This Filipino action film has the notoriety of being the film debut of the British kickboxer turned action star Gary Daniels.
David Callahan is a U.S. Marine who leads his troops on a mock mission to see if they are worthy of handling a very dangerous mission codenamed “Operation Red Fire”. When they succeed in the mock mission, Callahan and his troops, including his best friend Charlie and marines Douglas, Moore, Mark, McGuire, and Steve; are all ready to take on the mission, which involves stopping Viet Cong commander Tran Van Phu. However, Tran has received word of the mission and all are killed except David, Charlie, and Douglas. In order to escape, the trio of Marines hold Tran’s daughter Mai Lihn hostage. However, their escape is stopped by a landmine and one of the trio decides to play it safe and kill Mai Lihn.
Flash forward five years. David, having left the Marines after the failed mission, now lives in Thailand with wife Kate and son Paul. David has been working as a special advisor and has been training the Thai Special Forces. David gets a surprise visit from Charlie, whom David thought had died. Nevertheless, David is happy to see the man he sees as a brother but on a day at the beach with David’s family, the group is attacked by a band of goons. The attack lands David and Charlie in the hospital. When David is well enough, he learns that both Kate and Paul have been killed. With Charlie’s help, David is determined to find out who killed his family as well as learning that the same one must be responsible for Mai Linh’s death five years ago by the same trademark.
This 1980’s Filipino made action film directed by Teddy Page, using the pseudonym “Tedd Hemingway”, is a pretty standard B-movie with revenge as its motive in terms of both the hero and the villain. However, the film’s major notoriety is that this is the film debut of Gary Daniels, who later gained a massive following in the 1990’s during the martial arts glory of the home video market and still has quite the following today.
Daniels, a former kickboxer, makes the most of his role as David Callahan, an ex-Marine who five years after a botched mission, finds himself the victim of a constant battle. His wife and son have been both killed by a mysterious assailant, but it was the same person who killed our main villain’s daughter in the botched mission. American-Filipino actor and co-writer James Gaines plays David’s best friend Charlie, who is more like a brother to David than a friend. After the opening of the film, which shows the “mock up mission”, David has flashbacks to how he was almost killed until Charlie came to his rescue and the two having a spar. Then, for some reason, Page decides to show the two showering in separate stalls to give off some sort of subliminal message that never really comes to fruition and turns out to be ultimately untrue. Perhaps, Page was using this as a way to show some eye candy for the ladies, who knows.
David Light plays Douglas, the third of the surviving former Marines in the failed mission and doesn’t offer much during the second and third acts. Instead, replacing him in the action department is Richard King, who plays Thai Special Forces commander Vinai, who attempts to help David solve the mystery of who killed his family. Filipino actor Portencio Dee plays the evil Viet Cong minister Phan Van Tru, who seeks revenge himself for the death of his little daughter Mai Linh, who was only meant to be a ploy for the Marines to escape. It must be noted that all that leads up to this incident is only the first 30 minutes of the 88-minute running time with the rest of the film being set five years after said mission.
Stunt coordinator Dan Bell gives Daniels, a former kickboxer, a chance to showcase the skills that made Daniels a star later in America. When he’s not blowing away people by firepower, Daniels relies on his kickboxing skills and showcases some very nice kicking against many thugs. Even one training session with the Thai Special Forces turns sour and turns out to be an ambush with Daniels and King (in a nod to Raiders of the Lost Ark that ends more peacefully with a surrender) having to escape. Of course, the film does end up being quite predictable but adds a very slight twist in the finale.
Final Reprisal may be a standard and predictable B-movie but for a film debut, it is actually a decent vehicle (at the time) for Gary Daniels. Daniels has truly moved up to have a following with his martial arts skills and this film will definitely want to be seen by major fans of Daniels.
WFG RATING: B-
A Solar Films International production. Director: Teddy Page. Producer: Douglas D. Davidson. Writers: Rod Davis and James Gaines. Cinematography: Vic Sanders. Editing: Edgar Vincent.
Cast: Gary Daniels, James Gaines, David Light, Protacio Dee, Richard King, Christine Erlandson, Peter Rise, Jeff Griffith, Jack Serra, Frank Wannack, Michael Welborn, Glaiza Herradura.