The Firing Line (1991)
This will be a short review. I had pulled a bunch of screen caps off this beast last year and then forgot about them until recently. I barely remember the movie itself, having given it away already, so I can't go into detail like I normally do. But, since I had the pictures, I figured I would post a review nonetheless. This is a fairly rare movie, so maybe someone would appreciate the effort.
And now on to our show...
The Firing Line is supposedly set in a fictional Central American nation. It was, however, filmed in the Philippines, and throughout the movie there are numerous clues to that fact.
Like most of these jungle republics, there is a large rebellion going on. The rebels seem to have no strong political motives or even a stated ideology, but they are certainly anti-government. The Army spends a lot of time and effort trying to contain this insurrection, with the help of American "advisors". This echoes, of course, real-life events in the Reagan years where American advisors and tax-payer dollars propped up numerous corrupt regimes in South and Central America.
The rebels and their camp. Are they communists, or just populists?
The rebel leader is named Daniel Rodriguez, an older man who looks like John Mahoney from Frasier.
Our female lead for now, though soon to be supplanted, is Laura Gomez, who, with her sister, fight for the rebels.
Laura and her sister.
The rebels are your typical lot, grungy local guys and girls in cast-off surplus fatigues and captured tunics. They have your standard M-16 rifles and seem to know how to use them.
As our movie opens, we see a large band of these rebels walking along through the jungle. Suddenly, they are attacked by the government troops! Soldiers and choppers swarm at them, as they fight a running gun battle to escape. Losses are considerable on both sides, but most of the rebels escape.
The first attack on the rebels.
Supporting the Army attack are a pair of helicopter gunships. These are a really pretty SA 341 Gazelle and an Augusta-Bell of some sort. The Augusta might be stock footage, but the Philippine Army apparently allowed one of their real Gazelles to be used in the film.
The Gazelle and the Augusta.
A large number of extras play Army troops, all dressed in simple olive green fatigues and carrying M-16A2 rifles. These all look like surplus prop uniforms, but the weapons appear to be real.
Assorted government soldiers.
The leader and girl are captured and interrogated by the Army. They remain defiant to the end, and we are to assume that they are led off to be tortured and then killed.
Leader and sister captured. Check that patch, it looks like it was just sewed on five minutes ago!
We meet here our film's hero, mercenary Captain Mark Hardin, played by b-movie action star Reb Brown. Mark is a big, burly blonde American, presumably working with the government as an "advisor".
Later, Mark goes to a bar in the city and meets Sandra Spencer, an American businesswoman. Sandra is played by platinum bombshell Shannon Tweed, a woman who has created an entire genre of chick action films.
As they leave, Mark runs into a press guy who accuses him of working for a brutal dictator who kills babies and stuff. In a huff, Mark then goes to see his bosses to ask them about these accusations. Here we meet Milton Green, who I believe is the CIA station chief for this country. As such, he's an active supporter of the government's anti-communist activities. He's a chunky, blonde American with a penchant for track suits and the F-word.
Milton. Note the hat, which touts a facility in the Philippines.
Mark is now pissed, and punches Milton! He then kills an Army Colonel who pulls a gun on him, before being contained by guards who rush in with rifles up.
Mark is arrested and tortured.
Mark escapes his cell by punching and kicking his guards, who fall for the old "sick prisoner" trick like total dumbasses. He steals a jeep (which has the keys helpfully in the ignition) and roars off.
Nice keys, not really what you'd expect on a government vehicle, and check that sticker, that's a Philippine Army emblem.
Mark frees Sandra, who was being menaced by some soldiers, and off they go. They run through a weak roadblock, before ditching the jeep and making their way into the jungle on foot.
Freeing Sandra, the roadblock, and Sandraís nice legs.
Armed with a stolen M-16, Mark fights off a few dozen attacking soldiers. Eventually they meet up with the rebels, who tie Mark to a tree while they figure out what to do with him. Remember he used to be with the Army, so they are not sure if they can trust him yet.
Running out of ammo in the woods and meeting the rebels, note that Sandra is ratting him out.
The next morning an Army armored column and choppers attack the rebel camp. We see some nice shots of Philippine Army FMC AIFVs, V-150 Commandos, M-113 APCs, and some 2 1/2ton 6x6 GMC trucks and M151 jeeps. The level of cooperation between the filmmakers and the Philippine Army is amazing, though perhaps some of it is stock footage.
The armored vehicles make for a vicious battle.
During the attack, Mark is untied and starts to fight for the rebels. Mark gets a hold of an Army radio and calls the choppers in to attack the vehicles, claiming that they've been "captured". Thus tricked, the choppers strafe and mangle their own troops, routing them.
Mark on the radio, calling in the air attack.
After that victory, we cut to a quick little scene where the rebels raid a nearby town to free a captured rebel named Julio. This they do quite easily and off they go once again into the jungle.
Raiding the jail to rescue Julio.
Back at the rebel base, they plan their future actions. Mark is now fully on their side, his actions showing his trustworthiness to the rebels.
Julio asks Sandra if he has a shot with her. He doesn't. Mark is so buff.
We get some camp scenes now, as Sandra swims in a river and Mark teaches everyone the proper way to kill people with automatic weaponry.
Mark shows Sandra how to fire the grenade launcher, and then she gets nekkid!
We leave the rebels for a minute to go to a golf course to meet the Governor as he chats with Milton. They decide together that the best way to stop this rebellion is to start killing villagers who help the rebels.
The Governor. Check that map, does that look like anything in El Salvador? No, but it does look like several hundred places in the Philippines. And nice F-14.
Had to happen at some point, but now Mark and Sandra have bland, uninspired sex. Don't get your hearts up, it's nothing to get bothered about, trust me.
The rebels now plan to attack a large town (maybe a port). They dress like locals and many of them slip into the town posing as merchants. One girl rebel uses her cute legs to ambush a truck full of soldiers, which gives the rebels a vehicle and uniforms to get into the town.
Can't they afford to buy more than one pair of binoculars? Nice leg, but you'd think that a girl who lives outdoors in a place just 15 degrees from the equator would have more of a tan.
So they raid the town, which is full of soldiers and civilians. Not sure exactly why they picked this town, as it's heavily defended.
Boom! Goes a grenade. Bang! Goes another grenade in the back of a truck.
A massive firefight develops, with casualties on both sides. The soldiers have the discipline to keep from breaking ranks and the rebels are hard pressed to defeat them. But, in the end, they push back the soldiers and gain temporary control of the town.
The town's administrators are captured and led out into the square to be publicly paraded. A number of military officers are also captured, several of them out of uniform. One of these is a certain Captain Diego, who was responsible for the death of several rebels earlier, including Laura's sister. Diego is shot in the crotch by Laura (ouch).
Admin guys being led out. Not fair! Crotch shot!
The rebels then leave and file back towards home. Once there, however, they find that their village has been raided by the Army and burned to the ground. As they bury the dead, they swear revenge upon the government. Meanwhile, Julio sneaks away and goes back to rat out the rebels to Milton.
The rebels bury their dead. Julio comes to talk to Milton.
Back with the rebels, the newest plan is to attack a radio station in the town of Santa Pietra. They load up and drive there in panel van. As they roll up, however, Milton's trap is sprung and Army troops pop up from everywhere and start shooting.
Mark lays down withering cover fire. Sandra sure seems to be handy with that pistol.
Itís a stalemate until more Army reinforcements arrive, with Milton leading them. These extra forces turn the tide and the rebels are routed. A number of them seek refuge inside the radio station, as the Army surrounds the place. Amongst those in the station are Mark, Sandra and Laura, plus maybe half a dozen other rebels.
Milton, shades on and cigar lit, mows down the rebels. End of the fight?
As luck would have it, they find man who shows them a tunnel down in the basement. This old drainage tunnel leads down to the river and is their salvation. Mark goes to hold the soldiers off so the rest of the rebels and Sandra can escape. The five surviving rebels, plus Sandra, use the tunnel, come out near a bridge and meet up with Julio, who is suspiciously there on the bridge.
Mark gets the answers he needs. Soldier on fire, running around. The rebel survivors meet Julio on the bridge.
On the bridge, the rebels plant a bomb to drop the span when the Army arrives to cover their retreat. Julio then shows his traitorous leanings and gets into a gunfight with the rebels. Julio rightly dies, but he takes one of the rebels with him.
Julio pulls his gun on Carlos, fight to follow. Ka-Blam! The bridge explodes.
Mark now arrives, having escaped the radio station somehow, and runs across the bridge. Chasing him are a column of soldiers, shooting wildly, and Mark takes at least one bullet before he leaps off the bridge an into the river. As the soldiers cross, the bomb goes off and the bridge is destroyed, presumably killing all the soldiers. The movie ends as Sandra jumps in the river to help pull the wounded Mark to safety. They kiss, I groan.
Mark and Sandra hug.
Written in December 2007 by Nathan Decker.
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