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  Commander, The They Actually Wanted Phil CollinsBuy this film here.
Year: 1988
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Stars: Lewis Collins, Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Manfred Lehmann, Brett Halsey, Chat Silayan, Hans Leutenegger, Christian Brückner, Frank Glaubrecht, Thomas Danneberg, Anita Lochner, Wolfgang Kühne, Paul Muller, Bobby Rhodes, Romano Puppo, John Steiner
Genre: Action, Thriller
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: The European end of a lucrative opium smuggling operation is becoming concerned with suppliers in Cambodia, and have sent out one of their minions to ask about what is going on. It turns out the operation has been taken over by General Dong (Protacio Dee), who is upping the price of their involvement to astronomical heights. There's no way the Europeans will agree to that, but the Cambodians won't be pushed around, and to emphasise that they blow up the minion when he's on his helicopter, so back in the West, plans are drawn up to take the matter in hand...

The Commander, eh? What does that sound like? Or rather, what would it be mistaken for when you were in the video rental store and were seeking to unwind that evening with a certain Arnold Schwarzenegger movie? The schemes of exploitation producer Erwin C. Dietrich aside, here having switched from making a fortune with softcore in the seventies to making action movies (you had to move with the times, after all), it was the cast which would offer the most intrigue as Dietrich had a knack for securing well kent faces to star in his schlocky efforts, though this, like his two previous films, starred Lewis Collins.

Collins had made a name for himself in Britain as a member of CI5 on action thriller TV series The Professionals, and on the Continent, especially in West Germany, he was even more popular so to capitalise on that he made some action flicks designed to send him into international stardom to rival the genre's biggest actors. Well, that might have been the idea, but it never really worked out that way, and for some his lasting legacy would be lending his name to a tortoise on children's TV show Tales from Fat Tulip's Garden rather than the shootiebangs his fans preferred to appreciate him for. The films he made for Dietrich could have been seen as a trilogy, indeed they could have been seen as virtually identical.

Maybe not quite, but they were very similar in goals and results. On offer were manly men performing manly pursuits like shouting, drinking, getting into fights in bars, firing automatic weapons, making inappropriate comments to women, and flower arranging. That last one, hmm, don't know what they had in mind there but ageing tough guy Lee Van Cleef does indeed indulge himself in that floral hobby, and in fact that's about all he does for most of his screen time as he plots with his underlings to settle the opium deals. Meanwhile our old friend Donald Pleasence plotted to do the same, puffing on cigars and failing to provide much of a reason for appearing aside from his celebrity.

Though whether he was much of a mark of quality by this time is debatable, but if you knew the sort of movie he was appearing in by this stage in his career, then you had a decent idea of what you were in for. Of course it was Collins who was the real star, as he leads his team of mercenaries into the South East Asian jungles (actually The Philippines), mostly consisting of German actors including voiceover artist extraordinaire Manfred Lehmann making a bid for action movie stardom. Also along was Ling, the token woman, played by former Miss Philippines Chat Silayan (who actually died tragically young), getting little to do, and the familiar, tall, thin frame of John Steiner, adopting a French accent to essay the double-crosser's role. Although the convolutions of the narrative meant that watching this on autopilot was the preferred mode because you knew it just wasn't worth working it all out, when the action started kicking off director Antonio Margheriti achieved what you wanted. Wait a sec - General DONG?!
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Antonio Margheriti  (1930 - 2002)

Italian writer and director who worked in a variety of genres throughout his career, although largely horror, science fiction and western. Some of his films include Castle of Blood, The Wild, Wild Planet, The Long Hair of Death, Take a Hard Ride, Killer Fish, Cannibal Apocalypse and Yor, Hunter from the Future.

 
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