[Taffin title screen]
Film version of a pulpy paperback by Lyndon Mallet I remember from my father’s bookshelves, about a philosophical debt collector who becomes embroiled in foiling a dodgy development deal in picturesque County Wicklow.
Unlike the book, which has Mark Taffin as something of an ugly brute, here the protagonist is portrayed somewhat more prettily by Pierce Brosnan. Also filling up our screen are Patrick Bergin as his brother, Alison Doody (her from Last Crusade) as his free-spirited squeeze, and Ray McNally as his former mentor. Oh, and a pre-Father Ted team-up of Frank Kelly and Dermot Morgan!
Perfunctory direction by Francis Megahy (who did Sewers Of Gold plus a load of TV work but not much more of note than that) belies a decent story which would lend itself to a more faithful remake.
[Death Before Dishonor title screen]
Death Before Dishonor
One of those films I have been vaguely aware of for a long time – lurid airbrush art worked poster staring out of 1980s VHS club ads throughout the 1980s – but which I have only just actually seen. So thanks for that, Netflix.
As it turns out, it’s an astonishingly dull, unrelentingly gung ho actioner set in the Middle East against a backdrop of assassinations, embassy bombings and hostage takings.
In this world good, honest US Marines (represented here by stalwart Gunnery Sergeant Burns (Fred Dryer) and his elderly mentor Colonel Halloran (Brian Keith)) find their ham fists tied behind their backs by weak-kneed liberals like US Ambassador to the Arab state of Jemal (played by Paul Winfield – the seen-it-all-before cop from The Terminator). Confusingly it’s Winfield who says things like “we don’t negotiate with terrorists”, all whilst in the real world of this 1987 lemon Colonel Oliver North was putting together gun-running deals between drug-peddling Central American death squads, whacked-out jihadi guerrillas and the Iranian theocracy.
Meanwhile, we have a checklist of stupidity to work through: gobsmackingly offensive cultural portrayals
Despicable and duplicitous Palestinian fighters are played either by African Americans – as with Rockne Tarkington in the lead bad guy role, which the Washington Post noted at the time was “a black actor playing a racist’s perception of an Arab, an extraordinarily ugly irony in an ugly film” – or by Israeli actors. Jemal’s leaders are identikit Arab, complete with primary school nativity tea towel headdresses. There’s even a cackling German leftist terrorist woman (bizarrely named Maude Winter), all tight black jeans, pixie cut and sado-sexual lesbian overtones.
The only characters given any hint of depth are the weary-but-experienced Mossad agents who reveal themselves in the final reel – which also provides possibly the only truthful insight of the film; outperforming the meat-headed, lead-footed Yankees on the ground, they show themselves to have been following the machinations of the villains from the very beginning. But even though they are implied good guys, even the Mossad are a bit too swarthy for this film, and so relegated to providing generic support to the more fashionably caucasian Gunny (as are his African- and Italian-American underlings, obviously).
There’s absolutely nothing to recommend about this film.
[Mad Max Renegade title screen]
Mad Max Renegade
Short fan film located between the original movie and The Road Warrior, with former Main Force Patrol cop Max Rockatansky now gone rogue – along with his Pursuit Special. But when a report of highway banditry comes over the radio, he is forced to act…
Paul Miller’s short matches the first film’s style and tone effectively, but is nothing amazing. And Liam Fountain makes for a rather paunchy Max!
[Chicken Run title screen]
Aardman’s poultry- based Great Escape pastiche. Fun moments, but dramatically weak.