MISSION: KILL (1986) Blu-ray
Director: David Winters
Code Red Releasing

Code Red goes south-of-the-border for political intrigue and explosive revolution with their Blu-ray of MISSION: KILL.

Finding little meaning in life when he is not blowing up buildings, demolitions expert J.F. Cooper (Robert Ginty, THE ALCHEMIST) heads west to visit army buddy Harry (Cameron Mitchell, BLOOD AND BLACK LACE) who wants to cut him in on a money-making scheme he has taken up to support himself, his son (DOWN TO EARTH's David Kaufman), and much younger second wife (Brooke Bundy, EXPLORERS). Running guns to the rebels of the brutal Santa Maria military dictatorship of President Ariban (Eduardo López Rojas, THE EVIL THAT MEN DO), their truck is ambushed and pushed over a cliff by hired hitman Kennedy (Clement von Franckenstein, TRANSYLVANIA TWIST). Eager to avenge Harry's death, Cooper makes short work of Kennedy and takes his identity and the cache of weapons in hopes of finding who hired Kennedy. No sooner is he stopped by the rebels of the People's Liberation Army than they are all overtaken by Ariban's army. Upon learning that an American with a forged passport is in jail with the rebels, Pulitzer-hopeful reporter Bingo (Sandy Baron, VAMP) helps arrange to bust them out of jail with the hope of turning Kennedy into a rebel Robin Hood whose whiteness will bring attention to the south-of-the-border political conflict. Despite his protestations of having unfinished business, the rebels – lead by wise Juan (Jorge Zepeda, THE MOSQUITO COAST) and impetuous Carlos (Jorge Reynoso, SALVADOR) – are eager to get Cooper out of the country until he intervenes when the president's army are prepared to massacre an entire school classroom to get at some rebels hiding in there. When he is entrusted by Juan to help lead their attacks on the country's infrastructure and he seems to gain the affection of the leading female rebel (Olivia D'Abo, BOLERO), Cooper incurs the jealousy of Carlos who may put his own hatred before the goals of the revolution.

Although produced by Action International Pictures, MISSION: KILL does not quite have the entertaining verve of the directorial efforts of company co-founder David A. Prior (THE DEADLY PREY), it more than balances some of its hoarier aspects – from the president's tantrums and Bingo's larger-than-life persona to the sly underplaying of the president's trusted pimp (Henry Darrow, THE HITCHER) and his calculating wife (Merete Van Kamp, THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND) – with an otherwise deadly serious approach to the brutality and injustice of the oppressive military rule, the earnestness of D'Abo's rebel who is not even afforded a name despite her prominence, and the search for purpose of Ginty's hero. While the climax is appropriately explosive with a high body count, the ending is surprisingly downbeat with a sense of hollow victory for the survivors even as the worst of the worst get their comeuppance. The Mexican and South American cast include some familiar faces from Mexico-lensed Hollywood productions including Miguel Ángel Fuentes (FITZCARRALDO) whose faces is perhaps more recognizable than his name. Actor-turned-producer/director David Winters produced several Action International titles and directed a few, but is perhaps better known as co-starring alongside Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro in THE LAST HORROR FILM which he also wrote and directed.

Released theatrically and on home video by Media Home Entertainment, MISSION: KILL's rights eventually reverted back to director Winters himself, and Code Red's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 1.78:1 widescreen transfer comes from a brand new HD master that looks spectacular with vivid colors and good detail throughout while the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track is always clear even if the mix itself is not particularly exciting apart from the vocal performances and the end credits theme song by Jesse Frederick who would inflict the theme song to FULL HOUSE on us the following year. The only extra is a trailer (1:41) for the film. (Eric Cotenas)