Tuesday, January 7, 2014

DEATH FORCE (A.K.A. FIGHTING MAD) (1978)






Directed by Cirio H. Santiago
Written by Howard R. Cohen
Starring James Iglehart, Carmen Argenziano, Leon Issac Kennedy, Jayne Kennedy, Joe Mari Avellana, Joonee Gambona and Vic Diaz

Doug Russell (James Iglehart), Morelli (Carmen Argenziano) and McGee (Leon Issac Kennedy, billed as Leon Issac) are three Vietnam Vets riding home from the war on a cargo plane full of caskets. In a pit stop in the Phillipines they unload a coffin full of gold and sell it to a local warlord (Vic Diaz). On the boat ride back to the city, Morelli and McGee do a little math and decide that money splits better in half. They stab Russell and throw him in the ocean.
But, Doug Russell is tough. Really tough. He washes up on a little island inhabited by two relics from World War 2. One is a soldier (Joonee Gambona) and the other is a samurai (Joe Mari Avellana). They save Doug and teach him the way of the samurai.
Meanwhile, Morelli and McGee are taking over the crime in Los Angeles and McGee is putting the moves on Doug's woman, Maria (Jayne Kennedy). Maria is more interested in her singing career and taking care of her little boy than anything McGee has to offer.
Meanwhile, on the island, the old man falls in an accident and dies. Soon after a small squad of soldiers come on the island and take Doug with them. The samurai stays hidden. He knows the world is no longer what he remembers and hides from the squad of men. Well, after he kills two of them. They never address that in the movie. Hmmmm.
So, now Doug is back in town and cutting a bloody swath through the gangs of LA. He fights the gangs of Chinatown, the Italian mob. He keeps getting closer and closer to the two men that left him for dead.
DEATH FORCE is a classic piece of action. You have the hero screwed over and coming back for revenge. James Iglehart is a beast of a man, probably well know for BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and BAMBOO GODS AND IRON MEN. The sword in his hands looks puny, but he does manage to put it to good use.
I put both posters at the top because, well I think I might be ticked off if I went to see the first one. It makes it appear as another Leon Issac Kennedy/Jayne Kennedy vehicle where they get together and have to fight against oppression...or whatever.
Yeah, she is Iglehart's woman in this flick and Leon is a vile, evil man in this one. The second poster is a little closer to home.
The movie is surprising because, for the most part, it is relatively bloodless. It kind of lulls you into that mindset and then the final battle in Mexico comes where Doug storms McGee's hideout. There is arterial spray, decapitations that send the heads flying in a bloody arc through the air. It throws you off guard and makes for a better movie.
This is, as I said before, classic action with everything that comes from that.
Can't go wrong with some classic 70's action.
I also like that the lead character is named Doug. Us Doug's don't get too many of those.

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