Cross Mission (1988)

Cross Mission (1988)- * *1\2

Directed by: Alfonso Brescia

Starring: Richard Randall, Maurice Poli, Nelson De La Rosa, Brigitte Porsche, and Peter Hintz

General Romero (Poli) is the iron-fisted leader of a small South American country. He appears to be working with the U.N. in trying to expel the drug trade that’s going on in his backyard, but, as you might expect, the U.N. are a bunch of dupes, and Romero is actively involved with the narco-trafficking. When a Marine named William (Randall) comes from the U.S. and attempts to investigate, things quickly take a turn for the worst. Teaming up with the stereotypical female reporter, this time in the form of Helen (Porsche), our two heroes soon find themselves caught in the CROSS MISSION - with all the shooting, exploding huts, and jungle-based madness you might expect. But Romero has an ace in the hole. Read on to find out more...

Cross Mission, for the most part, is your standard exploding hutter, but because it’s Italian-made (this time by Alfonso Brescia, using his usual anglicized name, Al Bradley), it’s, at minimum, watchable, with quality shooting and explosions and is good technically. It’s an El Presidente...well, not slog, per se, but maybe because they call Romero “El Predestinato”, we can call this the first El Predestinato slog. 

But here’s the difference. General Romero has magic powers that consist of being able to summon a diabolical midget named Astaroth (De La Rosa) at will. They also can shoot blue lightning at people. Voodoo is mentioned as the source of Romero’s powers. You don’t see that everyday. This might be the first time I’ve ever written in my notes “macumba consists of summoning magic midgets”. For that reason alone, Cross Mission is worth watching at least once.

That craziness aside, Cross Mission  hits all the typical notes you might expect if you watch a lot of jungle slogs: destroyed villages, female reporter, Prerequsite Torture, shooting, blow-ups, jungle setting. Though the fact that it makes the U.N. look like the fools they are gains it some extra points. Richard Randall puts on the time-honored “revenge outfit” towards the end to show he really means business. There is a silly park fight, as well as an exploding helicopter, but, except for the supernatural twist, this is jungle business as usual.

Sadly, this was the only film appearance for Brigitte Porsche, and the only theatrical feature for Richard Randall. They both could have done more in the Italian film industry. What happened to them? How did they get involved with Cross Mission? As lovely as they both were, it could have used one of the usual stars that always turn up in movies like this, perhaps an Oliver Reed, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance, or Richard Harris. But we do get Nelson De La Rosa, and, as supernaturally evil as he is, the way he’s finally dealt with is quite novel.

Brescia followed this up with the Richard Roundtree/Harrison Muller Jr. team-up Miami Cops (1989), for those keeping track. At least Brescia tried something different here. It didn’t totally succeed, but we give him points for trying to inject a modicum of originality in what could be a rather staid playing field. The utterly crazy Romero sub-plot should have been expanded upon - but on the whole we’d say Cross Mission is a more than decent one-time watch, thanks solely to the nuttier elements at work.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty 


Fatal Blade (2000)

Fatal Blade (2000)- *1\2

Directed by: Talun Hsu

Starring: Gary Daniels, Victor Rivers, Kiyoshi Nakajo, Seiko Matsuda, LoriDawn Messuri, Jack McGee, and Cuba Gooding Sr.

LAPD cop Richard Fox (Daniels) finds himself caught in the middle of a Yakuza war as he tries to get to the truth about the death of his partner. While crime boss Bronson (Rivers) is able to run wild with his drug business because he has some dirty cops on the take, Japanese swordmaster Domoto (Nakajo) comes to town for his own reasons. At a certain point, those reasons intersect with Fox’s, and the two men from different worlds suddenly find they have more in common than they originally thought. Caught in the middle of all this are the women - Saemi (Matsuda) and Fox’s wife Linda (Messuri). Will Fox come out victorious - or will he end up on the wrong end of Domoto’s FATAL BLADE?

Fatal Blade is trying to be like a PM movie. This isn’t a criticism, necessarily; we wish more productions would at least try to hit the heights of the Gary Daniels three R’s of awesome: Rage (1995), Riot (1996), and Recoil (1998). The only problem is, PM doesn’t do “FM” - fast motion - and this movie does. So while it tries to do some car chases/car blow-ups in classic PM fashion, it commits the no-no of speeding up what fight scenes there are. You don’t NEED to speed up Gary Daniels. This was really annoying. There should have been more un-sped-up Martial Arts fights and less gun-shooting. Daniels even disappears for decent chunks of the running time. But when he is on screen, he has classic 90’s hair which we all love and enjoy.

While the movie is competently made, it doesn’t really reach the heights of other “East meets West” actioners like Red Sun Rising (1994), Sword of Honor (1996), American Dragons (1998), and especially all-time classic Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991). That’s because this came out in 2000, a death-time for DTV product. It even brings to mind the dud Double Deception (2001) at times. Things were just better earlier on in our nation’s history. Sure, it has a classic “Final Warehouse Fight”, some casual racism, a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top, and a guy screaming his head off as he shoots a machine gun, but we were somehow hoping for something that tied it all together a bit more.

We do give the movie credit for the good amount of scenes that are spoken in Japanese and have subtitles. This showed to us that they were serious and it helped things along. However, most of the English dialogue consists of people shouting “what am I paying you for!??!” The Gary Daniels revenge plot should have been streamlined and more hardcore. Just a few years on from The Quest (1996), we have a very different-looking Jack McGee doing not very much  and not being used properly...and is that Cuba Gooding SENIOR in a nothing role as a pawn shop owner? Not that we’re not happy to see him, but...WHY?

It also should be mentioned that a common phenomena in low-budget DTV product happens here: smaller-time actors are hired that look/behave like other actors (or should have BEEN other actors). For example, the guy that played Bronson also could have been Robert Patrick, Judd Nelson, Dean Cain, Frank Stallone, or Charlie Sheen during his “Charles Sheen” period.  And the guy that played Mitchell, the police Lieutenant, could have been James Russo, Ed Lauter, or...or maybe we just watch way too many movies. 

But we’re clearly addicted and can’t get enough - and we do it all for YOU, our lovely readers. We live to inform you about movies like Fatal Blade. If that’s a crime, then call Richard Fox and have us arrested. (See, the fact that we think Richard Fox is a real person pretty well proves our initial point).

Gary Daniels is credited as Associate Producer, as is frequent Daniels collaborator George Cheung, and it features the West Coast gangsta rap track “187” by a rapper known as G-Sleep. Despite all this, Fatal Blade really should have been better. To be fair, there are some threads of the movie that stand out, but it was lacking in other areas. This Blade should have been sharpened to a finer point.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from our buddy Cool Target!