Monday, 18 April 2011

High Risk (1981)

The cinematic equivalent of  a weekend strapped to a mechanical bull in the middle of a Managua rub’n’tug shop double booked by a Grateful Dead wig-out and a Wild Geese reunion...

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High Risk (1981, Stewart Raffill)

Starring: James Brolin, Anthony Quinn, Lindsay Wagner, James Coburn, Ernest Borgnine, Bruce Davison, Cleavon Little, Xochitl del Rosario.

Box Notables: Grizzled.

Tagline: ‘Getting in was easy… Getting out was war!!!’

Muleskinner Maude, Unlock and Unload!

Cherrypick: “For Christ’s sake - we’re on welfare!”

Like the Occupied Ireland situation, quantum mechanics or the law’s current stance on tackling intruders in one’s own home, believing you understand Uncle Sam’s involvement in Central America in the Eighties provides ironclad proof that you don’t.
Borgnine: The 'Hollerin' Whiskey' Years
The increasingly off-the-chain Contra rebels operating out of Honduras (and funded in part by Iran-Gate arms sales), Yanqui dollars backing both sides of a civil war in El Salvador and the CIA’s increasingly white-knuckle relationship with Noriega in Panama all fuelled a surreal imbroglio which, by way of culpability, offered up little other than a convenient scapegoat/poster boy in seat-of-the-pants politico Lt. Col. Oliver North, rather than the kind of increasingly brown paper trail that led to Nixon’s resignation following the revelation of his knowledge of the mere bugging of a hotel room. North’s sixteen indictments produced three convictions (later overturned) during a glitzy trial that took the American public’s eye off the ball long enough for an entire decade of shady dealings to be abandoned, muddied or shredded.

Throwing it’s own carefully distressed snakeskin panama into the ring, High Risk (aka Los Gringos Bastardes) audaciously attempts to reduce this enchilada combo of complexity down to a simple ERH broth by sending four Texan shitkickers to the Unidentified $entral American country of Nicaragua on a clapped out DC-10 to loot the haciendas of grubby chicken-fucking despots, empty the safes of flamboyantly cravatted druglords and prise the gold from the teeth of stupid donkey-riding peasants alike.


To ZZ Top.
This is going... well..?
These bazooka Joes are not - as you may have gathered - insurgent Agency wet-jobbers, but four ordinary working stiffs out only for the geld; Saturday morning Peckinpah’s who’ve drunkenly gambled away their paychecks at the local Friday night cockfights and whose first subsequent thought is, naturally, to invade a Banana Republic rather than face the rolling-pin assisted wrath of their better halves. So, telling wives and girlfriends that they’re spending the weekend fishing (apart from Davison, who gets his excuses all wrong and so spends the whole film in a baseball uniform), they instead tool up with grenades and sub-machine guns at an early-bird police auction and, along with Little’s pet poodle, Laissez-Fair, board Adios Airlines Flight 666 for all points parlous.

Making gunboat diplomacy seem like the last word in lily-livered, squeaky-bummed Neville Chamberlain-lite what-you-say-goes bully appeasement, they are immediately storming the palaces of the mighty and blasting into the mock-Tudor mansion of toothy Irish blarney merchant James Coburn’s lisping, petulant marching-powder kingpin, Mendoza, to relieve him of his ill-gotten gains. Soon thereafter as high into the hills as they are on nose-candy and cordite, and with emancipated white slave Lyndsay Wagner now in tow, they find themselves pursued not only by a coke-crazed Coburn and his few remaining goons but also by Anthony Quinn’s raggle-taggle brigade of cartoon bandidos and the clotted cream of local military madman General Espadrille’s fighting elite.

Chase. Airlift. Fin.
BYO costume Friday goes awry
The cinematic equivalent of an all jerky diet, 83 minutes of Risk assessment feels like a weekend strapped to a mechanical bull in the middle of a Managua rub’n’tug shop that's been double booked by a Grateful Dead wig-out and a Wild Geese reunion. It’s is an undeniably valiant attempt to bridge the burgeoning divide between Golden Generation fathers weaned on movies set in exotic locations, broads with Angie Dickinson sass and tough-guy stars that they may very well have served shoulder to shoulder with in Korea or Dubbleyah Dubbleyah Two, and kids brought up by attention-span hardliners Atari, George Lucas and the Cookie Monster.

But so risky a blend of panic-in-the-disco editing and creaky old geezers with more in common with B/W than VHS was, however (in ‘81 at least), a bridge too far. Even such seemingly well-judged denim derring-do was a little hep for dad’s tastes and just too trad for junior - leaving only Homer Simpson jumping up and down on his couch, repeatedly whooping “U.S.A.” and crushing empty Duff cans against his forehead.

1 comment:

  1. One of the greatest films ever made!!!! star studded, action packed and a great story line!!!



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