Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hunter's Crossing (1983)

1983 - Hunter's Crossing (Silver Star Film Company)

[Filipino production for the export market. Released in Germany as "EinSatzkommando WildGanse", on French VHS as "Les Massacreurs" and "Vietnam Massacre", on Finnish VHS as "Lyomaton Joukko", and on Dutch VHS as "Deadly Hunters"]

NOTE: Most of the Filipino cast and crew have been issued Anglicized pseudonymns

Director Teddy “Page”/Chiu Writer Timothy Jorge Producer [uncredited] K.Y. Lim Cinematography Bob Aaron Music Patrick Wales Editor David Mac Stunts [uncredited] Joe Pampanella Production Co-Ordinator Bob King Production Secretary Lou Grant Field Cashier Dhel Mayers Propsman Peter Fox Production Design Mario Cole Carpenters Jess Cole, Petter Cole, Tom Bismark Grip John McCloud Key Grip Larry Conrad Stillsman Roger Coleman Makeup Artist Sol Maurice Set Manager Sam Brown Assistant Camerman Tom Steele Assistant Director Rey Soul Assistant Editor Eddie Mac Fighting Instructors Rey Soul, Benny Roman 2nd Unit Cameraman Ben Sanders Sound Mixer Ron Jacobs Sound Effects George Patterson Negative Cutter Floyd Anderson Script Editor David Mac Script Girl Mary Mills Assistant Producer Diane Keith Special Effects Mark Collins

Cast Richard Harrison (James Burns), Bruce Baron (Al Hunter), Philip Gamboa (Harris Morell), Don Gordon [Bell] (Max), James Gaines (Tom), Barbara Peers (Lois), David Light (Jamil the Pirate Leader), Pat Andrew (Burns Sr), Tim Bismark, Arturo Estrada (Trainer), Ann Milhench (Tom's Wife), Ann Jackson (Secretary), Lawrence Majors (Max's son), Sam Lee (Yacht captain), Patrick Him (Refugee boat captain), Gabby Ferro (Bocobo), David Anderson (Syndicate boss), Willie Williams (William) Syndicate Girls Biggie Mielke, Sandy McCloud Syndicate Men Gregory Steele, Teddy Burns, Bobby Collins Bar Goons Stephen King, Larry Greene, William Fox Refugees Carol Fong, Kathy Li, Rose Lee, Beth Lee, Mary Lee Pirates “Boy”/Bobby Clinton, Benny Roman, Rey Soul, Michael Peck, Daniel Chau, Dan Langston, Ed Foster, Robert Williams, Donald Kirk, Harry Rolnick, Jack Daniel, Tom Chapman, Leonard Lueras, Dean Barrett

Don Gordon Bell on the making of Hunter's Crossing, from his Korean War Baby blog:

As some of you know, the Korean War Baby, in a past life back in the late 70’s to mid ‘80’s, as Don Gordon Bell, was living in the Philippines. I worked on local Filipino films and on many foreign International films, from big block busters like “Apocalypse Now” to small budget B-movies produced by the king of B-movies Roger Corman and quite a few Filipino film production companies. It was glorious, fun, hard work, feast or famine at times, but never a dull moment. Best years of my life, but some of the worst things I committed during my years of living only for myself, well, you will have to read my E-Book.

“Hunter’s Crossing” a B-movie film released by Silver Star Films was also released as “EinSatzkommando WildGanse” which I think means something Commando Wild Geese. My Facebook friend filmmaker Tony Li posted some photos from the DVD release in Germany. Thanks Tony.

Bruce Baron was the lead, an ex-Vietnam Vet who gets together a few buddies to rescue a rich man’s son who had been kidnapped by Filipino pirates. Philip Gamboa was the main Filipino lead, also one of the rescue team members who knew Bruce’s character when they served in an elite unit in the ‘Nam.

Bruce Baron, Don Gordon Bell, and Jim Gaines

Jim Gaines and I played fellow Vietnam ‘war buddies’ of Bruce Baron, living in the Philippines, living the good life, whoring with beautiful (and some not quite so but very willing!) Filipina women, drinking San Miguel beer and ESQ Tanduay Rhum and cokes everyday (Playing REAL life- ourselves in REEL LIFE). We agree to join our old team leader on this crazy adventure for money and just plain boredom.

Richard Harrison

First we go through a bit of training and conditioning, to get our soft bodies in shape for a rescue mission.

Don, sliding along a rope requires a ‘cup protector’ to prevent injury!

“HOW much are we getting? Why not, got nothing better to do.”

This was a VERY low budget B-movie that had a simplistic story, made up by lots of big booms, tons of special effects, gasoline blasts, dozens of pirates killed, and ‘all the usual schlock factors’ that one pundit claims makes these films “so bad they are good”. My dialog in the whole films could be on 3 pages of script, no wait, I don’t think we even HAD a script, just a basic storyline.

David Light played the pirate leader of the gang. Philip Gamboa was the Filipino who served with us together in the ‘Nam. He knows the island stronghold, where the pirates are since he is a native.

David Light, pirate leader.

Years later, “life imitated art”, when Filipino pirates actually kidnapped tourists, beheading one of them on their own island stronghold in Jolo, off Mindinao in the southern part of the Philippine Islands.

Team members Philip Gamboa, Jim Gaines.

Yes, I died again…going down fighting to the bitter end. I think the rest survive, rescue the boy and remember me in a toast to fallen comrades. Ah, ‘show biz’…

William Wilson's review from his Video Junkie blog:

I can’t believe we are four months into the blogosphere and we haven’t mentioned Richard Harrison. Everyone has a favorite actor and you’ll often hear folks saying, “I’ll watch anything Al Pacino (or Robert DeNiro or Russell Crowe) is in.” Poppycock! Those guys play it safe in their little Hollywood wonderland with multi-million dollar budgets and ever flowing buffets. Give me a real actor, someone who truly suffers for their art. I’m talking about nomadic cinema warriors, who feared no borders when it came to collecting a paycheck. Guys like John Saxon, Chris Mitchum and Richard Harrison. Harrison has braved poor shooting conditions in Italy, Turkey, China, the Caribbean, and the Philippines just to name a few in order to add to his resume of over 100 films. Call me when Pacino, DeNiro or Crowe do that without the luxury of first class. Yeah, I’ll watch anything with Richard Harrison…and that might just be my undoing. See, because of Harrison's "pay me now" nature, his filmography is truly the good, the bad and the ugly.

HUNTER’S CROSSING opens with a group of tourists being captured by some pirates led by a white guy named Jameel. Among the group is rich dude Burns, Sr. and his daughter Lois. The pirates contact Burns, Jr. (Richard Harrison) and demand $5 million dollars for their release. Anyway, Burns, Jr. is apparently either cheap or vindictive as he hires Harris (Phillip Gamboa) to assemble a mercenary team to rescue the captives. The team includes Al Hunter (Bruce Baron), Tom (Jim Gaines) and Mac (Don Gordon Bell). I’m particularly impressed with how he recruits Mac, who is drunk and getting his ass kicked in a bar at the time. Just the kind of guy you want on your team, right? Anyway, the group trains for a bit (with some guy yelling at them) before their mission. Oh, I forgot, pre-mission we get the most random subplots thrown in that scream “we need more running time!” Mac promises his son he will buy a boat and take him fishing when he gets back (it ain’t happening kid); Al gets wrapped up with a gang that he used to be a getaway driver for, killing them with his rocket launcher car; and Tom kills his wife when he finds her in bed with a scrawny white dude (understandable). An odd but welcome detour before we get the main mission where lots of guys get blow’d up.

If you were hoping for some trademark Harrison craziness, this isn’t the film for you. While he and CROSSING director Teddy Page made FIREBACK (1983) around the same time, this is strictly talking head stuff. ‘Tis the price we pay for being Harrisonites. He is essentially deskbound for his 10 minutes of screen time. Perhaps he was getting thrown a bone for the rigors of FIREBACK and BLOOD DEBTS (1984)? You do have to marvel at the fact that the perpetually old Harrison plays someone’s son though. Awesome. This is essentially Gamboa and Baron’s show. This is the first time I’ve seen Gamboa and he is pretty good, looking like a young Tony Ferrer. Baron is a staple in these flicks and is good as always. And by good I mean entertainingly over-the-top. Watch for the bit where he shoots a guy five times and then kicks him for good measure. He had previously been in Tsui Hark’s DON’T PLAY WITH FIRE (1980) and co-starred with Bruce Li in the highly entertaining DRAGON FORCE (1982). I have to marvel at his outfit in the film’s final siege. It consists of boots, khaki shorts, a gun on each hip, and a skimpy top. Hey, wait a sec…that is Lara Croft’s outfit!

Sadly, HUNTER’S CROSSING isn’t going to set your world on fire. In the pantheon of crazy Filipino cinema, it is a level below some of the other Silver Star/Teddy Page classics. The end breakout is pretty standard for the genre with the requisite shootouts and mandatory exploding huts. One thing that made me laugh is the end relying on the group being picked up by a boat at a rendezvous point (naturally, it is late). Why is this funny? Because Harris and Al drove there in their A-Team gimmicked bike and car! Hell, they even get in them during the final chase but then get out of them to run to the pier. Why not, you know, drive that car back to where you brought it from? There is another really funny bit involving Gamboa running out of bullets and offing two guys coming towards him with machine guns by using knives. Yes, these pirates are truly not a bright lot if they can’t figure out to open fire on a guy five feet in front of them as he throws down his gun and pulls out some blades. I will give the filmmaker’s credit for some funny drama (like Harris revealing Lois is his former wife and Burns, Sr. hates him; might make that rescue kind of awkward) and having the gall to off three out of the four team members. It is an okay time killer, but not the best. If, however, you want prime Filipino Harrison, definitely check out FIREBACK (which co-stars Baron as a lovesick villain named Duffy) and BLOOD DEBTS. Both films have him in the lead and brandishing big guns that make people explode. Take that Al Pacino!

Review from Cinemageddon:

Fellow fans of bad movies should certainly derive a few chuckles from this Silver Star productions release.

The story concerns a group of mercenaries who are deployed to rescue some hostages held somewhere in the Philippines....or is it Vietnam?

A heady combination of poor dubbing and decidedly odd structuring make this a highly enjoyable affair from the out. Take for instance the bizarre sub plots that suddenly (and bafflingly!) crop up out of absolutely no where in the middle of the films running time (!); After having undergone a rigorous training regime to prepare for their impending dangerous mission one of our hero's (B-movie regular Bruce Baron) completely out of the blue and without any form of rational explanation decides to serve as a getaway driver for some bank robbers(!!!) Er?! What the hell?! Such a bizarre (and frankly irrelevant) plot development had me initially believing the scene was some sort of flashback or something! But, it gets even worse when another one of our boys (James Gaines aka Jim Gaines) is shown walking in on his wife having nookie with her lover and promptly blows the offending chap dead! Erm....OK.....I can only assume that the above sub stories (which incidentally end just as abruptly as they began!) were solely included in order to bump up the movies running time. Certainly they are absolutely redundant in forwarding the story in any way, shape or form. Still, for what it's worth, as I said earlier, they do add a certain strange charm to the proceedings in their quirkiness and sheer irrelevance to the story.

Add to this charm the somewhat daft forms of transport our hero's employ when they eventually get around to rescuing the hostages. We have a bullet proof trike and a souped up automobile!!! Yes, I kid you not! I've got to say though, although this may sound an odd choice of rescue vehicles, they sure come well armed - fully loaded with missiles in fact!

Credit where credits due, the scenes in which our hero's fire the aforementioned missiles at the bandits are undoubtedly the best in the entire movie and are actually, believe it or not, really quite cool! (And probably took most of the movies budget to render!)

This is one of those movies that goes down perfectly when one invites over some friends and imbibes copious amounts of alcohol.....great stuff!


  1. it was released on tape in Spain as RESCATE EN VIETNAM ( rescue in Vietnam)

  2. screenshots from Tony Li - facebook