The Second World War is raging, and a group of generals has been kidnapped by the Japanese army. It is clear that they must be saved, so the decision is made to assemble a crack fighting force to travel across the globe in a rescue bid, but first they must be assembled. A Captain (Jimmy Wang Yu) is given the task of doing so, and he gathers an old man, Old Sun (Yeuh Sun) who has to be dissuaded from a life of crime, an escaping prisoner called Greased Lightning (Grou Ling Feng), and a bickering couple including Lily (Brigitte Lin) to be his recruits. However, the adventure they embark on will be rough...
Not to mention borderline inchoherent. This example of Eastern insanity has become notorious for its lack of any sense, with scenes apparently assembled at random and no wish to offer any unifying storyline after the Dirty Dozen-influenced opening. Not that The Dirty Dozen opened with a musical number set in a restaurant with all the patrons swaying back and forth to the song, ending up with one of them pulling a gun on the singer until he can be persuaded to sell the firearm. But I can't imagine Lee Marvin doing something like that, can't you?
Well, OK, maybe Ernest Borgnine. Director Chu Yen-ping obviously never met a genre he didn't like, for he certainly packs in the unexpected twists as if they were going out of style to fashion a plot that nobody in their right mind could have called believable. For a start, even though this is supposed to be set during World War Two, there are so many anachronisms that the action flits around from the nineteenth century to about, well, 1982 when the production was made. I pity the future historians who rely on this as a source for studying the infamous conflict.
Jackie Chan appears in Fantasy Mission Force, but even though this was his eighties heyday he is not the star, and actually he hardly appears save for an extended skit where he is trying to gamble on a fixed wrestling match, which he has to engage in too, and at the end where he leaps to the fore to pick up the pieces. Jimmy Wang Yu doesn't appear much either, so the celebrity wattage is mainly reliant on the appearance of Brigitte Lin who seems to be playing some kind of bounty hunter, although given that right after she accepts the mission she blows up her house, she may just be a nutter (would you bazooka your home if you were going on holiday?!).
The absurdities don't end there, as two of the mission members are Chinese Scotsmen, complete with alarmingly skimpy kilts, who are responsible for the comic relief. Along the way the team encounter a tribe of Amazon women led by a sort of James Bond character who capture them - there's a whole lot of capturing going on in this movie. Not only that, but at one point our heroes stay the night in a haunted house, offering the excuse to goof around with the ghosts, including a hopping vampire. You might think that this is essentially lighthearted, well, you might think that until the finale which sees a Mad Max-inspired attack by a fleet of souped up Nazi cars (actually some seventies models from America) that ensures things end on a downer. Let's say there's no happy ending, unless your brain has processed this madness as satisfying entertainment. And it is oddly captivating, if only to see what weirdness will crop up next.