I mentioned in my last review that I'm becoming a fan of Italian cult films, so this week I decided to delve a little further into the war/action genre with Apocalypse Mercenaries. This film was directed by Leandro Luchetti, the same guy who directed Bloody Psycho and Caged Women. He went under the name John J. Dawson here, but I don't understand why you would not want to associate your name with masterpieces like this one. Check out the cover art for this bad boy:
Now the cover art is fantastic. However, the characters and action depicted on the cover is somehow not related to anything happening in the film. I can forgive this, since I'm a sucker for action-oriented cover art from 80's VHS tapes.
The opening credits roll, and it gives away some of the scenes of the movie. I enjoyed the opening credits because in between cast and crew names, things exploded and bullets pinged.
The film begins with military officials going through a slideshow of our heroes, each one with a special talent. There is "The Reverend", who is an explosives expert, who also carries a bible with him, in which he makes up passages on his own when it suits him. Then there is "Doc", who spends two-thirds of the movie with a bullet wound in his gut; he speaks German, and is basically kept alive for the bulk of the movie in order to send fake messages over German radio; then there is "The Pilot" who only flies a plane in his very first scene, when he is shot down. We have a guy who carries around a big gun for the whole movie, "Fierro" (Bruno Bilotta, known here as "Karl Landgren"), and is able to escape enemy fire by yelling "Aaarrgh" a lot and rolling around on the ground. He can also shoot down fighter planes with his big gun, in one fantastically amazing scene. They are all led by a guy they call "Mister", played by spaghetti western stalwart Vassili Karis. The mission given them at the beginning of the movie is to find a German command center and....just blow it up.
Along the way, the gang is sidetracked by a mission to destroy a German supply train disguised as a Red Cross train. Another enjoyable scene was the reaction of "The Reverend" as he watches his explosives in action, making weird noises like he was Sloth from The Goonies enjoying some Rocky Road ice cream. Then from there, in order for Yugoslavian rebels to receive weapons and supplies, they need to destroy a German airfield and fighter planes. So basically it's an excuse to give these guys some things to blow up. If you like explosions, then you will like this. There is also time for a female cast member to tell the story of how she became a resistance fighter. After concluding that story she provides the epilogue: "I guess that's why I haven't been with a man since that time". She just HAD to throw that in there, in case anyone was wondering.
The movie has plenty of battle scenes, some of which are stock footage spliced in. The German soldiers, once again, are a symptom of some poor Nazi training camps, making them disposable and not very interesting. The German general cannot believe that such idiocy surrounds him, as he states this several times. You should have recruited better men, sir. The final set piece inside a cave was well done, with plenty of tension built up. Unfortunately, the final explosion was disappointing as it looked more like a high school science experiment blowing up, rather than a cave full of Nazi ammunition.
I enjoyed the film for what it was: an Italian-made, overdubbed, cheap knock-off of The Dirty Dozen. If you're looking for Saving Private Ryan, then you found your way to the wrong movie review blog.