We have ISCFC favourite Len Kabasinski to thank for bringing Ron Marchini to our attention. The micro-budget genre filmmaker was a big fan of “Omega Cop” and “Karate Cop” growing up, and because they were movies about a karate master who was the last cop in a post-apocalyptic future, we had to watch them too. They were pretty good fun, truth be told, so thanks Len, and now, after yet more tracking down of old VHS tapes, we’re able to give you more Marchini.
There’s some “Rambo” style numbering fun going on, which also means we’re watching a Marchini series out of order again. Let’s see if we can puzzle our way through it. In 1985’s “Ninja Warriors”, he plays a character called Steve; but that seems to have no connection to 1986’s “Forgotten Warrior”, where he’s Steve Parrish. That movie would appear to be the prequel to this one, also from 1986, as he’s got the same name in both; but then there’s “Return Fire”, from 1987, also with Marchini as Steve Parrish. Lastly, with a little sprinkle of weirdness, there’s a “Jungle Wolf 3” from 1990, where he plays a guy with a completely different name.
“Ninja Warriors” sounds amazing and “Forgotten Warrior” sounds dull as ditchwater, but we know you rely on us for snarky reviews of obscure old genre movies, so we’ll watch them all, don’t you worry about that. Luckily, there’s not a ton of continuity so I feel confident about discussing this without having seen any of the others.
Marchini is Steve, as has been mentioned, and in the flattest voiceover since “Witchcraft 10”, we’re informed he was in Vietnam, married a local, but she was killed; now he’s back home in the USA, with a blond son. Did he have this son before abandoning him to go to Vietnam the first time, or is this a “ten years later” thing? Already with the questions, this is going to be a long movie. The small Central American country of San Sebastian has got a rebel problem, and right at the beginning those rebels capture the US Ambassador during a TV interview – this is handy as it gives them the chance to state their demands, which is entirely to do with the return of their imprisoned leader. We get no sense of why they’re fighting or what they’re so angry about, in case that sort of stuff is important to you.
The US is going to send the big guns in, but before they waste money and lives, they decide to ask Steve, who is now, apparently, a stunt pilot – yes, we get several minutes of a little plane flying upside down and doing loops and so on. They paid for the plane and pilot and by golly they’re going to use them! So after seconds of discussion, Steve agrees to leave his son behind and head off into Central America to do a rescue. Now, I’m wholly prepared to admit that I wasn’t paying the closest attention, but the next I see, he’s got the rebel leader in handcuffs and is leading him through the wilderness? Perhaps they just wanted him to make the handover, but it seems like they could have made it a bit easier, by flying him a bit closer to the rebels, or something like that. Anyway, it’s Steve, Rebel Leader and Rebel Leader’s daughter (I think), and that’s the majority of the movie.
Well, the real majority of the movie is writer / producer / star Ron Marchini kicking the ass of a rather large number of Filipino extras. Sorry, “central American freedom fighters”. They keep coming and he keeps knocking them back, whether with his sweet (if rather non-flashy-looking) moves, or a wide variety of guns, or throwing stars, or even a sword at the end. Ron is undoubtedly a very skilled martial artist, and he never really lets the pace of things drop either, so that side is an enthusiastic thumbs up from us. I do like how sometimes he goes out of his way to just knock guys out, and other times straight-up murders people (he throws one poor chap off the roof of a building, for instance). There’s a lot of people mown down by machine gun fire too, to the extent you’ll doubt the rebels have any soldiers left by the end.
The plot goes a bit sideways in the last act, and the ending is just completely meaningless and stupid, but all in all it’s a solid, fun, action-packed B-movie. But we need to talk about the acting. Apart from the rebel second-in-command, who’s a splendid scenery-chewer, every single person in this is wooden as hell, to the point where I’m not entirely convinced they all realise they’re in a film; but standing proudly atop this mountain is Marchini himself. Now, I don’t want to say he’s a bad actor, because that implies that he is one – he’s a non-actor, an unactor, an empty page. He manages half a smile when his character gets married and that’s it, the rest of the time he’s nothing. It’s quite amazing to watch, really.
Fans of rarely filmed locations will enjoy the firefight which is in and around some beautiful Filipino ruins (or just enjoy how little respect they show what should be a world heritage site). And fans of songs in films which describe the plot of the film itself (one of my favourite sub-genres) will be delighted with “Back In Action”, hair-metal class that you can listen to for yourselves:
I hope you get as much enjoyment from Ron Marchini’s movies as I have, and if you can track this one down, do so.
Rating: thumbs up