President's Target (1989)- * * *
Directed by: Yvan Chiffe
Starring: John Coleman, Martin Kove, Antonio Banha, and Bo Hopkins
An on-screen title card informs us that we're "Somewhere In Latin America". At a high-powered meeting of government officials, they all vow to work together to stop the worldwide spread of drugs. All seems to be going well, until a masked band of baddies storms into the place and shoots everyone in sight. But they didn't count on one thing...Peter Caine (Coleman). After finding out that he's "The best operator the CIA has" - and that his code name is Stalker - Caine proceeds to find out who was responsible for the massacre, and get revenge, Peter Caine-style. But not before he's nursed back to health after the massacre by a kindly old incomprehensible fisherman, and has what are presumably a handful of Vietnam flashbacks along the way. Here for the ride are Sam Nicholson (Kove) and Marty Rogers (Hopkins), but who is the ultimate bad guy at the top? Could it be, in true Simpsons fashion, Mendoza (Banha)? And who exactly is the PRESIDENT'S TARGET in all this?
If we've established anything by doing this website over lo these many years, it's these two truths: that 1989 was a high water mark year for movies on VHS appearing on video store shelves, and that El Presidente titles (well, they're not always slogs) are chief among them. If you happened to enjoy such films as One Man Out (1989), Merchants of War (1989), Overthrow (1987), SAS San Salvador (1982), Hour of the Assassin (1987), or To Die Standing (1991), to name but a few, you will likely also enjoy President's Target. It just may be your favorite of the bunch, because it features two things those films don't: a 79-minute running time, and John Coleman.
Coleman himself is a National Treasure, and should have been in WAY more action movies. Depending on what light he's in, the rock-faced Coleman may resemble Ted Danson, Erik Estrada, Lou Ferrigno, or perhaps Ben Affleck or George Clooney. His face is nothing if not a prism that may take on many shades, colors, and moods. He's essentially a human combination of two 70's fads: the mood ring and the pet rock. Certainly he could be described as a lovable meathead, and the icing on the cake is his Ryan O'Neal-esque acting style. What's not to love about the guy?
But, perhaps fearing that the manliness of Coleman wouldn't be enough to carry the full 79 minutes, Coleman is backed up by genre stalwarts Bo Hopkins and Martin Kove. It was nice that they were here. The presence of both guys is always appreciated. Hopkins actually utters the words "El Presidente", so they must have known what they were doing. Director Yvan Chiffre, who may or may not be the Bond villain from Casino Royale, had an impressive career as an actor under his belt, but he did direct three movies. This is one of them. Thankfully, it stars John Coleman.
The vibe of President's Target is certainly a bit "off", which was hugely welcome. El Presidente's can get awfully dull and sloggy because most of the time, they're pretty standard fare. This time around, the weirder vibe, shorter running time, and power-trio of stars work mightily in the movie's favor.
Despite the South American setting, President's Target was filmed in Setubal, Portugal and features some nice locations. It's one of those (as of today) VHS-only wonders that only a trawl through the video store of life can sometimes bring forth. It just may be one of the best El Presidente's we've seen to date.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty