REVIEW: Black Cobra 3 – Manila Connection (1990)

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1990, L’Immagine, s.r.l.

Director:
Edoardo Margherti
Producer:
Luciano Appignani
Writer:
Gaetano Russo
Cinematography:
Guglielmo Mancori
Editing:
Alessandro Lucidi

Cast:
Fred Williamson (Det. Robert Malone)
Forry Smith (Agent Greg Duncan)
Debra Ward (Jane Rogers)
David Light (Jackson)
Ned Hourani (Charlie Hopkins)
Buddy Norton (Lawrence Brennan)
Mike Monty (Capt. Phillips)
Edward Santana (Capt. Marton)
Maria Isabel Lopez (Sioni)

Chicago Robert Malone takes his last case and heads back to the Philippines in this final installment of the Black Cobra trilogy.

Charlie Hopkins, a CIA agent, is on the hunt for a cache of weapons that have been stolen somewhere in Manila. In his attempt to find the weapons, he is shot down by a mysterious assailant and upon his return home, dies. The CIA are now in a bind and need some outside help. In charge of the case is agent Greg Duncan. Duncan knows there is only one man who can help him retrieve the weapons: Chicago detective Robert Malone.

Back in Chi-town, Malone is at the supermarket where he experiences three robbers. Malone confronts them his way with a threat that the police have arrived but uses his fighting skills to dispatch of them. He gets the call from Greg, who just happens to know Robert because Robert was Greg’s father’s best friend. When Robert is denied a vacation from Captain Marton, the CIA personally calls the governor, who calls Marton to grant Robert his vacation.

Upon arrival, he runs into a young woman, Jane Rogers, who turns out to be a fellow CIA agent. The trio begin to search for clues to track the ones responsible down. As Jane stays behind to do intel, Robert and Greg attempt to get clues on where the shipment could be. As they head to a warehouse to confront a foreman about the shipment, Robert and Greg face off against some of the workers and succeed. When they are just about to get an answer from the foreman, the foreman is shot by a fellow CIA agent, Jackson. However, despite the setback, Robert and Greg, now along with Jane, find out who is responsible and when they find out where the shipment is held, they launch an assault on the criminals.

Now this poses quite an interesting question. Could it be extremely possible that Black Cobra 2 and Black Cobra 3 were shot, say, back-to-back? This is highly likely due to mainly the same crew and certain cast members returning to the fold but in different roles. Which brings the next question. Is Ned Hourani truly the “guy who has to die in the beginning” or “that guy who dies” in virtually every movie he is in? In Black Cobra 2, he gets killed mid-way as terrorist member Mustapha and here, he plays Charlie, who is killed in the opening scene much like his fate in both Bloodfist and Bloodfist II.

Back to Black Cobra 3, Fred Williamson returns as Robert Malone, who once again is going to Manila but not before getting chewed out again by Captain Marton. Now, this is the fun part. Edward Santana, who plays Captain Marton, seems to have been influenced by Gil Hill’s Inspector Todd of the Beverly Hills Cop films because the way he goes off on Malone is virtually the same way Todd goes off on Axel Foley. That is pretty much the comic relief of the film.

Where Malone had one partner in Black Cobra 2, he now has not one, but two allies in this final installment. Here he teams up with TV actor Forry Smith, who plays CIA agent Duncan and Debra Ward, who plays CIA intel Jane. Thankfully, the producers realized the big flaw of having a female protagonist who made virtually no impact in the previous films and made Jane a smart, brash, and action loving female who joins the guys for some firepower action in the final action set piece of the film. Meanwhile, from the moment you see David Light’s Jackson, you know something is completely off and well, if you know this genre of film, you will know how this ends up in terms of his character.

Now, it must be noted that in 1991, L’Imaggine, the Italian production company behind the trilogy did in fact release a Black Cobra 4, which was subtitled Detective Malone. However, this was an atrocious cheap cash-in film which was made up of splicing footage from the first two Black Cobra films. The reason is simple. Fred Williamson didn’t want to do another Black Cobra film so the producers decided to make a “sequel” in this manner, which is not even a real Black Cobra film.

Thus, it is safe to say that Black Cobra 3: Manila Connection is the last official sequel and installment of the films. This one is almost more on the level of #2 in terms of villains and action but the producers finally have a female who can blow away bad guys with “The Hammer” himself.

WFG RATING: C+

DVD

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