Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sgt Clarin: Bullet For Your Head (1990)

1990 – Sgt Clarin: Bullet For Your Head (Regal Films)

[Philippines release date 8th March 1990, original title “Sgt. Clarin: Bala Para Sa Ulo Mo"]

Director Willie Dado Story/Project Coordinator “Stanly”/Stanley Orong Screenplay Leleng Ubaldo Jr Executive Producer Lily [Y.] Monteverde Line Producer Manolo Maglayo Studio Manager/Post-Production In-Charge Warlito M. Teodoro Music Demet Velasquez Cinematography Vic Anao Editor Edgardo “Boy” Vinarao Production Manager Leah Calmarin Sound Effects Bert Santos Sound Supervision Joe Climaco Publicity/Promotions Alfie Lorenzo, Devi Jimenea Production Designer Delfin Pante [Dante?] Assistant Director Leleng M. Ubaldo Jr

Cast Max Laurel (Sgt. Clarin Orestes Ojeda), Monica Herrera, Lola Rodriguez, Ruel Vernal, Charlie Davao, Romy Diaz, Max Alvarado, Ramon “Boy” Bagatsing, Tony Bernal, Rommel Valdez, Alex De Leon, Van De Leon Jr, Von Arenas, Bobby Angeles, Francis Bello, Boy Sanggol Banez, Rex Lapid, Danny Riel, Marcus Aurelio, Naty Santiago, Rudy de la Pena, Raymond Gagatsing III, Cris Aguilar, Max Buaya, "Madjid"/Majid Jadali, Maricris Garcia, Erika Avendano The Lost Command Robert Tally, Brando Navarro, Bert Vivar, Den Montero, Steve Alcarado, Lito Francisco, Eddie Montalban The Rebels Avel Morado, Nayo Morado, Bobby Orio, Eddie de Leon, Lito Artiaga, Randie Santos, Fernando Alfon, Richard Duran The Assassins Sarah Carlos, Erika, Mary-Ann, Cristin, Metia, Beth Castillo, Mary

Fred Adelman’s review from the Critical Condition website:

Another wild Filipino actioner with too many "What The Fuck?!?" moments to process in one viewing. The film opens with a bar fight (what else?), where Danny Clarin (Max Laurel; ROBOWAR - 1988) tries to stop a drunk American from fondling a female dancer on stage. This turns into a melee where Danny has to beat the crap out of three guys (at one point, Danny and a brawny fighter get into a ball-grabbing competition!). Immediately after the fight, Danny is introduced to a military man and he instantly joins the Marines! After a basic training montage (where Danny excels at every task), the film switches to a bunch of guerilla rebels holding an American soldier captive at their base camp (he has two live grenades tied around his neck by a piece of twine while live ants crawl all over his body!). The Marines lay siege to the rebels' camp, with Danny blowing the crap out of anyone and anything in his way, eventually rescuing the American soldier after cleaving the rebel commander's head in two with a sword. After being wounded in battle, Danny is promoted in rank to Sergeant and gets to lead his own platoon. When Danny's brother is killed and his mother is put in the hospital by the goons of a local crimelord, Danny asks for a leave of absence from his superiors, but is turned down because they are on "triple red alert". Seeing that his mother is a basketcase (she witnessed Danny's brother being viciously gunned down), Danny goes AWOL to get his revenge. He is framed for the assassination of the town's mayor, so Danny becomes a one-man hit squad, killing all the crimelord's goons, by crossbow, gunfire and even decapitation before he finally blasts the crimelord to kingdom come. Danny then gets married to his childhood sweetheart Mary (Monica Herrera) and talks his platoon into secretly helping him in ridding the area of the rebels who have been raiding and murdering the people of his and neighboring villages. When the rebels take Danny's entire village hostage and demand that Danny give himself up in trade (or they will kill a hostage every twenty minutes), he has no choice but to turn himself over to the rebels. After being brutally tortured, Danny is rescued by his platoon. They then steal an APC and head towards the rebel's base camp, where Danny throws the rebel leader in a water-filled cage, followed by a two-grenade chaser. The finale finds Danny and his AWOL platoon making a decision to surrender to the Marines. Danny, with the help of new wife Mary, makes a deal to surrender, but a series of miscommunications and unfortunate events leads to the death of Danny's entire platoon and Danny himself (while clutching a baby, no less!) by the Marines. Mary arrives just in time to hear Danny say, "I love you!" one more time before he croaks. Cue the angelic choir (literally).

This off-the-wall Filipino actioner is nothing more than one bloody vignette after another. Every 15 minutes or so, the film switches to a new storyline (some plot points, like the search for hidden gold, are completely dropped without ever being resolved) and a different direction, the only connecting link being Danny and his need to kill someone or blow something apart. The film is bloody as hell, as people are shot in the head, riddled with bullets, stabbed, impaled (one poor rebel is impaled on a long pole and dragged across the ground by Danny) and decapitated (there is a lot of violence to people's heads here). The English dubbing is truly atrocious, the funniest example being that the dubbers changed Danny's last name from "Clarin" to "Clark", totally ignoring the title of the film! This film also has a slight religious subtext to it, as there is a lot of talk of Heaven, Hell and having faith in God, but actor-turned-director Willie Dado (this is his only directorial effort), working with a script by Leleng Ubaldo Jr., has no problem showing scenes of bloody torture (Danny is sliced repeatedly with a knife and then thrown into a stagnant, water-filled cage), horrendous deaths or having a bad guy press a gun to a baby's head. This mindless, gory actioner is a treat for fans of Filipino action cinema and gets my highest recommendation. Grab it if you're lucky enough to locate a copy. If star Max Laurel looks familiar to Filipino movie fans, it's probably because he essayed the title role in ZUMA (1985) and it's sequel ZUMA 2: HELL SERPENT (1987). Also starring Romy Diaz, Lola Rodriguez, Orestes Ojeda, Charlie Davao, Ruel Vernal, Ramon (Boy) Bagatsing, Tony Bernal, Rommel Valdez and Alex DeLeon. Made by popular Filipino production company Regal International, Inc., who were better known for making sex comedies and film parodies with titles like BOBOCOP (1987), STARZAN: SHOUTING STAR OF THE JUNGLE (1989) and GOOSEBUSTER (1991), all directed by Tony Y. Reyes. The print I viewed was sourced from a pretty sharp fullscreen Japanese-subtitled VHS tape. This has not had a legitimate U.S. home video release in any format, but what's so unusual about that? Wake up, America! This is exactly the kind of shit we need to see! Not Rated.

Paul Cooke’s review from the Cinema Nocturna website:

‘‘Prepare the bazooka , we have to neutralise them !’’

Just when you thought it was tedious to go back into the jungle up pops another thunderous gem to pin back your ears and bring a tear of Action lovin’ joy to the eye. Finally regular support star Max Laurel has his opportunity to step up to lead man and in so doing gets to slog a home run winner. It’s guerrilla warfare from those furiously fun Filipino folk as the marines take on the jungle bandits in a gloriously colourful hybrid of the spaghetti western and a World War II flick. Max Laurel gets to play the John Wayne role but in a naturally developed muscle suit that even his pearls of sweat slide off in exasperated awe. Laurel plays the role of Danny Clark, a powerhouse of a local discovered by the marine corps during the opening sequence bar room brawl. Danny displays his brawn in a one sided charge up against some trouble makers, and soon after he signs up as a marine. Now the bad guys really have something to worry about as Danny completes his marine training course with flying colours, and is soon promoted through the ranks.

The films title refers to Sergeant Clarin when in fact there is no Sergeant Clarin as of course the titular hero is in fact Danny , who quickly acquires the rank of Sergeant Clark! A quirky miss-translation then for this Japanese VHS release. Make no mistake though, Max Laurel is most definitely not miss-cast in the lead role. The character could have been written just for him as he plays the part of protagonist perfectly, emitting an aura of tough Action star as if born to the position. Buckle up then fellow mad Max men and madams, it’s time to hit the jungle!

An American business man is held hostage by the guerrilla faction and is regaled by an unwanted pair of hand grenades for earrings. Flesh tearing ants eat away at his upper torso in the hot sun as the terrified dignitary is strung up outdoors in a bamboo cage. Like willow the wisps floating on the breeze Danny and hand chosen men get close enough , without being immediately detected by the enemy , and unload a barrel load of fiery fury. Huts explode and pump action guns spew grenades at intended targets. The guerrilla boss wields a lethal machete at his prisoner, only to be dealt a death blow at the hand of Danny and the would be political incident dies a death all its own before hitting the world news.

A tour of duty has Danny and his men surrounded by the antagonist faction and even though overwhelmed Danny strikes back fast and true. The accuracy of his gun shots to the heads of the militant group is unerring and bloody as the squibs pop like ketchup hitting a naked flame. Danny is shot himself several times before he and his men are victorious, leading to him being raced to a medical facility by helicopter. Here Danny recuperates and upon leaving hospital receives notification from upon high that he is promoted to the rank of sergeant.

The story takes on a whole new dimension and tact from here on in as Danny has to choose between his military career and that of his family’s safety, following an assault upon his home village and family. The jungle bandits prey on the local villages and use the villagers as slave labour, cultivating provisions for them in a one sided deal that leaves the poor folk in constant poverty. Danny is ordered to follow his duty as a soldier and is even refused compassionate leave when his brother is killed and his mother is left seriously unwell with grief. Sergeant Clark has no option but to go AWOL and during his time investigating the tragic events he uncovers a conspiracy that leads to the very door of the local mayor who is in allegiance with the bandits. When even the law refuse to help Danny and his people he has no other choice but to takes matters into his own hands, defiantly uttering the forthright statement, ‘‘If I have to I’ll do what has to be done to seek Justice !’’ John J. Rambo step aside as Danny Clark, man of war, is pissed and he’s about to tear open an aggressive can of retribution that involves just about everyone!

The mayor loses face and is killed so leading to Danny becoming the number one suspect. The leadership falls into the hands of tyranny and Danny becomes a hunted man. In order to bring about justice and prove his innocence sergeant Clark must bring down the new regime and show them for what they truly are. With the help of a handful of men he can trust absolutely Danny forms a band of elitist mercenaries. A group of highly trained fellow soldiers who hide out in the jungle and become soldiers of misfortune against the corrupt hand of the law, and the villainous bandits. A wrecking crew armed to the hilt and prepared to fight to the death.

Stronger than an ox and broader than a charging bull Danny cuts a swathe right through the heart of the jungle scourge and their political allies. Danny alone is responsible for deftly decapitating by machete, lethal take down by single hand held cross bow and deadly accurate with any form of gun he chooses to use in his vigilante cause.

He is spurred on even more when it becomes apparent that the mayor gave the order to murder his brother!

Falling between the crack along the path of righteousness Danny and his loyal men are ordered by their own army to be brought to justice dead or alive. As Danny and his men continue to fight against the despotic jungle guerrillas a fellow army friend fights to get a pardon for his champion of the people, but the message has to be relayed to the front line that is fast closing in on the sergeant and his men. What transpires in the fraught filled exciting battle charged climax is lump in the throat stuff of classic old school matinees. A power house of explosive Action plays out for a long duration that never lets up for a moment. The edge of the seat convergence of battling forces will delight fans of war movies and Action alike. A bloody pallet bleeds across the jungle green as a cast of extras fall by the hundred in a killing field ploughed by once farmers born to arms. This is a big bang, bad boy final payoff up there with the best of them.

Sergeant Danny Clark and his close fighting compatriots are still considered AWOL, and as they fight against the guerrillas their own fellow soldiers fight against them in a crossfire deluge of bullets and incredible firepower. The bodily carnage is fast and furious yet Danny fights to the very end , whilst all around him the battle ground becomes ever more expansive and even more explosive. An Action packed jungle warfare winner. Terrific stuff!

No comments:

Post a Comment