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  High Risk The Amateurs
Year: 1981
Director: Stewart Raffill
Stars: James Brolin, Anthony Quinn, Lindsay Wagner, James Coburn, Bruce Davison, Cleavon Little, Chick Vennera, Ernest Borgnine, Douglas Sandoval, David Young, Richard Young, Stephanie Faulkner, Ana De Sade, Eduardo Noriega, Udana Powers, Josephina Echinova
Genre: Action, Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Stone (James Brolin) is rounding up his three buddies and as far as their wives and girlfriends are aware they're all going fishing. But they are not, as the four of them are in dire financial straits and Stone has come up with a drastic solution as a way of getting their hands on so much money that they need not worry about it ever again. This plan sees them go out to meet an arms dealer (Ernest Borgnine) who sells them some pretty heavy artillery, and although the three others have their reservations about handling such weaponry, they are soon won round by Stone's promises about how easy this will be to pull off. But the best laid plans...

This modest action movie has a place in the hearts of a few loyal fans who probably caught it on home video once upon a time, as it was consigned to bargain bins across the world after its brief showing in cinemas. This is surprising when you look at that cast, who include some very well known names, and for most people, even movie fans, they might not even be aware that they appeared in this. It's not really a comedy, although it is sometimes described in those terms, but it does have a sense of humour about it which is engaging; what it's actually like is a pilot for a weekly television show.

Something like The A-Team, perhaps, if Brolin and his chums could have been persuaded to undertake a mission every episode and didn't end up getting killed - make no mistake, these four guys they play are no professionals when it comes to carrying out raids on South American drugs barons. Which is the plan, a notion that almost immediately goes to pot on their parachuting into the (unnamed) country as although they do break into the international criminal's lair, they find not only is nobody taking a siesta, but the combination to the safe that Stone had on good authority was correct has now been changed. A revision of the foursome's schemes is now in order.

This involves practically guaranteeing there will be a price on their heads as they hold the crime lord at gunpoint, he turns out to be James Coburn funnily enough, and demand he open the safe, which he has no choice but to do. Their bags packed with the banknotes, the raiders make for the rendez-vous, but this is all about how ill-prepared the characters are, so you can bet it'll all go horribly wrong before long. But curiously not so horribly wrong that it fails to feel like a romp or a caper, as people may get shot, but High Risk still comes across like a variation on Deliverance where instead of having the wits scared out of them the four pals get embroiled with what amounts to a game of cowboys and Indians with real bullets.

They get split up into two teams, with Stone and Dan (Bruce Davison) falling in with a gang of bandits who point out to them in aggressive terms that no matter how poor these Americans think they are, they remain privileged in comparison to the poverty-stricken South American locals they are encountering during their escape (Coburn is notably not one of the natives - he doesn't put on an accent or anything). Meanwhile Rockney (Cleavon Little) and Tony (Chick Vennera) wind up in jail, which they escape from with the help of The Bionic Woman herself, Lindsay Wagner, and the three of them head for the waterfall as instructed, hoping their friends, who have the money, are doing the same. In this latter half, bandit leader Anthony Quinn gets some of the best scenes, and there's a punchline right at the end which may raise a wry laugh. It was no classic, but did what it did with some flair. Music by Mark Snow.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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