Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam’

Most of us learned the legend of the international Man of Mystery and renowned Ninja Master Frank Dux from Cannon Films‘s cult Martial Art- tournament movie Bloodsport. The movie supposedly draws on a real life stranger-than-fiction story of the aforementioned Shidoshi Frank W. Dux, founder of the American Ninja system Dux Ryu Ninjutsu. (I now it all sounds insane but that was quite the norm in the 80s.)

But who is this mysterious man really when he is not being played by young Jean Claude Van Damme? Like a Ninja that he is he would pop in an out of movies, sometimes just for a moment like in this film by Macedonian Martial Artist/ Politician Jorgo OgnenoviskiInvitation to Die(1995).

But you can almost never see him actually in action. Well in this short film we finally have the opportunity to see Mr. Dux play- more of less- himself. In Firefight (1983) we see him commanding a squad in Vietnam (something that’s been debated since he was in the Military from 1975 to 1981) consisting of John Scott Calough, Neil Davis, Seth Kaufman and even a future genre movie staple Brian Thompson (Cobra, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation)!

It features a rag-tag group of soldiers on a hilltop attacked by a large force of Vietcong, unable to get Medivac helicopter to help their wounded comrade.

Movie itself is more comical than dramatic, with both sides looking completely lost and disorganized at times. But I have to admit some of the explosion and helicopter scenes are surprisingly well done. (Interestingly they ended up being reused in Stryker’s War aka Thoe Shalt Not Kill…Except (1985) staring Bruce Campbell among others.)

Also you have to get a kick out off seeing Phillip Rhee and Simon Rhee (of Best of the Best fame) kicking ass with their Taekwondo kicks. It makes you want to root for the Vietcong.

Conclusion: Dux is much more impressive when played by Van Damme, but let’s be honest- most of us would gladly have JCVD play us in our life story.And this movie does have a bit of a historical value too ’cause while editing Firefight Sheldon Lettich met Mark DiSalle and the two of them adapted Frank Dux‘s story of his exploits in a secret Martial Arts tournament Kumite to script, giving birth to Cannon Film classic Bloodsport (1988) in the process.

Now, first thing you need to notice when movie starts is “written, produced and directed by… (in this case Patrick G. Donahue)”. When you see something like that there is truly just two options: 01 you’ll get an autour like Lynch or Tarantino or 02 you’ll get an Ed Wood. Someone with, let’s say more passion than knowledge or resources to make a movie. Being on the WM you already guessed (corectly) that this movie is falling into a second category.

kill_squadThat’s a LOT of reasons!

Wealthy businessman Joseph and his wife are viciously attacked one night and even though Joe has a substantial Martial Arts knowladge he still sucombs to the superiour numbers (and weapons )of the enemies.  To top it off attackers rape and kill his woman leaving him seemingly fatally wounded. Yet, revenge kept him alive! We see him some weeks later, now bound to the wheelchair talking to his most-trusted associate Larry (also his Vietnam War buddy,also the owner of the fantastic Afro + Mustache combo). Joseph proposes they gather their old team from the war, the KILL SQUAD!

Completely unnecessary but awesome introduction of Larry

Man, that sound impressive. He believes that with no  help from the police this is the only way to enforce the justice, and you know who am I to disagree? Then we area treated to the classic of the genre, a default “Flashback from the ‘Nam” in which we learn that Joseph stepped on the landmine and the bodybuilder dude actually saved the whole unit even thou the whole movie everybody repeats how they own their life to Joseph.

Larry goes on to recruit one after the other members of the KILL SQUAD (I’ll never get tired of saying that) and it goes about the same- no mater where they are in their life members are keeping themselves busy by kicking numerous ass, often for little or no reason whatsoever.

There are not many things that are more impressive than a Martial Arts Pimp!

Squad has gathered rapidly and without a hitch and their first target is a ranch of all things.Larry tries talking to some cowboys to get audience with a man named Virgil. Cowboys are of course offended that a black person is trying to talk to them and things escalate into a full on brawl surprisingly fast. They even menage to kill the cowboy Virgil who was in the middle of some private time with a rather ugly brunette in the barn. That prevented them from getting any kind of information but the poor girl was helpful at least. I’m kinda sorry for the girl having to witness that.

Kill Squad full movie.mp4_002316800Real woman help their man load up the shotgun!

So they finally find their lead (named fantastically Jessie James) in a cement factory! I’m starting to think those are all the locations our director had access too. They try to get him to talk, name dropping their other lead Dutch but it doesn’t really work out. Jessie runs like hell, they bring him in and ruff him up a bit but then when he was ready to talk things go sideways. A bunch of Kung Fu cement workers show up and things escalate! into a brawl once again. Truthfully this movie  quite possible has the biggest fight per minute ratio of all non- Hong Kong flicks! Just when you thought they were getting somewhere, my favorite character- the bodybuilder is shot and killed with a single bullet from the sniper! Man, that’s a bummer.

Their next lead gets them to the used-car salesman and at this point I’m sure that Patric Donahue is filming exclusively in his friends establishments. I mean let’s be honest, badass assassins don’t have business with the used car salesman. Now, knowing what kind of a movie is this when they confront the salesman everything erupts into a full on brawl but this time it’s followed by a crazy car crash- and I must admit despite the general quality of this movie stunt people did their work surprisingly well.

Unfortunately the moment the Chinese member of the Squad asks about Dutch he gets the bullet to the stomach and dies shortly. Maybe they should just quit. Also it’s a bit confusing they are letting the mysterious sniper dude get away and they are not even trying to return fire. When I think of it- why are former military officers not using any guns whatsoever? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

Things end the same way they begun with Larry seemingly the only remaining member of the Squad. He also finally tracks down Dutch who’s none other than Cameron Mitchell (the star of everything and anything from The High Chaparral to Deadly Prey). The most ridiculous thing is that he found him in the middle of a crazy pool party and he starts hitting everything and anything on his way- including girls! He then beats Dutch to a bloody pulp but just when you thought that it was all over the mysterious assassin shows up again, just as Joseph mysteriously disappears. Also previously dead member of the squad appears to help Larry explaining that his life was saved by the bulletproof west. He then proceeded to take his west off (you know, the one that saved him) so he can be cut by a sword mere moments later. Man, this dude is a complete imbecile!

And then we finally see the assassin unmasked- and he is Joseph himself?! With added shoepolish or brueses and badly drawn teeth on his lips? I can’t even start do describe this.So, he ploted a deliberate revenge scenario for no reason whatsoever. I mean his wife was about to leave him (penniless) but that has absolutely noting to do with his Vietnam buddies. Larry fittingly ends him by only way possible- decapitation.