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Directed by: Cirio H. Santiago
Starring: Brad Johnson, Rick Dean, and Vernon G. Wells
During the Vietnam war, Lt. Calhoun’s (Johnson) men are taken prisoner by a tribal group run by “A mysterious white man” who is also a “round-eye”, named, oddly, Chard (Wells). The top brass considers the trapped men “expendable” but Johnson does the only logical thing: he recruits four Hell’s Angels for a five-day mission and bribes them with millions of dollars of gold dust hidden in the hills of ‘Nam. All they have to do is help Calhoun rescue his men. The ‘Angels reluctantly agree, and there is some trouble and strife along the way, but a badass from West Texas who fights with a lasso and sawed-off shotgun (that would be Calhoun), teaming up with some tough biker dudes is going to be a double-team that will prove tough to beat. Will Calhoun’s gamble work?
At first, this Cirio movie seems to be yet another Vietnam/jungle slog that seems very familiar. But once the bikers come into the equation, things change for the better and you realize that you should be giving the filmmakers points for originality. It was only natural: take two exploitation genres - the (Vietnam) War movie and the Biker movie, and simply find a way to mash them together and make it work. Thankfully, it does, and Roger Corman can put this one in his win column.
Brad Johnson looks like a young Tom Berenger, but this isn’t exactly Platoon (1986). Vernon G. Wells is properly evil, especially with his ponytail. Amidst the classic barfights and “pew-pew!” shooting scenes, at least on the Corman-released DVD we saw, we noticed some odd editing. It looked like the opening credits and perhaps some other scenes were re-edited for this DVD release. We can’t confirm this, and it’s doubtful they cut out anything good, but it would be interesting to see a different print.
If you read our Operation Warzone (1988) review, you’ll remember how we discussed that movie’s highly inappropriate soundtrack, with 80’s synthesizers blaring in ‘Nam. Well, Nam Angels falls into that same trap. But if you’re looking for logic, why are you watching this movie in the first place? There are a lot of nonsensical things going on here, from the plot itself to the John Milton quote at the end. But bikers poppin’ wheelies in the jungles of ‘Nam is cool enough to make up for it.
Nam Angels is worth checking out.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty