AKA: Cobra Mission
Directed by: Fabrizio De Angelis
Starring: Ethan Wayne, Christopher Connelly, Manfred Lehmann, John Steiner, Oliver Tobias, and Donald Pleasence
"In the John Wayne Action Packed Tradition Comes His Son Ethan Wayne..."
A group of disgruntled Vietnam vets, led by Mike (Wayne), Roger
(Connelly) and James (Steiner) decide to go back to ‘Nam and find, then
free, missing POW’s. Once “in country”, they get their guns and ammo
from Father Lenoir (Pleasence), a priest willing to help the “five men
against all”, to quote the Italian title of the film. Once loaded up
with their supplies, it’s like the war never ended, as Viet Cong soldiers
battle them every step of the way to protect their camps, seemingly
unaware that there had been a ten-year break in the action. Naturally,
the discovery of the POW’s leads to a government conspiracy that goes
all the way to the top - and is the gruff Colonel Mortimer (Mitchell)
involved? Will the men free the hostages and make it back home? And if
they do, what then?
Operation Nam (or Cobra Mission) is a standard jungle
action/drama you’ve seen before, but it does have its moments, as well as a cast familiar to anyone who loves Italian exploitation films. Besides familiar faces Steiner, Connelly, and Luciano Pigozzi (AKA Alan Collins), we also have cameos by Enzo G. Castellari and Ennio
Girolami, and the whole affair was directed by Fabrizio De Angelis (the
infamous “Larry Ludman”) without much panache. He’s a better producer
than director, most people would agree.
While the idea of moody,
misfit Vietnam vets adjusting to a changed society is a fascinating
idea for a film, these ideas are only touched upon in the first half.
The second half is the mindless shooting, guard tower-falling,
hut-exploding, grenade-throwing, bar-fighting action expected of this
type of film. It would have been nice if the psychology and emotion of
the men was explored more, but perhaps I’m asking too much of a
churn-’em-out genre film such as this.
In the plus
column we have the fact that the film was made pre-political
correctness, a character plays Pole Position on his Atari 2600, and one
character insults another by calling him, and I quote, a “Suckfish”.
Speaking of awesome dialogue, we also get an interesting glimpse into
the future: right before one of the protagonists throws a grenade at a
baddie, he says “You’ve got mail”. This comment, which precedes AOL by
many years, must have served as an inspiration to that company. Not to
mention inspiring the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan crudfest, as that was a “bomb”
as well! Ha!
In the minus column we have the silly, Southern yokel-y dubbing for John Steiner's character, and some overall malaise. But John Wayne’s son is in it! Anybody? Anybody?
If you liked American Commandos (1985),
you’ll also probably like this film, as it has a similar concept and
execution, but this is not a prime example of Italian action.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett