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MOVIE REVIEW : 'Hostage': Prisoner of Bad Taste

November 03, 1987|LEONARD KLADY

"Hostage" (citywide) is a thriller as fresh as yesterday's news. It's a muddled, Africa-set yarn of hijackers, mercenaries and religious fanatics executed with the finesse of a Three Stooges comedy. No expense under $1.98 has been spared to bring the audience face to face with the army of zealous terrorists who are casting a shadow over the Dark Continent.

The story centers on the fictional sect the Holy Freedom Party of Allah, which effects the hijacking of a Kenyan airplane transporting a Christ-like religious leader. They offer his release in exchange for the freedom of their imprisoned leader and $25 million in gold. Additionally, they learn that the daughter and grandson of an influential American industrialist are on board and use the two as a further negotiating tool.

What they don't realize is that good old American know-how and money is about to bust their racket. The tycoon (Kevin McCarthy), a former Army bigwig, puts security chief Sam Striker (Wings Hauser) to the task of getting his kids back. An army of soldiers of fortune is enlisted to bring 'em back alive.

Despite the inanity and incompetence of the film, it is far from boring. The film makers rise to the level of bad taste with such gems as having the hostages recite the Lord's Prayer, presenting a machine-gun-toting nun and giving us a terrorist chief with more lives than Jason of "Friday the 13th." The bad guys are called "Ay-rabs" by McCarthy and spout pearls of wisdom on the order of "you talk with the brains of a camel."

Such technical niceties as synchronized sound are ignored in favor of dubbing that would do the L.A. Connection proud. But the single greatest horror is watching actress Karen Black, a passenger, unconvincingly portray a fading screen siren.

"Hostage" (MPAA rated: R, for violence, salty language and brief nudity) is politically a white supremacist's delight, worthy only of the most fiercely enforced artistic embargo.

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