16 June 2008 | Bunuel1976
THE COMMANDER (Antonio Margheriti, 1988) *1/2
Around Christmas I had watched COMMANDO LEOPARD (1985), a passable low-brow German-Italian war flick; that film was the middle part of a trilogy and, back then, I had expressed a wish to check out the remaining two entries – CODENAME: WILDGEESE (1984) and THE COMMANDER (1988). I now happened upon the latter, but the result was even less rewarding! Lewis Collins is once again the hero and, as ever, producer Erwin C. Dietrich manages to assemble a fair line-up of actors in support: Lee Van Cleef, Donald Pleasence, Manfred Lehmann and John Steiner (both from COMMANDO LEOPARD), Paul Muller (as Van Cleef’s smart butler!) and Brett Halsey.
The convoluted plot involves an Asian dictator, a consignment of drugs and an all-important incriminating “floppy disk” (but which looks more like a CD!). The band of gung-ho mercenaries this time around also includes a native girl but, with much of the action being relegated to the second half, it’s mostly by-the-numbers stuff – until the explosive climax (which only Collins and Lehmann survive…though one member had expired early on from the bite of a cobra!). However, there’s a nice twist at the end regarding the characters of Van Cleef (fitted with a silly pirate-like earring throughout!) and Pleasence (alternating between hysteria and sarcasm and, finally, campily turning up as a tourist-photographer) – as they prove exact opposites to what they’d been played up to be!