Friday, March 16, 2012

Wardogs (1987)

Ever since I basked in the glory that was “Deadly Prey”, I had been in search of a low budget action flick to stand toe to toe with the GGtMC classic. I’ve perused through thrift stores and dug around the wonderful world of the internet. It’s when I wasn’t looking that I stumbled upon the next golden action extravaganza. While on a trip to pick up “The Iron Giant” at my local video store, I stumbled upon a VHS copy of “Wardogs (The Assassination Team).

This bucket of cheese was released by Vista Home Video. It comes in one of those mini clam shells that stick out in your collection, demanding attention. The cover is adorned by two soldiers equipped with guns starting off into the distance. Behind them is a flaming truck that just exploded. It perfectly signifies what this film is about.

The CIA has a secret organization of “wardogs”. These are vets who have been drugged and brainwashed by Spacek (Bengt Fridh) to kill innocent civilians. When his brother, Rick, is pronounced dead, Charles Stewart (Timothy Earle) believes it to be a lie. No body came back; just an urn filled with supposed ashes. With the help of reporter Dean Daniels (Gunnar Ernblad), he tracks down the truth and bites off more than he can chew.

A new war is waged between Rick and the “wardogs”. These soldiers are nearly invincible, acting more like cyborgs than human beings. They can take many bullets without flinching and have the deadliest chops outside of a kung fu film. They’re also highly trained with guns and have recruited some excellent snipers. When they strike, a pile of bodies is left behind.

There are two distinct action sequences that stand out in this film. The first comes early and it takes place at a gas station. This gas station is apparently owned by Coca-Cola, since ads and bottles of the product are strewn about the place. It’s like walking into Buffalo Bill’s house if he were addiced to Coca-Cola. The only other product (besides gas) that the owner seemed to be selling were Marlboros. I guess they needed to gain the budget somehow.

At this gas station, the “wardogs” ambush innocent civilians and pump bullets into all of them. Children aren’t exempt, as one little boy is pumped full of lead. Just a few moments earlier, he watched as his father, who was giving him ice cream, was shot point blank in the head. Then he watched his grandmother have multiple bullets driven into her back. It’s a gruesome scene.

The other action sequence takes place at an amusement park. The “wardogs” find Charles and Dean there and go to town on them and anybody in their way. One poor schmuck got shot atop of the water slide. He got to take the ride, but wasn’t conscious for it. His bloody carcass slipped down the slide and dropped into a pool full of people. Simply glorious!

Despite a low budget, the action itself looks good and Bjorn Carlstrom and Daniel Hubenbecher seemed to be blessed with an infinite amount of guns, tanks, cars, grenades and explosions. Every ten minutes or so something’s being blown to smithereens. None of it looks hokey. A lot of it looks more convincing than recent action movies of the past few years.

The only true downfall of the film (as the directorial mistakes are minor) is the ending. It goes from being an action film to a horror film. The finale acts more like the conclusion of a slasher film than it does a high-octane action orgasm. It comes out of left field and feels strained. I understand what Carlstrom and Hubenbecher were going for. It simply needed to be inserted into another film.

In my quest to find a successor to “Deadly Prey”, I feel I’ve finally found the holy grail. Just like that film, this is a wild and crazy action film that could only be found on the home video market. The creators don’t give a damn about good filmmaking and just want to feed junkies’ minds for an hour and a half. “Wardogs” delivered on that.

MVT: I’m going to go with Bengt Fridh as Spacek. Though he doesn’t have a lot of screen time, he makes the most of his role. He plays the stereotypical action villain to a tee and sports a wicked wife beater.

Make or Break: I could go with either action sequences I mentioned earlier. I’ll stick with the amusement park, as that was in the middle of the film. That solidified what type of action movie this was going to be; a cheesefest. That’s exactly what I wanted.

Final Score 8/10

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