Tuesday, 12 August 2008

American Eagle



AMERICAN EAGLE (1989)

Directed by: Robert J. Smawley
Screenplay: Asher Bauner
Starring: Asher Bauner, Robert F. Lyons & Vernon Wells

Clichéd riddled, unintentionally hilarious, American Eagle is an 80s action time capsule that also happens to feature some barnstorming action and is damn entertaining. If you like cliché filled, 1980s action cinema that is. Vietnam flashback: check. Chiselled, man of few words hero who can’t settle down: check. Blonde Barbie girlfriend who loves chiselled hero but can’t be with him because he is always off on secret missions killing folks: check. Former Nam buddy who has gone rogue and now wants to kill chiselled hero and sets this up by kidnapping Barbie girlfriend: check. Horrible, 80s rock ballad than manages to work in the title of the movie and played over the end credits: check. Mix together, shoot in South Africa, add loads of gunfire and voila: American Eagle.



An obvious vanity project for star Asher Bauner (Merchants of War), American Eagle sees him stride through every scene with an almost smug grin on his face while he looks in pain whenever he has to deliver a line of dialogue. Fortunately he has a decent supporting cast around him including Rom Smerczak (American Ninja 4) as his dodgy CIA boss, Robert F. Lyons (Platoon Leader) as his sidekick and the great and always intense Vernon Wells (Commando) as his demented Nam buddy. Wells chews up the scenery something fierce, playing almost the same character he did in Commando. In fact, his face off with Bauner come the end is almost identical to his face off with Arnie in Commando, right down to Wells brandishing a knife.

No doubt trying to jump on the big action films of the 80s bandwagon (Rambo, Commando et al) Bauner nicks ideas and scenes from loads of movies, even putting in a Russian Roulette scene so he can name check The Deer Hunter. Posing, cheesiness and a few laugh out loud moments aside, American Eagle is actually a lot of fun. The production values are pretty good, great South African locations and there is loads of hard hitting action with mucho shotgun fire and explosions galore. The stunts and action are handled pretty well and are quite impressive for what must have been a low budget flick. Good, harmless, silly fun that is great with a six pack. Made in a time when all an action movie needed was a tough hero, a shotgun and loads of explosions. Oh, and a horrible power ballad as well. Rock on.

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