Okay, so tonight’s feature is called Laser Mission, a relatively contemporary film (1990) which, I’m betting is going to be about a mission involving lasers. But it might just be about anything, because that’s the kind of way these films go! You never know what kind of ride you’re going to go on, except you can usually bet it will be one of those that has a big umbrella and goes slowly and it takes forever before you realize what a dull time you’re having.
Anyway, let’s start with this crap, I mean, this fine cinematic endeavor. As far as you know.
And we’ve got some guy getting all suited up for covert ops, and the title, and some guns being shot and a disco score going on and stuff. Oh crap, it’s a song. Really 80’s music here. Our stars are Brandon Lee and some chick who’s name I was too slow to catch, and then Ernest Borgnine. I wonder if his real name is Borg Seven of Nine? It would explain a great many things to our modern world. Like why tiny flies swirl about a discarded cup, for example. Science is baffled. And muffled.
So, the credits. More guns and loading ammo and stuff and names I’ve never heard of, though they seem to be from all over the world (lots of Germans). The Kuhles, Jr and Sr, photographed and produced, respectively. And now we get footage of a party or a museum opening or something where folks stand around chatting in a brightly lit space. Finally our director, one Beau Davis. And back to the party.
And some blonde chick is introducing the Master of Ceremony, one Ronald Sotheby. There are armed guards everywhere, so I’m gonna guess this is an auction or something. This was way before eBay if you’re curious.
Well, Ronald takes the stand and in his overweening British accent, says that y’all are about to see the biggest diamond from Africa ever. And it’s quite a privilege to see this diamond, too, ya joiks.
A quick cut to our covert suited folks, who are clambering down a metal staircase making all the noise they possibly can. Ninjas they ain’t I guess. They pile into a van, and we’re back with Ronald still talking about how big this diamond is. He says it’s 526 carats, and the room, as one voice, whistles over this figure. And blonde removes the cover over the diamond, and yeah, it’s pretty big. Everyone applauds this diamond’s personal achievement as it wipes away tears of gratitude and takes the stand. “I want to thank the ones who never stopped believing in me, even when I had,” it says, choking on the words.
Okay, that was all a lie. Blonde uncovers the soon to be stolen diamond (hey I’m not a dummy, all evidence to the contrary) and everyone applauds.
Ronald says, why not salute this occasion with a bottle of champagne, but before he can open it, the bottle explodes and gasses out huge clouds of gray smoke. Everyone screams and carries on as the air becomes thick. Finally, they all collapse.
And one guy covert guy comes in, fires a random gunshot (apparently at no one or nothing in particular) and then takes the diamond. A couple other guys show up too, and then we cut to a jumbo jet landing. Why, the intrigue never lets up! Well, it wouldn’t if we knew what was going on, anyway. But credit where it’s due, this at least isn’t dull. Yet.
So, the stock footage jet lands, to more disco music, and people get off the plane, and they go through the terminal, and finally our star Brandon Lee shows up, first shot from the back, of course. He walks up to the custom counter (as the song starts again!) which is also labeled ALFANDIGA. In the background is a sign saying BELAS. No doubt this tells us where this airport is. No doubt, someone cares.
Well, Brandon opens up his briefcase and shows it to the customs agent, and inside is an issue of World Oil magazine and Dale Carnegie’s book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. The customs clerk smiles at this guy who needs friends and likes oil. This was probably a funny joke in the theatre, as the contents flash by too quickly to read by all but the most advanced DVD technology.
He then tosses his passport to the clerk, who asks him if he’s here for business or pleasure, and Brandon says a little of both. He says his job is “personal motivation and people management” and he and the clerk joke about this and make cryptic comments (“I’ll always have a job” “But will you be able to do the job?”) as the clerk stamps the passport.
Brandon asks another guard where he can get a good Cuban cigar, and the guard says, “You Americans, with your sense of humor, its kills me,” and Brandon says, “Another time, another place” which I bet means that he would kill the guard if circumstances were different! Wow, what a multi-faceted movie. Sorry, I yawned there a moment.
And somehow Brandon is out on a dock over the ocean, someplace. And that stupid song is back, “Mercenary Man.” I guess we’d better get used to it. I sure wish the movie had been honest, though, and given the song a co-star credit. Unless that was that second name I couldn’t catch. Maybe it was “Merci Nerryman”!
Well, Brandon jumps off the pier onto the sand, and walks INCREDIBLY casually around a drowsy, benched Ernest Borgnine, before asking him if he can sit next to him. Even though there’s a bench right next to the Ernest bench which Brandon could have all to himself if he was inclined, and he wouldn’t have to wake Ernest up. Good thing anyone watching would be completely fooled by how casual it all is.
They introduce one another, and Ernest has a swell Dexter accent. A gull squawks and Brandon wild-ass guesses that Ernest is fond of birds, and Ernest avers how he has “an affinity” for them. Then Ernest is startled by how easily this young man has gotten him to talk! He mentions that his daughter works for—but then he cuts himself off and asks about Brandon.
Brandon says he works for a group that can get Ernest his freedom. From what isn’t clear—perhaps from having to appear in movies like this. Well, Ernest ridicules this notion of “freedom,” saying that the Americans would “pick” his brains so as to complete “Star Wars” and thus, Ernest would contribute to the “destruction of mankind.” Oh my God, he’s one of the guys responsible for the “Special Editions”! Kill him!
Well, Ernest says all his knowledge will remain locked up “in here” (he taps his head). And he asks if Brandon knows anything about theoretical physics.
Brandon avows how he specialized in “recess” and “girls” and Ernest thinks this is “very funny.”
’You see, I want to stop dreaming about ‘fire from heaven’ and ‘melting men’ and ‘lasers,’” Ernest concludes.
And a quick military burst of drums and some minor chords shows us that there are some very suspicious types up on the pier, watching all this conversation. Brandon doesn’t see them, though. Despite the fact that they don’t seem to be hiding, and Brandon is supposed to be good at covert stuff. Well, all the evidence shows he isn’t very good, but what kind of movie is this?
Brandon says that in America, Ernest could “write your own ticket” and Ernest thinks this puts a whole new spin on things. So he says yes, but the sinister forces arrayed in full sunlight on the pier shoot a drugged dart into Brandon! And he collapses, and Ernest does that “I have no son!” dance only he’s upset because Brandon was a nice guy. But they shoot a dart into him too.
And cut to a prison, somewhere, where the dart-shooting guy, now in his full Evil Commie Military uniform, is waking Brandon from his trance. He tells him that, while he slept, a court convened and found him guilty of “crimes against humanity.” He was condemned to death, tomorrow at dawn.
Alternatively, he could make a live television appearance and confess that he works for America. (On Leno or Letterman isn’t specified.)
Brandon says, “I don’t work for America…I work for money!” and everyone laughs at this witticism. Commie shows him how the guillotine works. Brandon thinks this is pretty “blatant.” Yeah, I guess it is.
They have a brief conversation that’s hard to hear, and Brandon asks about Ernest, and Commie tells him he should worry about tomorrow morning instead of former stars of “McHale’s Navy.” As Commie leaves, the Cuban guard closes the door and says, in the worst accent ever, “Ha Ha, they going to cut off your head manyana.”
Then, apparently, it’s tomorrow (and they say that never comes!) and the guard shows up again, but Brandon beats him up, then knifes another guy who shows up to shoot him, and another guy too, and now he has a gun. And he goes to the armory.
Hang on. Cats.
So, he goes to the armory, and there’s a guard there, who totally doesn’t notice him, even when he’s right in front of him; “Ees not my chob!” Ha ha ha. Anyway, Brandon belts him a good one and the guy really cries a lot. Brandon goes in the armory, there’s a quick cut to one of the other guards that Brandon already disposed of, and then, Brandon comes out of the armory! Why this didn’t win the Oscar for editing, well, it’s because there is no justice in this world.
And we get an action scene! Brandon uses this big gun that shoots smoke, and he shoots a whole bunch of Cubans, and none of them shoot him. And he runs across the open yard, and this door opens and a chick with only a towel on runs out, saying that (in German, I think) that this is the American. And she runs off, and some guy comes out (also in a towel) and Brandon hands him the gun, belts him, and takes his gun!
And he uses this new gun to shoot more Cubans and Commies, even those that are hiding behind cover (it’s a very good gun). And he kicks one guy into the guillotine, and sets it off! Wow, that was harsh!
And we cut to a cardboard sign that says, “American Embassy.” Inside, in a tunnel of American flags, Brandon is being ragged out for his “complete and total” failure. He lost Ernest, which was the main thing of things to do.
Brandon counters that the only thing he was supposed to do was find out Ernest’s price to defect. And he did that, so he should get paid anyway. Well, technically, I suppose he’s got a point, but if Ernest is dead, his info is useless. The other guys basically say this. Brandon complains that no one told him who or what Ernest was, so he had no way of knowing how important this whole thing was. Well, that’s a valid point.
Bald Guy with Mustache notes that Ernest was “the world’s leading expert in laser weaponry. And his presence in the Cobango means that the Soviet Bloc…is planning some sort of laser mission.”
Hey, he said the title! Woo hoo, etc. Desultory spin of party noise-maker.
Bald Guy goes on. “That could tip the balance of power in the entire African continent.” (So never mind what I said about Cubans, earlier. They must have been…stretch…East Germans who took Spanish classes.)
Bald Guy says that they didn’t tell Brandon because, as a free lancer, he might change sides if the money was good, and the water-skiing.
Brandon protests his innocence, but the two guys aren’t buying. At his prompting, they say he could prove his innocence by getting Ernest back.
Brandon points out that he’s a known fugitive in “Cobango” so his price has to be higher. Bald Guy suggests “one million dollars” (I hope he doesn’t mean sand dollars), but Brandon says this is “too much.”
The two go on to say they want Ernest back, or Ernest dead, and Brandon says he likes old Ernest. Bald Guy says he likes being able to sleep at night, without worrying about terrorists shooting down airliners with lasers…which starts to make this a tad uncomfortable.
Because neither of these CIA guys is coming off as “noble” or “concerned with the greater good” so I have a feeling they’ll get their comeuppance at the end. Nowadays, we know that there are good guys, and bad guys, and we all know terrorists have no scruples at all, so it’s sure hard to see this in perspective. I guess that makes it historical.
Anyway, Brandon says he’ll get Ernest, not because of the money or anything, but because he gave his word that he’d get him to America. The CIA guys agree that this arrangement is okay, if a tad unexpected (us, too).
They instruct Brandon to contact Ernest’s daughter, who is a veterinarian, working in “Cujuana” (wherever that is). They also note that she’s KGB. Brandon snorts at this intelligence, and leaves the room.
”You know,” he says, before departing, “you guys really know how to win friends, and influence people.” See, it’s a joke based on the book…oh, never mind. Yes, yes, we’re all very tired.
And we cut to Brandon, now in a uniform, putting on a fake mustache. Thankfully, he does not do this to the strains of “Mercenary Man.”
And we cut to a small plane flying in the sky. The pilot is clearly not Brandon.
And we cut to a tent out in the jungle somewhere. If we’re lucky it’s not a Lost Jungle near a Mesa of Lost Women.
No matter, we cut back to the small plane, and Brandon leaps out of it (with a parachute). Of course, we see other crap, but not the parachute opening, just Brandon coming to a halt in the trees, while two camp guards trade a bottle back and forth. You know, this is such a great plan.
Brandon releases the straps and falls to ground, and the two drunken stupes look up at this. Brandon strides right into camp, being all imperial and all, and gets everyone’s attention.
”What did you just see?” he asks one of the guards.
”You fell out of the tree,” is the answer.
Well, Brandon slaps his (the guard’s) face a bunch of times. “Wrong! What did you just see?” he repeats.
”Nada, el capitan!” the guard yells.
”Correct,” Brandon says. He then asks where the sergeant is, and some chick shouts that she is the sergeant. He asks what she’ll report about all this, and she also thinks “Nada” is the good choice. Turns out, it is.
Brandon then turns and yells, “Whose jeep is that?”
”Ours,” says the sergeant.
”Who’s jeep is that!” he yells again, and the guard shouts, “What jeep!”
Brandon tells him this is the right answer, and that he (the guard) has potential.
It’s actually funnier than I’ve made it out, here. Sorry for being bad at that.
Anyway, Brandon takes the jeep and drives off, and guard asks what they’re going to do without their jeep?
”What jeep, you loco!” Sergeant snarls, smacking guard a few more times. Ah, comedy, thy name is…well, I suspect it’s something like Tim or Marty, but who really knows?
Well, we cut to a wanted poster for Brandon (“Morto or vivo”) and pan through some folks walking through a hotel lobby (a guess). And Brandon, still in his ultra effective military uniform, strides through this same lobby. If he’s lucky, the next folks he meets will be idiots too. He goes to the front desk and demands the best room, the Presidential Suite. When told the cost, he says to bill the SOMETHING government (couldn’t quite make it out and don’t are anyway). The desk clerk has some cutting remark about money but it was hard to hear.
Back at the camp with Sergeant and Guard, Commie has stopped by, and has heard the tale of how they were all duped and stuff. He’s not too mad, though, but he does have a job for them. “And when it is done, I will pluck out [Brandon’s] eyes with my fingers!”
Both Guard and Sergeant think this sound pretty harsh, but no matter, we cut to an adorable lion cub being fed from a bottle! No, really, that is what we see. Awwww. Everyone, everyone! All together: AWWWWW.
And we see that this feeding person is a curly haired blonde, and I bet is Ernest’s daughter, and we get some more shots of animals at whatever this facility is. Probably a zoo. Lions, monkeys, snakes, blondes. This place has it all!
Hang on, I’ve been injured.
Well, it seems Blonde is quite the reptile person, as she carries a large snake and puts it in a cage, then later walks through the alligator den and plays with them. As she walks along somewhere else, a hunchback type hobbles up beside her and asks for “Alms for the poor,” and she IS ACTUALLY FOOLED by this and gives the guy some change. Whereupon he immediately straightens up and of course, is Brandon. His costume would have worked well in a Mediaeval movie, which Laser Mission isn’t. He tells her that he was the last person to see her dad before he got Ernestnapped. She immediately knows who he is (remember, she is KGB as we all remember). He mutters something which sounds like, “Don’t expect anyone else to try and find him.”
A soldier guy walks past, and when he’s within two feet of Brandon, Brandon ducks down and pretends to be a hunchback again. Nothing suspicious here, soldier! You can go about your business…move along!
Well, he does (whew!) and Blonde says that Brandon’s “photographs don’t do you justice!” (Comedy ahoy! No, really, I thought I spotted some run aground on those rocks.) She tells him to meet her at nine at some place (she mumbles too) and that he should “wash your hands.” See, I forgot to mention that as a hunchbacked beggar, Brandon is kind of dirty looking.
”You won’t recognize me,” Brandon says, and Blonde reposts, “Yes I will!”
And we cut to Guard and Sarge, and Guard says he won’t recognize this Brandon, and Sarge says, “Yes you will!” in the same tones as Blonde! Wow, I bet they’re sisters or something. Anyway, Sarge is pretty insistent that they’ll recognize, and who should vault a nearby fence just then, but Brandon. They both look at him like, I am totally recognizing that guy, and Brandon starts to break into a nearby office, and they both turn away! Uh…damn!
I thought Guard and Sarge would be trying to capture the guy they obviously recognized, but instead they’re playing some dice game. Inside, Brandon starts poking through some stuff on a desk. He finds what looks like blueprints (maybe for a laser!), but casually waves them in front of an electric eye, and security immediately knows there’s an intruder. So, they had nothing on the door, but a random sensor near the desk? There’s just no getting past these folks’ ruthless efficiency!
Brandon continues poking through stuff, while below Commie and some cronies order men to cover all the exits, and we see Guard and Sarge playing dice some more. They get a call on their CB radio, but shut it off, as it is interfering with their game! I hope someone shoots them soon, preferably in anger, because their comedy stylings are putting a serious crease in my brain. I suppose it’s possible that, at the end of the film, they’ll realize what a great thing freedom is, and defect along with Ernest.
Well, Commie shows up, and Guard and Sarge snap to attention and Sarge pulls on her hat. Commie orders them inside to arrest whoever is in Ernest’s apartment--
--hang on. This is Ernest’s apartment? And there were blueprints and things in there, or at least, Brandon thought there was something worth getting? But the bad guys knew it was Ernest’s apartment, and left valuable papers there? What the hell?
So, anyway, everyone’s rushing up to Ernest’s apartment. Taped under the desk, Brandon finds something, but he just then notices the electric eye, and also just then, Commie and the others are preparing to break down the door! Which they do, but it turns out that this door—wait for it—didn’t actually go to a room. No, it went to a stairwell, and everyone tumbles down it. Brandon, alerted by all the racket (and about time, too) leaps to a nearby window. He goes along the roof, and Commie shoots at him, but he gets away anyway. Oh, they tried to make it all suspenseful and stuff, but they didn’t succeed.
Oh, there was a comedy bit. Are you ready? Are you sitting down and stuff? Well, here goes. Brandon at one point falls through the roof, crashing right down on some couple’s dinner table. He gets up, puts on his beggar’s hat, and says, “I just wanted to drop in to say, bon appetite!”
…yes, that was it. What do you mean? How dare you!
So, he gets away. I suppose that could have been suspenseful if there was any suspense in it. Alas, they didn’t really tell us what he was doing in the first place. I mean, he might have been looking for money! After all, he has a dinner date with Blonde later.
Speaking of which, it’s nine o’clock and he’s all nattily dressed. And then we cut to some swank restaurant, where the two of them are dining. And she didn’t have to recognize him after all! What a cheat.
So, there’s this rather endless banter between the two of them, how he wants to find Ernest, but she’s afraid to help as she might get killed and all, and she wouldn’t like that much. Despite the fact that he’s all puppydog over her and she’s a block of ice to him, you know they’re going to end up as an item, I wish they’d just admit it and get on with it.
She mentions that Ernest might have discussed his work with one Professor Rice. So they go off to find this guy.
Brandon goes to get Blonde’s chair as she stands.
”Oh, such a gentleman,” she said sarcastically, and walks off.
”Such a bitch!” Brandon mutters under his breath.
And we cut to some college or something, and the music is all menacing, and Blonde and Brandon are striding down outdoor corridor after outdoor corridor. And they find the Professor’s bungalow, but it has been trashed and Prof has either been beat up bad or shot really good. He’s still alive though, so Blonde goes and thrusts her breasts into his face (an ancient Chinese revival method, I’m guessing).
Brandon asks what happened, and Blonde asks where her dad is, and Prof says something like, “Broad…skeleton…look for…Braun.” Then he dies. (I tried on that first word four times, all I can say is it ends with a D.)
Apparently, that stuff gave Brandon a clue where Ernest is, so he and Blonde dash back down the corridors. Then they come to a VW van with bad guys! But Brandon shoots one, and Blonde shoots the other; Brandon looks at her like, whoa, where’d you get a gun? He then asks if she has it in case of “charging rhinos.”
”No, Barrettas are only good for killing men,” she says, and they decide to take the van. Since it’s stuffed to the gills with guns and ammo, this seems fortuitous. Oh, the damn song again! Argh. “It’s like a dream within a dream,” the song says. Yeah, whatever you say, song.
So, Blonde drives the van down the road. Suddenly, a jeep full of bad guys is following them. Brandon readies a weapon. The jeep shoots, Brandon shoots two of the guys on the jeep, but the jeep gets alongside them and starts ramming the van. All the while, there’s this little subcompact riding along behind, I wonder if it’s supposed to be there or is part of the crew or what?
So, Brandon shoots the jeep a few times, and it swerves and goes over a construction site and (naturally) turns over in slow motion (naturally) and then explodes (naturally). None of this interrupts the song. I don’t know why I don’t like the song, it’s certainly better than the music for Mesa of Lost Women. But then, so is a migraine headache.
Well, whatever, Sarge and Guard are in the subcompact, but they smash into a fruit stand, I suppose because that’s always supposed to happen when you have a car chase. And the van smashed through a store, and some tinker’s stand. And some other vehicle is also plowing through the flea market, and crashes into some basket-weaver’s goods, and the van punches through the remaining flea market and they get away. I guess turning left at the entrance wasn’t good enough for anyone.
Commie and his driver are still after the Van, but he just has a tiny pistol. But suddenly there’s a troop carrier full of soldiers, and Commie yells at them to help out. Brandon tosses a grenade at a sandbag barrier that was, apparently, erected in microseconds. No matter, everyone there gets blown up.
And there’s more chasing, and it turns out Guard and Sarge are still in the running, though to do what isn’t clear. Brandon shoots dozens of guys, and no one seems to land a clear hit anywhere on the van, though it loses its door at one point. Hey, it was just interfering with Brandon’s aim, anyway!
So, now they’re driving by the docks, and Brandon shoots one truck which flies into the ocean, while something else nearby explodes into flame. And there’s lots of driving and shooting and bad guys rolling over in the street while expiring (and smoking, in some cases). One guy leaps, in slow motion, into his own truck seconds before the van clips the door off. Whew, that was—too close!
Well, the Sarge and Guard car also ends up in the ocean, though I’m not sure why at this point—I guess they didn’t want to be left out or were tired of driving or something. So now it seems to be just Commie and his jeep against the Van. Still driving around all the big ships. I think if they can kill Commie, they’ll have eliminated the entire array of bad guys here.
Possibly again due to chasing fatigue, Commie’s jeep plows into a bunch of boxes.
And Guard and Sarge climb out of the sea (right in front of the good ship Ruwekus) onto the dock. Sarge’s shirt has been torn open, leaving her tank top extremely wet, so…well, you can guess what you’re seeing right? This is news to Guard, though. He goes all pop-eyed and grins like crazy.
”Sergeant? You are no Sergeant!” he says. “You are a woman!”
”Loco!” she chides. “I have always been a woman!”
They put on their extremely soggy hats. “I know now?” Guard says, near as I can tell (three rewindings is enough). And they walk away. “Una momenta seniorita!” Guard yells after Sarge.
The Van is still driving wildly. Brandon and Blonde compliment each other on, respectively, shooting and driving. He asks (over the pounding drums and screaming sax) where she learned how to drive “like that” and she says it’s a long story, a VERY long story. He notes that they have nothing but time.
Soon, they’re driving through the scenic mountains. And the music fades out. Now, this would be a perfect time for a song, actually, just driving along the scenic mountains. Instead, we get to hear an ancient VW bus engine wheeze! Where do these guys get their cutting edge techniques, anyway? Because I’ve already checked the dumpster and there aren’t any there. Unless…they got up before I did, and took them all! That must be it.
They chat a bit, Blonde wants to change clothes, but Brandon points out that “all” their apartments will be staked out. Gosh, with who? The entire army seems to have been eliminated. I suppose they could have electric eyes positioned right under the desks, though. Brandon says they’re heading south, toward Ernest, and toward freedom as well. Oh cool.
Blonde asks him, “Do all your dates end up like this?”
Brandon, after nervously removing his tie: “We should reach the border by dawn.”
Blonde: “…just what I thought.”
And more driving. Brandon and Blonde look at each other, like they’re waiting for the director to say, “And cue the sex scene...NOW.” And we get some more pretty desert territory. Oh, and now there’s a jeep, I bet that can’t be good.
And a shot of some large villa, out in the middle of nowhere, like a pimple on a perfect breast. Well, whatever. Inside, Ernest, who is still alive, is being shown the diamond from the beginning of the film, but some guy who MIGHT be Commie, or that might be my desire to see fewer characters here. If it is Commie, he’s let his hair grow a bit.
He shows, as I said, Ernest the diamond, and he asks if Ernest will be his forever. Ha ha, I kid, he asks if Ernest would like to build a laser weapon with this diamond.
Well, Ernest is not at all up with this super weapons stuff, and he says he would rather die than build such a death machine. He and…argh, Commie II sneer at each other for a while, but it seems Ernest wins round one.
But, Commie II takes Ernest and shows him a…shrunken head. Or something that looks like one. Ernest turns away in disgust as the music is all shrill and, pretty much telegraphing This Is Horrible.
Commie II says Ernest should “think of this room” which we see has lots of makeup effects masks COUGH I mean, severed heads, and, Commie II adds, “your daughter in it!”
Ernest asks Commie II what kind of monster he is. But I think he is not asking so he can make the proper seating arrangements at some formal dinner. I think he is asking, because he thinks Commie II is a very nasty person. But that’s just a guess on my part.
And, back to the desert. The Van is speeding along, how long will it be before they come to the Ernest/Commie II villa, a/k/a. the only nice motel in town, Mr. and Mrs. “Smith”?
Ahem. Anyway, Brandon is now driving, and he asks if Blonde had any good dreams.
I assume you don’t care what she answers. Anyway, they’re almost to the border of “Namibia” where, Brandon asserts, “your father is.”
When asked how he knows this, he recalls the words of the dying Prof Rice, who said something about a skeleton you may recall. Blonde notes this. And Brandon says that just south of where they are is this incredibly bad desert, which Brandon tells us is called “Skeleton Coast” by the natives.
Okay, time out for a moment. We’ve all gone through the scenario, mentally. We’ve been shot, and a secret agent (of the good guys) comes to us in our last moments. What do we tell him? I mean, aside from “Get me to a hospital now!”
How many of us are going to sit there, dying, and think, “He’s trying to do X. How can I give him clues that are as cryptic as possible?”
Wouldn’t we be more likely to say, “Get me to a hospital, now!” I mean, “Here’s the info you need. Triffids can be destroyed by salt water. Cybermen can be suffocated by gold dust. Ernest is in Namibia. Be sure to wrap up well when the weather turns cold. Etc.”
No, according to the movies, if we’re dying, we’re going to say, “Taffy…by the beach. Good times. Like the 49’s. With those small bags they brought in, to be weighed. While they held their breath.”
Either movies are way stupid, or we are. Dunno about you, but if I’m shot and a secret agent finds me, I’m going to yell the bit about the hospital.
…huh? Wha? Sorry, just woke up. Blonde laughs and says, “You always take me to such fun places.” And Brandon laughs too.
And the van pulls over to the side of the, uh, road. Brandon gets out and looks around, and notes, as does Blonde, the presence of lots of hostiles. She thinks its better to go by night, but he’s all gung ho and tells her that she should drive now.
So, the start off, and the music starts again, and I (for about the five hundredth time) note that the van has a big curtain hanging out of the front window. Why? Who the hell cares about now?
So. The van goes into the compound, and Brandon shoots everyone that he doesn’t explode with grenades, and even those who missed the grenades helpfully run to where they can be set on fire. This enemy army is really helpful to Brandon! I bet they even set out a dinner for Brandon and Blonde and put on some soft music for them. I bet we’ll find out, too.
One evil guy (for who can explain it otherwise) gets off a lucky shot and engulfs the van in flame. And it blows up. Fortunately, due to the laws of movies, Brandon and Blonde are well away from it before this happens. I guess I missed something, not that I really care a lot. They must have jumped out but let the van drive itself just for fun.
Turns out, though, they still have 400 miles to go. “Glad I wore my heels!” jokes Blonde.
So, now we get solo guitar music as they cross the desert, and Blonde “bounces” (if you catch my meaning) a lot.
”So what’s for dinner?” she asks.
”Sand,” Brandon replies.
They chat for a bit more, and Brandon asks who she’s really working for, as she has such ease with guns and cars and stuff. And she replies that she’s Ernest’s daughter, and she has blisters and is tired of stupid questions. A good enough answer for Brandon.
And she tells him that he is not her ideal of a “dream date,” appending, “asshole!”
”That’s Mr. Asshole to you!” he rejoins.
Elsewhere, someone in a jeep surveys some damage left by Blonde and Brandon, well, I imagine it is their devastation though it is not labeled so. Coulda been someone’s incompetence with matches, but I’m staying with my pick.
Commie I (I mean the first Commie) surveys the survivors and tells them that they’re gonna get that darn Brandon. Okay then.
Back to Brandon and Blonde, trekking over the desert terrain by night. They come across some camels, and some tents, and finally some drunken Australians, who tell them that they know who they are, because “news travels fast, even in the desert.” The Aussie tells them that there’s a big reward for them both, but no worries, they’ll sleep in peace tonight. Which they proceed to do.
A quick shot of everyone sleeping nicely, and Blonde apologizes for losing her temper. He accepts said apology.
Suddenly (thank you, editor!) it’s the next day, and Blonde and Brandon seem to be in each other’s arms. But they quickly recoil. And the camp seems deserted. Blonde asks about this, and Brandon says perhaps she’s not what she seems.
But, whatever, uh huh, okay, they’re trekking across the desert some more. And they come to a sort of framework around an ancient temple. They waltz on in anyway, even though some guy with a bow and arrow is stalking them.
Blonde tries apologizing again, though she refers to Ernest as “the professor.”
”You mean your father?”
Yeah, Blonde says, that’s what she meant. And she gets all snooty and asks if Brandon wants her to get down on her knees.
”That’d be nice,” he says.
But the stalking guy shoots an arrow at them, and they draw their guns. They leap to see what is what, but the bow is there on the sand. Okay…guess the guy just had the one arrow.
Some other guy, with a rifle, yells, but they shoot him. Between the time he was shot and the time we see his dead body, he somehow found the time to change his beret to a helmet. Boy these guys are really well trained! Except in important stuff like marksmanship, etc. But in helmet-related areas, they are the best!
Brandon opines that they should get out of there. Blonde takes dead guy’s big knife, right after Brandon can’t see it. Wow, all the options are still open! Except that this movie won’t totally blow, that is.
Hey, I was away for a few days! Didja miss me? Didn’t think so. What was I doing? Sorry, can’t tell you that, as I’m a mercenary man. Doing what I can. Frying eggs in a pan. Driving in a van.
Oh, the movie? Well, when we last left Brandon and Blonde, they’d shot up a bunch of people in an old ruined place, and then they decided to leave that place, because of it being ruined and stuff. So they leave the place, and decide what to do. “This is like a nightmare, “ Blonde opines, but Brandon avers that “at least we’re out of danger now.”
And then a shot rings out! Ha ha, it is our old friend comedy, making another appearance! Our old, old friend comedy. Our friend who needs an oxygen tank and a walker, but welcome, Comedy! Have some borscht.
Speaking of old guys, our shooter is an old guy, riding a horse, shooting like crazy at our hero and heroine. And Blonde ducks for cover, but Brandon stands straight up and strides forward and aims his gun, then drops the gun and hero music plays. He finally aims and shoots, and the old guy has a huge blood stain and screeeeaaaaaammms as he falls off his horse.
And Brandon turns the guy over, but the guy remains dead (and old). And, I may be wrong here, but I think Brandon was looking for the keys to the horse! He asks Blonde to help him with the horse, but she’s clueless, so the horse runs off. That was about three minutes of running time.
”Things could be worse,” Blonde says, and you know that is never a good idea to say that (see: “Gilligan’s Island”). But nothing other than minor (verbal) sniping happens between the two.
And they’re crossing the huge, big, vast desert. And the camera is hand-held. And the guitar music is all desolate. But then a guy with a shotgun shows up. And Brandon and Blonde decide to run away from the guy. It’s all like, “Oh he might be a ‘homeless’ person and ask us for change, pretend you don’t see him.”
But he tracks their, uh, tracks anyway. He comes to a stop, fortunately, right where Brandon has decided to use the Old Bury Yourself Completely Under the Sand And Surprise Your Pursuer Trick. Which, amazingly enough, works. Brandon and this guy engage in fisticuffs when Brandon shoots out of the sand and kicks away the guy’s gun, and they roll down a dune for a while.
Brandon comes out of the roll first, and asks the guy who he works for. When the guy spits, he punches him and repeats the question. The guy says he works for “Dieter Eckhart” who is a very dangerous man, being both a hunter AND a tracker. His only apparent failing is in hiring lackeys, it seems. Under further questioning, Guy reveals that Eckhart comes from “Little Austria” which is apparently “a place called Swacop” (being phonetic here). “Ask anyone,” is Guy’s advice.
Blonde shows up with the horse, and Brandon and Guy take this opportunity to re-engage in fisticuffs. Blonde tries to help (Brandon) but just gets in the way. The notion of using the huge knife/sword she has apparently has not penetrated her consciousness. Brandon and Guy go at it for a while (sometimes the shot is framed by a horse…). Then Brandon gets impatient with this waste of time and breaks Guy’s neck. Take that as a lesson, cinema-goers: Brandon hates it when you waste his time. He’s perfectly okay with wasting yours, though.
So they ride off. And acoustic guitar music plays, and yes, it is the song again. “Yeah, the fires still burn, yeah wing o wing…” Whatever. As the song plays out its hideous nature, Blonde and Brandon reach some townish type of settlement, somewhere. No doubt “Little Austria” is nearby. Palm trees.
They get to a hotel, and Brandon hands the horse over to the valet! You see, this is funny…in some dank, awful, far worse dimension than ours.
So, Blonde and Brandon make their way to the front desk, where they pose as being married (Blonde shoots a brief dirty look), and they say they want a guide for a safari, how about this Eckhart fellow they’ve heard about?
Hotel clerk, who mumbles his lines outrageously, says (I think) that Eckhart has retired, sorry about that and stuff.
But they take a room anyway. Blonde flings herself on the bed, and Brandon unsheathes his gun….no, no! No, I mean his actual bullet-shooting gun. You people! Argh!
Brandon looks toward…well, the director, I guess. “I’ll go tonight, under cover of darkness,” he says, as if he was reading the TV listings. Maybe he is, if Laser Mission is on the hotel’s movie channel. Hey, it could happen. It might. If you clap you hands and say you believe. Let’s try that!
Well, I can’t say I blame you for not pitching in. (Confession: I didn’t either.)
Anyway, Blonde says, “And, until then?”
So Brandon rips right in, and calls the concierge and asks how long it would take to have their laundry done. Apparently it will take three hours! But Brandon asks if they could stretch that to five hours!
Blonde, her horndog sensors in full sweep, seems to note this means…well, one imagines you can figure it out. The guitar music turns all tender, if that helps. (Ha! As if anything helps.)
So, they kiss. A lot.
And we cut to a car with some folks in it, in essence, a ticked off looking passenger and a driver. Well they seem up to no good, only because they’re not smiling and joking and talking about how swell Brandon is. In fact, they say nothing.
A knock at the door, and the new laundry is delivered to Blonde and Brandon’s wedding suite. We’re apparently too late to see anything, well, exciting.
But she parts the curtains and sees the guys from the previous scene parking and getting out of the car. Brandon turns over in his sleep. She grabs the keys.
Down below, the two Car Guys are threatening the hotel clerk, asking “Which room?” and we get a shot of Blonde, now dressed, running down the street. She gets into the Car Guys’ car, puts in a key, and drives off, just as they realize what’s happening. They run out of the hotel and shoot at her, but she gets away. They commandeer some other guy’s car and speed off after her, just as Brandon is waking up. Oh cool. More crap we know nothing about.
But she left him a note. “Gone shopping, be back soon, love Alissa.” So now he won’t worry. Like the rest of us. Maybe he’ll go back to bed, or perhaps he’ll shop from his bath. Anything can happen! Though it probably won’t.
Back to the chase, Blonde observes the pursuers and opines, “This is gonna be easy.” We see the pursuers’ car swerve all over the place, because it is a crappy little tiny car. And we see all this through the rear window of Blonde’s car. And we cut to Brandon, now fully dressed, pacing the room.
The phone rings, and he leaps to answer. It’s Blonde. She says she’s twenty miles out of town, and she has “good news” about “Kalishnikov” which news turns out to be that “he’s dead.” Well, I bet HE doesn’t think that is good news!
Brandon asks if she killed him, and she says, “With pleasure.” She then says she’ll clean up, meet Brandon back at the hotel, and they’ll go find this Eckhart guy.
”Listen—“ Brandon says.
”I love you, too,” she says.
All together, now: awwwwwwaaarrgchchhhsdkhsdfskhuuuuuck! Sorry about that, I’ll get some paper towels.
And Brandon looks at the phone like, how cool is that, and we cut to Blonde with a gun to her head! Why, I bet it is that rotten “Kalishnikov” after all!
And the bad guys hustle her off to where their crappy little blue car is. And we see Brandon, also walking along in the dark, and he sits on some rocks, and…the DVD crashes. No, really. It just froze up.
Brandon sees a fence and a sign that says, I think, “Betretem Streng Verboten” on it. “Verboten” means “Forbidden,” and whatever the rest means, this sign is in front of this big kind of military base or prison or some such thing. Something pretty darn forbidden, anyway. But the image breaks up again. Almost like someone is on a laser mission against this movie!
Some men can point to Citizen Kane and say they helped to rescue this classic from deterioration. I can point to this stupid film and say I used my thumb to wipe dirt off it.
I sure hope I don’t die tonight. That would make a crappy epitaph.
So, Brandon looks at this fence and its razor wire and stuff, and a jeep drives up, and Brandon kicks the driver and knocks him into the fence, which turns out to be electric. Not an acoustic fence, an electric one! Which was booed off stage along with Dylan back in the day.
And Brandon drives the jeep through the fence. So, was he fooled by the phone call or what? Was that “I love you too” thing a code phrase?
Hello? Is anyone still awake?
So, he drives through the fence, about ten yards, then stops and runs up some steps, where he sees prisoners in cages. He runs about a bit, looks like he might try to free some of them, but decides running around a bit is better and more photogenic (the light is very poor here). Then he falls into a tiger trap, and is captured.
The next morning, we learn that all is not lost, as Brandon awakens to the sound of Ernest, also handcuffed, who asks if Brandon a) has had a good morning, and b) if he (Brandon) was supposed to rescue him (Ernest).
They chat a bit, and Ernest says that his laser weapon, coupled with the big diamond stolen a million years ago at the beginning of this film, will enable some lucky contestant to start World War III. Well, everyone has to have a hobby.
So, a couple of evil guys show up and taunt Ernest and Brandon. One of them is Commie, the other one, I don’t remember if we’ve seen him before. Let’s call him Mr. Evil.
Mr. Evil tells Ernest that his daughter is now in the hands of Evil, and he tells Commie to go see to her arrangement. Commie isn’t so sure he can trust Mr. Evil, and he says so, but Mr. Evil is all like, well, we have to trust each other, because…uh, the movie would be over. Or some damn thing, leave me along I am so tired right now.
Commie leaves, but he takes the diamond with him. And Mr. Evil says his tradition is to always give his victims a sporting chance, so he frees Brandon. They go to Mr. Evil’s trophy room, and they chat a bit, then start fighting hand to hand. They fight their way to the roof, and then they both fall off the roof, and Brandon is okay, but Mr. Evil fell on the iron work and is dead. So, naturally, some ninja appears and Brandon beats him up.
Brandon runs back in and frees Ernest. And they drive off to find some mine, somewhere. For fun I guess.
And yeah, they’re driving along in the desert. Again with the damn desert! What the hell! Oh well, we cut to some prison farm somewhere in this desert, where prisoners are breaking rocks and stuff. And what would you guess, two of the prisoners are Sarge and Guard! Guard says they shouldn’t be doing this kind of work, they should help “the Yankee” or “we will all be killed!”
Sarge motions him to lean into her confidence. “I have a plan,” she says.
But no matter, we see some soldier type enter a building labeled “Ur Ermeistera” which defeats my translation skills utterly.
Inside, Blonde is all tied up, and Commie instructs an underling to put all the slaves in the mine and blow it up, so everyone dies and stuff. Underling thinks this is a plan that’s his to live with. He sweatily empties a bag of diamonds…none of which is as big as the one he already has, but I guess, hey, diamonds are a Commie’s best friend. And wouldn’t you just know it, he steals my line, and says “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, I’m told!”
They banter a bit, and he tosses raw diamonds at her cleavage, saying that her friend (Brandon) is dead, so it is time to make new friends, if you catch his meaning, if you get his drift!
He presses his lips against hers, and she doesn’t like this at all. He seems to be excited.
And back to Ernest and Brandon in the jeep, just driving up the to outskirts of Ur Ermeistera. They watch through binoculars as slaves are machine gunned to death.
”What does it mean?” asks Ernest.
”They said they were closing up shop,” Brandon asks.
”And killing the witnesses?” Ernest alarms. “Schweinhunt!” he says, grabbing the rifle. When Brandon tries to calm him, Ernest notes that his daughter is down there. He runs off, while Brandon…er, is helpless I guess.
Back among Sarge and Guard, Guard says he’ll protect Sarge. But at the first sounds of gunfire, Sarge decks a guard (not Guard) and grabs his gun, and saves Guard! See, it is ironical because you are getting sleepy, so sleepy, so very, very sleepy your eyes are so heavy, you can barely keep them open--
That didn’t work, did it? Oh good.
Elsewhere, Commie is rubbing a razor all over Blonde, and trying, without a whole lot of success, to remover her top. She kicks him in the groin, and he’s not happy about that. At all. But, apparently noting the noise outside, he runs off with his pistol to help quell the revolt. And Blonde gets his razor. And elsewhere, Underling has set the timer on the dynamite for ten minutes. Lots of stuff happening!
And even more elsewhere, Ernest and Brandon are thinking about contributing to the mayhem. And Blonde frees herself. And Underling gets the troops out of the dynamite caves. And Sarge and Guard steal, unless I am very much mistaken, Brandon and Ernest’s jeep!
Meanwhile, bad guys are shot by everyone good. There you go.
Except, Commie shoots Brandon—in the back! Isn’t that just like a commie to do that! He turns Brandon over and calls him an “idiot,” just as Blonde shows up to shove a gun in Commie’s face! Brandon, who, uh, I guess wasn’t shot too bad or something, then disarms Commie, while telling Blonde he loves her sense of timing (among other things).
Brandon gutpunches Commie, while Blonde says she’ll take care of him. However, she sucks at this as he quickly gains the upper hand and they chase each other around a lot. Ernest, in the meanwhile, meets up with Sarge and Guard (who have been busy blowing away bad guys) and the three form an unstoppable team. Brandon frees all the slaves. Guard still insists that Sarge, as a woman, should not be doing all these violent things! Ha ha, Guard, you should be educated in the ways of the modern world!
Brandon goes into the caves, and Underling jumps him, and they fight for a bit, until Underling accidentally on purpose jars loose a pole holding some of the roof in place, and the roof becomes out of place…on him!
And then, Commie and Blonde tumble into the same area. Blonde pleads with Brandon to kill Commie, but Commie says it is a “Mexican stand off” (because he is holding Blonde as a shield) and, when Brandon lowers his gun, he says he (Brandon) is a fool who believes in movies, and then Brandon raises his gun and shoots him (Commie) a lot.
”I knew you could do it!” bubbles Blonde, as Brandon pulls her to safety and Commie tumbles into a convenient crevasse.
”You did?” asks Brandon.
”Didn’t you?” Blonde asks, looking worried.
”I never really gave it much thought,” he cools.
”You mean you risked hitting me?” Blonde squeaks.
And then, we’re with Ernest and Sarge. She tosses a grenade to Guard, who tosses it further into some bad guys, who blow up. And it sure looks like all the bad guys are in disarray and the good guys are totally winning everything, and the only thing wrong is…the minute counter.
The minute counter on this movie says we have nine minutes left. That is a LOT of screen time.
So, I am going to guess two things. One of our main players will turn out to be a traitor, or, music video.
So, everyone mops up the last of the bad guys. And Blonde and Brandon approach the jeep, where Sarge, Guard and Ernest are. And Brandon pulls a gun on Ernest.
”Who are you?” he asks.
And Ernest ha has and things, and asks if Brandon has been in the sun too long. But, it turns out, the gun is for Sarge and Guard, but (whew!) Ernest vouches for them.
Then, our whole world turns topsy turvy, as Ernest doesn’t recognize Blonde as his daughter! He has never seen her before! Ha ha ha, this comedy is making my heart stop beating! Excuse me, I have to resuscitate myself!
Turns out Blonde is someone sent by Brandon’s bosses! Ha ha ha, stop, I am dying from laughter! Brandon asks who Guard and Sarge are, and Guard says he is “Michael Gold” which is Brandon’s character name. Well, Brandon straightens this out, to no end of hilarity (haven’t seen one, anyway). And introductions are made all around.
But, to a burst of dissonant electronic music, who should crawl out of a cave vent but Commie. Despite having six (or so) bullet holes in him, he is pretty lively, and he is (no doubt) up to no good. And yes, he had a bulletproof vest on! What a rotter, etc.
We see that the timer on the dynamite is running down (24 secs, then 13) while Commie and his Last Remaining Pal scramble over rocks and Blonde explains how she was the Agency’s “insurance policy” since everyone expected Brandon to totally suck ass and things.
Commie aims his gun at everyone and yells, but the dynamite goes off and he’s consumed by flame. Course, it looked like he was dead before, so I half suspect he will show up to strip off his asbestos suit.
Not wanting to wait around for that, Brandon says everyone should get out of the area. And as the jeep drives off, a helicopter flies in and lands, and Ernest’s real daughter gets out and they embrace. And the guys who earlier were so down on Brandon and his terrible first Ernest mission, congratulate him, and also “Zephyr” (Blonde). Well, Brandon thinks this name is risible.
Bald Guy says that the two haven’t met? Brandon says, no, they’ve met, “but we’re only now getting to know each other.”
The Good Guys say that Brandon and Blonde have to split the fee. (Unmentioned is the fact that Brandon went on this new Ernest mission for free. And if you try to divide by zero you get one of those errors.) Also, Brandon and Zephyr have to get their own transportation! Wow, talk about harsh! But Ernest and his daughter thank Brandon for all their help. You see they are good people. And Sarge and Guard are bad people because they steal the helicopter! Ha ha ha it is so funny you should seriously just shoot me now, please I beg of you.
And Brandon and Blonde laugh like crazy. And we get lots of footage of the helicopter flying, and the Good Guys chasing it. And Brandon says the Good Guys can find their own transport, as that is the fate they had for Brandon! Life, it is so rich!
But—and my powers of precognition have not failed me—Commie shows up! And he shoots a lot of bullets at our heroes, but Blonde floors the gas on the jeep, and she smacks Commie right into a brick wall, where he lies bleeding under its now tumbled bricks. Sheesh, are we supposed to think he’s dead? Guns and fire and explosions did nothing, I suspect he’s a Cyberdyne Systems model and he’ll be back.
But, everyone piles out of the jeep anyway. And Blonde asks Brandon who has the diamond. Ernest notes that whoever does have the diamond will have a good position from which to bargain. And Brandon admits he has it, and he tosses it in the air.
And everyone laughs some more, and the song starts up again. And we freeze frame on Brandon’s face, and then we roll the credits…with three minutes to go!
But don’t worry, they are just slow credits. No, no, not LOW credits, SLOW credits…wait, never mind.
”The story, all names, characters and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings and products is intended or should be inferred.”
Products? Talk about covering all your bases. Hey, what about insects?
Well, that was a pretty damn terrible movie, but to give it its due, it was rarely boring and didn’t seem to think it had a Big Lesson to Teach Us All about Life, The Universe and Everything. Its main faults were that it just went on forever and forever with all these little side things that, well, they weren’t unrelated to the plot, they just kind of piled on the plot so it was smothered. Also, the comedy wasn’t funny, the action bits seemed to think we are a pretty credulous lot, the acting was a veritable ham-fest, and that song was annoying. In the end, nothing seemed to make much difference anyway in the whole thing.
I’m having trouble remembering much of it even now. Though my recollection is that it mostly stank.
Brandon Lee was okay here, probably the best in terms of acting, though that isn’t saying much. He has a nice easygoing charm, and with better material he might have been notable. He is probably best known, nowadays, for being accidentally killed on the set of The Crow. Given the bits about charm, it seems a shame, as he might have risen to the level of, say, a Will Smith.
Laser Mission itself seems to be one of those perennial things, like Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe, that shows up all the time in cheap movie compilations. I think this is largely because it’s pretty terrible, though to be fair, it moves at a decent pace and, as noted, is seldom flat-out dull. It’s certainly not brain-twistingly awful like The Atomic Brain or (coming soon!) Phantom from Space.
Though I have to wonder why it’s called Laser Mission and not Mercenary Man. Given what we’ve got, “Laser Mission” is the dimmest title imaginable (well, no, check that thought. I can think of worse. “Brandon Lee Conquers Evil” for example, though that’s more accurate). The laser stuff barely played in the movie at all, even as a MacGuffin. Missionary Man at least gives you an (idiotic) idea of the kind of (idiotic) movie you’re about to see. Maybe the guy who wrote that song (the brother of the guy who was the leader of Dire Straights) said, No way, you want my song, you can’t title your movie the same. And they all fell down in horror at that suggestion.
Of course, I’m making the (bad) assumption that someone, at some time, considered putting some thought into this movie. And that seems really far-fetched.
My recommendation? Well, if you have some of those aforementioned cheap DVD sets, you probably already have it, so too late there. If I were you (and I’m not saying I’m not), I wouldn’t bother to seek it out for rental, or pore over TV listings hoping it will pop up at you. And if you do watch it, let me just note this: beer helps. A lot.