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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Search & Destroy (1979) review


Perry King (Kip Moore), Don Stroud (Buddy Grant), Tisa Farrow (Kate Barchel), George Kennedy (Anthony Fusqua), Jong Soo Park (Assassin)

Directed by William Fruet

The Short Version: Modest revenge actioner has a great cast of genre stars and a halfway decent, if tired plot. It works most of the time, but seriously needs a stronger villain. 70's film buffs will no doubt want to see this. Paired on DVD with another movie, neither film can carry themselves alone, but work rather well as an old style double feature.

...That's just the way it was there. Nobody was thinking about right or wrong. Everybody was crazy, it was all confused! Take care of your team, that was the only rule, there weren't any other rules! They just put us down in the jungle and they set us free. We could do anything we wanted to do...anything we wanted and that's what we did! Nobody cared! Nobody asked wasn't search and destroy, it was much more the other way around...and you know what? I loved it!

Ten years after the war ended, a group of Vietnam vets are killed one by one by a revenge seeking former member left behind for betraying his group.

Exploitation ace, William Fruet keeps things moving along in this modest action movie possessing a flimsy plot, but a nicely written script. Having seen many of Fruet's movies, so many of them strive for greatness, but never attain it. The closest he came was with DEATH WEEKEND (1976). Still, his movies offer up a lot of entertainment value and he was lucky to nab good casts. And that's what keeps SEARCH & DESTROY interesting is its cast.

Perry King, a fine actor who never seemed to attain the kind of notoriety he deserved, does fine with the material, although there isn't much here to begin with for anyone to work from. In its defense, the script by Don Enright (SPASMS 1983;for Fruet again) touches on the after effects of being in Vietnam, but this is briefly touched upon while the action and search for the killer takes center stage. King gets a good moment to shine when he relates to his girlfriend about what it was like to have "lived" through the war in Vietnam.

Don Stroud threatens to take the movie away from King, but he isn't really in the movie long enough to do so, unfortunately. Jong Soo Park is the villain of the piece, but in my view, Stroud would have been much better as the heavy. Stroud made a career out of playing really nasty bad guys and he could have done wonders in this picture had he been cast as such. Still, he gives his brief role as the Karate chopping and kicking Buddy Grant an energetic verve that Jong Soo Park barely registers. Both Perry King and George Kennedy as the cop on the case hype up Jong's villain to high heaven as this major killing force, yet he's given little to convince the audience to be anything more than a disgruntled and unhinged man with a major chip on his shoulder.

Still, SEARCH & DESTROY is an action film and it does its job well in this low budget Canadian feature. Again, the cast is the big sell here. The movie is capped off nicely with a hunter and hunted style showdown that covers a lot of ground from the concrete jungle of a city street to the familiar grounds of a jungle like locale. There's also some flashback Vietnam action amidst the medium level violence on hand.

SEARCH & DESTROY is paired on DVD with the similarly plotted THE GLOVE also from 1979. Dark Sky Films did an amazing job in presenting both these minor league action opuses as a bonafide drive in double feature. This instantly became one of my favorite DVD's simply by virtue of its presentation. There's no option to select either movie, you simply hit play, sit back and enjoy great old theater and refreshment stand ads, trailers, then the first feature, more ads and trailers then topping it off with the co-feature.

While it's not a great movie, it's an average one that's definitely worth seeing. Those familiar with the directors other movies will have an idea what to expect here. If made today, it's the kind of movie that passes for direct to video fare. Picky viewers and those used to bigger action productions may want to pass this one over as there will be little to sustain their interest. Still, for exploitation junkies, SEARCH is worth seeking out. This Dark Sky DVD is highly recommended to nostalgia buffs who will no doubt appreciate this disc more than the casual viewer.

This review is representative of the Dark Sky double feature DVD paired with THE GLOVE (1979)


J. Astro said...

This one far underwhelmed me when compared to the delightful THE GLOVE, but I will admit I liked SEARCH AND DESTROY's cast. And I agree that the villain needed to be stroonger; it seemed like they were gonna build him up all bad-ass in the first part of the film, but then they just revealed him outta nowhere, and with little fanfare, and then ya had this lame dude to deal with for the rest of the flick. Don Stroud is awesome in here, though.

And agreed about Dark Sky's overall excellent presentation, they put out some great product!

J. Astro said...

...oops, make that "strOnger", with just one "o".

venoms5 said...

I like them both, but feel S&D is the better ACTION movie. I also think both movies work best as a double bill the way Dark Sky has presented them. It's easily one of my favorite DVD's in my collection. I hope they put more of these out!

Don Stroud rules in DEATH WEEKEND and SLAUGHTER'S BIG RIP OFF. He's also good in ...TICK...TICK...TICK with Jim Brown and George Kennedy.

venoms5 said...

My thoughts on THE GLOVE are up now, too, J. What an awesome cast in that one as well.

R.A.M.'67 said...

This seems worth checking out, along with THE GLOVE! Perry King is very underrated as an actor; my first exposure to his work was when he played Han Solo in the radio version of STAR WARS that aired on NPR years back! (I'm certain this was put out on CD some time ago.)

venoms5 said...

That's an interesting bit of info regarding Perry King, Fang! I've enjoyed all the movies I've seen him in including MANDINGO and CLASS OF 1984.

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