Laser Mission
directed by BJ Davis
(Reel Media, 1989)

Given the tragic circumstances of his untimely death, not to mention the deep respect I have for his father, I feel sort of bad about denigrating one of Brandon Lee's films (albeit, one of his earliest efforts). Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that Laser Mission exists solely to be made fun of, as it's such a hilariously bad movie. The plot barely holds the whole thing together, the acting is pretty weak all across the board, the dialogue is so cheesy that that the film should come with a warning label for lactose-intolerant viewers, the special effects don't exactly blow you away and even the music proves to be highly annoying. Obviously, I really have no choice but to give the film a low rating, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the heck out of watching it -- this thing is chock full of unintentional hilarity.

Brandon Lee plays Michael Gold, a secret agent-type guy who really isn't very good at his job. Apparently, all of the CIA's spies were at a meeting or something because the Americans hire Gold to go down and try to talk a Cuban scientist (played by "well-known Cuban actor" Ernest Borgnine) into bringing his knowledge of advanced laser technology to America. Gold screws that up pretty quickly but manages to beg his way into a second chance with the guys at the American Embassy.

With Professor Braun (Borgnine) now missing, Gold seeks out help from the professor's daughter Alissa (Debi Monahan, who's about as Cuban as Marilyn Monroe) -- and I must say that the disguised manner in which he first contacts her is not to be missed (nor is the somewhat revealing dress Monahan wears throughout most of the movie -- without it, there would be absolutely nothing worth looking at in the entire film).

Even the setting of this film is problematic. It seems pretty clear that the whole thing begins in Cuba, so I was pretty confused when Gold starts talking about heading south for the border (the last I checked, Cuba was an island). The next thing I knew, he and Alissa are in Africa (and still driving the same beat-up VW van they escaped in). That pretty much sums this whole movie up in a nutshell (that and the fact that the word "titles" is misspelled in the closing credits).

In closing, I thought I would just jot down a few of the things I learned from watching Laser Mission:

• Anyone can pass as a Cuban, even without a fake mustache (and it's OK if you forget your accent every now and again).
• It is not altogether shocking for high-ranking officers in the Cuban army to drop out of trees and start barking orders in English to bivouacking soldiers.
• No one at any level of the Cuban army can hit a target, so you have plenty of time to walk toward them and make sure your aim is perfect before killing any of them -- actually, you don't even have to aim at them if you don't want to. Lee shot up a truckload of Cuban soldiers with his gun pretty much pointed toward the ground.
• You can apparently drive from Cuba to the African desert in just a few hours.
• It's possible to walk across 400 miles of desert in high heels, without any water to drink, and come out looking only moderately sweaty -- and your clothes won't be dirty no matter how many sand dunes you roll down while fighting incompetent assassins.
• All you need to make a nuclear bomb is the right kind of laser and a big honkin' diamond.

review by
Daniel Jolley

27 November 2010

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