Thunder III (1988)

Ah, Thunder. You’re like if Rambo and Billy Jack had a tough, quiet love child out in the New Mexican desert. And now I’m finishing off the trilogy.

A group of white supremacist militia members shoot a couple of horses, and when Thunder intervenes, they shoot up and torch a small Native American village and then refuse to pay the damages. When the local sheriff tries to talk to them, they reveal they are the leaders of the nearby white community and decide to go after Thunder instead. What’s a young Native American man to do?

Get revenge.

Sweet

Explosive

Revenge.

For a third time.

Mark Gregory returns for the final time as Thunder, the Navajo warrior who is fed up with the crappy hand the local white folks have given him. He’s no longer on the force and is instead content to live out his days teaching tradition to the children on his reservation along with his wife, Sheena (wait, her name for the last two films was Sheila. What gives?!) At this point, Bo Svenson is long gone as the nearby town sheriff, but that’s ok, as now we have John Phillip Law, AKA Kalgan from Space Mutiny! Kalgan, blow me away! And there is a whole town full of racist scumbags eager to serve as fodder, along with a disgraced Pentagon official named Colonel Magnum who…well, pretty much disappears from the movie altogether. So does the whole militia thing, to be honest. After 25 minutes, it basically vanishes and never comes back up again that the villains all like to wear camo shirts and short shorts while running around in the desert with shotguns, beer, and brotherly love for each other.

That’s ok though, because instead, Thunder decides to go into their homes and businesses, vandalizing before their very eyes. And the sheriff? Well, he’s not too keen on arresting Thunder because he partly thinks he’s justified, but he wants to preserve law and order. He just can’t arrest the militia folks without more evidence than Thunder’s word. Thunder is even fine with the idea of going to jail for what he’s done, so long as the bad guys pay for the damages they did to the native village.

Once again, the violence is largely bloodless, but the open racism of the villains has ramped up a bit from Thunder II, despite still not being at Thunder level. This movie has the most vandalism of the series, but the least amount of people getting maimed. Really, it’s all about property damage here as both sides wage a war of intimidation against each other until someone either goes to jail or pays up. The dubbing is much better here (supposedly this film is entirely Italian language, but everyone’s mouth looks to be speaking English properly), and while the acting still leaves much to be desired, there aren’t too many egregious sins of filmmaking here…well, maybe not beyond the scene where Thunder smashes a car’s windows while the owner shouts “Not the car!” and cowers in the corner while sobbing. That could have been handled better. Not by Thunder, he makes a good silent mob enforcer type. The other dude. It was painful.

So I’m finished with this VHS-only trilogy. It’s been fun, and I’m glad to say I sat through it, even if nobody else will have any idea what the hell it is I’m talking about. That’s ok, they usually don’t.

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