Sunday, January 8, 2017

Death Raiders (Philippines Action, 1983)

1983 - Death Raiders (Emperor Films International)

[Philippines release date 9th September 1983, original title “Mga Pusang Bundok”/“The Mountain Cats”. Distributed internationally by Atlas Films, released on French VHS as “Les Commandos De La Mort”]

Director Segundo Ramos [IMDB lists Leo Valdez as co-director] “Dialogues” Larry Dolgin [IMDB lists Ramos & Daddy Gomez as writers] Cinematography Danny Bustos Musical Director Pablo Gomez Editors Danny Gomez, Heinz Schulhof

Cast Johnny Wilson (Colonel), “George Pallance” [real identity unknown], George “Regan”/Estregan (Jose), Robert Lee, Ramon Zamora, “June Ariston”/Jun Aristorenas (Captain Barone), Rodolfo “Boy” Garcia (Karamat), Renato del Prado, Joel Alano (Donald), Raquel Montesa, Nina Sarah, Boy Sta. Maria, Tony Martinez, Benny May, Jolly Jogueta, Rudy Rivera, Bobby Oreo, Tony Beso, Allan Garcia, Buddy Lanuza, Big Boy Gomez, [uncredited] Ulysses Tzan (Elmer), Mohamad Faizal

Mini-review by Andrew Leavold

Emperor Films’ successful sale of Deadly Commando/Suicide Force (1981) to Germany’s Atlas International prompted them to approach Atlas two years later, in true Filipino form, with essentially a carbon copy of their previous hit, dragging along much of its cast and crew. Once again, Army Commander Johnny Wilson sends a squad of black-clad commandos to rescue kidnapped person-of-interest from a rebel commander played by Rodolfo “Boy” Garcia; this time he is self-styled People’s Revolution leader Karamat, suffering from delusions of his own divinity, who snatches the province’s Governor and his daughter and drags them back to his mountain lair. Wilson charges Captain Barone (60s cowboy star Jun Aristorenas) to reactivate his Death Raiders, a boozing and brawling bunch consisting of three of the Pinoy Bruce Lees – Ramon Zamora, Ulysses Tzan and Robert Lee – plus the Man Mountain from Mindanao, Mohamad Faizal. From a cast well-versed in comic action films, you’d expect some broad comedy moments – Ulysses Tzan recreating his Drunken Master routine from Mantis Boxer (1979) during a street fight, for instance, and the Raiders’ room-trawling during their rescue of Tzan’s girlfriend from a busy brothel. It’s also a much less one-dimensional film than Deadly Commando, with more welcoming serves of sleaze and blood, more fleshed-out characters, and imaginatively shot bang-bang scenes. George Estregan is also back as Karamat’s reluctant second in command working to bring down the lunatic cult leader down, alongside Karamat’s son Donald, played by teenage pin-up Joel Alano, who would pass away from a heart attack in 1986 aged only 21. Not bad. 

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