11/8/11

Megaforce (1982): Words About Deeds

When you have a name like Ace Hunter, can you go wrong? Is there any chance at all you wont grow up to be the leader of a super secret international military organization tasked with keeping world peace? Perhaps as much chance as you not wearing your bleached blonde hair feathered with a powder blue bandanna in it, which is to say, no chance at all. If you happened to wonder, today's film features a character named Ace Hunter and he's all the things I mentioned above. He's also Barry "Brad Majors" Bostwick... in a skintight gold zipped jumpsuit. At this point, you're either highly tempted by the movie I'm teasing or you've already seen just about enough of Bostwick in his tighty whities in Rocky Horror. Before the later half departs, let me also mention that the film in question features missiles mounted on dirt bikes and dune buggies, Lt. Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture with hair, Henry Silva in a Fidel Castro costume, and it goes by the name Megaforce. If that doesn't do it for you, then I don't know what will. Also possibly you are not a cult movie fan... or you're dead, make sure to consult your family doctor in either case.

The nation of Sadoun is under constant attack from Major Jorge Guerera (Henry Silva) and his band of mercenaries, but rather than start an international incident, Sadoun's President refuses to let his military chase Guerera across the border into the neighboring country. Sir Edward Byrne-White (Edward Mulhare), the distinguished looking British commander of Sardoun's forces, and Major Zara Benbhutto (Persis Khambatta), daughter of the President, know something must be done. They enlist the help of Megaforce, a super secret world organization supported by all free nations of the world to keep the peace. In other words, they're like the United Nations Peacekeeping force, but in place of blue helmets, they're more about lasers, missiles, flying motorcycles, and powder blue headbands. Rocking said headgear is Ace Hunter (Barry Bostwick), the tall, blonde, dashing leader of Megaforce. Hunter and Gurrera have a sordid history together, and both are ready to square off one last time. When Sadoun pulls their support from Megaforce, Hunter finds himself and his men trapped in a desert with no choice but to fight their way out.

I thought I had no youthful recollection of Megaforce until I saw the ad to the left bearing its "Deeds Not Words" slogan. I've got dozens of comics with this image plastered on the back, but somehow I never realized it was a movie. I thought it was a line of toys, perhaps confused by Kenner's war toys Mega Force, but while it had plenty of G.I. Joe trappings, it never made the miniature leap. (It did however make it to the Atari 2600, and again I don't know how I missed this one as a kid.) The movie itself starts out a little slow with the setup taking just a little too long to get around to Bostwick in his skintight gold jumpsuit. If you're not prepared to see as much if not more of Bostwick's ass than you did in Rocky Horror, then this is not the film for you. As soon as the actor strides onto the screen for the first time the movie really takes off, and from there it's really Bostwick's show. Sliding easily between tough guy, or as tough as you can be with bleached blonde feathered hair and a powder blue headband, and comedic tones, the actor seemed to get the memo on what kind of film he was in and clearly relished the part. Bostwick's Ace Hunter is Roger Moore's James Bond, G.I. Joe's Duke, and John Travolta's Stayin' Alive hair all wrapped up in one character, no easy feat.

Barry didn't do it all on his own though. While Henry Silva was woefully underused and Persis Khambatta, while quite lovely to look at, had less personality than when her Star Trek character was possessed by a rogue satellite, there were a number of minor roles that were quite entertaining. Micheal Beck (Xanadu, The Warriors) really entertains as Hunter's confidante Dallas, even if some of the dialog literally makes no sense. The Megaforce also benefited from performances by Ralph Wilcox (More American Graffiti, Seaquest 2032), George Furth (Blazing Saddles, Shampoo), and Anthony Pena (The Running Man). No one signs onto Megaforce for the incredible skill of the actors treading the boards, but instead the thick layer of cheese upon which everything is based. As I mentioned earlier, the movie is very much like a live action version of G.I. Joe with lots of explosions, lots of missile laden dune buggies, and not many people actually getting hit in all the fire. Suffice it to say, I found it delightfully entertaining.

There have been times in my life when I felt like I must have seen all the great cult films out there. There couldn't be anything that has eluded me for years, but then a title like Megaforce comes and smacks me across the grill. I can only compare Megaforce to cult classics like Hands of Steel or Golden Queen Commandos. It's the kind of film that's fun to watch alone, and it would be incredible to watch with a group of fun loving folks. Director Hal Needman, a stuntman by trade, had already directed both Smokey and the Bandit movies, Hooper, and Cannonball Run (and would go on to direct Run II, Rad, Body Slam, and Stroker Ace), but if anything seals the deal of Needman being one of the greatest genre film directors of the early '80's then it's Megaforce. No matter if you remember the film or this would be your first viewing, I highly recommend tracking down a copy. I could go on and extol the film further, but you really need to see it yourself. And, after all, Deeds Not Words.

Bugg Rating

2 comments:

  1. If only the sequel focusing on the Megaforce's sea base was ever made. But we at least got The Delta Force, so that's something.

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  2. I vaguely remember seeing this movie...and you mention Michael Beck as "Hunter's friend", but did you know he played a guy named Hunter in a little-seen flick called "Warlords of the 21st Century"? (also called Battletruck in some places, but when I saw it at the theater it was called Warlords)

    It's kind of a fun Road Warrior ripoff, so if you can find it, check it out.

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