The early-to-mid 1980s increased Harrison’s cinematic legend even more with a series of action films made in the Philippines and the infamous Godfrey Ho ninja films in Hong Kong. According to Harrison, he signed on for a few ninja films, but the footage he shot was later used to pad out dozens of releases with titles like NINJA HOLOCAUST and COBRA VS. NINJA. By the end of the decade, Harrison had returned to the United States and hooked up with several filmmakers for a series of low budget action films (like Fred Olen Ray’s TERMINAL FORCE). During this period, he did a stint in Las Vegas where he starred in Charles Nizet’s RESCUE FORCE and the subject of our latest CineM.I.A., OPERATION LAS VEGAS. Directed by the notorious N.G. Mount (aka Norbert Moutier), this action epic is truly a dream for fans of “so bad, it’s good” cinema.
|Richard Harrison acting like |
he's never seen a ninja before!
Once in Las Vegas, Jefferson quickly picks up a “babe” at the airport in Britta (Brigitte Borghese) and offers her a ride to her hotel (in a hilarious bit, he offers her a ride in his limousine and they walk to a Ford Taurus station wagon). Coincidentally, Jefferson and Britta are both booked at the same hotel Whiskey Pete’s (is the Government holding out on him or what?). Jefferson meets with Parker and hilariously gets brought up to speed on the situation by his old buddy Nick (Derek A. Smith).
|The No-so-Wild Bunch|
|"Beyoooond the Thunderdome!"|
|Just another day on the Vegas strip|
Derek Smith: I cannot remember exactly. I was in Las Vegas from 1983-1992. (VJ note: Our super detective skills have narrowed the timeframe down to early 1988 due to Harrison reading the February 1988 issue of Penthouse at one point.)
VJ: How did you come to be cast in the film?
DS: I was with a casting agency. I had been in a number of movies and TV shows in Las Vegas, primarily as an extra. I received a call to try for this role. The liked me because I had a martial arts background even though I did not get to use it.
VJ: How long did you work on the film?
DS: I believe it was for a week.
|Harrison likes Smith's style|
DS: No idea, but obviously not much, LOL. Another thing, there was no wardrobe for me. The clothes I have on in the movie were the clothes I showed up in. They did provide the Army uniform though.
VJ: Do you know how exactly N.G. Mount (aka Norbert Moutier) and his production ended up in Las Vegas, Nevada of all places to shoot?
DS: No, I just got the call and showed up and went to work. It was a little difficult because he spoke absolutely no English. The movie was supposed to be shot in English and dubbed in French. I am so glad I finally got to see it.
VJ: What was Mount like?
DS: I remember him as a nice guy. Of course, things were moving fast and there was a language barrier but he was nice.
VJ: Did the film have any sort of screening for locals?
DS: No, as far as I know they wrapped and went right back to France. The crew was quite small.
VJ: What was your reaction to the final product?
DS: It sucked. Just kidding! No I am not, it really sucked. But I am happy to have it and to have been in a movie. I wish they would have flown me to France for the premier though. After all I was the star’s best buddy in the film.
|OVER THE TOP II?|
DS: He was a very nice guy. We had never met before and in my mind he was a big star, but he did not act like it. He joked with me, was nice and patient and helped me quite a bit. We got most of our scenes in one take though, so I was not a pain to him or the director.
VJ: Any funny anecdotes from the shoot?
DS: There was one for me. If you watch the movie, when I get killed by the mine we walk up to it with no problem. We see the mine and I go try to disarm it. After I am killed everyone just walks on like there are no other mines. So basically, I was killed by the only mine in the entire desert, LOL.
LOL indeed! Here is the scene Smith mentions (he assures me that is not his real voice) and it truly shows he is the world’s unluckiest soldier to stumble upon that lone landmine in that expansive desert. Nick’s bravery will not be forgotten.