Fantasy Mission Force
first time I watched this movie, it was the most hysterical, inexplicable
thing I'd ever seen. The second time I watched it, it was still hysterically
inexplicable. Same goes for the third and fourth times. After that I
stopped watching the movie so much as studying the faces of the people
watching. Eyebrows go up, people wince occasionally, then shake their
heads in cartoonishly exaggerated bewilderment. One of my victims was
nearly asphyxiated with laughter.
Juan Gigante would watch somewhere between 30-40
seconds of the movie then run for the basement. Fantasy Mission Force
is the best bad movie I've ever seen without little silhouetted robots
at the bottom of the screen.
first thing I must get out of the way before continuing: Jackie Chan
is in this movie, in an earlier and more spastic part of his career.
They say his involvement was because he owed the director a 'favor'
of some kind. I suspect it involved one or more farm animals and an
inflatable Harry Truman doll.* That said, this isn't a Jackie Chan movie.
He's not the star. He's not the wise-cracking costar. He makes repeated
cameo appearances, then shows up out of nowhere at the end to kick the
bad guy's ass. OK, on with the pain.
movie opens with a shot of a borrowed military truck puttering along
to a bad knock off of the A-Team theme. The opening credits mention
the director and a couple key others, and of course, mention "Jacky
World War II, when the Japanese were occupying large portions of Canada
and Alaska (I hear there were actually a few landings, but nothing real
major) four generals of
broad stereotype varying nationality
are captured by a pudgy Chinese man pretending to be a Japanese man
pretending to be Hitler. He points at each of them barking "You!
You, you, you! Kimi kimi kimi! Namae!" When each general states
their name, they promptly cut to Hitlermania (not actually Hitler but
a remarkable Chinese simulation) letting out a flustered gulp. This
is understandable as he is in the presence of "American General--
to a briefing room, where the top brass has a slide show of possible
candidates to rescue the generals. This is where the eyes tend to start
bugging, as they cycle through Agent 007 (on assignment in Africa),
the Bald Detective (he defected to the enemy!), Snake King([Plissken,
from Escape from New York] he's been dead for three years- do these
guys update their files?), Rocky (not suitable, because he isn't in
the military), some lady in a fur hat I can't readily remember, and
finally Don Lin, hereafter referred to as "The Captain" for
most of the film. They then show him driving along in a Suzuki jeep
(what?!) while one-handedly spraying a mounted machine gun wildly in
the general direction of the enemy. A few rope tricks later, and he's
being escorted into the briefing room. "He could be captured! By
just a few commandos!" the general complains, then The Captain
pulls an assault rifle from behind his back and all the commandos instantly
become submissive. This choice now approved, the general's aide informs
Captain "And if anything screws up, we won't be held respons-"
the movie itself screw up and cuts directly to the title (with the bottom
half of a kilt-wearing man poking out, as a teaser of things to come)
and ensuing musical number.
ask you, did Saving Private Ryan have a show-stopping song and dance
sequence? We spend a good ten or fifteen hours watching a Chinese guy
dressed like some sort of Mexican tramp/commando sing and laugh with
his mouth open, tossing fake dollar bills around, while a dozen or so
dancing waiters left over from a 1950's musical cavort about in the
background. My favorite part of this little scene is when they suddenly
cut to a close up of some random young Caucasian with his finger on
his chin, who raises an eyebrow in an exaggerated way. Somebody get
this man an Academy Award and a monocle, quick. By the way, the chorus
of this song goes something like:
Waiters: Ho San~!
Ho: HA HA HA!
Waiters: Ho San~!
Ho: LAI LAI LAI!
for the full effect, just picture some Chinese guy in heavy makeup with
a Frito Bandito mustache ejecting huge chunks of food out the sides
of his mouth while singing that. Then for some reason, the music stops
when he sees a gun on a man's belt across the room. Looking depressed
or terrified or horny or something (this guy sucks at conveying anything
other than randomly irrational violence) he slowly makes his way over
to try and take the gun off his belt, but end up with it in his face.
Using his shrewd marketing skills, he buys the gun off his would-be
attacker, then randomly declares "This is a hold-up!" Sudden
jump cut! Now he's diving for cover in the woods and an arrow with a
crude wanted poster slams into a nearby tree. He spots Captain behind
a tree and shoots him in the head, but it turns out to be a mannequin
head on a stick. Man, that Captain is well-prepared. Then he catches
Ho San and they turn out to be old friends. Ho accepts, in the form
of the statement "It'll be just like the old days, uh? Shoot shoot
shoot!" Write this down in your notes; for his first addition to
the strike force, Captain just ambushed his ambush expert.
a group of POW's or possibly some soldiers are taking a lunch break
from the chain gang. One of them trips another and a pointless fight
ensues; the more hippie like of the combatants grabs an assault rifle,
shoots his shackles off, and takes a running headfirst dive off a cliff.
Then, making his way through the woods, he finds a random banquet table
next to a fueled and ready jeep. Needless to say, it's a trap set by
Captain. He confronts the escape artist, identifying him for the benefit
of the audience as "Grease(d) Lightning, the top break-away expert."
Offering to clear his criminal record in exchange for his services on
the rescue mission, Lightning sort of accepts ("Aha! I would do
one hundred things- (awkward pause) if you can do that!), then lives
up to his reputation and breaks away, only to be swiftly recaptured
by Ho San. So, now that he's ambushed an expert on sneak attacks and
captured an escape artist, it's time to finally meet Jackie Chan.
plays "Sammy," who is sort of a ne'er do well/con artist who
travels around with his partner and probable love interest Emily trying
to make easy money. In this case, they're in a rigged wrestling match
against some guy who's supposed to be Japan's prize fighter. Instead,
one of Jackie's friends drugs the real wrestler and dons a bikini to
throw the fight. The pre-fight psyche-out consists of the two fighters
one-upping each other with bigger and bigger smokes, until we're treated
to the sight of Jackie puffing away at an enormous pipe. After some
obvious fakery, the real wrestler comes back and Jackie beats him with
some minor difficulty. Unfortunately, a detective sort of fellow escorted
by a few dozen cops arrives to bust them for gambling. He lets Jackie
and partner off when they grudgingly give him the prize money, and also
grants them a 20-minute break from the movie.
jump to somewhere in the Canadian wilderness or something where the
lovely, and wonderfully violent Lily is playing the Indiana Jones drinking
game. Which in this case involves being able to shoot a bra strap from
across the room between drinks. She wins when her pudgy Crenshaw-like
opponent passes out before moving from guns to knife tossing. Then,
in the tradition established by the earlier scene, it's discovered she
cheated (with a dribble glass!) and a good old bar fight ensues. Lily
escapes to her home sweet shack, where she counts the booty while whistling
music presumably stolen from another movie. Then all of a sudden, the
Inspector or whoever from before attacks her in a playful manner, because
it turns out he's her long-lost lover. Hijinks ensue, but in the morning
he finds Lily tied up on the porch and is nearly killed by a shotgun
trap set by Captain. Christ, that guy is an asshole. At least he didn't
try to recruit the womanizing bungler by seducing him. After hearing
about the money involved in the rescue mission, Inspector Sideburns
joins up, breaking the promise he made to Lily the previous night about
staying with her. Understandably pissed, she does what any self-respecting
young lady would do; get armed to the teeth and blow up her house with
a Nerf bazooka.
one of the movie's particularly delirious moments, we now watch a troop
of Scotsmen marching with the film sped way up. The sergeant or whatever
rank he's supposed to be harasses and beats the solider who steps out
of line. This whole scene is played out to bagpipe music except for
a bizarre split-second of comical banjo music at the end when The Goofy
Guy drops his gun and shoots his superior's hat off.
sad thing is, that scene kind of sets the mood of the rest of the film.
night, Lily attacks and nearly single-handedly blows up the whole Scottish
army, only to be foiled by The Goofy Guy's HILARIOUS bad driving. She
refuses to go anywhere without her spongey boyfriend, so once she finds
out about the half million dollar reward, she resolves to come along
for the ride and provide the group with someone who is actually useful
in a fight. Two of the Scotsmen come along too, and if you can't guess
who they are, you probably didn't pick up that I only really identified
two of them.
this segues into what I consider one of the movie's defining scenes.
The gang barrels along in Captain's Suzuki jeep, with the Goofy Guy
(GG from here on) in medieval (aluminum) plate mail, swinging a god
damned mace. All the while the Fantasy Mission Force fight song plays
proudly, a Chinese pop number set to the tune of "Camptown Races."
Since none of us speak Chinese, we've decided the chorus is translated
as "Joe, Bacon Joe! [...] Chewy Bacon Joe!" I can make out
a few scatted Engrish words including a part that goes "SHOOT!
SHOOT! SHOOT!" and a mention of the word "Deutschland."
Anyway, they set up camp. There's a gag involving the superior Scotsman
(who I'll refer to as Stereotype McBaldy) trying to romance the largely
uninterested Lily, and Ho San tries to sabotage his romantic soup-sharing
plan by pouring "a whole bag" of some white powder into his
soup. I assume it's salt, but it could be cocaine, I guess. She takes
it and gives it to the Special Ed soldier, who naturally digs right
in. Then of course, McBaldy angrily snatches it away and screws his
horrible pudgy gap toothed face into a grimace and runs for the water
to drink, only he finds a dead body.
eternity of comic relief involving Jackie and Emily's failed robbery
attempt later, the next stretch of insanity begins. Yes, the gang runs
afoul of a tribe of Amazons lead by a swishy, tuxedo-clad male leader.
The Amazons wear masks to conceal their identities and also the fact
that their stunt people are mostly men. After they lose Captain, they
get tied up by deadly streamers and prepared for sacrifice or whatever.
After some of the usual taunting and such between Tuxedo Mask and the
mercenaries, he tosses his fake white rose into the air, and causes
the soundtrack to adopt some whimsical silent movie music. The men are
put into improvised stocks made out of those carnival pictures you put
your face through. As Ho begs for his life, one of the Amazons punches
him with a rubber stamp that gives him and instant and temporary black
eye. Meanwhile, Lily is put in a little box with wood bars painted to
look sort of like metal. The lead Amazon that previously walked on water
with Bionic Man noises (did I mention that?) tosses her the keys to
let her escape. Then captures her again. By the way, the 'escape from
camp' scene is accompanied by the music from 'Halloween.' It's just
that kind of movie. Anyway, the Amazon princess was upset that Tuxedo
Mask ogled Lily, so she has to kill her.
the Amazon Princess closes in for the kill, Jackie Chan (Yay!) rolls
out of the bushes chasing a chicken, which leads to an inevitable scene
where he holds it by the neck. You know... kind of choking
it. Yeah, a chicken.
So, the Manamazons are all
over him in a heartbeat, and he succeeds in trouncing all of the but
the leader without even dropping the bird. She fights him with some
goofy wire-fu, but he succeeds in tying her up with her own cape in
a nice, humiliating way. It's best described as sort of a reverse wedgie.
He then taunts her in his characters usual manner- "Come on, fly!
Let's see you fly!" Lily whistles in admiration of the cameltoe
cape trick or something and he explains that Emily sent him to make
sure none of them got killed before they got The Money. Lily then heads
back to camp to rescue the boys.
pulls a Captain and pretends to be escorted back into camp as a prisoner,
then pulls a string or something and all the Amazons fall over. All
hell breaks loose: bodies and dummies fly; Ho San and The Inspector
cross-dress as Amazons, which naturally works since they're half men
anyway; the Scots get broken out by Lily which leads to even more of
their signature comic mugging. My favorite moment in this scene is when
Ho prepares the detonator and says "Kill all them bitches."
I don't know why that line stuck with me. Maybe it's because he says
it with even more venom than the gritty, slurred "You bastard,
I knew you'd run" he gave to Greased Lightning or the "A whole
bag" line he said in the same nasty tone. Whoever was dubbing Ho
San really got into this moment though. Maybe he has women issues. When
the smoke clears, Lily is MIA since she went to go cap Tuxedo Mask for
the heck of it.
continuing to the last two parts of the movie, I'd like to mention that
the fact we have no idea where this movie is kind of hurts it and helps
it at the same time. See, if I was 100% certain they were still in Canada,
the presence of the Amazons and such might seem a little weird. It's
vaguely implied they needed to intercept the captives in Europe or something
before they were taken to Tokyo "for propaganda." The fact
we never really see any (regular) Axis or Allied troops, ever
leads me to think the film is somewhere in Greenland or otherwise out
of the way.
said, onto the haunted house. Not just any haunted house, one inhabited
by traditional Chinese spirits including a hopping
vampire. Before they go in, Ho San runs in shooting blindly
and ricochets a couple bullets off the wall into his head. It's good
to see our generals are in great hands. So, they decide to spend the
night in the spooky old house, in fine Scooby tradition. After they
inevitably get captured, we see a group of Satanists or something of
the sort convulsing. The one standing below the ugly devil portrait
(is there any other kind?) waves his arms around like he's at a rave,
shouting "TAKE THEIR LIIIIVES!"
All seems lost, then all of a sudden- synth drumline! Lily appears.
One of the cloaked figures does some 'mystic' hand motions and flies
at her (on a wire.) She counters by matter-of-factly firing a bazooka
shell into him. That may very well be the coolest thing in the movie.
It's like the old Indiana Jones shooting the sword-slinger scene, only
more EXTREME. Long story made short, she cuts everybody free, and they
they arrive at the Nazi summer retreat. It's a massive wooden shack
marked with neon orange and green banners. Ho San shoots his way in,
but everyone is already dead. Then Jackie and Emily show up, followed
by the Nazi Car Surfing Samurai Brigade. Seriously. Dozens of shitty
old cars, painted in a Dukes of Hazzard gone Nazi motif barrel from
the darkness, and riding on top of every car are guys decked out like
Roman gladiators and wandering samurai. Hell, some of them even had
to double up on cars. The Chinese Himmler and his life partner arrive
to deliver the ultimatum- They have the generals, and they want The
Money. And being rather sporting Nazis, they give them until morning
to think about it.
Ah and apparently
the Germans are fond of bad Spanish
they decide to fight instead of give up the money. So, with the FMF
Fight Song in full swing, we watch the Reich of Hazzard drive their
cars through the crappy wood barricade. Guns blaze on both sides, the
samurai run around alternately getting shot up and stabbing people,
and most of the heroes bite the dust about the time a Komatsu bulldozer
with a machine gun driven by the cast of the Mikado pulls up. The Goofy
Guy finally puts his mace to some use, and while being commended in
a totally GAY moment by his commanding officer, is symbolically killed
by a katana up his ass. Seriously. McBaldy dies about four seconds after
swearing revenge, and Lily and the Inspector have a suitably 'touching'
final moment after they're fatally wounded too. Ho San takes Lightning's
gun (from his cold, dead hands) and sprays it around randomly, causing
the overwhelming numbers of foes to shrug and go home.
and behold- Captain wasn't dead after all! He also turned evil in his
absence and shoots Ho San in the chest a few times. "But... I'm
Ho San!" he protests, clutching his gunshot wounds. Captain of
course responds to this as any of us would by putting another few rounds
in him. Then he reveals his evil plan to Jackie (yeah, he was still
there) and despite his insistence he'd back off, Captain still feels
the need to kill him. "You gotta die." So, the movie goes
out with a pretty good final sequence of Jackie Chan doing his thing
in and out of parked cars, a bulldozer, and the Nazi's outdoor office.
Just when he's about to face death by desk, he finds the detonator they
had set up as a last resort and blows up the cabin, along with Captain
and The Money. Then, he loads his friends' bodies onto the ol' Suzuki
jeep while the generals get in a tizzy over why he's leaving them behind
to cart bodies home. To which he retorts: "I don't know any generals.
To me, you all look like clowns!" And so, he drives off and there's
an abrupt cut to a card that says THE END.
Fantasy Mission Force isn't necessarily a good movie. It's
quirky and spastic, though no more than I've come to expect from foreign
films in general. The editing is pretty lousy, and the soundtrack consists
of songs stolen from other films and of course, the two big musical
numbers. I imagine there are some pissy types who would be incensed
at the blackfaced Chinese guy playing the African general, or Ho San's
convincingly greasy Mexican commando. The dubbing is pretty scratchy,
as per the tradition of 60's foreign action flicks, in fact I swear
Captain has the same voice as Prince of Space. But dammit, this movie
has that innate CHEESE factor that makes watching it less of a chore.
The weirdness at least keeps you guessing. I
think Jackie Chan himself said it best in his famous quote regarding
it sounds ridiculous, that's only because it was."
NAZI CAR RALLY!!
What, did these guys get their SS banners at Big Lots?
ZE MENSCH DER HAZZARD
"Just like a Nazi to bring a bulldozer to a car fight."