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  Blood Debts This Time It's Impersonal
Year: 1985
Director: Teddy Page
Stars: Richard Harrison, Mike Monty, Jim Gaines, Ann Milhench, Ann Jackson, Catherine Miles, Dick Israel, Rick Thomas, Steve Mark, Raymond Wallace, Roger Gyennes, Freddy Conrad, Michael Krus, Gerald McCoy, Ronnie Patterson, John Black, Ted Borgnine, Tim Marvin
Genre: Action, Thriller, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mark Collins (Richard Harrison) is a Vietnam War veteran who has had a bad day. His daughter was out for a picnic locally with her boyfriend, but just as they were settling down to eat, they were shot at by a gang of hoodlums who proceeded to surround and harass them. The boyfriend got away, running through the forest until he was gunned down by two heavies who decided now he was dead, they had better kill off the girlfriend as well, so on returning to find she had been gang raped they shot her as well as she tried to escape - right in front of her parents' house. Mark had emerged to see what was up and was grazed by a bullet to the temple, rendering him unconscious, but when he woke up he would be mad!

How mad? Mad enough to spend the rest of the movie cleaning the scum from the streets in a Silver Star production from the Philippines. They were a company catering to the insatiable appetite for action thrillers in the nineteen-eighties, and it was obvious that though there was Hong Kong money in this, the nation's cinema they most wished to emulate belonged to the United States of America. That was where the big action stars of the West were reigning at the box office, muscles rippling and guns blazing, so they hired another American action star to carry the enterprise, the by now ageing Richard Harrison who was evidently aiming to shrug off the mantle of all those ninja movies he had been edited into by Godfrey Ho.

Nope, this time around he wanted to be Charles Bronson, and it was the equally ageing Chuck in his substantial sequel hit Death Wish II that was the bar to clear in this case. Needless to say, they didn't get anywhere near it, so imagine that, a vigilante movie that didn't even manage to better Death Wish II - Michael Winner would have been sleeping soundly in his bed when this was released. However, if you wanted a narrative that boiled down the crusading independent gunman clich├ęs into one simple film, then it could be you were offered all you really needed here; fair enough, it was in no way slick, but every five minutes Harrison would whip out his weapon and blow someone away, it was almost childishly simple, as if he was playing his own personal game of cops and robbers.

Only on an adult scale, and inviting us to watch and appreciate, with nothing here worth taking seriously since it had so little connection to the real world. Certainly the Philippines looked as if it had one hell of a violent crime problem, as quite a few scenes would have innocent parties murdered by roaming gangs of ne'erdowells, often outside in parks, for some reason - didn't these folks have homes to go to? Maybe if they had stayed at home they wouldn't have been shot? Anyway, Mark, who is always referred to by his first name, even by the cops who are tracking him, starts out seeking vengeance on the evildoers who murdered his daughter while his wife frets, though oddly she looks the same age as the deceased, so how old was she when she gave birth?

She was included to pad things out with a love scene, then it's back to the slaughter for Mark, but what to do when there are no more targets to bump off? How about be recruited by a shadowy organisation by the mysterious Bill (Mike Monty) who hire him to continue his clean up campaign by bullet? The cops don't have that much of a problem with this, working out it's less work for them in the long run if these career criminals are basically wiped out by Mark, though one of their number, detective Peter (Jim Gaines), makes halfhearted moves to stopping him for motives of morality, but hey, who cares, right? According to this you can shoot anyone you damn please if you have enough suspicion they are up to no good, and the odds are that they will be trying to shoot you back. Unsurprisingly the population of the Philippines has been rather cut down by the end, but that finale was what lent Blood Debts its shot at immortality: an abrupt, explosive retribution that was unexpectedly hilarious if you were in the right mood. It was a long way to go to reach it, though. Music by Patrick Wales.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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