Just a Damned Soldier (1988)

Italy does it again with another late ’80s ‘Namsploitation film, this time about mercenaries with a grudge against a drug lord who is running guns out of Cambodia with the help of the North Vietnamese. Filmed entirely in the Philippines, this movie gets things like uniforms and ammunition counts horribly wrong, but the explosions are oh so right. Watch as the heroes shrug off gunshots to their bodies but shoot blindly from the hip and always hit their targets…unless the guy knows how to throw darts.

Sometime during the mid-1980s, a secret commando unit makes a raid in Cambodia to steal a shipment of gold, which they then give to the exiled Afghani government to help them fight the Soviet invasion. But the gold belongs a local Taekwondo expert and criminal underworld boss, and was used to pay for arms for the Vietnamese still operating in Cambodia after defeating the Khmer Rouge. The reason his gold was picked? The leader of the commando unit, The Kraut, has a long running grudge against him, and it’s time to collect payment. What is that grudge, and why is he called the Kraut? I don’t know, it never gets explained. In fact the movie makes a point of having characters flat out say they won’t say. Either way, after the raid, the crime boss is pissed, so he gets his revenge, and the match escalates to torture, murder, and hostage-taking on both sides. Even the good guys get into the action a bit by leaving corpses around for the villains to find.

It’s actually a surprisingly interesting plot, even with the bad acting. Typically when I go into these movies, I expect something as bad as Robowar, a bad Predator wannabe with a killer robot, so Just a Damned Soldier took me by surprise. It still has some incredibly stiff performances from the likes of Mark Gregory, but Peter Hooten (Dr. Strange!) and Romano Kristoff (Warbus and Ten Zan) are actually pretty entertaining in their own right. Is it as good as something like Rambo II? No, definitely not. But it’s one of the better of these kinds of Filipino productions as far as I’m concerned.

Did any of you guys watch Tropic Thunder? You know how Ben Stiller’s character acts, where he’s firing his rifle one-handed and posing in various ways or kneeling? That is exactly the kind of thing to expect here. At least I didn’t see Mark Gregory blow up a minivan with a revolver this time.

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