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Review The Soldier (1982): How can a film that mixes up heroic bloodshed with James Bond type of action be bad?

genre: action, adventure, espionage

The Soldier is an odd film. I think it tries to be a very super serious and straightforward film and yet almost everything in the film could be seen as comedic. 

The film opens up with a scene where little to no set up has been given. I guess for dramatic purposes. Very effectively so might I add! A lady with a baby carriage suddenly gets hit by a car. Bystanders walk up to her in an attempt to save her. Then all of them get shot in a glorious bloodshed scene. The culprits seem to be a bunch of elite agents or soldiers. Among them is Ken Wahl, so I assumed they were the good guys. Apparently the people who were killed were Russians. You do have to take in consideration that the cold war was raging and back then the Russians were always the bad guys. Even when the act we just witnessed was pretty cruel and brutal.

This is what puts us in the middle of events with barely a story to speak of. Basically a group of people want to blow up an oil field in Saudi Arabia by detonating a nuclear bomb that could lead to a full out Third World War. One might think that quite a lot is at stake. It's here when it becomes painfully obvious that the film doesn't really have a budget to back up it's grandness. So we are stuck with little but enjoyable action scenes and a finale that simply sizzles out. Most of the action that is present is good and exciting. But the sequences are too short in my opinion. I wasn't worried though. Surely there would be a spectacular finale right? Wrong. For whatever reason, there is no big ending. The soldier force that is called upon do very little on screen. And to be honest it didn't look like that things were as challenging as claimed. This film was screaming for a grand shootout with casualties falling left and right. It would have made the film for me. Fortunately  Steve James is present. And he alone makes the film more entertaining than it has any right to be. Especially the scene where he play fights with Ken Wahl. It's one of the examples that feel out of place. Is The Soldier meant to be a parody? Then I thought of McBain and it made sense to me.

Overall the film is quite entertaining simply because of the tone. No matter how much you want to it's hard to take it seriously. I for one tried to focus on the action and while that was good there wasn't enough to satisfy my needs. And all it needed was one big finale with bloodshed and mayhem. 

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