Just A Damned Soldier (1988)- * * *
Directed by: Ferdinando Baldi
Starring: Peter Hooten, Mike Monty, Romano Kristoff, and Mark Gregory
In Cambodia, a four-man strike force led by Bolan (Hooten), stages a raid on an industrial complex. After shooting a lot of people and blowing a lot of stuff up (a trend that will continue throughout the proceedings), the men - which also includes Mark Gregory of the Thunder and Bronx series - steal a large cache of gold. The man whose compound was raided, top dog arch-baddie Mr. Titelman, wants revenge on the strike force. Based on who is sending and receiving the gold, Titelman states he doesn’t “want to see the tense political situation in this country explode”. Truly that’s not the only thing that’s going to explode. Titelman is tied in with the Cambodian authorities and will be in deep trouble if he doesn’t find his men. Thankfully, he has loads of cannon fodder to disperse throughout the jungles of Cambodia (i.e, the Philippines. Let’s not forget Mike Monty is involved as a suit named Schaffler). Who will survive...and who will get the gold?
Oh, Hooten, we hardly knew ye. Truly Peter Hooten could have been the next Steve Guttenberg. (Peter Hootenberg?) At least they have a similar look about them. Hooten and the aforementioned Gregory lead us through yet another Italian-produced jungle romp, where the machine guns fire with abandon, and huts were made to be blown up. If you like that sort of thing - and we’re supposing you do - Just a Damned Soldier (great title - even better than Titelman) will win you over. It’s a quality example of this sort of movie, and there were plenty of them in the late 80’s. It’s no Commander, but what could be? JADS does what it does quite well, and praise goes to writer/director Ferdinando Baldi, using his normal anglicized name of Ted Kaplan.
Baldi ended his lengthy career, which dates back to the 1950’s, by making some jungle-set blow-em-ups, and what better way to cap off a life in cinema? His final three movies are Warbus (1986), Ten Zan - Ultimate Mission (1988), where he infamously sent Frank Zagarino to North Korea - and the movie we’re currently discussing. Baldi re-teamed with his Ten Zan composer, Elio Polizzi, whose great music goes a long way in helping things stay afloat. The music also helps to give the whole movie a “Contra” vibe - soldiers in the greenery, shooting, 1988.
Because plot is minimal (not a complaint; they had to make time for more exploding huts), things do slow down at times, but JADS is still solid and has a lot going for it. They sure don’t skimp on the blow-ups and shooting. Also Titelman is a Taekwondo arms dealer. Featuring the songs “The Shadow of Your Eyes” by Gatsby and the truly memorable “I Just Have Had Enough” by Paula, Just a Damned Soldier is a Damned good time.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty