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Movie Review : 'Commando Squad': Foolish, Sordid

June 16, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

If you've seen one too many drug-war thrillers, one too many movies pitting a few good guys against a hundred villains, one too many chase scenes near or on Hollywood Boulevard; and one too many movies where a hero is tortured unremittingly by sadistic hoodlums, thereby justifying a climax of wholesale carnage--than you know what to expect from "Commando Squad" (citywide). That's exactly what it is: one too many.

The movie begins, somewhat promisingly, with a narration of utter nihilism by heroine Cat (Kathy Shower), a drug cop hanging out at Hollywood's International News Stand dressed as a hooker. Cat explains that, in Los Angeles, a friend is someone who stabs you in the front. But, no sooner have we mulled over that gem, than we've been plunged into some kind of goofy Mexican cocaine war, complete with car chases, gunfights, exploding trucks, jeeps and helicopters and, of course, torture and brutality laced with glib wisecracks.

The one major innovation--having a super- macha heroine, named Cat, instead of a super- macho hero (named Dog?)--hardly seems daring in context, especially in a movie where someone actually tells Cat that she has nine lives, and has used up eight of them. . . .

Cinematographer Gary Graver ("The Other Side of the Wind") gets some nice shots and director Fred Olen Ray ("Armed Response") gets in cynical humor and a few interesting villains: William Smith's turncoat cocaine honcho and Mel Welles as a Thomas Gomez-style corrupt nabob. But the material is too foolish and sordid to sustain any kind of offbeat juicing-up. It looks as it were made by L.A. friends, who all unknowingly, may have stabbed one another in the front.

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