Friday, February 13, 2009

Mannigan's Force (1988)

1988 - Mannigan's Force (FLT Films International/Moredel Films International)

[A Filipino production made for the export market, released on Dutch and Swedish VHS as “American Wardog”]

Director "John R'yan Grace"/Tata Esteban Screenplay "Joseph Le Carre" Additional Screenplay James Gaines [Jr], "John R'yan Grace"/Tata Esteban Executive Producers Delza V. Lazatin, Rose Loanzon Flaminiano Cinematography Ver Dauz Music Jaime Fabregas Editor Ronald Santillan Sound Supervision Silvio di Santi, William Light Sound Effects Editor Bert de Santi Field Soundman Bing de Santi Art Director Judy Lou de Pio Production Designer Brillante Mendoza [as Dante Mendoza] Production Coordinator Harry Leone Associate Director Pepito Diaz First Assistant Director Mary King 2nd Assistant Director Bric Harrison Production Supervisors Lydia Leone, Jhet Peters Dialogue Coaches Richard Driscoll, Gabriel Terry Acting Coaches Pierre Lamange, David Wright Talent Coordinator Edd Saveittsen Schedule Master Raoul Seguerra Prop Masters Rick Suede, Jake Pena Set Dressers Jude Quinto, Radji Avila Special Effects Rolly Sto. Domingo, Roland Salem, Edd Bale Stunt Coordinator Ben Romano Stunts Dan Bell, Ed Boyce, Ron Norton Wardrobe Oscar Manzano, Frank Shore Makeup Artists Lou dela Pena, Virgie Miro Camera Operators Sergio Castro, Val Dauz, Raymond Ford Camera Assistants David Leone, Johnny Sevilla, Dan de Castro Boom Man Andres Navarro Assistant Editors Dan Ford, Edmund Piper, Allan Borge Negative Cutter John Zafra Stills Wilmore Barry Titles/Opticals Ronald Santillan, Rudolf Winkler Gaffer Mike Vega Lifter Terry Prado Clapper Ben Zacara Dollyman Peter Mirador Grips Alex Castro, Adolf Pascua, Arnie Todd Unit Drivers Edwin de Lara, Peter Pascua, Adolf Hammer

Cast "George Nicholas"/Georgio Albergo (Jack Mannigan), Eric Hahn (Roberto Aranda), Mel Davidson (Tim Ross), Tsing Tong Tsai (Hang Sang Kook), Jeff Griffith (Howard Smith), Jim Moss (Bill Peters), David Anderson (Frank Stack), “Khorshied”/Khorshield MacHalle (Lucrecia), Anthony East (Randall), Mike “Monti”/Monty (General Alfuero), Doc McCoy (General Bradley), Gabriel Terry (Diaz), Gerard Donlon (Hernandez), Oscar Daniels (Alcazar), Mark Coaster (Augusto), Anthony Tanner (Padre Antonio), Andrew Joseph (De Leon), Eduardo Villapol (Robles), James Gaines (TV Newscaster), Elizabeth Dane (Girl Hostage), Eddie Gaerlan (General), Ruben De Castro (Paolo), Sally White (Newspaper Clerk), Gary Penny (Club Floor Manager), Silvio D'Santi (Church Sacristan) Syndicate Members Frank Campbell, Tony Collins, Brad Peters, James Hun Chu, Peter Crestell, Howard Kane American Gunrunners Joe Little, Ron Roberts, Jigss Bauer Club Bouncers Roy Williams, Fred Jackson Club Dancers Marilyn Diaz, Michelle Daniels, Liza York Club Girls Betty Brown, Alice Goldwyn, Cynthia Dixon, Susanna Dale Village Guides Danilo Prado, Pedro S├ínchez Foreign Correspondents Margie Young, Cherry White, Luisa Terry, Ron Gabol, George Smith, James Gardner, Alfred Pearson, John Small, Ted Baker, Richard Snow Kidnappers Frank Bergen, Joe Watts, Harry Holmes, Rick Rogers

NOTE: According to Jim Gaines, the film was a co-production between FLT Films and Motion Picture Lab, owned by the Lazatin's former partners of LVN pictures; Cherrie Pie Lazatin ran the studio.

Gunter Mueller’s review at AV Maniacs forum:

This violent actioner (known in Germany as AMERICAN WARDOG, suggesting it's a sequel to the Swedish WAR DOG) was apparently shot in the Philippines and tells the story of a group of mercenaries who are hired to free four American prisoners in a rebel-infested country. Little did they know that they are used for an entirely different operation...

The first 15 minutes of this flick are insane: first the mercenaries attack a village and kill everyone in sight with their guns and bombs. There's a jaw-dropping stunt sequence where a tower explodes and out of the explosion (in a few metres height) jumps a burning man. Holy shit! After the village is wiped out (dozens of men are dying in hails of bullets - nice squib F/X) the mercenaries return to their hiding place in order to celebrate their victory. The enemies strike back with a vengeance, mercilessly killing as many as possible. The bodies of young children are riddled with bullets, and in one ultra-nasty moment a small boy is shot in the head, with blood spurting out of the wound.

But with this, it seems, the movie has shot its powder. Because from then on it's just average low-budget action stuff, albeit with a few interesting twists and turns. Mike Monty co-stars as the villain, while George Nicholas (Giorgio Albergo?) stars (not too convincingly) as the titular Mannigan. The director is John R'yan Grace... never heard of him.

Still, all in all it's a pretty good and very violent action flick, well worth checking out. If you should happen to stumble upon it, I advise you to rent or buy it cheaply.

Review from the Crustacean Hate blog:

The place: the fictional Central American country of Cenagua (played by the Phillipines). The time: 1984 (played by 1988). In an opening scene familiar to most aficionados of war movies and/or gay porn, a group of hairy, muscular, armed men creep through the steamy jungle. The most hairy, muscular and armed of them all is Jack Mannigan (George Nichols). He and his force (ie Mannigan's Force) are helping a rebel group mount an attack on an enemy encampment and they must be really good because there's over a dozen of them crouching in open sight no more than 20 meters from the base and they aren't even spotted.

Mannigan leads the attack, leaping into the fray while screaming and blasting away with his huge, overcompensatory gun. The ensuing attack is full of bloody, Sam-Peckinpah-esque slow motion kills and burning bodies leaping out of exploding guard towers. I counted at least 90 kills, and most of them can be attributed to Mannigan himself, who mows down soldier after hapless soldier with an M16 in in each hand. This is strictly a shooting gallery style affair, with enemy soldiers completely forgetting they are armed as they run into a hail of gunfire. Lots of stunts, exploding huts and and bloody squibs. It's a good sequence.

Victorious, they head back to the rebel village. His men celebrate while Mannigan has a heart-to-heart with some local girl he's boning, saying he can't take her with him because he's a free bird and this bird you cannot chay-ay-ange. The next morning the enemy conducts a brutal counter-attack on the village. It's pretty hardcore, with women and little kids getting riddled with bullets in slow motion. Jeez. Mannigan's Force (and his girl) manage to escape the village and eventually find their way back to civilisation.

NOTE: Here's where you should probably turn off the film, because it seriously blows it's load in that opening sequence.

Some time later back in Cenagua, some enemy forces capture a military convoy and take some US hostages. While your standard group of international politicians/businessmen huddle in a briefing room, a guy demonstrates that Mannigan is a "karate expert, vietnam vet, mercenary, all rolled into one". He even includes some handy visual aids; slides of Mannigan posing in a karate uniform, army greens etc. They are all impressed by Mannigan's big muscles and agree that he is the man for the job, so they send a group of armed men to ambush him at home. You might consider that strange, figuring an official letter or polite phone call might be more appropriate, but tough guys like Mannigan and I, the only language we understand is violence. If the conversion doesn't start with a sweaty fist fight and a gunpoint confrontation, then we're just not going to take you seriously.

They offer Mannigan a million dollars, so he reluctantly agrees to the mission and puts out a coded newspaper ad to rally his force. All of his old buddies show up to lend a hand and there's a new guy too, a kung fu expert named Hang. Mannigan is unsure of him at first because he's one of the few men without any facial hair. Seriously, they are all sporting Magnum P.I. regulars. I would have called them Mannigan's Moustache Rangers.

Once they are back in-country they meet their local contact and formulate a plan of attack, but things aren't as simple as they seem. Turns out their chief employer is actually in league with the Cenaguan military forces, and he is using Mannigan's suicide mission as a decoy to placate his fellow colleagues while he trades arms and drugs with the Cenaguan General. Or something, I don't know. There were big chunks of dialogue that were in Spanish and the DVD didn't have any English subtitles (had burnt-in Japanese ones, though). I could tell that the Cenaguan General spoke Spanish phoenetically, which really isn't what you want in a military leader.

Mannigan meets up with his old girl (the only female character in the whole film I think), but she turns out to be a traitor working for the General. In 80s action films, one should maintain a healthy distrust of anything with a vagina. When they finally storm the base about a hundred of the General's soldiers appear out of hiding and I was all geared up for everyone to go out in a Wild Bunch style mass slaughter. Instead Mannigan's girl turns out to be a double agent for Mannigan's Force, taking the General hostage and helping them escape without a single shot fired. Total cinematic blueballs.

During the escape the General reveals that there aren't any hostages and that Mannigan's employer has double-crossed him, so Mannigan drives to the airstrip to confront his employer and plays a game of poorly-edited chicken with his jet. Mannigan barrel rolls to safety just in time to avoid the huge explosion, and then the film immediately ends. We don't find out how he manages to escape the General or his men. There isn't even a scene with Mannigan and his buds lounging by the pool after a job well done. Weak sauce.

The director is some dude named John Ryan Grace who left no corner uncut and spared every expense. The lighting is terrible and the acting is purely amateur hour, especially Mannigan who's displays of table-thumping anger are kind of embarassing. After the brilliant opening I thought I had discovered a lost gem of cheapie war films, but it's probably the worst case of premature ejaculation that I've ever seen. Nothing else in the film comes even a tenth of the way to matching that first action sequence. It's nice of them to put the best bits at the beginning so you don't have to fast forward, but I wish I'd known beforehand so I could have stopped watching about 15 minutes in.

Review from The Movie Machine blog:

How many tough son of a bitches do you know named Jack Mannigan. I didn't know any until watching this low grade man on mission action flick. But I do now! This guy Jack Mannigan is one tough hombre. How many guys can fire an M16 machine gun in one hand and an uzi in the other, all while shooting every target in site and screaming "Aaaagghh!" JACK MANNIGAN that's who! How many guys do you know that are bonnafide special ops killers who can break you're neck with just one snap? JACK MANNIGAN that's who! Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's danger all about? SHAFT, JOHN SHAFT! Oh, wait a second, were talking about MANNIGAN, JACK MANNIGAN that's who, I'm sorry I got my movies confused. When you watch as many movies as me, it's bound to happen sooner are later.

Anyway, I know I've been kissing Mannigan's ass for the most part, but let me tell you why this SOB is such an efficient killing machine. For one he's got this cool ass beard, it's no Chuck Norris but it'll get the job done. Second he's proficient in martial arts, like I said he's no Chuck Norris but he'll do in a pinch. And third who looks more stoic while delivering ass kickings to renegade terrorists? Chuck Norris oops, I'm mean Jack Mannigan. Let's face it these two have a hellava lot in common. They both fire two guns in each hand, (Chuck Norris straps on two uzi's in INVASION USA) they both have facial hair, and both hate commie scum. Well I know Chuck hates commies (he proved that in INVASION USA) so I guess Mannigan does to. All we get from this movie is that Mannigan (played by George Nicholas by the way) goes to some South American country to rescue some prisoners who are held captive. He recruits his old team of mercenaries to be his back up, and they go and raise all kinds off hell. We get all the usual antics, as Mannigan and his mercs, blow up random bullshit, shoot any civilians that gets in their way and act like general hard asses. After a second rate Sam Peckinpah opening sequence it loses it's fire and bogs down in the middle part of the film but redeems its self at the end with numerous baddies being mowed down by our hairy hero taking no prisoners, so if you want to leave your logic at the door for about ninety minutes or so you'll enjoy this action no brainer!

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