This movie begins as one of those young-Americans-on-a-European-vacation affair. Then it shifts into an action-thriller as our three heroes, on a lark, sneak across the border into the USSR and are captured by Russian border-guards. At this point it becomes a grim prison drama laced with surrealistic touches. Then the final scene offers a hint of a boy-meets-girl romance.
While the movie doesn't quite succeed as a whole, individual parts worked well enough to propel Finnish director Renny Harlin all the way to Hollywood. Perhaps the best of these parts is the justly-famous torture scene in which a well-dressed interrogator who could pass as a college professor calmly, almost lovingly, attaches alligator clips to the nipples of Steve Durham in a series of screen-filling close-ups. These clips are attached by wires to a portable generator and soon Durham is jerking in pain from electrical shocks. However, the interrogator doesn't get the information he seeks so he concludes with a comment that he has all the time he needs in order to complete his task. (A better line might have included the thought that those alligator clips could be re-attached to other, even more sensitive parts of Durham's anatomy.)
Also worth noting are the scenes of a chess game played with prisoners instead of chess pieces, though not enough is made of this material.
Top-billed Mike Norris shows enough promise here that one wonders why his later film-career was so undistinguished. Albert Salmi and Thalmus Rasulala provide good support in small but pivotal roles. As for Steve Durham, he must be the only actor in the movies whose nipples are more recognizable than his face.
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