When it comes to action movies, the eighties were the best of times and the worst of times. For every awesome Ah-nuld movie like Commando or Predator, there was dreck like Cobra or No Retreat, No Surrender to counter it. One thing was true: all of these movies, be they good or be they bad, were all brainless. The deciding factor of their quality lied in what kind of brainless they were: on purpose (IE, made to be nothing but mindless fun) or on accident (IE, the director was a moron who messed up a lot and didn't know it). One movie stood proudly straddling the line between the two realms. One movie managed to be mindless fun with enough fuck-ups to prove the director was also a twit. One movie ruled them all and something, something, something bound them. That movie was...
MEGAFORCE *force force force*
Directed by stunt man turned filmmaker Hal Needham, who also gave us Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, and Stroker Ace, MEGAFORCE plays less like a movie and more like a highlight reel of what Needham could do with miniatures, firecrackers, and blue screens. He's not directing so much as he's showing off. Sadly for him, he hasn't much to show except how laughably inept he is.
“Despite official denials by leaders of the free world, sources now confirm the existence of MEGAFORCE, a phantom army of super-elite fighting men whose weapons are the most powerful science can devise. Their mission....To preserve freedom and justice battling the forces of tyranny and evil in every corner of the globe.”
This is the text/narration that begins the unparalleled...thing...that is MEGAFORCE. Following this, Mr. Needham attempts to kill all epileptics with a title sequence that shows photographic negatives of military footage (tanks and such). This really is one of those things that gives you a migraine just looking at it.
Somewhere in...somewhere, some guy with a horrible middle eastern accent reads a speech (punctuation and all) aloud to a gathered group. “Furthermore COMMA we wish to assure you...”. Ho ho. A helmeted man can take no more and just says “fire” into his radio. His tanks proceed to destroy a miniature of a power plant...or a silo...or a grain elevator...or something. Expect a lot of “or something”s in this review, folks. This movie never makes a damn thing clear.
The villagers or whoever they are look on saddened and appalled as their beloved whatchamacallit is laid to waste.
The next day, the speech guy is still mad he couldn't finish his speech. Suddenly, shit starts blowing up. What's going on?! The landscape is riddled with mushroom clouds within seconds. The devastation is unfathomable and I don't even know what happened. Elsewhere, a smug Brit and the bald alien woman from Star Trek: The Motion Picture are at a base camp complaining about “Guerrera”, who I'll assume is the guy who blew things up. It seems he's crossed their borders or something. The chick says they shouldn't engage and the troops, should they exist, are called home. Inexplicably later, the Brit and the woman get into a car and are driven to the middle of the desert and abandoned. Brit is mad about the lack of welcoming committee and wants to know where they are.
Brit begins his trademark habit of being a bitch. Woman calls him General, so that's his name from now on. She asks him to sit down and he sighs “Yes, I said enough”. TO WHO? A snake crawls up on them, but a bullet apparently fired from Yosemite Sam's pistol (judging by the sound effect) kills it dead. Dallas, a stereotypical Texan right down to the SKOAL logo on his t-shirt, walks up rifle in hand to greet them. General wants to know what the fuck's going on and Dallas says he's from MEGAFORCE. General demands a rank and Dallas says there are no ranks in MEGAFORCE. Dallas introduces the woman to herself for no reason. She's Major Zara Bendoogah (?), only daughter of “THE PRESIDENT”. Apparently she also makes bivouacking in the woods seem desirable. Whatever that means...his words, not mine. Zara is amused.
Dallas leads the General and Zara to his...pick-up truck. General demands nicer conditions. Dallas activates a hologram of a girl on a beach. Every elite military unit needs one. In the truck we meet the World's Whitest Black Man, Zachary Taylor. General assumes that Zach is listening to, of all things, Gladys Knight on his headset. Zach retorts “Vivaldi!”
General is angry to have been out-whited.
Off they drive.
Elsewhere, in the cheesiest “Hi-Tech Lair” since Adam West's Batcave, a Sparrow is found traversing Sector Zulu and...I don't know what this jargon means. The truck stops at this news...only to see that their sparrow was an armadillo in their path. Taylor throws out some random Shakespeare just to be even whiter. What happened in this scene, I don't know.
The truck parks and pays witness (as do we) to the single most insanely over the top, needlessly violent action scene ever. Three helmeted men on motorcycles – mounted with machine guns and rocket launchers - ride in and wipe out a handful of party balloons. The nefarious balloon scourge was no match for explosions rivaling Hiroshima.
Why you would cause so much destruction to get rid of balloons that probably would have just drifted away on the breeze anyway is beyond me. But God is it awesome. This is also our first time hearing THEME FROM MEGAFORCE a song I always expect to transition into the Superman theme song at any second. It's so rockingly eighties. After successfully blowing up their enemies, one of the bikes breaks away from the group and jumps the truck just to show off. Good thing it was conveniently parked between two rocks that form a perfect jump ramp. The show-offy biker removes his helmet to reveal...
BARRY GIBB!!! Holy cow, I love him! The BeeGees were great!
No...wait...it's actually Barry BOSTWICK, AKA the Mayor from Spin City. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's our hero.
General: “Commanduh Huntuh, I presume?”
Hunter: “Oh, call me Hunter!”
HE JUST DID. Learn to listen.
General finally names his country: The Republic of Sardun. Yes, it's fictional. Hunter turns his attention to the Major, who's name is suddenly Zenbuddah. She says it's really pronounced Zara. Silly Hunter. Zara bitches about being hot and having to be around white people and shit. Hunter offers her a trip to Disneyland if she wants it easy. Another cyclist remarks “Target destroyed” HO HO HO HA HA HEE HEE HEE. Ugh.
Dallas and Hunter step aside to discuss the snake that attacked Zara and man... this conversation is gay. They are so talking about penis in code.
Driving again, Dallas mentions that the balloon attacks come regularly and everyone takes turns dealing with them. We also hear talk of Egg, the scientist who builds MEGAFORCE's equipment. “More degrees than a red-hot thermometer!”. We arrive in MEGAFORCE HQ, which is just a big empty cave. Zara Zenbuddah Bendoogah and General are in awe of it. Egg walks up and tricks Dallas into being an ever bigger tool.
“Dallas, when someone doesn't have less on they have...?”
Egg and Hunter murmur about some secret project that's “only good for an emergency”. Well surely we'll never see it!
God this article is bad so far...but that's just what MEGAFORCE is like. It's scatterbrained, illogical, confusing, and profoundly inelegant. It also takes a lot of words to explain it even in this half-baked fashion.
Anyway, our heroes find a giant matte painting of a vast underground lair and ogle it for a moment.
“It puts the pyramids to shame!”
“Well it better, it cost more!”
“It's a completely self-contained facility, mounted on gyro-leveling stabilizers that enable it to withstand a 25 megaton direct hit.”
“There are seven levels encompassing TEN MILLION SQUARE FEET!”
There's a full tour of all the various hi-tech programs and goings on. Zara and General make remarks about “Gosh, I thought that was still on the drawing board!” and “I thought that was top secret!” just to show us how advanced and edgy and cool MEGAFORCE is. Naturally, General wants to know where it all came from. Dallas says a truck shows up and dumps things on their doorstep every once in a while. OF COURSE! Dallas comments that one must volunteer to get into MEGAFORCE which makes no sense since, ya know, they're top secret and “don't exist”. How would you volunteer for something you've never heard of...?
Flash forward to Zara dressing in her all-chrome, neon-lit quarters. Hunter appears at the doo- What's he wearing?
Anyway...Zara calls the quarters beautiful (lie). Foreplay involving COMBAT MEDALS. WHAT?! Off to dinner with them, then. Elsewhere, Dallas shows off THE STEALTH NOSE, a car that turns black when touched. This is meant to be some kind of camo. Egg says it's nothin'. Elsewhere, Egg downplays his military phone call monitoring system. MEGAFORCE can eavesdrop on any military installation in the world. The Chinese are discussing their “Honey-Do” lists, including “Picking up American Food”. HO HO. Finally, someone remembers the plot. General asks for a read-out on Guerrera. Hunter is able to recite Guerrera's history from memory. They were college chums, you see. Epic speech about serving together and getting screwed by politicians and getting drunk together. And then, the ultimate betrayal:
GUERRERA STOLE BARRY BOSTWICK'S LIGHTER.
Yes. THAT is the foundation of their epic feud. My God.
In the HOLOGRAM ROOM *room room room* Hunter uses holograms to reveal their plan to catch Guerrera. This plan has been...planned...right down to the amount of time it will take them to accomplish it. Anyone with half a brain knows how stupid it is to plan a time for a military strike, especially to plan a multi-stage strike that relies on having the timing exactly right. Such a plan would undoubtedly fail thanks to unforeseen battlefield conditions like, oh, YOUR ENEMIES FIGHTING BACK. This plan is also needlessly complex and depends on Guerrera doing exactly what they expect. Failure is inevitable.
Just for fun, Dallas conjures a hologram of a cartoon pig. HEE HEE HEE.
Major Zippadeedoodah says she wants to join MEGAFORCE for this mission. Hunter says she must be tested.
Deep breath kids. Here comes the most howlingly funny scene yet. Hunter and Zara go skydiving together...and it turns into a weird form of foreplay. They dance through the air elegantly as LOVE THEME FROM MEGAFORCE (!!!!!!!) plays. If these aren't the worst blue-screen effects ever...well, just wait on that one. But they are awful.
They actually find this sexy and romantic...Wow. I love the “ejecting parachute as metaphor for ejaculation” moment. General is so impressed that he fears Zara may already qualify to command MEGAFORCE. WHAT?!
Just to show off, Zara pilots the helicopter ride home. Then, she plays one of those FMV arcade games. You know, with the movie screen and the light gun that you use to zap the actors? She plays a war game and gets a perfect score. Hunter says Zara has proved herself and then says FUCK YOU! YOU CAN'T COME!” So this whole sequence was pointless. Hunter says his guys are a creepy Borg-like collective that can't handle outsiders. Zara says she understands. THEN WHY'D YOU ASK TO JOIN IN THE FIRST PLACE? For some reason I can't discern, this conversation happens with the actors silhouetted against a vast purple backdrop.
The strike is suddenly in motion and MEGAFORCE HQ is on red alert. As Hunter boards his plane, Zara appears to wish him well, and then she kisses her thumb and gives a thumbs up. Hunter dramatically returns the favor.
EPIC TAKE OFF SEQUENCE.
Then we get some shots of the planes flying to Gamibia or wherever, and these shots seriously look like Hal Needham cued up some stock footage on a rear-projection screen and then just filmed that rather than directly inserting the footage. HAL NEEDHAM DON'T NEED NO MOVIOLA.
On the plane, Dallas goes over the plan using the gayest possible terminology so as to make it sound like a metaphor for buttfucking. Hunter looks on longingly, seemingly imagining that...well, I'll spare you. Elsewhere on the plane, the men conquer their boredom by solving Rubik's cubes and HURLING KNIVES AT EACH OTHER.
The plane hits some turbulence and Hunter is brought to his knees with air sickness. Our hero is a pussy.
Elsewhere, Guerrera (hey, remember him?!) plays chess with the speech guy. Speech guy looks away and Guerrera moves the pieces to make a false checkmate. MEAN. What's better than one skydiving scene? ANOTHER ONE! MEGAFORCE skydive into enemy territory astride their motorcycles and dune buggies. Yes, they parachute their vehicles to the ground. Unspeakably awesome.
The attack is in full swing and there is literally a timer on screen counting down the time limit Hunter has set for himself to execute the mission. God that's great. So MEGAFORCE's sneak attack involves countless explosions and enough noise to wake the dead. SURELY NO ONE WILL SPOT THEM. And now they have LAZER CANNONS.
Throughout this attack, a man who appears to be Gordon Solie sits in a mobile command center (how he drives it when he has no windows and is occupied with sending updates to the troops is beyond me), making little quips and giving the guys directions.
Having laid waste to the set from Casablanca, MEGAFORCE retreat to the sight of the second part of the plan. Gamibian soldiers sneak up on Gordon Solie's command car, but he uses an anti-weapon weapon to to disable their rocket launcher. Thank God, I couldn't have stood to see this beloved character die.
So anyway, even though there were only supposed to be THREE MINUTES between part one and part two of the attack, we cut ahead to the next day and part two hasn't happened yet. I TOLD YOU. MEGAFORCE stop at their super secret weaponry station, which is in the open and in no way hidden. I'm sure it's secure. Word of the pathetic failure of the plan reaches General, who gets pissed and takes a helicopter to go set things straight himself.
Speech guy comes upon the weapon station. He tells Guerrera, who says it ain't secret after all. The hologram beach girl comes back to confuse speech man. A medivac comes in and lands at the station. Guerrera himself is inside. Hunter and “Duke” (is that his name now?) are overjoyed to see each other. They hug and laugh and gossip like old gay pals.
They bring up the stolen lighter. Hunter just forgives him. Feud over? General flies in. Hunter offers to introduce Duke to him, like any good host would. General thinks Duke has been captured, and is offended when he realizes otherwise. Duke and General have a secret that Hunter doesn't know...Shockingly, the violent, near-genocidal assault has led Gamibia to declare war on MEGAFORCE. Thus, if General allows MEGAFORCE to enter Sardun, Sardun will be seen as accomplices and they'll have a war they don't want to deal with. So now MEGAFORCE have to find a way out of Gamibia.
Duke explains the dilemma: The only place MEGAFORCE escape planes can land to pick up the troops is an old dry lake, which happens to be where Duke has planted his tanks. MEGAFORCE is trapped! *dun dun dun* Duke offers to let Hunter go free if he'll lay down his weapons, but of course Hunter won't leave his men behind like that.
Later, Hunter explains an escape plan. Conveniently, he happens to have a topographical map including the locations of the tanks. His plan involves mountain passes and running their bikes and buggies on silent mode and whatnot.
Silent mode, by the way, means the director hitting “mute”. It's so bad. And silent mode is immediately forgotten about anyway, as the next shot includes sounds of revving engines and everything. Way to go. Hunter once again devises a timed plan: the planes will land and wait only two minutes for the troops to get on board. As the planes land and Duke is distracted by them, MEGAFORCE prepare to ride in and take out the tanks and then catch a ride home. Silent mode is back (consistency!). One of the escape planes pussies out and leaves, meaning MEGAFORCE will not be able to bring their vehicles back with them. SELF-DESTRUCT MODE, baby! Can't let those bitchin' rocket launchers fall into the wrong hands.
Meanwhile, countless senseless explosions abound as MEGAFORCE and Duke's tanks square off in a battle of missiles and lazers. The once beautiful dry lake is reduced to a scarred wasteland riddled with mushroom clouds. The plane complains of taking too much fire, so Gordon Solie says he can fix it and “Watch this!”.
He pushes some buttons, activating smoke screens on all the motorcycles. Yes, his cure for the bullets and missiles is to fill the lake with multi-colored streams of smoke (gay flag resemblance unintentional?). And this smoke comes not from the tail of the bikes, but from the dashboards, so the drivers have faces full of smoke and can't possibly see where they're going. What sense does any of this make?
A missile takes Hunter off his bike. OH N0ES! Well, Hunter just gets back up. The rest of MEGAFORCE reaches the plane and quickly pile in. Hunter is nowhere to be seen, though. That's because he's run right up to Duke's tank.
“Look, I just wanted to say goodbye, and remind you that THE GOOD GUYS ALWAYS WIN. EVEN IN THE EIGHTIES!!!”
YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Best. Catchphrase. Ever.
Reluctantly, Dallas tells the plane to take off. Hunter is coming up on his bike! Will he make it? Well, no. But no worries...that secret emergency device Egg and him were talking about is...A FLYING MOTORCYCLE. Yes, he hits two buttons and his bike sprouts wings and a rocket booster and takes flight with the single worst blue screen effect of all time.
He nearly falls off at first (what a hero), but eventually flies right into the back of the flying plane. This part is great, because as he enters the plane, the camera accidentally pulls back far enough to reveal the edges of the blue screen. Great. Duke is foiled, but amused and even a little proud.
Elsewhere, General speaks to the media about how Sardun isn't involved with the Gamibia incident. MEGAFORCE fly overhead (Love Theme returns!) Zara and Hunter wave thumbs. For good measure, Hunter launches a rocket into General's private helicopter (Take That!?). A Thumbs up and a smile and that's all folks!
No, I don't know what they accomplished, either. Nothing, really.