Blaise’s Bad Movie Guide
Happy Flag Day! My editor suggested I review a movie with a patriotic theme, but such is not my forte. Even listening to Sylvester Stallone give his speech at the end of “Rambo” is below my threshold of pain. Then a coworker reminded me of a movie that ranks tops in the Most Unlikely Casting category. Who would you pick to play the world’s top laser scientist? Why, Ernest Borgnine, of course! And here, also, was my choice for a patriotic movie.
“Laser Mission” (1990) begins with the CIA hiring “free-op” agent Michael Gold (Brandon Lee, son of Bruce) to convince laser whiz Dr. Braun (Borgnine) to defect. But the doctor is kidnapped by the KGB, which plans to use his genius and a stolen diamond to create a nuclear weapon. So Gold enlists the help of Braun’s daughter, Allissa. After many adventures, the pair eventually confront the evil Col. Kalishnakov (not to be confused with small-arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov), who remains unsubdued until they hit him with a truck at the climax of the story.
You think Rambo’s speech is gibberish? Imagine stretching it across an entire movie. First the setting: there’s jungles, there’s desert. Cuba? Africa? You never know where these people are. At one point Gold and Allissa have to cross the 400-mile-long “Skeleton Desert,” which they do. On foot. In two days. You want dialogue? Gold: “I’m going to save your father.” Allissa: “I’ll let you know when I want to flirt.” Gold checks into a (Cuban?) motel, and for no reason the clerk shouts, “When you are gone we can make some money!” Even Stallone made more sense.
Apparently superhuman, Gold is able to take a shotgun to the back and walk it off. (The bullet wound is later shown in his stomach, but why nitpick?) He’s also a master of disguise, at one point sneaking up on Allissa, dressed like a leper (“Alms for the poor,” he intones). At other times he appears a buffoon, as when Allissa engages in a gunfight outside the motel room and he shrugs off the noise and goes back to sleep. There are also laughs to be had when Gold picks his getaway car. Bond had his Aston Martin — Gold has a e_SSRq70s VW van.
As for the patriotic angle I promised: Throughout the film Gold insists that he has undertaken the mission for purely patriotic reasons. The only problem is, the sound track is a song called “I’m a Mercenary Man.”
All finally ends well as Dr. Braun is rescued and Gold gets the girl, though marital discord seems assured when Gold tells Allissa, “I’d like to take that price tag right off you,” and she replies, “Some things come off easy, like your head.”
The official status of “Laser Mission” as a Bad Movie was cemented when it was selected for the third episode of the second season of the Canadian television show “This Movie Sucks.”
I should have stuck with “Rambo.”
— Blaise Majkowski
Gazette page designer and B-movie aficionado