21 June 2010

Project: Eliminator

United States - 1989
Director- H. Kaye Dyal
Southgate Entertainment, 1991, VHS
Run Time – 1 hour, 29 minutes

After serving in various dirty wars with the Marine Corps, and then the Army Special Forces, you would think that John “Striker” Slade would be ready to relax those sweaty, tense muscles and live off of his pension check. But coming back from the combat zone is not as easy as it might seem. As a highly trained super warrior, Slade has a hard time relating to and fitting in with all the soft civilian scum with their cocktails, jobs, apartments and relationships. They have no idea how weak and vulnerable they are, growing fat and lazy without the constant threat of hand-to-hand struggle hanging over their heads, and Slade is having none of it. Instead, he’s taken the only other option available to him, a Canadian tuxedo and the life of a nameless drifter on the highways of the US of A.

It is here where we join our friend Slade, portrayed with steely emotion by a well tanned and sparklingly groomed Frank Zagarino (Barbarian Queen's Argan), as he blows into a dusty northern New Mexico town called Rio Puerco like a tumbleweed with abs. Slade himself is too young to be a product of Vietnam, but that war produced a variety of bitter and misanthropic veteran stereotypes to choose from. Oh the tragic torment of the survivors to know the banality of peace; it was the lucky ones that died.

Slade hops off his hitchhiked eighteen-wheeler ride into a dusty parking lot where he takes a job body-guarding Dr. Markson, a scientist who’s developing a top secret AI drone aircraft for the Department of Defense. Why would a guy who already works for the DOD need defending? Because he just grew a conscience and instead of war machines, he’s decided to devote the rest of his life to developing aerodynamic, subsonic AI low income housing. Unfortunately, another maladjusted muscular Special Forces veteran, Elias (Brett Baxter Clark of Deathstalker 4) is not interested in such cute bullshit and is instead bent on extracting the aircraft plans from Markson’s grey-matter and selling them to… well, somebody evil will probably want them.

It also serves as a damn good opportunity for Slade to go on one of those cathartic “Final Raids” with his old army buddy Ron Morell (David Carradine.) Typically, traumatized veterans who return to the States are unable to cope with the slow pace and low tension of civilian life until they meet up with an old war buddy and pull one last mission together for old times sake. It is then, and only then, after employing their unique skills to prove his goodness, that the civilian scumbag will realize that the government-issue killer is really just misunderstood. In fact, as Markson’s vulnerable and succulent daughter Jackie quickly discovers, Slade is misunderstood and H-O-T. Who wouldn’t be instantly seduced by that golden mullet cascading over bronze and supple chest. She’s in his arms quicker than you can say Great American Metaphor.

Packin' a rod.

Within minutes however, Markson and his daughter are kidnapped by Elias’s inept goons and taken to a decrepit dust farm on the edge of the bosque. There Elias’ plan is to maliciously interrogate them while cackling and elaborating his entire evil (lack of) plan. Of course, as soon as the safety of the effeminate intellectual civilian is threatened, Slade’s unique skill-set regains its currency, (oh the irony that they’re the ones who made him learn those skills in the first place!) Shooting off in hot pursuit like well armed denim ejaculate, Slade guns his dirt-bike into the desert to redeem himself in the ultimate archetype showdown. After a brief premature battle climax with the henchmen, he literally gets in a fistfight with the degenerate wacko- vet stereotype captured so eloquently in Baxter-Clark’s Elias. With liberal use of disbelief suspension, I could hear the eagles of freedom screeching victoriously as Slade re-legitimized the masculine hero-warrior myth, putting some muscle firmly back into the USA's collective pants.

That's for all those years of making me look bad!

1 comment:

Ty said...

Zagarino's name is John "Striker" Slade? Awesome! This looks like a must buy!