Hidden treasures, Movies, Reviews

Hidden treasures – Megaforce


Where do you start with Hal Needham’s 1982 box office bomb Megaforce?

Released in the same year as Blade Runner and no doubt [cough] inspired by that rival sci-fi film, Megaforce also opens with an onscreen explanatory screed to get the audience up to speed on the concept of a ‘phantom army of super elite fighting MEN whose WEAPONS are the most powerful science can devise’.

The peaceful nation of Sardun finds its borders threatened by neighbor Gamibia and mercenary leader Duke Gurerra (Henry Silva looking for most of the film like a man recently struck with a cosh). For reasons that are entirely unclear Sardun is unable to mobilise its powerful army to retaliate when Gurerra orders the brutal destruction of a scale model oil refinery. This causes General Byrne-White (played by Knightrider’s Edward Mulhare, the man you get when even Michael Caine laughs at your script) some consternation. Together with token female Major Zara (Star Trek the Motion Picture’s Persis Khambatta, except you won’t recognise her with hair) the General seeks out the help of Megaforce – a private army of groovy mercenaries – to take the battle to the Gamibians.

After an impressive display of force in which Megaforce demonstrates its superior technology and firepower by shooting some balloons with motorbike mounted rockets and acting like ass hats (part military force, part Jackass crew), the team’s leader hat Ace Hunter (Barry Bostwick, looking like Kenny Everett’s impersonation of Barry Gibb) accepts the mission due to his ‘history’ with Gurerra. I say ‘leader’ hesitantly because – much to General Safari Suit’s disgust – Megaforce does not recognise rank (although it loves a man in uniform).

Before the mission can proceed there is a completely unnecessary sub-plot in which Major Zara must complete Megaforce training that climaxes in an extraordinary romantic skydiving scene that is to Point Break what Thomas the Tank Engine is to Runaway Train. This extended and loin-stirring scene features actors in too-small jumpsuits unconvincingly flailing around in front of a blue screen intercut with gracefully pirouetting stuntmen. It lasts for what feels like an entire geological period.

After all of this Ace decides that… nah, she’s a girl and he doesn’t want to risk anyone else’s tight lycra-clad butt getting in shot. So token female can ruddy well sit out the action alright, this is a film about MEN! Manly men in tight silver and gold lamé onesies. Men with lush facial moustaches and lovingly combed beards. Men with forceful blond highlights who style their bouffant hairstyles in the jet streams of cruise missiles. Real men. Hoo haa!!!

Ace and the Gang load up their laser firing dune buggies and stupid looking hi-tech motorcycles and prepare to illegally invade Gamibia undercover of the night. As the men impatiently style their Farrah Fawcett hair dos waiting for the red drop light’s glow, Ace and trusted wingman Dallas (Michael Beck cheerfully watching his The Warriors screen cred disappear round the U-bend post Xanadu) have this conversation:

Dallas: …one time before I made a jump into the night, an old buddy of mine told me something that made me feel a whole lot better.

Ace: What did he tell you to do?

Dallas: Well, he said, “You love ’em in blue and you love them in red. But most of all you love them in blue.”

Ace: That’s totally inapplicable to anything that’s going on here. And it’s dumb! Who told you that?

Dallas: You did!

Ace: But it’s very wise. Very wise.

BOOM! Read it and fucking weep Aaron Sorkin!

Then Megaforce airdrops into Gamibia and blows the crap out of everything they can see.

There is no more compelling document of the corrosive effect, purity and sheer strength of 1982’s Columbian cocoa crop than the existence of this film. Pictures like this only happen when there is a plentiful supply of hard drugs available at every stage of the production process. Everyone involved has to have been trowelling gak up their hooters twenty four seven, it is – for starters – the only way to explain Bostwick’s gold spandex jumpsuit and its constrictive gusset.

Megaforce works on a number of levels simultaneously and completely accidentally. First there is a level of political satire. In a scene rendered hilarious by hindsight, Ace decides to peacock in front of General-my-name-is-not-Michael-Caine by showing off the surveillance capabilities of Megaforce who have managed to bug every armed force across the globe (Angela Merkel is not a fan). As they listen in to the Chinese Military discussing getting take-away (still not making this up) every one smiles, laughs and slaps each other manfully. Rumours that Julian Assange is in the casting director’s eye to play the villain in a reboot are currently unconfirmed.

The heroes are complete assholes, despite the fact that the Gamibians stay within their own borders and only fire upon scale models; they attack them without mercy levelling entire villages. At one point Silva’s villain just turns up in the Megaforce camp to say hi and smoke a blunt (okay an assumption on my part, but you would have to be extremely chilled to unironically wear the cowboy hat he sports), not the actions of a man bent on world domination. The bad guys don’t actually seem to shoot anyone, and the good guys invade their country. Silva even gives Bostwick thumbs up when he escapes capture by suddenly remembering his motorbike can fly. Megaforce are complete douche bags.

The other level of on which Megaforce works is as subtle as severe head trauma. Simply put this movie makes Top Gun look like Men Behaving Badly. It is like G.I. Joe meets Can’t Stop The Music. It plays for the other side. It is vivaciously homosexual. The disco costumes, military leotards, the hairstyles, facial hair, the little pastel blue sweatband Ace wears, the strange and clearly sexual tension between Bostwick and Silva, Silva’s fondness for unfeasibly long cigars. It goes on and on and it doesn’t stop. It’s all completely glorious.

A favorite of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Team America: World Police owes a huge debt to the film. In fact if this exact same movie was made and released today as a satirical comedy we would be proclaiming it one of the films of the year, however in 1982 it (deservedly) received three Razzie awards nominations.

Brain-meltingly awful, but also great pizza and beer material, put it on at a party and turn your front room into an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

This review originally appeared on http://www.chrisandphilpresent.co.uk


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