Thursday, 27 June 2013


SAHARA (1995)

Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Written by: David Phillips & Philip MacDonald
Starring: James Belushi, Alan David Lee, Michael Massee & Jerome Ehlers

James Belushi is ace in this solid mid 90s remake of the Humphrey Bogart film of the same name. Some may cry foul at the idea of a Bogart film being remade, and on a somewhat low budget, and while the original Sahara is a fine slice of Bogart it’s not exactly a crime to think of remaking it. Under the assured hands of veteran genre director Brian Trenchard-Smith (Day of the Panther, The Man from Hong Kong, Siege at Firebase Gloria), this version of Sahara is well made, nicely acted and packed with gun busting action. Belushi is Joe Gunn an army sergeant who is forced to go on the run through the Sahara desert in his beloved tank Lulubelle during WW2. He heads deeper into the desert, picking up wandering stragglers from a range of allied forces along the way, attempting to outrun an advancing Nazi army. From tank breakdowns to the unrelenting hardship of the desert, the motley crew face their fair share of adversities before finding a desert oasis with a well full of water. Holing up there they decide to stand strong against the Germans who mount a full scale attack against Belushi and his men in a bid to take the oasis and seize the precious water.

Despite being originally produced for television, Sahara looks great, benefits from some great location work, features some pretty impressive action staging and doesn’t skimp on the violence of war either. Essentially about a group of differing men having to overcome their differences and the notion of whether rank is important to survive the harsh landscape, Trenchard-Smith’s film benefits from some well-written characters and the actors who portray them. Belushi is brilliant as the no-nonsense Gunn flexing his dramatic muscles, as well as his physical ones, as he tries to do right by his men even if it means making tough and life threatening decisions. He has good support from Jerome Ehlers (The Marine) as the sensible Brit who bonds with Gunn and Michael Massee (The Crow) as a tough as nails French soldier. Refreshingly, after an initial spot of tension, the group get along and learn to survive and fight as a unit avoiding the usual clich├ęs of group antagonism.

The makers don’t forget to stage some impressive action either as the tank is as much a part of the cast as any actor, it causing major wholesale Nazi destruction come the finale. In fact, the finale sees the film turn into a siege picture as the crew hunker down to make a stand within the ruins of the oasis. Trenchard-Smith is a dab hand at staging action and gets to let loose with a large cast of extras, some impressive machine gun action and a tank in an exciting last act battle. War based action coupled with an excellent cast and solid production values; Sahara is a taut and tight war film worthy of tracking down.

Good stuff.


Ty said...

Nice write-up. Looks interesting for a James Belushi action movie. Will try to track it down.

drive2 said...

thanks man. yeah Belushi actually makes for a good action hero. he was also good in Retroactive, Made Men and of course Red Heat...

Ty said...

You're welcome.

Retroactive is very underrated. Solid sci-fi action.

Rob said...

Good movie but prefer the casting in the Bogart version.