500th Review Special: Action Force – The Movie Review!

Action Force The Movie

It’s my 500th published review! Between Anime UK News, this (two-part) blog and a few oddities, this is review #500, and boy is that a weird thing. So, how to celebrate? Well, I couldn’t really think of anything major after blowing my first written review ever on celebrating 200 reviews, so I thought I’d review a childhood favourite as a fun one-off. Action Force: The Movie, known pretty much every where else as “G.I. Joe: The Movie” (but this is me nostalgically looking back, so screw that!), is an odd one. It takes the often more… I hate to say realistic, but the more… grounded idea of an international force trying to stop a terrorist group and turns it into pure science fiction. A lot of people hate it for that reason, but I can’t do anything other than love it… and here’s why!

Synopsis:

While Cobra Commander and Serpentor blame each other’s leadership of Cobra as the root cause of the organization’s failures, Pythona, a woman from the secret civilization of Cobra-La, infiltrates the Terror Drome. While there, she reveals to Serpentor that Cobra-La was responsible for planting the idea in Doctor Mindbender’s mind to create him, much to Mindbender’s distress. At her urging, Serpentor plans to capture a revolutionary device that transmits energy at a long distance that the Action Force is testing: the Broadcast Energy Transmitter (B.E.T.)…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

Action Force The Movie 1

Lt. Falcon, happy in the knowledge that this film is rated PG, given what happens in a lot of other secluded army drill camps…

Lt. Falcon (Don Johnson) – Falcon is a new recruit straight from the Green Berets, though how he got his Lieutenant rank I don’t know as he soon skips his training sessions to take a mysterious girl he just met into a high security prison… Wait, he’s Duke’s younger half-brother. I get it now…

Duke (Michael Bell) – Duke is among the highest ranked and most respected members of Action Force, which is about the extent of his character, to be honest.

Jinx (Shuko Akune) – Jinx is a new recruit to Action Force, but unlike Falcon she takes it very seriously. She has mastered many martial arts and various ninja skills, but is known for having extremely bad luck… that is unless she blindfolds herself, then she’s an error-free fighting machine!

Sgt. Slaughter (Sgt. Slaughter) – Sgt. Slaughter is a world-renowned drill sergeant who often takes some of the more troublesome Action Force recruits and grills them until they shape up. His current crop of students (or “Renegades”) includes a Cobra defector and a… former acrobat…?

Roadblock (Kene Holliday) – Roadblock is both a heavy machine-gunner and a cook, both of great benefit to Action Force is completely different ways. He also constantly speaks in rhymes, which is of less benefit to all those around him…

Serpentor (Richard Gautier) – Serpentor was created by mixing the DNA of some of history’s worse villains and most ruthless leaders in order to lead Cobra to a new, victorious future. Sadly, it’s just been the same old, same old since he took over…

Cobra Commander (Chris Latta) – Cobra Commander is now second in command of Cobra, underneath Serpentor. He resents this greatly, and is looking for a way to undermine his better and take control back…

Golobulus (Burgess Meredith) – Golobulus is the leader of Cobra-La, a group of people who existed before humanity properly took hold on Earth. They wish to return to the surface and take the planet back for themselves by spreading mutating spores that transform those not protected by Cobra-La into mindless beasts.

Nemesis Enforcer (Peter Cullen) – Nemesis Enforcer is the… enforcer of Action Force’s main nemesis, in this case Golobulus. He doesn’t speak, but he does fly, and has large elbow blades that can pierce metal…

Pythona (Jennifer Darling) – Pythona is also a member of Cobra-La and wishes to see her master Golobulus’s plan through to their end. She has corrosive poison in her finger nails…

Plus many more!

The Good:

Action Force The Movie 4

He was once a man, yessss…. yessss….

For a show made to promote a toy range, Action Force: The Movie has more layers to it than necessary. Now, I’m not saying it’s some deep, thoughtful story or anything, but let’s take a look at the over-arching plotlines: Lt. Falcon being an unmotivated cocky guy who learns to take things seriously after his half-brother is nearly killed due to his mistakes, Cobra Commander is actually a member of a race that comes from before humanity called Cobra-La, and then there is Cobra-La in general and their plot to spread mutating spore across the Earth. Throw in Sgt. Slaughter and his Renegades and some of the new recruits (specifically Jinx) and you have a lot of juggling plotlines and weird sci-fi concepts to deal with in an hour and a half.

Cobra-La and their classic pre-humanity civilization, combined with an almost Lovecraftian hang-out full of weird and twisted creatures is certainly… unique in the series, and Golobulus, despite having a really stupid name, has some properly great (though admittedly straight forward and stereotypical) villain lines. Cobra Commander being outed as a Cobra-Lavian (?) nobleman sent to retake Earth by creating Cobra is an unusual revelation, and his punishment of being exposed to the deadly spores still lives within me as a quote to be quoted whenever possible (“No! Not the spores! Noooo!”), as does his slow transformation into a legitimate snake, whispering into the temporarily blind Roadblock’s ear “I was once a man! Yesssss, yessss!”. Classic. That’s another thing as a quick aside, that in a film packed with new characters, Roadblock gets a significant amount of screen time, though given his constant rhyming I’m not sure that’s a good thing… Anyway, Cobra Commander getting some character development, albeit it very weird character development, is a fun plot point…

Lt. Falcon is your classic womanising rouge, though a PG womanising rouge (he hangs out with women who kiss him on the cheek and no more!), eventually becoming a more serious character as we reach the climax. Duke is, for all intents and purposes, killed partly thanks to his mistakes and he gets grilled by Sgt. Slaughter, leading to a change in motivation levels. Jinx is a good character as well and a highlight of the newly introduced Joes. She has terrible luck and everyone makes fun of her for it, but when blindfolded she becomes an arse kicking machine… somehow.

There are some great battle scenes, stolen sound-effects from Star Wars films aside. The now infamous battle on the Statue of Liberty that forms the opening, Cobra’s assault on the B.E.T. (including Duke getting a snake spear in the heart), Cobra-La’s prison break to free the captured Serpentor, Lt. Falcon, Sgt. Slaughter and his renegades infiltrating and blowing up Cobra’s iconic island “Terror Drome” base , and the big final fight as Action Force (including General Hawk on the battlefield!) go up against the bizarre people and creatures of Cobra-La. Sgt. Slaughter takes on the cheesily named but cool-looking (when I was a kid) Nemesis Enforcer, eventually beating him down and throwing him down a pit, Jinx takes on female Cobra-La member Pythona, because women shouldn’t be beat up by men, and Lt. Falcon takes on Serpentor, followed by Golobulus.

Two things always stick in my head about this fight: Golobulus saying “The next sound you’ll hear will be the cracking of your vertebrae!” and Falcon jabbing the “Time Worm Dagger” into Golobulus’ eye and the horrible wailing sound the villain makes afterwards. It actually freaked me out a bit when I was younger, especially the weird jelly that appears to leak out of his wounded eye afterwards. Falcon is victorious and soon the three leads escape the exploding base and all the spores are destroyed before they turn the world in a barbaric, simpler world. It’s a great, action packed ending.

The Bad:

Action Force The Movie 3

Okay, I swear he looked cool when I was young…

I know Optimus Prime’s death wasn’t well received by fans, but I still get annoyed when Duke gets a snake spear IN THE HEART, with blood and everything, and “falls into a coma”, as someone says off-screen. Then at the very end of the film, someone also off-screen shouts “Just got word: Duke woke from his coma, he’s going to be okay!”, or something to that effect… jeez! I know it’s a kids cartoon, but visually he was clearly dead, even 7-year-old me knew that…

Watching this now, man is it ever obvious how badly “Full Force!” is dubbed over any time someone originally shouted “Yo Joe!”. It’s actually really funny, but I do have to mention it. I also now can’t stop hearing the plagurised Star Wars soundbites they use, after I saw a youtube video pointing them out ages ago…

Overall Thoughts:

Action Force The Movie 2

For a final picture, I couldn’t not put a picture of Golobulus in…

Watching this now I really appreciate the out-there sci-fi concepts and designs, even if it’s that very thing that make a lot of fans hate it. It still has some great characters, battles and moments, and is generally surprisingly more mature than the TV series it spun off from (though still very much for kid, obviously!) I recommend this wholeheartedly, though I suppose I would really. I must have rewound and watched my VHS copy of this 100 times as a kid… or maybe even 500 times! Eh Eh? …. Okay, it wasn’t that much. Still, 500 reviews… I have no idea what I’m going to do at 750, but that’s for future me to worry about!

5 Star Watch

(In reality it should be lower, but… I just can’t bring myself to do it…)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s