Sometimes you can walk into a DVD store and see all the latest Hollywood Blockbusters sat there just waiting to be bought, or you can catch site of an Italian made action movie with Lewis Collins (The Professionals, Who Dares Wins) for £1.98...guess which one I bought ? :)
A cruel dictator rules a Latin American state. Corruption, brutality and exploitation are present every day. A few people begin to organize resistance. Under the leader "El Leopardo" a small group of guerrillas fights against the violent government.
Antonio Margheriti directed 3 films between 1984 and 1988 with British born actor Lewis Collins. These were Code Name: Wild Geese, Commando Leopard and The Commander. Antonio used the name Anthony M. Dawson on most of his films. At an estimated budget of 15 million Swiss Francs it is said that half of this money went into the films miniature special effects supervised by Antonio's brother Edoardo Margheriti. There are some superb miniature FX in this movie, from dam's bursting to cargo planes crashing. Only a hand full of these shots have a few Depth of Field problems, betraying the illusion of reality.
The movie was filmed on location in Venezuela and the Philippines and also stars Klaus Kinski as main bad guy Silveira. It's very much like the Spaghetti Westerns where the few main actors can actually speak English but the rest of the cast are dubbed over by voice artists later.
What's it like as a movie ? Well for £1.98 I wasn't expecting Black Hawk Down. It's just a fun 80's actioner, that has only one piece of action music that it keeps re using every time we see any shooting etc... It starts to wear a bit thin by the end of the film. At one point Lewis Collins was one of the actors who's name often used to get mentioned when there was talk of a new James Bond, and I suppose along with Who Dares Wins he was hoping to make it big in the film industry. He certainly has a screen presence, but I can't recall the last time I seen him in anything on Film or TV, his last credit on the IMDB has him listed in an episode of The Bill in 2002. Lewis Collins passed the actual selection course for the SAS' Territorial Army battalion (23 SAS), only to be turned away from the unit because of his celebrity status.
Antonio Margheriti (1930 - 2002) was a real jack of all trades, he directed, produced, acted, worked on the Special Effects of films 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Humanoid. He also directed the notorious Cannibal Apocalypse and Killer Fish starring Lee Majors. His other action films with Lewis Collins that I mentioned earlier featured actors Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasance, he must have got them all as a job lot after Escape from New York :)