Friday, June 23, 2017

Megaforce (1982)

Ah Megaforce.  What took me so long to come around to you?

I think I probably subconsciously waited for this exact moment - to commemorate Megaforce's 35th anniversary of release.  There's a bit of insanity surrounding this masterful piece of cinematic art.  First, you probably didn't know that it has a deep connection to another 1982 classic sci-fi movie - Blade Runner.  Yeah.  There was a film company in Hong Kong who put together the funding for MegaForce, Blade Runner, and two other films to hopefully breakthrough in the United States.  All of them were box office failures (well...  technically High Road to China was not a failure, just forgotten).

Megaforce's release also came with an Atari 2600 game.  That game seems like a whole lotta garbage and flashing and explosion sounds that just all add up to it being complete nonsense.  At least it knew what scene to center the game around.  The film was directed by stuntman-turned-director Hal Needham who was usually known for making movies that involved fast cars and Burt Reynolds (The Cannonball Run, Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper - you get the picture).  This being is only venture into sci-fi Needham would attempt.  While I think it was only natural to pick him for what the movie had in it and was about, it was probably a stretch to think he was going to be able to piece all this together.

So, before we start in, I will give you a quick rundown of what the movie is about.  Megaforce follows Ace Hunter (Barry Bostwick) who leads an elite task force of adventurers who uphold justice.  Then, Ilia from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (Persis Khambatta) shows up and asks for their help to fight off an aggressive neighboring country.  Khambatta is the girl oddly dressed as a Bond Girl on the poster there.  Even though she is a high ranking, combat veteran army lady.  Pffft...  and people are confused why there's such hub bub around the importance and success of this year's Wonder Woman movie.  Anyway, Hunter decides to help this small republic fight their foes, led by Hunter's rival Gueerra (Henry Silva from the wonderful vampire film I covered last year, Thirst).

There you have it.  Let's get this kooky action/adventure movie rolling!


The movie starts with some onscreen text about how Megaforce's existence has been confirmed and they are out to save the world from tyranny and evil.  And holy fuck the theme song to this movie is fucking awesome.  Think superheroic Escape from New York.  When the credits end, we see what appears to be blue collar (or whatever passes as such) workers being rounded up and hearing a speech from what I assume is the leader of the bad guy country.  He's telling them how they are freed from tyranny of the bourgeois or whatever.  You know, typical propaganda stuff.  Gurerra is there with his forces and seems somewhat bored by the speech.  I am guessing he's just hired muscle and not really a true believer of this leader of the bad guy country (called Gamibia - which is fucking impossible to actually pronouce. No really, try to pronounce it. I'll wait.  See?  You couldn't.).  In fact, he stops the guy with the really bad English and even worse speech and just blows up the workers' factory with all his tanks.  Once daylight comes, Gurerra sees that the forces of the peaceful Republic of Sardun engage but not allowed to actually attack the Gamibian army.  Why not?  Who cares!

It then cuts to an airport where the two leaders of the Sardunian forces, Major Zara (Khambatta) and General Byrne-White who is oddly very British despite being in what seems to be either an African or Middle Eastern desert, to a location in the middle of nowhere.  Now this is where I have to admit that I always thought this movie was A) futuristic and B) somewhat (at least) post-apocalyptic.  This movie is neither.  It's present day because the Continental Airlines plane they flew in on was totally 1982 and the car that dropped them off in the middle of nowhere was also very 1980s in design and nature.  So I guess Megaforce just dresses like bad Star Trek guys and has all the coolest shit like G.I. Joe and/or Cobra.

I'm left wondering what the fuck movie was I thinking of that was futuristic and post-apocalyptic that had a force of guys with really cool stuff and sexy Persis Khambatta...
Speaking of...  Why hello there.
While the British general guy keeps complaining about being left out in the middle of nowhere and how all this seems really suspicious, Zara kindly suggests he sit down and shut his fucking cake hole.  Well, not in that exact phrasing, but that's what I wanted her to say.  All the while, a rattlesnake is making its way into their area with what could be some serious danger.  But all of a sudden it gets shot and killed.  Now, in 1982 in a movie co-produced by a different country, I can almost guarantee you that snake was actually killed on screen.

That's when we meet the heavily Texan accented Dallas (Michael Beck - my least favorite thing in Xanadu).  He right friendly and says he's from Megaforce.  And, honestly, for as much as I didn't like him in Xanadu, he actually fits this role way better.  He's like the goofy kid brother to the leader of Megaforce and just loves the adventures they go on.  They get driven to Megaforce HQ by another of the members of the team, Zachary.  He's a black guy who is really smart and knows the classics like Beethoven and Shakespeare.  The stuffy British general guy seems a little put off by this.

You know...  Because Zachary is black.

But fuck that social commentary bullshit, it's time to watch some fucking sweet super motorcycles blow shit up and make cool ass jumps over ramps!

They meet Ace Hunter, and Ilia tells him that V'Ger has traveled halfway around the globe to see how they can interface with Megaforce.  No shit.  Zara actually says the whole interface thing (I might have been lying about the reference to V'Ger).  I swear Hollywood still thinks she is some sort of robot girl sent by a machine planet that may or may not have been the Borg.

I think I may be getting off track here.

Okay, General Byrne-White and Major Zara are impressed with Megaforce.  Hunter and Dallas take the Sardunians into their base and show them around.  Hunter explains that their base is totally self-sustaining and they have all sorts of testing sites and living quarters and what have you.  They discover that Megaforce has a bunch of planes and other vehicles that were initially secret.  What Dallas reveals is that every now and then equipment is simply hauled in and dumped at their front door.  Hunter explains that all the nations give them all the best equipment so they can essentially strike when needed.

That night, Zara is escorted to a dinner by Hunter.  They flirt quite a bit.  Zara explains that she fights side by side with men as that is the custom in her country.  They seem to like each other a bunch - saying they can't tell everything about a man or a woman by looking at their chests.  That's the kind of flirting going on here.  Use military commendations as an excuse to talk about boy and girl tits.  However, what the fuck is the dress code for Megaforce???
That's... some outfit.
Hunter says he knows quite a bit about Gurerra.  He comes up with a pretty elaborate plan to lure Gurerra over the border while the rest of Megaforce goes in to destroy Gurerra's fuel station.  While I just summed it up in like one sentence, but it's an insanely detailed plan with exact times for when they will do what and it basically makes it sound like Megaforce will defeat Gurerra in like twenty minutes.  Zara, pretty turned on by all this war talk, decides she wants to take part in the mission too, but Hunter isn't so sure.  I mean she's just a girl and all.  She doesn't belong in the super guy Megaforce club.

I think at this time I should go ahead and take an aside to explain that I am really loving this movie.  It's insane and goofy as shit, but fuck it's a fun watch.  Barry Bostwick is just the best in this.  But Michael Beck as Dallas kinda steals the show.  He's the classic comic relief but it really doesn't fit in this movie.  Like if it was a TV show, like a live action G.I. Joe type of show, Dallas would be perfect as that lighthearted guy who just loves to blow stuff up.  Without Dallas, the movie is super dry and boring.  However, with Dallas, the movie is overly silly and has this goofball character thrown into the mix with all these other macho ideas of an elite super team of mercenaries blowing up bad guys.  It's insane that there is no middle ground.  But fuck I'm glad Dallas is here.  No matter how amazing Bostwick is in this, he's mostly just a weird visual with his feathered hair, perfect beard and crazy premise of being a tights-wearing superhero.  Dallas steals this show.

I'm positive you are not supposed to be belly up when
skydiving.
So, Zara is now out to prove she is worthy to be part of Megaforce.  They go skydiving in one of the most hilariously faked scenes ever.  She then pilots a helicopter.  She plays a tank video game and wins.  What's weird though is the clothes they wear when training.  He's wearing a tight silver jumpsuit.  She's wearing a tight black jumpsuit with a little trendy red neckerchief around her neck.  They then have this conversation against a purple back lit stage that only allows for you to see their silhouettes.  It's a crazy ass shot that is oddly artistic in the middle of this really dumb movie. It just helps me say that every single shot of this movie is a treat for the eyes.  It's awesomely perfect in every B-movie way possible.

Despite her aptitude in just about everything, Hunter tells Zara she can't go on the mission.  Not really because she's a woman, though, but because his guys are singular in mind and any outsider could jeopardize them.  So it's not because she's a girl.  It's because she is an outsider and her individuality could kill his guys.

Just remember, kids, if you are a little different, don't bother trying to be anything but a dumb outsider loser.  This message brought to you by President Donald Trump.

It's now go time for Megaforce and Hunter and Zara have their tender goodbye and make plans to see each other in a London hotel when this is all over.  She smashes her lips into his beard and that gives him enough confidence that a hot lady like Zara loves him to strike this odd pose in the airplane in front of a trio of his men who are probably wondering if he's about to break into a song and dance:

With Zara and Byrne-White now gone, it gives us a chance to see some of the other guys from Megaforce.  They are a bunch cads.  They throw knives at each other, do crossword puzzles, talk about chicks, and do Rubik's Cubes.  They have fun.

But when things need to get serious, they do too and parachute their motorcycles and dune buggy vehicles in to fuck shit up.  Since their plan to burn up Gurerra's base of operations should only take four minutes exactly, the movie actually gives us a timer to count down the four minutes.  It also means the scene is happening in real time which is fucking badass.  I love real time stuff like that.  Even better?  The dune buggies Megaforce is driving around have fucking lasers on them.  This movie keeps getting better and better.  The guy in the command center even jokes about when guys get blown off their motorcycles and threaten to make a videotape for the guy to watch over and over again.

Can you see why I thought this was a post-apocalyptic movie?  Those are not normal motorcycles and dune buggies and the
desert is on fire.  All post-apocalyptic things.
Gurerra is mad about what happened, but Megaforce is so efficient and awesome at what they do, they have no casualties and just three lost vehicles.  However, the plan doesn't go perfectly.  Megaforce gets an unexpected visitor in Gurerra who comes to speak with his old buddy Hunter.  This also attracts Zara and Byrne-White.  Byrne-White and Gurerra both say they have terrible news to give Hunter.  It turns out that Megaforce was too good at what their plan was and it has now been regarded as a direct act of war and Sardun must now keep the peace and let Gurerra go.

I'm gonna admit that I really don't know what the political angle is all about.  I literally do not understand why the country who hired Megaforce to take out Gurerra and his troops now have to keep the peace.  There's no way Gamibia would not know that Sardun is using the task force to attack them since there has already been hostilities.  I don't get it, but it really doesn't matter because this movie is fucking rad.

Gurerra has another surprise for Hunter as well.  Gurerra says he knows there is only one place Megaforce can go to escape.  They can't go further into Gamibia and they can't cross the border into Sardun without creating a war.  So there's only one place they can go for extraction - a dry riverbed some miles away.  That's also where Gurerra's entire tank battalion is waiting.  Hunter devises a plan to break their way through Gurerra's tanks to meet their cargo plane to get out of there.  Long story short, Megaforce breaks through the tanks and leave their vehicles behind to self-destruct.  Hunter is the last one to board the cargo planes.

That's when he unleashes not only his motorcycle's secret weapon, but we are treated to the best moment in film history:

Holy fuck that is amazing.  If I made movies, every one of them would have a scene pretty much that very thing above.  Maybe sometimes it's a motorcycle in my movies.  Or possibly it would be a car (like a big ol' 70s Dodge Royal Monaco or something like that).  Maybe a boat.  How awesome would a scene like that with a flying motorboat be?

No matter what, my crazy awesome action movies would live by the last words Hunter had for Gurerra when he left him on the battlefield: "...the good guys always win, even in the 80s."

Yeah...  I'm man enough for Megaforce!
God-fucking-dammit I loved this movie.  It's utterly bonkers.  The entire movie is insanely underwritten as there is really only about 45 minutes of movie and a whole bunch of action that makes up the other 50 minutes.  Henry Silva is great as the grinning bad guy Gurerra, but I can't tell you really why he was warmongering.  I can't tell you why he and Hunter are so friendly with each other when they are essentially out to kill each other's guys.  I have no idea where this movie is supposed to take place.

But I do know some things about this movie.  Barry Bostwick knew exactly what the fuck he was doing playing Hunter so damn broadly that it's almost cartoonish.  I know Persis Khambatta is sexy as hell - as well as she made one great movie, and a bunch of goofy other movies.  I know 707's theme song "Megaforce" is fucking rad.  I know I bought a Megaforce poster the moment this movie ended.  And I know I'm gonna dress as Dallas at some Halloween party someday.

That sums up this week's B-Movie Enema article.  Next week, I'm back with what might be one of the better movies I've ever covered on this blog.  It's one of those scenarios back in the early days of sequels when each subsequent movie in the series saw its budget slashed more and more while still expecting to fill theater seats.  This one, though, had a message and an almost chilling prediction of what could happen when the wrong ideas about how society should act when certain people come into power and how the hubris of man could lead to our own downfall.  Come back next week when I explore Conquest of the Planet of the Apes...


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