Nothing special here.
3rd-man | 12/12/1999
(2 out of 5 stars)
"As far as I know, this movie concerns some Italian-American commandos who must seize an Italian held oasis and masquerade as its garrison for two days in advance of some major American operation. Now I would have been happy if this film was a nice crackerjack action thriller. But it isn't. There's plenty of competently directed and edited action sequences and explosions, but not much style to any of it. Too bad really, there's some decent production values in this film and Lee Van Cleef stars in it. Unfortunately he's saddled with a half-baked role as hard-nosed veteran Sergeant Sullivan, haunted by flashbacks of a botched mission in Bataan, in which he was one of three survivors out of a hundred. A failure he blames on the pencil-pushing gloryhound officer who initiated it. Thus, when the inexperienced Captain Valli comes to take charge of the current mission, Sullivan is naturally wary of him. Not a bad concept, but one never too deeply explored or meaningfully resolved, just scenes of Van Cleef and Jack Kelly staring and growling at each other. Hard to believe four writers(including Dario Argento) are credited with this script. The usually fine Mario Nascimbene must have composed about five minutes of original score, not a second of which is better than monotonous. Then there are the panzers, which are post-WW2 American tanks dressed up with a desert paint scheme and Afrika Corps markings. They rumble around the background in some short sequences throughout the movie, then finally brought to bear in the big finale. And darn if they don't have more presence than most of the actors! The DVD is another D-Vision con job, most likely mastered from videotape and looking as good as it. But at least it well last a long time, right? Typical flimsy packaging and inaccurate descriptions: the disk does contain chapter stops placed roughly every 12 minutes. If anyone cares."
Some good, some bad, and some ugly
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 05/31/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen a handful of Spaghetti Westerns, but I've never seen a Spaghetti World War II film. Given that Italy was on the losing end of that particular conflict, I was curious to see how they would portray the event.
As it turns out, COMMANDOS is a relatively interesting war film -- if a little lacking in substance. It's tense in places and exciting enough that I never felt bored. There are better war films out there, but there are also worse.
During WWII, the Allies are putting together a very special raid. The US Army has assembled a band of Italian-Americans -- all literate in Italian, and all knowing enough to reasonably pass for Italian solders. The mission is to parachute into the northern Africa desert and take possession of a critical oasis. Seems simple enough. Except on the eve of the mission, the commander who was supposed to lead is replaced by a man with a lot of desk-bound experience, but no practical knowledge.
This infuriates second-in-command Lee Van Cleef (DEATH RIDES A HORSE and "the bad" in THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY), who was not only very close to the original commander, but loathes the fact that he will be lead by an inexperienced yahoo. In a previous mission, Van Cleef was nearly killed because of a know-nothing commander's bungling. His determination to prevent history from repeating itself is what fuels Van Cleef's quietly bubbling anger.
Compared to other, more spectacular files of the genre, COMMANDOS does look a little on the cheap side. But by relegating most of the action to the eponymous commandos, the director is able to wring a lot of tension out of very little money. The film's most intense moments are split between the initial commando raids and the subsequent scenes in which the squad is desperately trying to fool passing convoys into believing that they are indeed all members of the Italian army.
I don't have much to say about the movie, because at the end of the day there isn't much to it. It makes for exciting and entertaining viewing, but not much to think about afterwards. There are numerous attempts to humanize both sides of the conflict and to make the commando's prisoners of war come across as sympathetic characters. And while these moments are successful, they aren't especially original either. Which pretty much sums up my opinion of the film's entirety."
Fairly Good Van Cleef
M. Brennan | Cookstown,, Tyrone. Northern Ireland | 01/07/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This Text refers to the St.Clair Vision DVD release.
St.Clair Vision have released this film in it's 2:35:1 widescreen ratio.
Not so much an anti-war film as, "there are no winners in this war" story. Picture quality is at best good though at times a little grainy.
A worthwhile purchase at a budget price, you can't beat it.
Lee Van Cleef is always worth a look.
Terrible film overall.
T. M Rogers | Az United States | 03/06/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Normally I ignore bad movies and do not review them unless thay offend me. COMMANDOS offended me. It is poorly shot, poorly directed and the "Germans" all speak perfect English. This movie has a few decent action scenes, but overall it is just a B- movie about some WW2 commandos in Africa. I watch a lot of WW2 films and this one has to be the cheapest I have ever seen. Waste of time...even for 3.00"