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It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie

Reader Review

Megaforce (1982)

Posted by: Will McCaffrey
Date Submitted: Thursday, March 25, 1999 at 10:44:25
Date Posted: Sunday, March 28, 1999 at 14:28:02

A movie with an interesting premise and story, but hampered by acting that sways between "campy" and just plain "bad." Barry Bostwick stars as Ace Hunter, leader of an elite, secret mobile army that takes it's orders from a sort of secret version of the U.N. called S.C.U.F.F. (It's explained what this stands for, but it escapes me. This is probably for the best.) Bostwick seems to be having the time of his life in this role, and he definitely falls into the "campy" category, as he spouts heroic ideals with almost exaggerated sincerity. Persis Khambatta (of Star Trek: The Motion Sicknes...uh, PICTURE fame), with a full head of hair this time, falls neatly into the "bad" acting category, and many of her lines will cause the viewer to wince uncontrollably.

The story: A third-world type country is under attack by a hostile army, led by a military genius named Guerera, played with scene-stealing glee by perennial B-Villain Henry Silva. Every time the pursuing forces get close to capturing him, he escapes over the border into a country that for some reason will declare it an act of war should they cross over in their pursuit. (What do they think Guerera's doing??) To solve this, Megaforce is enlisted by two military liaisons, played by Ms. Khambatta and low-budget English actor Edward Mulhare.

We are then treated to about a half-hour of set-up as to what Megaforce is and how it works. Every member is supposedly the "best each country has to offer," which one would assume is ONE person each, as each individual seems to represent a specific ethnicity; luckily, they aren't stereotypes. Ace's right-hand man is a jovial, good-ole-boy type named Dallas who introduces the pair to Ace and takes them on a grand tour of the supposedly hidden complex. Supposedly, every country gives Megaforce all their latest weapons and vehicle prototypes, but their true toys are designed by their resident genius, "Egg." These include some of the coolest motorcycles that were the envy of every kid at the time, with forward-firing machine guns and rocket launchers on the handlebars.

There is some brief fluff where Khambatta tries to join the group, causing Ace to fall in love with her for some reason, the revelation that Ace and Guerera are old friends, and the planning of a strategy to capture the enemy army of tanks. The plan is surprisingly intelligent, but thanks to a little snafu, they never get to pull it off. After they successfully land their forces and hit the primary target (an old oil-field), the country sheltering Guerera declares that whatever country Megaforce enters when they leave will be considered the enemy, and they will declare war on them. This leaves the team up the creek, as they have to find a way home without starting an international incident. The best scene in the film is where Guerera himself flies into Megaforce's camp to tell Ace the bad news. What follows is a great scene of banter between these two old friends/enemies that is worth the price of a rental. He also reveals to Ace that his tanks are covering the only place where their transport planes can land, so they are effectively trapped. He actually seems disappointed that Ace refuses to surrender....

The climax is where things rapidly go downhill, as they sneak up on the enemy from behind, and the battle is a combination of great visuals and bad editing. (Obvious cuts in filming the same object, a rocket which careens all over the screen leaving a long, squiggly trail, etc.) Then, all the vehicles leave trails of colored smoke to hide the landing planes; since the smoke is pouring out from the motorcycle's front cowling and RIGHT into the rider's faces, one wonders why they didn't crash into each other. Ace, as is cliche, is downed in the fight, and it looks like they must leave him behind. As the plane takes off, Ace has one final, amusing, and painful verbal exchange with Guerera and then makes it to the plane by using his cycle's secret prototype feature: it sprouts wings and flies. No, really. People who were throwing their shoes at the screen with "Galactica 1980" will be falling out of their chairs with this one, which has some of the WORST blue-screen effects ever. And Ace's promise of a get together with Persis, complete with the inexplicable kissing of their upraised thumbs and waving them at each other.

Note: this film was directed by renowned veteran stunt man, Hal Needham, and may be the reason for his quick descent into obscurity. Look for his cameo as the controller of Megaforce's mobile communications center.

Scenes to watch for: Any scene with Henry Silva; the ending battle's poor editing; the banter between the two airline pilots.

Best line: "In the 70's, we COULD be idealists! In the 80's.... It's too EXPENSIVE!"

Things that make you go "Huh?": The "holographs" which are clearly just etched glass panels which light up.

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