the pacing is fairly quick, and things keep moving, right up until the brainless, bullet riddled climax. And if I learned anything from this film its that the Viet Cong were the most horrible shots...seriously, they couldn't hit squat...and the concept of taking cover during a firefight seemed a completely alien concept to them. I would have thought that to be a natural, ingrained, self-preservation instinct no matter who you are, but I guess I'm wrong. On the flipside our heroes were some off the best marksmen I've ever seen, consistently hitting all of their targets, even while riding on motorcycles (can you possibly imagine how hard it would be to shoot an automatic weapon while racing along at 60 mph on unstable terrain, all while having a bunch of people shooting at you?! I don't think you can). By the end I'd bet the kill ratio probably hovered around 100 to 1 (100 bad guys for each good guy)...there was plenty o' violence, including one guy getting an arm blown off, one having his leg pierced by a harpoon-like weapon, and another person being burned alive, but surprisingly little blood. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention there are a few, brief nekkid scenes featuring some topless native girlies, thrown in for good measure...it's not much, but it certainly didn't hurt...at least not like that horribly bland musical score...
The full screen picture on this New Concorde Home Entertainment DVD release looks pretty good, and the audio comes through reasonably well, although I think there may have been problems in the original productions as some of the scenes appear to be dubbed and feature no sense of perspective, in terms of where the characters are on the screen (they could be 20 feet apart on screen but the audio might make them sound 5 feet apart). This didn't seem persistent throughout the film, but it was odd when I perceived it happening...the are some extras including an original theatrical trailer along with trailers for other films like Eye of the Eagle (1986), Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy (1989), and When Eagles Strikes (2003), all of which I'm sure are winners. I thought it should be noted that the DVD case displays this as part of `The Vietnam Collection', while also labeling it part of the American Valor series...a lame attempt to appeal to ones sense of patriotism? Felt that way to me...