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Review Mercenary Fighters (1988): Not one I can recommend, but it did have potential!

genre: adventure, action, drama

First and foremost, I picked this title for the action. Sometimes these low budget flicks can offer more than you expect and surprise you in pleasant ways. Unfortunately, Mercenary Fighters is not one of them.

Mind you, it did have the potential to be more, but that would require some effort on the part of the crew and the actors. Only a few of them were willing. Reb Brown, Robert DoQui, Ron O' Neal (Super Fly) and Henry Cele (Shaka Zulu) certainly did their best. Cele is underutilized, but does manage to give this film the much-needed gravity. Robert DoQui is excellent as the government official whose ambition is challenged by the incompetence of his mercenaries. Ron O' Neal doesn't have that much screen time, but does a lot with very little. And sadly, Reb Brown has the acting power of a loaf. I would argue that even a loaf of bread would be capable of more dramatic intensity than him. His tribute to Rambo is therefore quite admirable but completely misplaced and hilarious. It would have made sense if there was any dramatic build up to it. Then again, perhaps he was asked to do it, then we should blame the inexperienced director who at the time only had directed one film before. 

The real heartbreak comes from Peter Fonda. He is one of those actors that can elevate films by the way he carries himself. He absolutely can be a ruthless and self-serving military leader. But he didn't feel like it. So he left the villainous stuff to his minions like Jerry Biggs and James Mitchum. I get that some actors are just there for a pay cheque, but don't they see that films like these are the ideal opportunities to ham it up and give exceptional and memorable performances. 

As an action film, Mercenary Fighters disappoints slightly. It's not that exciting. Barely serviceable and completely generic but competent. Since the fun factor on this is quite low, I can't really recommend this, but I do want to state again, that it did have potential.

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