Directed by: Sheldon Lettich
Starring: Daniel Bernhardt, Robert Englund, Jim Pirri, Dara Tomanovich, Julieta Rosen, and Brian Thompson
David Benson (Bernhardt) is a former CIA official who is down in the
small, sleepy South American town of Santa Brava. All he wants to do is
sit and drink his beer and enjoy a good cockfight, but oh no. He is
recruited by Maj. Oxnard (Thompson) and Col. Shakwell (Englund) as part
of a ragtag team of mercenaries to help protect an idealistic
politician, President Casillas (Martinez) from potential assassins as he
gives an address in the town square. Naturally, Casillas is shot - and
Benson and his associate Ramirez (Pirri) are blamed. Now on the run,
they end up in the jungle. They end up training a team of rebels to help
overthrow the corrupt government, led by Casillas’ wife, Isabella
(Rosen). Will Benson get out of this mess alive?
What’s so funny
about this movie is how much Bernhardt resembles and sounds like Van
Damme. Perfect Target was
directed by Sheldon Lettich, the director of Lionheart (1990) and Double Impact (1991). Supposedly Bernhardt was discovered by the same guy that
discovered Van Damme, and Bernhardt appeared in some of the Bloodsport
sequels. For all intents and purposes, he IS Van Damme...yet he’s not.
Every few minutes while watching this movie, you have to ask yourself,
“is that Van Damme?” But, even though some wags might say Bernhardt is a
low-rent JCVD, Perfect Target is actually a better movie than some Van
Bernhardt, from such movies as The Cutter (2005) and
Strike Force (2003) (and even the Mystery Science Theater 3000-mocked Future
War), appears more like JCVD here than ever before. Everything from his
hair to his voice will remind you of the man. The role of David Benson
also could have gone to Mark Dacascos or Olivier Gruner.
David Benson smokes and drinks. This would never happen today. It’s
pretty surprising this movie came
out in 1997, it seems like it could have come out in ‘88 or earlier. It
has that kind of feel. Brian Thompson, last seen as the baddie from
Cobra (1986), enhances that fact. He is solid as the baddie here, as is Robert
Englund, who gets to sneer away to his hearts’ content. He was probably
relieved to not be doing a pigeonholed horror role. Plus, since their
names are the mildly silly Oxnard and Shakwell, you can say, “Oh no!
Oxnard and Shakwell are coming after you!” The only one missing from
the potential trifecta is Patrick Kilpatrick.
There’s plenty of
shooting and hand-to-hand combat, and even one fight that recalls
Operation Warzone (1988) of all things. The classic barfight is also here, and
Benson is, of course, “the best” at what he does. But it seems an
attempt was made to put in some decent dialogue and put in some plot
twists. But it just may be too little too late.
This is the type
of movie you feel you’ve seen
before even if you haven’t. The whole “South American-corrupt
government-rebels” formula has been seen in everything from Cocaine Wars (1985)
to One Man Out (1989) to The Expendables (2010). The movie, shot in various parts of
Mexico, has an appropriately hot and sweaty atmosphere, which is
Perfect Target, while sporting a nice, professional look and feel, is, sadly, standard fare and underwhelming.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty