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  Laser Mission Lasers Not Included
Year: 1989
Director: BJ Davis
Stars: Brandon Lee, Debi A. Monahan, Ernest Borgnine, Graham Clarke, Werner Pochath, Pierre Knoessen, Maureen Lahoud
Genre: Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Professor Braun (Ernest Borgnine) has adopted a self-imposed exile in Cuba, for he is the possessor of technological know-how which could be turned into a devastating laser weapon, and that's not something he wants anything to do with. However, he may be forced into such a project as an American secret service mercenary, Michael Gold (Brandon Lee), meets him while he sits on the beach and tries to persuade the elderly boffin to accompany him so they can ensure that knowledge does not fall into the wrong hands. But as they chat, a couple of knockout darts hit them both, sending them unconscious...

Oh dear, it's the evil Soviet Empire up to their old tricks again, or it was according to this which for Brandon Lee represented one of the movies he starred in before he hit the big time with The Crow, for which he took the starring role. Alas, the son of martial arts superstar Bruce Lee wound up dying at an even younger age than his father thanks to an on-set accident, which could have been viewed as even sadder than it would be otherwise because it looked as if finally Brandon was going to finally break out of the ghetto of quality-free action flicks such as Laser Mission where he simply coasted on his father's name.

He comes across as charismatic enough here, but it's all for naught as the movie around him is desperately silly. At the time, South Africa was offering attractive deals to filmmakers, or those filmmakers willing to set aside their conscience and do deals with the totalitarian apartheid state, and so it was a wealth of underwhelming action and thriller movies were made there, along with the odd horror or science fiction effort. Quite why the sort of talent who wound up creating the kind of material which clogged video rental shelves to bore the unwary were so keen on taking advantage of the financial deals the South Africans were supplying was probably down to evident cutting of corners.

As it was, Laser Mission did not feature anybody firing off lasers as the title might have suggested, indeed the most you got in that area was a look at the plans for the megaweapon that the characters were intent on securing for themselves. Our hero Michael is apparently sent to Africa to pursue this by Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy, or someone who looked suspiciously like him, and so it is that he arrives there to meet with Braun's daughter Alissa (Debi A. Monahan) who is understandably concerned about her father. Precisely whereabouts they are meant to be is strangely vague, with a mix of accents sported by the cast, some put on and others presumably authentic.

Though the then-South African ruling class's tendency towards the extreme right of politics was made plain in the way the film never missed a trick when it came to putting the boot into the Communists, which made the real baddies behind the schemes, the ones who are placing the very world itself in jeopardy (not that it ever feels like it), blatantly Soviet (the main baddie is called Kalashnikov!). That this happened along just as Russia was emerging from the dark days of their own totalitarianism indicated little more than bad timing for Laser Mission as for the most part you would be distracted by the frequent dunderheaded ludicrousness on show. That stretched from the repetition of the theme song, Lee's smarmy way with seriously lame one-liners, Borgnine's preposterously wavering accent or Monahan's insistence on wearing the same little blue dress and high heels for just about every scene. Naturally there was a lot of things going boom, yet never rose above the feeling of watching grown-ups play acting - but not in an entertaining way.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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