This movie features two of our favourite things – Ron Marchini and confusing numbering. Ron is the un-actor behind “Omega Cop” and “Ninja Warriors”, a real tournament martial artist who saw the success of his old opponent Chuck Norris, went “I could do that”, and did so for ten years. It’s labelled “Jungle Wolf 2” despite being the third movie where Marchini plays Steve Parrish, after “Forgotten Warrior” and “Jungle Wolf”. As precisely none of this movie is set in the jungle, “Forgotten Warrior 3” might have been a better title; although maybe “Jungle Wolf” was a success which is why they were exploiting the name? Oh, and for extra confusion there’s a “Jungle Wolf 3” from several years after this, where Marchini plays a different character entirely.
We are helpfully reminded of the end of “Jungle Wolf”, where Steve is hired by the Government to rescue the American ambassador and did so, only to be abandoned at the end (the rescue helicopter flies off with the ambassador and leaves him there) for absolutely no reason whatsoever. We’re told that apparently Steve messed up the mission, even though…how? Did he kill too many bad guys? Was he too awesome? The last shot of the last movie was Steve drawing his sword to face a few remaining bad guys, and the first shot of this movie is…Steve arriving on a boat into San Fransisco! Who cares about finding out how he escaped?
Now, right from the beginning we’re aware that Steve is under surveillance from his old boss Carruthers (Adam West in his wilderness years – he must have liked Marchini as he also showed up in “Omega Cop”). Steve is attacked in a mall, which is not the only similarity this movie shares with “Commando”, and sees as he leaves the beautiful Teri, obviously there to spy on him. Anyway, persons unknown kidnap Steve’s son Zak, kill the guy who’s been looking after him while Steve’s been away – he couldn’t use a long distance phone call to let them know he was alright, for some reason – and then Carruthers tells Steve that Central American drug kingpin Petroli has kidnapped Zak due to all the killing he did down there in the last movie. What relationship a group of freedom fighters would have to a drug smuggler is a plot point sadly never resolved.
But I don’t want to just recap every bit of “Return Fire”. Basically, the only person who doesn’t want Steve dead is Teri (played by Lynn O’Brien, whose entire acting career is this and an episode of “Knot’s Landing”. She was good too, well, better than anyone else in this, which isn’t exactly the same thing), so she helps him rescue his son and fight back against both the evil people inside the CIA and the drug smugglers. It’s all a little confusing to tell the truth, and it’s not helped by way too much of things being action scenes that aren’t all that exciting and don’t move the plot along – yes, it’s another group of overweight, ugly goons tracking Steve down to yet another abandoned warehouse!
It’s a good old pile of action movie clichés with an unusually wooden performance at its core, though. There’s the beautiful agent who realises she’s on the wrong side; the former boss turned villain; the “I just want to see my son”; the one last job; and so on. You know the drill, and this movie will not disappoint you if you’re playing some weird game of cliché bingo with your friends. And much like the rest of Marchini’s output, it’s pretty entertaining too, being almost the definition of “action packed”, and Adam West realises just how silly this all is and has a good time with his role.
But, there’s too much action and not enough plot. There are so many fight scenes that mean nothing, because we’ve not really established who the characters are or why they’re fighting. The subplot with Teri is seemingly abandoned at the end, and from a line of dialogue from Carruthers I must have missed her getting killed? I think a much more accurate name for this series would be “Dead Love Interest”, if that’s the case, as Ron is 3-for-3 so far. There are other ways to generate sympathy for your character, Ron!
Add a sprinkle of some truly rotten acting (Steve’s old friend at the CIA is spectacular) and the dumbest goons in the history of goon-dom, and you’ve got yourself a movie. Perhaps a few stiff drinks and a group of friends would help this go down smoother, as it was a little rough for me on my own. Let’s get together again for the last Jungle Wolf movie soon, yes?
Rating: thumbs in the middle