Commando Game: Deadly Pursuit (1984)

The ex-video store copy I have of this lists the category as “WAR”. That might not be completely true.

This Video 2 Video extravaganza isn’t quite as good as the previous one. This deliberately paced fellow, sadly, doesn’t have the insane burping narrative of The Bounty Hunters. It’s a straightforward, almost-slasher/revenge SOV number, so leisurely that, when I typed the title above (and it’s not an easy title to remember), I originally typed “COMMANDO GAME: DAILY PURSUIT”. Somehow that sums it all up.

This is a far more professional looking production than Bounty Hunters. I don’t know if it had more of a budget but it does have many more explosions in its Vietnam opening than Bounty Hunters had in its Vietnam opening. Two Canadian films in a row. Two Vietnam prologues. The joy of Bounty Hunters‘s opening is that it accomplishes nothing. The two main guys could have just as easily said, “We were in Nam together and that’s our Sergeant,” rather than show several minutes of tramping through a field and a swamp.

In Commando Game, the opening is important. Bad coordinates cause a group of American Artillery men to shell fellow Americans soldiers. The survivor of that group infiltrates a Reunion Paintball Day of the Artillery Group and begins to kill them all. OK, well, it’s not great but “paintball” always makes me smile. But, this is all a little less kinetic than the paintball scene in Jason Lives.

The thing about the paintball in the woods game is that for every minute of excitement, you get ten minutes of creeping around. I know because I used to videotape (or try to) paintball matches back in Rochester, NY. I would wear bright orange and stroll around and always miss the important stuff because it always happened where I wasn’t. One time my friends played against two of the Schaubroeck brothers, the gentlemen who own and run the House of Guitars. (I forget if Armand was there. If he had been, I would have had him sign my copy of “A Lot Of People Would Like To See Armand Schaubroeck…Dead”. Killer album.)

The one time I tried trailing someone so I could get into the middle of the action it went horribly wrong. “Now, I’m walking with Matt so no one shoot at me.” “Got it!” No one did shoot at me as I walked alongside Matt…except Matt. Everything was going fine. Then, he heard a noise on the other side of me. “Get down!” I dropped but not fast enough. And, I got great footage of him shooting directly at my camera. It didn’t hit the lens, luckily, but I was done with this nonsense.

Jason Lives gives us several great moments of business on the paintball field. Commando Game gives us a lot of people walking around, including the girlfriends (wives?) of two of the Artillery guy…and they are annoying. And, the most annoying one lives to the end. How is that possible? Oh well…

The acting is a little ripe. The action is never too exciting. The suspense is drained because everything takes so long. It’s doing a standard slasher thing. A bunch of folks meet up after a few years and go to a secluded place where someone kills them. But, it’s got no urgency. Everything takes A LOT of time to happen and, in the end, it winds up were you thought it would. Unlike The Bounty Hunters…who knows what the hell is happening there?

Maybe if I hadn’t watched this right after The Bounty Hunters I’d have more love for it. I got slightly bored but there’s nothing here that’s actively bad. It’s just “Why make this?” that keeps floating in my head. If it’s horror, it’s not scary. If it’s a thriller, it’s too leisurely. If it’s action, well, it’s not.

And yet, a SOV is always worth at least one viewing in my home…so, yes, I have it and I watched it and I might watch it again. But, I’ll probably watch The Bounty Hunters instead.

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