Thursday, March 27, 2008

Opposing Force

The Action Mutant…
holds the market for generic Action titles.

Opposing Force

review by Joe Burrows

Damn, this is such a Cannon release! Generic title, exploitive premise, military motif…this should have Golan/Globus fingerprints all over it! Except replace Anthony Zerbe with Richard Lynch, Richard Roundtree with Steve James, Tom Skerritt with Chuck Norris/Michael Dudikoff and the woman would be dead within 20 minutes. Ah, simpler times!

The Plot, as it was:
Lisa Eichhorn stars as Casey, a career military woman that demands to be treated to the same training that the male soldiers go through. She joins up with a group of soldiers led by Maj. Logan (Tom Skerritt) as they drop down onto an island for a “War Games” type exercise. They are captured by General Becker (Anthony Zerbe) and it becomes apparent that he’s not playing by the rules or with a full deck. Imprisonment and torture follow as Becker and Lt. Stafford (Richard Roundtree) try to figure out how deal with the variable of having a strong willed woman in their midst.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Looking at the box art for Opposing Force and one expects an Action/Exploitation saga that follows all of the trappings of the grade F war genre in the late 80s. In that case, they would be half right. The first 2/3 of the movie is actually fairly compelling, with the marks being hit in solid (if unspectacular) fashion. Eichhorn bares it all (emotionally and well…you know) and hits all of the emotional marks, which give things a little more credibility. Her scenes of violation (rhymes with “gape”) are disturbing but effective, as they’re surprisingly not exploitive. Skerritt is his usual likable self, despite being the traditional “tough, but fair” commander of the group. Zerbe is deliciously evil as the heavy and Roundtree always manages to be entertaining with the hard bitten military dialogue (“You better drop your balls, bitch!”). Force becomes less interesting during its final third, which is ironically when the typical blood and mayhem starts to commence. The constraints of the film’s low budget start to show as some of the action looks cheap and awkward, a la an A.I.P. film (some of those deaths…hooo, boy!). By the end, everything comes off mildly disappointing after the somewhat promising first half but the two lead performances manage to anchor what would have been a normal War genre entry.

Body Count/Violence: 18. A low number but keep in mind all the death takes place over the last 25 minutes of the film. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary as everyone’s taken out by some bloody gunfire and grenades. There are some torture scenes, such as beatings with sticks and clubs and soldiers being strung out into the hot sun. One of the baddies gets a rock cracked over his head, via a flying Skerritt attack.

Sexuality/Nudity: The film excels here, as there’s something for everyone. All of the soldiers are stripped down for shower and delousing, which shows off a lot of pasty white male ass (genitals are barely obscured) and Eichhorn in the first of her many nude scenes. She strips a few more times and everything is shown at one point or the other (nice tan lines) though the fleeting nudity in the rape scene is not meant to be pleasant. Eichhorn’s also in plain military issue panties and a sheer (wet) bra near the start. She’s not the “classic Hollywood beauty” but I was digging her. Skerritt’s pasty caboose gets some screen time and he’s nude in a chair once, where his pubes are slightly visible. No package though because Stafford is stepping on his groin at the time…yecch!

Language/Dialogue: Some tough language here and there.

How bad was it?:
There isn’t much written about Opposing Force, though viewer feedback is pretty well split. Quite a few are sucked in by the “female amongst the horrors of battle” angle, while others just dismiss it with the other post-Platoon claptrap.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Orion Pictures’ box office figures are pretty hard to get but this is ridiculous! No gross or budget figures are available for this little seen film so my guess is it barely made a blip at the theatres. Only thing I know is that it was filmed in the Philippines and got its American theatrical release sometime in August of 1986. Catch it on Encore Action where it’s shown from time to time or get it on video at for as low as $5.49.

Film: **1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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