The Annihilators (1985)

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A band of soldiers reunites to bring a new kind of war in this fun 80’s B-action film.

During the Vietnam War, Bill, Ray, Joe, Garrett, and Woody took on the Viet Cong and Joe sacrifices himself to save his friends. Thirteen years have passed and Joe, who is paralyzed, helps his father run his grocery store in Atlanta. Gang leader Roy Boy Jagger leads his crew to collect protection money while Joe’s father goes on an errand. When Joe attempts to stand up to Roy Boy and his gang after they kill a customer, Joe is brutally killed by Roy Boy.

At the funeral, Bill arrives to pay respect to Joe and upon learning what had happened, Bill decides to reform his old team. Garrett, now a family man, vows to return home once his new mission is over. Ray quits his accounting job because he loves the thrill of action. Woody is now a hermit who is on a downward spiral of alcoholism, all while looking for that one shot at redemption. Together, learning Roy Boy’s gang is one of three gangs taking over the streets of Atlanta, the soldiers decide to teach the community to stand up for themselves, all while serving as a vigilante force against all criminals and gangsters. When Roy Boy gets wind of what has transpired, he plans to unleash all hell on the gang.

The 80’s truly can be said to be a revival of Vietnam War, whether viewers were treated to war-set films like the Missing in Action, Platoon, and Full Metal Jacket. Others would bring veterans of the war using their military skills in a present day setting such as First Blood, Kill Squad, and Steele Justice. This film falls in the latter category and while the motive starts with revenge, it is more about unity for a community who have grown tired of the gangs that have taken over their area.

The titular group, interestingly enough, not just serve as vigilantes, but for the community, mentors in self-defense. The late Christopher Stone leads the team as Bill, who also acts as the most sympathetic of the group because both his team and the community need someone who can keep everyone grounded and Bill fits the mold to a tee. Gerrit Graham’s Ray is the one who thrives on action as well as help provide some of the film’s comic relief. This proves evident when he quits his accounting job and tells Bill that he has one more “case” to deal with.

As martial arts expert Garrett, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs only hopes to stay alive due to the fact he has a family now and must be there for his little son and when things don’t go as planned, he tends to start playing blame game. Andy Wood’s Woody is perhaps the one who needs the most help. He not only joins the mission to avenge his fallen friend, but it also serves as a road to redemption. To show how sympathetic Bill is, Woody explains why he turned to drinking all while making a vow to not let the team down and Bill knows that Woody will do his best to keep his promise.

Paul Koslo hams it up as gang leader Roy Boy, who goes to great lengths to take over the community by demanding protection money. In addition, he also is fronting a major drug operation within the city, even furthering his stance as the most dangerous of the gang leaders. Even worse, he intends to expand his “empire” by recruiting three local teenagers. He brings a bit of overacting, a typical notion in B-movies during this era, but it is quite fitting as a redneck-like gang boss.

The Annihilators bring unity to a community plagued by gang violence, with some fun action sequences that made 80’s B-action films what they are today…a whole lot of fun!

WFG RATING: B

A New World Pictures production in association with Balcor Film Investors. Director: Charles E. Sellier, Jr. Producers: Thomas C. Chapman and Allan C. Pedersen. Writer: Brian Russell. Cinematography: Henning Schellerrup. Editing: Daniel Gross.

Cast: Christopher Stone, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Gerrit Graham, Andy Wood, Paul Koslo, Dennis Redfield, Sid Conrad, Jim Antonio, Bruce Evers, Millie Fisher, Tom Harper, Mimi Honce.

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