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  Code Name: Wild Geese Ducking Hell
Year: 1984
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Stars: Lewis Collins, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Klaus Kinski, Manfred Lehmann, Mimsy Farmer, Thomas Danneberg, Frank Glaubrecht, Hartmut Neugebauer, Wolfgang Pampel, Luciano Pigozzi
Genre: Action, Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: A platoon of mercenaries led by Commander Robin Wesley (Lewis Collins) is stealthily approaching a house in the country, making sure not to be seen by its security as they crawl through the undergrowth and hide behind trees. Suddenly Wesley gives the order to attack and all hell breaks loose, with explosions going off and bullets flying, though just as abruptly the mayhem ceases and the silence is broken only by the cries of an injured soldier who has suffered a severe injury to his leg. The problem with that is this was one of Wesley's practice manoeuvres, and nobody is supposed to be hurt at all...

Yes, the Commander is a man who pushes his men hard, expecting them to set about their missions with ruthless efficiency and utmost violence, for this was Bodie from The Professionals we were talking about. Or was it Doyle? Anyway, the success of that British action series abroad meant that Lewis Collins had a substantial following on the Continent, especially in West Germany, so when the work on the series ended he followed the money and made a few shootiebang spectaculars there, this being a co-production between Italy and that country. The title was intended to fool the viewer into thinking they were in for a sequel to The Wild Geese, but actually this was subterfuge.

So there were no ageing Brits tackling African insurgencies here, although seeing as how the actual sequel to that movie didn't have much to do with its predecessor either you could understand how the producers got away with pretending it was part of the franchise. That said, there may have been no ageing Brit stars, but there were ageing international stars who had become popular in European cinema, not the classy stuff by and large but the more doing it for the paycheque motivation. Mr Collins rubbed shoulders with Ernest Borgnine (who gets an ill-advised topless scene), Lee Van Cleef (who looks like he really is too old for this shit) and Klaus Kinski, playing an Englishman named Charlton.

Whether named after Charlton Heston or Bobby Charlton goes unrecorded, but he was dubbed with a posh accent which made him sound ridiculous. Though not half as ridiculous as some of the business which went on here, barely scraping a plot together as Wesley and his grumbling team went to the Golden Triangle in Asia to put a stop to the illegal drugs trade - all of it, ever. Borgnine made the government deals, mostly spending his scenes in offices, Van Cleef was the convict released on condition he would fly the helicopter, and Kinski was actually pretending to be on the level, but would surprise anyone still trying to concentrate on following this in the final act. Also along for the ride was Mimsy Farmer who played a heroin addict journalist they rescue in the jungle, with no more explanation for her presence than that.

This was distinguished by the amount of explosions veteran director Antonio Margheriti, in his first film with Collins, managed to cram into the running time, action which included an exploding helicopter naturally, or at least an explosion in front of a helicopter which they pretended was the chopper blowing up. Also for your cliché checklist were the guard shot and falling out of the observation tower, the best friend who buys the farm just at the moment of glory for a downbeat ending, and of course, the car chase. But no ordinary car chase, for this was one of the most ludicrous in cinema history with Collins pursued into a tunnel, then DRIVING ALONG THE WALL to escape for a good two hundred yards - no wonder Ernie looked surprised. All of this was achieved not with some gravity-defying stunt team, but with toy cars and a model set, which made it even more absurd, though it assuredly remained the highlight other than seeing the veterans sharing rare scenes together. Otherwise, strictly ho-hum boom bang-a-bang.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Antonio Margheriti  (1930 - 2002)

Italian writer and director who worked in a variety of genres throughout his career, although largely horror, science fiction and western. Some of his films include Castle of Blood, The Wild, Wild Planet, The Long Hair of Death, Take a Hard Ride, Killer Fish, Cannibal Apocalypse and Yor, Hunter from the Future.

 
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