Monday, March 21, 2011

Code Name: Wild Geese (1984)

If miniatures are porn for me, Antonio Margheriti’s Code Name: Wild Geese are the ultimate in kinky sex. I hope you all know what I mean, because this movie has so many cool minature-effects its dream come true for miniatureophiles. I guess only Commando Leopard, from the same team, could be a competitor in this special alternative world of small buildings, small bridges, small cars and big explosions.

The story is kinda vague, as usual, with Lewis Collins leading a gang of tough guys into the wilderness to take down a drug factory, or something. Anyway, Lee Van Cleef is helping him and the people who send him out are, among others, Klaus Kinski and Ernest Borgnine. This is one big, fat excuse for showing a lot of action and explosions, a mighty fine bodycount and some impressive scenerys if the Philippine jungle!

I’ve said it before: Antonio Margheriti was one of the finest action directors EVER. No one could shoot a big scale action scene like good old Antonio, with a smart combination of cool miniature work and real life explosions and wild stunts. I also appreciate how he captures local colors, it’s never clean or neat, it’s dirty and raw – but never really nasty. He never was fond of blood and gore. He’s one of the few directors that could make the Philippines look beautiful, even when he’s only shooting in really rundown areas and junkyards!

Also, please, take notice of of how excellent he films miniatures – an artform by itself. The light always feels natural and even if the minitatures themselves can be a bit rought, they are so detailed and so well-shot that you buy the illusion totally. But the magic lies in the lightning, something that only Margheriti and the Japanese had the knowledge to do. Code Name: Wildgeese has one insane sequence, a car-chase, which goes from being real cars outside a tunnel to a miniature-chase where the cars drive on the walls inside the tunnel (yes, like in Men in Black!)! Sure, you can see they are miniatures, but they are so well-made.

So, what do we have except a ton of action? Great actors of course. Lewis Collins is one of my favorites nowadays, a James Bond-ish actor which kills with elegance and handle the most stupid dialogue excellent. Here he’s backed-up by Klaus Kinski, Ernest Borgnine and Lee Van Cleef – all which do decent jobs, even of Van Cleef seem very tired/bored during some scenes. Luciano Pigozzi, the Peter Lorre of Italy, plays a priest and does it well. A nice selection of German actors, for example Manfred Lehmann, does a good job too. What maye tend to forget is that Mimsy Farmer has a nice little part too, but she’s really never any part of the story and feels more like the token female than anything else.

This is one of the finest, together with Commando Leopard, men-on-a-mission flicks from the happy Eighties, and another showcase for the brilliant eye of Antonio Margheriti.


Nylander said...

Ernest Borgnine? I bet he made his surprised/scared face where his eyes get really big - he always does that. I think I need to watch this move now.

Jack J said...

Cool review, Fred. And you're right, Antonio Margheriti was one of the finest action directors!

Btw, the cover you're showing is for the cut German version. The only uncut DVD is a rare release from Switzerland (and it's not English friendly). NSM Records in Austria have announced they're releasing it fully uncut sometime in 2011.

PS: I'm sure you expect me to say "Of course I have it on uncut and English dubbed VHS from Japan". LOL.

Jesus Manuel said...

I love this movie too much...toooooooo much, really. I saw it for first time on spanish tv when I was just a tender teenager. By the way, the spanish Tv release plus the video edition was uncut. sadly the spanish dvd is cut because they used the same german master.

There are two IFD actors on this movie. Bruce Baron on a big supporting role & Paulo Tocha who just have a vcery tiny cameo at the end during a funeral in a cemetery. Tocha would get the stardom a couple of years later as Paco the kickboxer in Van Damme's Bloodsport. He also got main roles in Filmark movies such as Silver dragon ninja & Clash of the ninjas & on IFd's Ninja Dragon.

Ty said...

Nice write-up! Codename: Wild Geese was a lot of fun. Happy i just found your site and we will put you in our links.

also here is (shameless plug alert!) our review:

Nigel Maskell said...

Indeed great miniatures- and the exploding trainset and dam in Commando Leopard, for exploding miniature porn an honorable mention has to go to Inglorious Bastards for the exploding railway sidings/hornby train set.

Anonymous said...

Isnt that the dvd with that really lame game on it? The one where youre supposed to shot gerilla-soldiers with your remote-control?

/Sutter Cane