Fun With Flicks: Laser Mission
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Join cartoonist Josh Way as he riffs this wicked awesome action flick from 1990 starring Brandon Lee and Ernest Borgnine. No lasers, not much of a mission, but we do get a catchy theme song and a rather buoyant female agent who walks 400 miles in high heels. With more bad accents than Angelina Jolie's demo reel, Laser Mission delivers all the heart-pounding action of your cable company's onscreen channel guide.
Includes Bonus Short "Bus Nut" and the original movie audio on a separate track.
Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theater 3000 says "Josh Way is the real thing, baby!" Josh is the creator of the comic strip Chronicle (www.chroniclecomic.com), a contributor to Mike Nelson's Rifftrax.com and a writer for the Incognito Cinema Warriors XP.
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If you value the memory of Brandon Lee (and even if you don't) do yourself a favor and only consider watching "Laser Mission" for startling examples of extraordinary and unintentional comedy. The film opens with the monotonous and annoying power ballad "Mercenary Man" (the handiwork, I hate to reveal, of David Knopfler, Mark's younger brother) a song that fits the theme of the film, yet is played so often in the course of the movie that you will want to scream if you hear it one more time. The theme song is by far the best part of the movie.
The plot concerns Brandon Lee as Michael Gold, a mercenary US contract agent who travels to Cuba and then onward to some fictional country in Africa (though exactly how he gets there is a bit of a mystery.) This is all in an attempt to bring Ernest Borgnine (as Professor Braun) to the United States as he has developed a method of using a big diamond (which gets a subplot of it's own in an apparent homage to the original "Pink Panther") to make a laser that can start World War Three. Needless to say, Ernest (who has the worst accent in the history of cinema) is also wanted by the KGB led by the stiflingly bad Col. Kalishnakov (named for a similarly-named Soviet-manufactured combat weapon, evidently), and the amorphously evil "Eckhardt" who is menacing with his over-the-top pseudo-Austrian accent and diction skills. Think of William Shatner as an insane, evil member of the SS and you will come close to the degree of overacting present here.
The film boils down to some of the most ineptly directed combat scenes (it's always good to stand in the open when being shot at with a rifle; it is also wise to ignore the archer shooting huge arrows from about three feet above your head, but I digress) ever recorded for posterity. As a sidebar, we get the obligatory romance between Lee and Debi Monahan, an actress with a voice that can shatter glass at one hundred yards. She is supposed to be a super-spy of some sort (that's an issue open to conjecture as well) but spends the bulk of the film shrieking and running through the desert in a dress and heels. To say there is no chemistry between Lee and Monahan is to state the painfully obvious.
There are also plots about diamond mining, genocide, a team of comic-relief communist helicopter thieves, and a family reunion during an amazing turn of events in the last five minutes of the movie, which prepares us for one more round of "Mercenary Man" and the credits. Since the title of the film is "Laser Mission" it would be fair to assume that there was actually a laser in the movie. That's where you would be wrong: the laser is mentioned but never seen. Apparently it was cheaper to rent a helicopter, a small rocky outcropping in a third-world country, and a VW bus full of fake weaponry than to show a laser.
As a special bonus the DVD also includes a wonderful short called "Bus Nut" funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. It features a school girl who has big dreams of becoming a school bus driver, and has some amazing stunt sequences. I actually found "Bus Nut" incredibly hilarious, and wondered how on Earth this thing got funded, then remembered the government paid for it. The commentary on "Bus Nut" is superb ("Tun Sub!") and required several viewings.
Overall I look forward to more of the "Fun With Flicks" DVDs, and recommend this to lovers of bad cinema anywhere.