3/2 Chewy Bacon Joe

Fantasy Mission Force

      The 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.

     The 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.

     The 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 Chan."

     During 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-- Abraham Lincoln!"

      Cut 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-"

      Yes, 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.

      I 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~!
Waiters: Ho San~!

     Again 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.

     Next, 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.

      Jackie 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.

      We 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.

      In 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.

      The sad thing is, that scene kind of sets the mood of the rest of the film.

      That 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.

      So, 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.

      An 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.

      As 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.

      She 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.

      Before 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.

     That 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 escape.

     Finally, 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

      Naturally, 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.

     Lo 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.

     No credits.

     Now, 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 this movie:

"If it sounds ridiculous, that's only because it was."


What, did these guys get their SS banners at Big Lots?


"Just like a Nazi to bring a bulldozer to a car fight."



This is technically a war movie. I think.

Jackie Chan smoking a giant pipe (contents unknown, presumed exotic) in an outfit that makes Pumaman look intimidating.

Favorite Character: Lily.
Favorite Scene: I think any of the establishing shots where the group rides around in a Suzuki Jeep with the knight guy swinging his morningstar from the back while they play the Chewy Bacon Joe song are pretty good.

Of course, they're all pretty hysterical.

Improvised FMF Fight Song Lyrics

Oo la la kaka Oo la la
Kakaka oo la la
Kaka oo la la

Joe, Bacon Joe!
Chewy Bacon Joe!
Camp town races sing this song,
Chewy Bacon Joe!

Save the generals!
Walleye, while we SHOOT and JUMP!
And Chewy Bacon Joe!

*The real story of how this movie came to be made is pretty interesting; much more so than the film itself. According to Jackie Chan's autobiography, Fantasy Mission Force was one of a few movies he made with the director after getting into trouble with the infamous Triad. Having walked out of another rather exploitative director's studio, Bad Director A sicced his friends on Jackie. Bad Director B used his Triad sway to unsic them. So that's the favor.