Friday, June 4, 2010

Fight from the Philippines: WHITE FORCE (1988)

Sam Jones and Eddy Romero made a movie together?! Who do I gotta kill to see that?! Well, as it turns out, nobody. Sometimes cheap-jack DVD companies are awesome.

Fresh off of the classic, noisy, low-rent ninja actioner SILENT ASSASSINS (1988), Mr. Flash Gordon himself shipped out to the Philippines to star in the Mad Doctor of Blood Island’s guerrilla-war / drug-busting / espionage pot-boiler. The plot should be medicated with Ritalin as it scrambles from one completely ludicrous scenario to another barely hanging on to its own premise. Special agent Johnny Quinn (Jones) is trying to rescue his partner (who seems to be an odd candidate for a field agent, as he is in his 60s and looks to be on a cheeseburger diet) from a notorious drug-dealer’s jungle camp. His partner gives him a “laser disk” and just as Quinn is hauling him out of danger, a sniper shoots his partner dead. When Quinn returns to HQ, his boss (the inimitable Vic Diaz) is convinced that he is a double agent and killed his own partner. Naturally Quinn busts loose and must fight against both the agency, the drug-dealers and his partner's pissed off daughter (who eventually teams up with him) in an effort to clear his name and bring the bad guys to justice.

On the plus side this is a pretty damned amusing romp complete with quite a bit of unintentional hilarity; for example one of the people who is helping Quinn clear his name is a super computer expert, nick-named “Wizard” who instead of being your average, snot nosed Anthony Michael Hall type, is a short, bald, 50-ish guy with a cop mustache (the prolific Jaime Fabregas). As if that wasn’t snicker-inducing enough, Wizard helps Quinn kidnap his boss in a lightning raid complete with ski-masks and shotguns. Their get-away vehicle? His royal blue company van with the word “Wizard” emblazoned in giant letters across both sides.

Also amusing is the “laser disk.” A 1” brass coin with a hole in the middle that is inserted into a 5.25” floppy drive! Is there anything more entertaining than filmmakers who have only heard about computers in passing and assume that everyone has too? Another highlight is Vic Diaz trying to play the concerned father of couple of teen boys, one of whom he wishes wouldn't dress in the flamboyant, accessorized way that could only indicate one thing to a parent in the '80s: The "G" word... yes, he's gangsta! Oh and for some reason, the family keeps a python named "Alice" as a pet, who tries to eat at the table and apparently gets upset by family arguments. Hey, I've never been to the Philippines, this could be totally normal. Like those spongy, fluorescent pink hotdogs...

The down-side is that the film is so low-budget that it not only cannot afford much in the way of big action scenes, it sometimes simply wimps out on them completely. At one point Quinn and company break out of captivity in the docked yacht of the evil British drug lord (Timothy Hughes). They fight a couple of guards, but there are just too many. Wizard then heads off to the control room and makes an announcement over the PA system of free food and drink for everyone! Come and get it! In America, this would prompt most people to ask “what kind” before deciding to do you the favor of eating your food. Apparently not so in the Philippines, as the words “free” and “food” are like Yogi Bear and a pic-a-nic basket causing a tidal wave of humanity to swarm over the ship, befuddling the guards, while our heroes make their less-than-exciting escape. Another cop out is the car stunts are, with one exception, done so that the cars will suffer as little damage as possible (two cars get airborne, but only about three feet off the ground). Does someone need to drive them to work tomorrow or something?

Either way there is more than enough entertainment value to be found here for fans of ultra-cheap Philippine-shot flicks, particularly since the DVD can be easily found for about $5 to $10.

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