After a successful mission behind enemy lines, Colonel Radek's Strike Commando special forces unit is wiped out during the Vietnam War. The only survivor is Michael Ransom, who ends up deep in the jungle with a village community. There he learns of a group of Russian soldiers who are covertly involved in the war and have carried out various atrocities. Ransom fights his way back and tells Radek about it, whom he surprisingly quickly forgives for wiping out his squad. Radek sends him back again to gather evidence. In the village, Ransom finds only the corpses of the people who helped him and now vows revenge....
The Italian rip-off specialist Bruno Mattei, who has also given us such wonderfully stolen works as Contaminator or Roboman, shows us his full range of cinematic skills again with Strike Commando. He receives competent support from Claudio Fragasso, who wrote the screenplay together with his wife Rossella Drudi. Fragasso later directed the notorious trash favorite Troll 2. For Strike Commando, Mattei borrows heavily from First Blood: Part 2, but remains variable by also borrowing from Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome and Apocalypse Now. The new world star Reb Brown, announced on the German video cover, unfortunately did not quite make the big breakthrough. Perhaps it was due to the not quite mature script, where you do not quite know whether you are dealing with a Vietnam actioner or a parody of it. The flippant ending in which Ransom runs off into the sunset and talks to the audience suggests a parody, as does the permanently sweaty Christopher Connelly as Radek. Further highlight is Alex Vitale as an evil Russian who yells Amerikanski at Ransom throughout. It remains a surprisingly moronically entertaining film that entertains with either more or less reasonable gunplay, simple-minded dialogue scenes and the many stolen scenes.
There are two versions of Strike Commando on the US Blu-ray by Severin. The Theatrical Version and an Extended Cut. The extended cut is presumably the US version, which had already been released on VHS in the US. For the Italian version, three action scenes were removed (or reinserted for the US version, depending on which angle you look at it from) and additionally some scenes were exchanged. These scenes from the Italian version are presumably from The Last Hunter. The Theatrical Version from the US Blu-ray is the US version with the additional plot scenes removed again. Presumably, Severin only had access to the US master. Qualitatively, this is a top-notch release. The film looks excellent and offers interesting bonus material, including an interview with Claudio Fragasso.
Theatrical Version: 91:45 min.
Comparison between the theatrical version and the extended version.
Lao walks up to Cho-Li, who is walking with the doctor. He says that the American talks in his sleep and whether he can become a soldier one day. Cho-Li says that he should go to sleep since he hasn't slept since the American came. Lao sees it as his job to watch over the American. He wants to be there when the American wakes up so that he knows that he was saved by him. Lao runs back. The doctor wonders if the American is the man they need. Cho-Li has found out through contacts that the American was part of a special forces unit. The doctor says they better not tell the Russians that there is an American in the village, as this will only cause problems, destroying the whole village. He talks about the fact that the Russians also destroyed the church of the priest Francois.
The villagers discover a group of Vietcong, whom they immediately shoot down. They capture one man.
The doctor says to Cho-Li that priest Francois taught them to love all people whether friend or foe. He wonders how to love people who want to destroy their village.
The men take the prisoner to Cho-Li and the doctor. The doctor says that they should not kill him. Cho-Li says to hold the man for now until the American wakes up, whom they want to put to the test.
Extended: 2:08 min.
New plot scene after Ransom contacts the base.
Major Harriman takes a boat to an aircraft carrier to talk to the general there. He complains that because of Radek's incompetence, an entire special forces unit was sacrificed. The general says that Radek is his superior and in wartime, a direct order must be obeyed. This, he says, is very important because otherwise there would never have been men like Patton or Pershing. He orders Harriman not to file a report on Radek because he also has a strong backing from Washington. Harriman expresses dissatisfaction with the decision since good men like Ransom have died because of bad decisions. The general wants to award the Strike Commando the Medal of Valor posthumously. Harriman says that they need equipment and not these empty honors. The general promises to take action if Radek makes another mistake. Harriman is told to form a new Strike Commando. Harriman leaves, at which point the General tells him that he too thinks Radek is incompetent.
Extended: 3:15 min.
The villagers, led by Cho-Li, walk through the jungle. They wonder when the doctor may show up. Cho-Li orders them to take a short break while keeping their eyes open. Lao asks if they should keep an eye out for Le Duc. Cho-Li says he'll be fine on his own. Lao says that Cho-Li is worried about Ransom because she is in love with him. Lao says that the latter would be a good husband for Cho-Li. Cho-Li thinks this is nonsense. Lao says she should propose to him, since things might go the other way in America.
Suddenly, the group is shot at. The villagers shoot back and catch some Viet Cong. The group continues running.
Extended: 1:44 min.
Harriman comes into the general's office to talk to him. Harriman says that Washington needs to make a decision regarding Radek. The general thinks that Harriman is obsessed with Radek. Harriman says that Radek is responsible for the deaths of many people and has ruined Ransom. Ransom is equally obsessed with killing Radek. The general rebuffs, fearing that Radek might talk to the press. Harriman says that Radek is a KGB spy who is being covered up by the general. The general asks if a highly decorated soldier who has great influence in Washington should be exposed as a spy. This hurts the Army as the war continues for them. Harriman says it is the bureaucrats' war. He suspects that Ransom is to serve as a pawn. Harriman is in contact with Ransom and he is waiting for a decision regarding Radek. The general agrees that Radek should be locked up. Harriman thanks him for the decision. The general says that Ransom should act alone and not get support from the military and makes it clear that this is a covert operation.
Extended: 3:17 min.