Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Bad Pack (1997)

The Bad Pack Cover


Things always heat up when old friends get together!

Movie Review:

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What we have here is a movie that takes its influences from places as varied as Seven Samurai, The Wild Bunch, and The Expendables (either one). What? You're still reading? Not dropping this in a digital basket already? Okay, we'll continue.

Close to the Mexican border lies a small town called Los Robles. The people who populate this out of the way place fall into the category of simple folk. They work, they farm, the go to church, they live their lives. They aren't all legal but are generally left alone as long as they work and keep to themselves. Close-by is a camp of militant white supremacists that call themselves the Sons of Texas. Needless to say, they cause a lot of trouble for the peaceful people of the nearby town. And trouble here would be defined as stopping by about once a month to plunder, pillage, and kill.

The poor people of Los Robles have had all they can stands. They can't stands no more! So, they get all the money together that they can, fourteen grand, and send a couple of representatives off to Los Angeles to hire a guy they read about in the back of a magazine. It doesn't go well. After a visual illustration of the DT's, the secretary informs the travellers that she's heard about a man named McQue (Robert Davi) who, it's told, is pretty damn tough. They go to a diner where he is said to hang out but they don't know who they're looking for. Figuring it out becomes easy once a group of robbers enters and starts to harass the quiet guy in the corner. Short version; some are shot, some are beaten down with a cane, and all are left on the ground. Yep, they've found their man.

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It takes a serious amount of pleading and no small expression of heartfelt desperation to convince McQue to help, but they do. Like he says, it's not going to be easy to find people to risk their lives for fourteen thousand dollars. But, there's those stories about the millions stashed away at the baddies compound... That went a long way in convincing our beleaguered bike mechanic that stepping up was the right thing to do. There's three weeks until the next raid, give or take, and McQue tells the pair he'll meet them at their home in twelve days as he needs time to assemble a team.

The next section of the film is all about the introduction and assemblage of the characters that will be taking on the mission. And, man oh man, what a group it is! These are some of the most pleasing scenes in the movie as we meet all of McQue's old friends... Dash Simms (Roddy Piper) will be the driver. Kurt Mayer (Ralf Moeller) is definitely going to be the muscle. His skills as a spy and anti-terrorist specialist will no doubt come in quite handy. Now it's off to the mental hospital to grab the prerequisite crazy man, Hoffman (Patrick Dollaghan). Guess who handles the explosives? Yep. Time now to meet Remi Sykes (Shawn Huff). She's the attractive and edgy bad-assassin lady pictured up above there. You're still welcome. They have already picked up a tag-a-long in Jeremy Britt (Larry B. Scott) and it's a good thing, he handles information and travel. Brent Huff's character, Callin, shows up later on. Remember, he was behind the camera this time! So, there you have it! A top-shelf concentration of lower-budgeted action bad-assery!

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The team heads down to Los Robles where they are greeted by the like locals the same way Elvis might be when touching down in a big city somewhere. These planning stages give us time to get to know what everybody is about a little bit better. Characterisation! Nice. Also, it's around this time that Mister Huff joins up. He was part of the problem, he had his reasons, but is more than willing to become part of the Pack after being left for dead on a deserted road. Why? Disclosure of that is a one-way ticket to spoilertown. I won't be taking you there, I don't do that. Regardless, his insider knowledge ends up being as big a help as you might expect later on. The 'Sons’ get wind of the mercenaries’ presence and send a small biker squad over to handle things. The ones that aren't lying on the ground or treated to high caliber ear-piercing are quickly sent home with their collective tale between their legs. This does NOT go over well with the head dicktator (purposeful spelling). Shortly after this point... It is ON!

What a fantastic good time! The energy is always high, even in quieter moments, and the whole presentation is surprisingly solid. Brent Huff demonstrates considerable skill as a director, it's filled to bursting with colourful characters in interesting situations, strikes the perfect balance between disarming humour and well-armed excitement, and showcases an effective and properly applied soundtrack backing the on-screen action. Positives are many, complaints are few if any. Over the years, reading other assessments, the common complaint is that this plays like an old episode of the A-Team. Some influence is there, sure, but it's not like this is the only movie to do that, now is it? No. And besides, look at the pictures, see what I'm getting at? A-Team was never like that. And for the record, I like this movie a whole heck of a lot more than the A-Team movie that we ended up with. I'll take BAD PACK any day. ANY DAY!

I have this theory that some people like to hate on movies like this because they feel like they should. I won't say more for fear of the several angry and alienating paragraphs that would surely follow. Seriously though, this is an excellent movie of its kind and if you're a fan of any of the cast, or all of them, you do NOT want to miss THE BAD PACK!

Reviewed by Xtro the Mutilator

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Trivia and Notes:

  • This was Brent Huff's second film in the director's chair but far from his last. He's still directing today and has projects coming even as I write this. 
  • Brent Huff also wrote THE BAD PACK. 
  • Yep, Shawn Huff is indeed Mrs. Brent Huff. They've worked together several times. 
  • Cameo: Look for The Road Warrior's Vernon Wells as one of the bikers. 
  • Cameo: Look for Clifton Collins Jr. as one of the townspeople. 
  • Cameo: Look for character actor Joe Unger as the fight promoter.
  • Ralf Moeller has had quite a career but is probably most recognisable to most as having played Conan in the TV series of the same name. 
  • Sven Ole Thorsen has also had quite a busy career but will also be best known to many by his Conan association. He had roles in both of the original Conan films. There aren't too many 80's Schwarzenegger films that he wasn't involved with. 
  • In Moeller's introduction, he is seen fighting a man mountain in a human cockfight. That opponent's real name was Jeep Swenson. Jeep's career in movies and TV was starting to take off at this time but he sadly died very shortly after making THE BAD PACK. 
  • Larry B. Scott was famous as the effeminate Lamar Latrelle from the Revenge of the Nerds films. The first name of Dollaghan's character in this movie is Latrelle. 
  • Extras details: The cast bios are light, to put it politely, and feature only three players. The text synopsis is wrong.  
  • DVD shown and reviewed is the original Canadian release from 1999. The American DVD did not come along until 2004 and features slightly different packaging/art and, though out of print, can still be found for purchase at places like Amazon. There is a German PAL Region 2 DVD from Splendid Entertainment that, depending on where you look, promises a 1.85:1 widescreen image and an English language track. I found out the hard way that neither one of those things is true.