25 August 2005 | udar55
Death before watching this again!
I decided to dust this one off and give it another watch. I don't know if that was a good thing. DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR is the quintessential one-sided, "We're good, they're bad" action film. Not since John Wayne's THE GREEN BERETS (1968) have I seen a film so amazingly biased.
The scariest thing about DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR is the film's politics. The film is so glaringly jingoistic that it landed itself on the "Worst List" of the book "Reed Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People." While set in the fictional country of Jemal, it is quite obvious who these guys fighting Israel are supposed to be. And who the good guys are. While discussing the complex problems in the Middle East, Ellie asks Burns, "Are you the kind of person who knows what is exactly right and what is wrong?" "Yes," replies Burns before he tells her "don't get us mad." DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR is the kind of film where multiple bad guys can't hit the hero (granted his underlings do die for the cause) with machine guns, but he can blow them up with a rocket launcher while driving a car. Where a "by the book" bureaucrat finds out the hard way (via car bomb) how "savage" these people really are. I think The Phantom of the Movies summed it up best in his review when he said, "it may well be the best 1943 war movie made in 1987." It would be funny, if it weren't so darn frightening.
Actually, there is a bit of fun to be had with DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR. Director Leonard, a veteran stuntman, crafts some nice car chases with a rather nice car stunt at the film's end. The film definitely holds its own against its contemporaries such as THE DELTA FORCE (1986) in that regard. Dryer, with visions of Eastwood in HEARTBREAK RIDGE (1986) dancing in his head, is amazingly bland as the tough as nails Marine. Watching him drag around here, it is hard to believe he carried a TV series for so many seasons. You can tell he was hoping for a cross over opportunity into theatrical features, but failed miserably. But there is something inherently funny in his featureless performance. Finally, fans of "what in the world" moments should also keep an eye out for the scene where Brian Keith, being photographed by terrorists, gives them the finger
with his ring finger!