Sunday, 4 March 2012
PHANTOM RAIDERS (1988) (aka AMERICAN FORCE, RED PHANTOM)
Directed by: Sonny Sanders & Dan Harvey
Screenplay: Timothy Jorge & Sonny Sanders
Starring: Miles O’Keeffe, Mike Monty, Anthony East, Jim Moss and Kenneth Peerless
Running. Shooting. Running. Shooting. Running. Shooting. Explosions. Running. Shooting. Ninja stars. Running. Shooting. That’s Phantom Raiders in a nutshell: an ultra cheap, Silver Screen International presents, Miles O’Keeffe action fest that features pretty much all of the above ad infinitum. Even before the credits roll there are explosions and gunfire galore. Hell, I don’t think there is even a fade up from black, the flick just cutting straight into the jungle warfare action. Sweet. The opening scenes feature lots of running around and shooting, a weird torture/fight scene that shows how evil the evil General Marshall (Monty) is and some crazy yahoos taking pictures of the evil General’s evil hideout only for them to get gunned down: all this happening before Miles O’Keefe turns up. In fact, it takes a whole 20 minutes for O’Keeffe to show up, to accept a mission to go in and terminate said evil General and spend a good twenty minutes training some of the most unlikely screen soldiers ever to grace celluloid. Then: well, it’s a good 40 minutes or so of running and shooting and running and shooting and, oh, quite a lot of ninja stars being thrown around!
Low budget Philippine shot jungle action at its minimalist best, Phantom Raiders is really just an excuse to see how many rounds of M-16 ammunition can be dispensed in 80 minutes. And on those terms, it’s an absolute hoot. Throw in a villain who looks like a cross between John Saxon and Richard Jordan (Mike Monty: who was in a ton of these type of Z-grade action movies including the likes of The Atlantis Interceptors and Double Target), a group of Vietnam vets for O’Keeffe to train who are all hilariously tired looking, over-the-hill and in one of their cases a little too rotund to be expert jungle warriors and a ridiculous amount of extras for our heroes to kill and, well, you have yourself a movie. O’Keeffe is no stranger to these types of flicks having also turned up in the aforementioned Double Target and the really quite awesome and equally chock full of continuous running and shooting, The Hard Way. Somewhat disappointingly he’s not really in this one much, disappearing for long chunks at a time (so our portly and “too old for this shit” heroes can take on most of the action), seems to have only four lines of dialogue during the whole running time and spends much of the time he is on screen wearing some kind of weird S&M looking mask thing (!). Still, he does manage to find time to kill a load of bad guys mainly with some groovy exploding ninja stars (that’s right: exploding!) and he is called Python: which is possibly the best action hero movie name ever.
After some funky and unintentionally hilarious training montages, it’s onto to the mission and the last 40 minutes of Phantom Raiders is just wall-to-wall action with non-stop running, shooting and explosions. Seriously, there are about two lines of dialogue during this extended barrage of action. Not quite as cool as the likes of The Hard Way and Double Target (O’Keeffe, unfortunately, does not punch a shark in this one!), Phantom Raiders is still low budget action soaked goodness for fans of Z-grade jungle based war flicks.