REVIEW: Enemy Territory (1987)

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When a gang takes over a housing project in New York City, who you gonna call? Yeah, this film is an attempt to make Ray Parker Jr. an action hero in this 80’s urban action film.

Barry was once a successful insurance agent who has recently hit a major slump. However, his boss has faith in his and gives him an assignment that could make or break him. He is asked to go to a rundown housing project to meet a kind elderly woman named Elva, who has recently put out a life insurance policy to support her granddaughter. When Barry arrives at the building, he makes the simple mistake of tapping a young man on the shoulder because this young man belongs to a deadly gang called the Vampires.

Despite that, Barry has a successful meeting with Elva but his life is about to change as he leaves her apartment. The Vampires show up, led by The Count, and they proceed to kill the building’s security guard but not before phone company worker Will shows up and saves Barry. Will and Barry soon learn the Vampires run the building and they are not a threat. With help from Elva’s granddaughter Toni, the duo soon learn of a Vietnam War vet in the building named Parker, someone the Vampires do not want to cross. Will Barry and Will be able to escape the building or will the Vampires get to them?

This 80’s urban action thriller may seem like a run-of-the-mill film and that it is, but its interesting twist is that the lead actor in the film is far from the action hero type and instead relies on a famous pop singer to take charge in the action department, something that is a little familiar when musicians attempt to work on the big screen. However, it ultimately works well and may be seen as a precursor to future buddy action films.

Gary Frank’s Barry is a man with a constant struggle. First, his slump at work has caused him to turn to alcoholism and thus, not only gives him problems at work but with his family. However, when he makes a simple mistake of tapping the wrong shoulder, one can only see that this is one character who will put himself in an even worse situation. However, one would think this is one character who will learn to fight back and play the vigilante but in a surprising move, that is not the case.

That honor goes to pop star Ray Parker Jr., the one responsible for the theme song of some movie called Ghostbusters. As phone company worker Will, who is in the building to see his girlfriend, he knows the situation and ends up helping our lowly insurance agent. For an 80’s B-movie, Parker Jr. could have made for an action star based on his performance here. Jan-Michael Vincent makes the most of his role as Parker, a Vietnam veteran who attempts to help our unlikely heroes take on the Vampires. As for the leader of the Vampires, appropriately named The Count, it is clear why Tony Todd is meant to play villain roles, including his 90’s iconic role of horror villain Candyman and that of Bludworth in the Final Destination films. The film also has appearances from a pre-fame Clueless star Stacey Dash and a pre-fame Different World and Drive star Kadeem Hardison in supporting roles, one major and one minor.

Enemy Territory is a typical 80’s B-movie action film set in an urban area and makes good use of an unlikely pair of heroes and a great performance from Tony Todd as the lead villain with the theme of “fighting back”.

WFG RATING: B-

A Taryn Productions/Empire Pictures production. Director: Peter Manoogian. Producers: Cynthia De Paula and Tim Kincaid. Writers: Stuart Kaminski and Bobby Liddell. Cinematography: Ernest Dickerson. Editing: Peter Teschner.

Cast: Gary Frank, Ray Parker Jr., Tony Todd, Jan-Michael Vincent, Frances Foster, Stacey Dash, Deon Richmond, Tiger Haynes, Kadeem Hardison.

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