Hunt for Eagle One", which comes with the
notoriety of being produced by the legendary (or
is that infamous?) Roger Corman, stars Mark
Dacascos, who I have always found to be terribly
affable. It's hard not to like the guy, just as I
generally find movies starring Jason Scott Lee or
Bruce Campbell to be better (or at least more
bearable) because it stars those men. In
"Eagle One", Dacascos plays Lt. Matt
Daniels, a Marine leading an assault on the
hideout of a Filipino terrorist, when he's
diverted to rescue downed female pilot Theresa
Randle behind enemy lines. Meanwhile, Rutger Hauer
earns a nice paycheck by chomping on a cigar and
appearing onscreen intermittently from the
comforts of a couple of movie sets.
Although you've probably
never heard of him, "The Hunt for Eagle
One's" real star is director Brian Clyde, who
directs the film's many action scenes with great
skill despite what must have been a low budget.
(Corman is notorious for his low, low, low
budgets, preferring to toss in stock footage from
his extensive vault of past films rather than pay
for new ones.) So given the film's pedigree as a
Corman film, it's a wonder that "Eagle
One" looks, and is as good as it is. In fact,
should make copies of "Eagle One" and
spread it around
, because given a bigger budget, this guy could
pull off "Saving
Private Ryan" without breaking a sweat.
It's no coincidence that I
mention "Saving Private Ryan", because
"Eagle One" is basically a retread of
Spielberg's film; or as Tarantino puts it,
"Guys go on a mission" movies. To wit: a
group of soldiers must march behind enemy lines to
rescue one of their own, the mission not of their
own undertaking, but to safeguard the job of their
boss, General Lewis (Hauer). To that end, Daniels
has to take his men deep into the Filipino jungle,
battling guerillas/terrorists as they go.
Meanwhile, Randle's Amy Jennings is convinced that
her captor wants to keep her alive for reasons
unknown. We also hear Randle's voiceover
narration, which is a bad idea, as it undermines
any tension the film might have generated from the
question of whether Daniels will reach Jennings in
time or not. After all, if the woman is narrating
her own story, she must
have survived her captivity, right?
Fans of action movies should
know that "The Hunt for Eagle One"
offers up great entertainment value for the buck.
As for everything else… Well, let's just say
B-action movies shouldn't try to make political
statements, because they generally come through as
clichés. The Evil Corporation, the Big Bad
Government Conspiracy, etc. Having been kidnapped
by American-hating terrorists,
is of course subjected to inane slogans, is called
infidel a lot, and has to listen to promises of
and all that other good stuff guys like Osama Bin
Laden seems to read out of a pamphlet like
mindless robots everytime someone puts a camera to
their face. And I could be wrong, but writer
Michael Henry Carter seems to be making a joke at
the expense of military "intelligence".
But the above are minor
quibbles, as the film barely spends any time on
them, which in this case is a good thing. Clocking
in at a breezy 85 minutes, "The Hunt for
Eagle One" zips by in a hail of bullets,
jungle fatigues, and terrorist clichés. On the
downside, the quick running time also means little
characterization, and for the entire film I was
never sure how many men Daniels had in his squad.
There is Daniels, a Filipino translator, the
explosives guy, and the sniper, who is also black.
I believe there are about a half dozen more people
in Daniels' squad, but I could be wrong, as they
seem to come and go at will. Or maybe I wasn't
paying enough attention. Let's go with the latter.
Star Mark Dacascos doesn't
have very much to do by way of acting, although he
certainly plays the skilled soldier well enough,
owed more to his physicality than anything.
Theresa Randle doesn't quite convince as the
downed pilot, and in the scenes where she's
required to hold a weapon, Randle looks terribly
uncomfortable. And while director Brian Clyde
spins gold out of pennies for the most part, even
he can't overcome all of the film's budgetary
constraints. In the film's climactic battle, the
Filipino army storms the terrorist's hideout while
aided by artillery. Curiously, one can't help but
notice that all those artillery shells never seem
to land on the terrorist's main building. They
must have just rented the building, I suppose.
For an action film on a
budget, "The Hunt for Eagle One" is more
than decent entertainment. A bigger budget and
longer shooting schedule, not to mention about 30
extra minutes added to the running time, would
have fleshed out the characters and the political
situation in the
. To be sure, the script for "Eagle One"
doesn't show much interest in being substantive on
a geopolitical level, not that anyone should
notice, as that particular niche is currently
filled up by
and others. Which leaves you to wonder what Brian
Clyde and company could have done with
"Syriana's" budget… Hopefully, we'll
get to find out one day.