Friday, 10 April 2009

Teddy Chiu's Up The Scenery

Movie In Action

‘‘What kind of excitement are you looking for, real war !?’’

An Action packed opening explodes across the screen as an incoming helicopter drops a commando unit into a war zone. Before these tough troopers feet even hit the ground they are putting tags to toes, as enemy foot soldiers onslaught a barrage of bullets upon them. It’s shoot and run, pursued by roving tanks and targeted by mortar shells reigning down at them from all around. The American commandos target, a fortified hill. Their objective … ‘‘Cut’’ shouts Bo Svenson !. This is a precursor prologue to what in actuality is a movie within a movie. Star Bo Svenson is Frank, and walks tall in his star billing as The Director. He and his film crew are in fact on set, shooting the latest Action flick for producer Bill, played by the ubiquitous Mike Monty. The location for this war movie is the middle of Thailand.

An unusual premise but one that works remarkably well as the story provides boundless entertainment, along with some refreshing turns from the expected Action genus. Regular followers of this genre will be initially thrown by seeing the usual array of stars playing completely against character, but will soon embrace the idea as it is the off the wall performances that make this a winning concoction. Watching regular tough guy Jim Gaines flounce around as jittery sound engineer Brian, caught up in a world of guns and explosions, is as camp as a prisoner of war internment run by Liberace !. Hitting the hard notes is of course Bo Svenson, who when his leading lady Susan Jackson gets kidnapped by real soldiers of the Khmer Rouge calls upon his earlier experience in the military to organise a bodacious plan to rescue her.
Frank ‘The Director’ proposes that members of his film crew have all the right attributes to get the job done. Is he insane ?, maybe so but this is the movies !. Headed up by lead actor Mike Connery, he and five other members of the film crew, including the make up effects girl, prepare for some real Action. With starlet Susan Jackson still wearing her on set audio microphone, sound guy Brian requires a field extension receiver to enhance the range of reception in order to aid them in picking up her signal. The nearby military base has one, and so Mike along with Brian and the special effects man use their ingenuity to stage a break in and acquire what they need. The Fun begins as the use of gadgetry and movie magic, smoke and mirrors, brings about an infectious level of entertainment. In ’B’ movie Action lore, one that is perhaps topped only in sheer outlandish brilliance by the Fabrizio De Angelis barnstorming epic ‘The Last Match’ (1990).

Wounded in the leg by one of the Khmer rebels at the time of his leading ladies abduction, Frank stays behind to run the operation and keep in contact with team leader Mike by radio. Their call signs are Limping Snake and Movie Warriors.
The Movie Warriors head on into Cambodia with immediate use of combined movie trickery catching out the border guard. The minimal use of camouflage to make their jeep look like a horse drawn straw cart is classic, along with the misdirection of an explosive dummy body. Their trek through the Cambodian jungle is beset by chasing soldiers but their use of movie ingenuity and smart savvy makes for continued rewarding viewing. They steal military uniforms, along with required transportation, working together as a specialised team, achieving their objectives and uncovering where Susan Jackson is being held captive. The hijacks along the way are in equal measure with gun play and many an impressive explosion. This is some serious crazy arsed Action Fun, with the added bonus of constantly seeing Jim Gaines camp it up big time.

Huts explode all around as the Movie Warriors mow down the Khmer rebels, only to be blown away themselves when the true reason behind the abduction reveals itself !. Time still though for Bo Svenson to attempt to steal the show, storming right on in as a knight with his shinning white helicopter steed, big gun a blazing.

With the teams camera man not only part of the rescue team, but also still managing to shoot the entire escapade, this truly turns out to be one heck of a great ‘Movie In Action’.

Review: Paul Cooke / Source: Japanese VHS (NTSC)
Movie In Action
1987 Silver Star Film Company
Director Ted Johnson
With Bo Svenson, Robert Mason, Jim Gaines,
Don Holden, David Brass, Liza Hutton, Peter King,
Chantal Mansfield & Mike Monty


  1. Super fun and well written review, Paul! I've never come across MOVIE IN ACTION (how in the heck did I miss this one?!), and I must say, it sounds very cool, unique and highly original. I've always dug Bo Svenson for his limited range, great at what he does, playing the usual Army Sgt., Police Sheriff or all around vigilante ass kicker. This one sounds like no exception in the smackdown department for Big Bo. Always reliable Jim Gaines sounds like a hoot in this thing too! Thanks for bringing this one to our attention, Paul!:)

  2. Thanks Devin. It is a pretty rare one. Seeing Jim Gaines in this role is priceless.

  3. Amazing...I'd never even heard of this one!! Great write up and one I'm now searching for...IN ACTION!

  4. Yes Indeed, a Big Fun off the wall Actioner. Jim Gaines really does shine in this, completely against type. Another winner from aka Irvin Johnson / Teddy Chiu who of course gave us the Quite Brilliant Phantom Soldiers.

  5. Hmm, I sent a comment but I think it somehow disappeared into that big Cyberspace void! LOL.

    Hey Paul, good onya mate, good review. Maybe YOU should do my Filipino trashy war flick site as I'm so lazy, haha.

    Have you considered mentioning which versions you watch in your reviews (or which are available)? With this rare shit they're kinda hard to track down sometimes if you don't know where to look. Well just a suggestion, you do as you like. LOL.

    My own version, btw, is the Japanese VHS which you've got right at the top there. Where was the other one released?

  6. Hi Jack, I have the Japanese VHS as well. Compared to that Awesome VHS cover at the end of my Review it looks pretty basic doesn't it !?. I chanced upon the image whilst searching for more picture material for the article. I would say it is likely a German release.
    Thanks for the suggestion on the versions viewed, I do elsewhere so no reason why not to here as well. I'll give it serious consideration :) .

  7. Dear Paul Cooke,

    at Cinema-Nocturna i couldnt get a reply.
    I am looking for the Movie ASSAULT PLATOON.
    Antonio Reyes and TGG Video Japan dont have any Copies anymore. Please contact me,i would like to get my Collection of Vietnam War Movies complete.