Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reel Bad Cinema: Megaforce (1982) review

In the 1980's, covert, hi tech military operations were spearheaded by a traveling male aerobics class driving around in "Hey! Look at me!" dune buggies, motorcycles and brightly colored spandex.


Barry Bostwick (Ace Hunter), Michael Beck (Dallas), Persis Khambatta (Major Zara), Edward Mulhare (General Edward Byrne-White), Henry Silva (Duke Guerrera), George Furth (Professor Eggstrum), Evan Kim (Suki)

Directed by Hal Needham

After repeated and oppressive military action against the peaceful nation of Sardun by the dictatorial Duke Guerrera of the Gamibian nation, the leaders of the Sardunian government look to Megaforce for help. Made up of a core group of elite soldiers armed with high tech and top secret weaponry, Megaforce engages Guerrera's militia to free Sardun from tyranny.

The above synopsis was ever so difficult to write without bursting into tears of laughter. Hal Needs-ham directs this perpetually brainless, hopelessly 'stoopid' US-HK co-production. The ultimate 80's cheese fest, MEGAFARCE is the ruler by which all other mighty mounds of American yellow foodstuff should be measured. What's most astonishing about the film is that seemingly everyone involved assumed it was going to be a huge success. The mammoth MEGArray of merchandising was canceled when the film bombed worse than one of Megafarce's (mis)guided missiles.

A bad movie lovers dream (and a nightmare to all others), MEGAFARCE immediately announces what a MEGA joke of a movie it is with its opening statement:

Despite official denials by leaders of the free world, sources now confirm the existence of Megaforce, a phantom army of super elite fighting men whose weapons are the most powerful science can devise. Their mission....to preserve freedom and justice battling the forces of tyranny and evil in every corner of the globe.

The bad news carries over into the opening credits with titles layed in front of overexposed shots from the film very similar to the credits sequence for the king of crap, KILL SQUAD, also released in 1982. Both films also share a similarly lousy casio style soundtrack. MEGAFARCE, though, with its bigger budget (haha) is able to utilize a ballad and an 80's style hard rock-glam metal main title anthem by a group named 707. The title metal fist pumping party tune is kind of catchy and the only reason to sit through the end credits. As per Needham's other stunt movies, the end crawl always contained comedic outtakes from various scenes in the movie. Here, though, it's just action highlights.

Despite it's alleged budget of $20 million, MEGAFARCE comes off like a "special 2 hour pilot" for a new action television series. It reminds me of the A-TEAM, which, for such an elite group, they can't shoot for shit and no one ever dies. The same applies here, it's just lots of rockets, lasers, machine gun fire and random explosions "enhanced" by the use of slow motion. The action scenes are fine and once they finally make their MEGAppearance about 40 minutes into the movie, it's a 10 year olds dream of near endless scenes of stuff blowing up left and right. Prior to that, the movie consists of constant, accursed, awful comedy which permeates the entire picture.

Needham, of course, was already an accomplished director for his string of box office MEGA hits including SMOKEY & THE BANDIT (1977), HOOPER (1978), SMOKEY & THE BANDIT 2 (1980) and THE CANNONBALL RUN (1981). After that, it was mostly downhill for the former stuntman. Regardless of his later output, or what some may think of his resume in general, Needham has several hugely enjoyable movies under his belt that still get frequent airplay on television. Needham, as in most of his other movies, has a small role here.

As already mentioned, this picture cost around $20 million dollars. Where did the $20 million go? The bulk of the movie takes place in the damn desert! I doubt all the rented tanks and planes would cost that much. Ditto for the miniature factory that's blown up at the beginning, or the FX by the 'Zoptic Special Effects System', whatever the hell that happens to be. For a budget like that in the early 80's, the effects are laughable. The bluescreen shots are terrible and the "love scene" between Hunter and Zara while they're skydiving is one of the worst scenes of the movie. One moment the actors are suspended by wires, another it's a composite of real skydivers and then a mixture of the two.

Gratuitous shot of the late, but beautiful Persis Khambatta. Some of you may remember her as the Lt. Llia from STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979)

Devon Miles was fired by Michael Knight for refurbishing KITT with foreign parts. He later ended up as a member of MEGAFORCE, but was discharged for refusing to wear his spandex outfit and dance around like a ballerina

Another hilarious MEGA moment occurs when Zara, content with becoming a member of the team, goes through a "training course" which consists of her sitting in a mock megafarce vehicle using a steering wheel and firing at a screen of oncoming enemies. Her skills are appraised by how well she does on what looks for all the world like a level on a videogame! If this is how one joins Megafarce, the world is truly in trouble.

With seconds to spare, MEGAFORCE manages to escape the deadly desert blaze! MEGA cool!

Maintaining the overall joke nature of the movie, even the missions have goofy names such as "Operation Hook, Line & Sinker" wherein Megafarce will parachute their motorcycles and dunebuggies into Gamibian (???) territory. They even have a time limit to get in and get out and to show that they can do it, we get a timer that pops up at the right corner of the screen. The entire production has the feel of a cartoon, but bereft of any craftmanship. Not once is anything treated seriously.

Brad Majors, after surviving a night of absolute pleasure with transvestites from the planet Transexual, found his way into the Nevada desert where he eventually started his own designer spandex line of superhero outfits which he used to finance the phantom army known as MEGAFORCE!

Barry Bostwick, seemingly in on the joke, is determined to make the movie as unintentionally funny as possible. Whenever he's onscreen decked out in his Megafarce garb, he looks like Barry Gibb having wandered off the 'Stayin' Alive' set and onto Olivia Newton John's video for 'Physical'. Showcasing big, coifed hair, a bright blue headband and an array of spandex outfits, Ace Hunter is the embodiment of all top secret military units around the world wherever they may be.

Ace Hunter gives Major Zara the thumb

Bostwick's movements are all over stylized. Check out his occasional John Wayne swagger, or the way he hops off his motorcycle, or gets onto the back of a Hercules airplane. And let's not forget that irrefutably stupid goodbye thumb kiss! Then there's the laugh riot finale sequence with Hunter taking flight on his motorcycle to catch up with his team. It's one of the best moments of 'WTF?' in bad movie history.

Just when things couldn't get any funnier....Stallone tried this same shit in JUDGE DREDD (1995)

More bad bluescreen from the 'Zoptic Special Effects System'

Bostwick tries to play off just what a royal stinker he is starring in and the potential damage it will do to his career

Bostwick has zero hero potential and carries with him an armory of bad puns and one liners that do nothing but showcase Ace Hunter as a gigantic MEGA dweeb. What's most hilarious is that not he, nor any of his group ever fire a gun once during the whole course of the film! Without their refurbished DEATHSPORT (1978) motorcycles, or laser armed dune buggies, Megafarce is a bunch of wimpy comedians. But the good guys aren't the only buffoons on display.

During the flying motorcycle scene, Silva has an epiphany of the mistake of cataclysmic proportions he made when he signed on for MEGAFORCE!

Henry Silva, an actor with a horde of grand big screen bad guys to his credit plays the least threatening villain in an action film. His role of Guerrera more closely resembles his role as a bumbling thug in Needham's CANNONBALL RUN 2 (1984) than a villain in a movie like this. Silva has an awesome presence, but he left it at home when he arrived on the set of this picture. He really does nothing to make Guerrera stand out as the bad guy. If anything, Megaforce comes off as a somewhat fascist organization with their methods. One of their abilities is to listen in on any phone conversation anywhere in the world! We later learn that Guerrera and Ace Hunter used to be friends of a sort at one time. Both still possess an uneasy, yet playful bond between them. Silva has done far better movies and this aint one of them.

Michael Beck--a good actor in a bad movie

Michael Beck was a powerful presence in the seminal, violent actioner THE WARRIORS (1979), but seemed to lose his way after taking one bad movie role after the other. Even though intentions were good, XANADU (1980) was an unintentional riot while MEGAFORCE (1982) became a MEGA misfire. He then took the lead in TRIUMPHS OF A MAN CALLED HORSE (1982), a second sequel which seemed to disappear into obscurity. Beck also led the way in the enjoyable science fiction actioner, WARLORDS OF THE 21ST CENTURY (1982).

Evan Kim (left) was in the 'Fistful of Yen' segment in KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE (1977) and the only English speaking character (haha, the irony) in CAVEMAN (1981). Meanwhile, Michael Beck (right) ponders great things ahead from having appeared in MEGAFORCE!

Still, some of these movies have become cult favorites over the years, but it's a shame as Beck is such a good actor. His role as Cowboy is supposed to be goofy, but then so is everyone else, even though they aren't supposed to be. No one is serious at all in this movie. It's just one big joke, and one that is never funny, at least not intentionally.

Mr. Foyt changed his name to Professor Eggstrum(???) and went from protesting cannonballers to creating gadgets for MEGAFORCE!

George Furth is the scientific mind behind Megafarce's many gadgets, yet he, too, is bumbling and spends much time spouting off kindergarten comedy. Needham cast him as the anti cannonballer butt of all jokes, Arthur J. Foyt in THE CANNONBALL RUN the year prior.

Containing fairly lame action scenes that consist of random explosions everywhere and motorcycles that fire a seemingly endless supply of rockets, MEGAFARCE (1982) stalls its engine from the very beginning. The heroes, resembling a male aerobics class driving around on brightly colored armed vehicles do the film no favors. This is especially evident at the end when all the MEGAssholes have rainbow colored smoke emitting from their cycles. Not only that, but the rubix cube cameo and that atrocious line from Bostwick about the good guys always winning, "even in the 80's", redefines the term dated. That ridiculous bit of dialog is also repeated after the credits finish as if it was some spectacular catch phrase.

There's that damn thumb kiss again

A totally awful experience, the laughs come fast and furious increasing the curiosity factor. You just simply can't turn away from this travesty of 80's non action MEGA machismo. An absolutely hilarious knee slapper, make a nice place for your jaw to rest on the floor as it will remain there the duration of this hopelessly stupid 96 minutes of unintended, mind numbing, MEGA hilarity that was filmed in IntroVision no less.

This review is representative of the Dutch FilmWorks DVD. The back of the box states this is a fullscreen release, but this disc is non-anamorphic 1:85 widescreen.
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