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Cobra Mission (movie review)

The ways of the movie-lover are indeed complicated. How can one go from craving one genre, then suddenly switch to a completely different one? Well, as the case is, it happened to me recently again. I don’t know why, but I craved ‘Namsploitation.

That would be easily solved by second Rambo movie, but originally there was a very specific motive for it.

As I have mentioned, my good friend is into Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movies – and I think it’s a good idea to visit JCVD’s movies I haven’t seen yet. Now, while I knew he was originally cast for the original Predator, I didn’t know he was also (although uncredited and for a few moments) in Missing In Action. Well, we’re talking ‘Nam, baby!

But before going MIA, I’ve found something else, a movie I wanted to check for some time already. That movie is Cobra Mission (also known as Operation Nam), the 1986 Italian ‘Namsploitation directed by Fabrizio De Angelis, who has also directed or produced quite a few other beloved Italian gems, like Thunder trilogy, Bye Bye Vietnam, Raiders of the Magic Ivory, or producing some Fulci classics. Well, like I would say “no” to watch that, right?

The plot is as simple as it gets. 4 ex-Marines decide to go back to Vietnam to investigate the reports of the American P.O.W.s being still held there. And they find them, of course, with a little help of a French Catholic priest (played by always great Donald Pleasence), but also find the unscrupulous American embassy official cashing on the still hoping parents of the M.I.A. soldiers and the conspiracy of the US government to keep the existence of the P.O.W.s secret.

Nothing new under the sun. So, why to watch it? Hmm…good question. True, there is nothing you haven’t seen before, but I’ll be damned if I haven’t enjoyed the movie, and with the cast like this movie has, no wonder – Oliver Tobias, Christopher Connely, Manfred Lehmann, John Steiner, Donald Pleasence and Gordon Mitchell (who simply owns the scenes he’s in), the B-movie lover’s heart gets pumping. Because the B-movie it is, don’t expect Platoon or Apocalypse Now.

So you think ‘Namsploitation ain’t good?

Add to it a lot of explosions, shootouts with Vietcong plus one unexpected twist and the downbeat end, and you have a nice movie to add to your Italian exploitation cinema collection.

I’d still rank Rambo: First Blood, part 2 higher, but when ‘Nam’s call comes back again, I would re-watch this little flick straight after watching Sly’s stuff.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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