(US - 1988)
Directed by Riki Shelach. Written by Bud Schaetzle, Dean Tschetter, Andrew Deutsch, Terry Asbury. Cast: Peter Fonda, Reb Brown, Ron O'Neal, James Mitchum, Robert DoQui, Henry Cele, Joanna Weinberg. (R, 93 mins)
MERCENARY FIGHTERS deals with the titular crew, headed by the ruthless, Swisher Sweet-sucking Virelli (Peter Fonda, pretty much on the skids a decade before his ULEE'S GOLD comeback), hired to do the dirty work of wiping out rebels opposed to the building of a dam in the fictional Central African country of Shinkasa. Top military man Kjemba (Robert DoQui, who's actually really good in this) is acting under the genocidal orders of the Shinkasa president, who doesn't want the heinous activity to be traced back to him or his office. Virelli and his team--among them Cliff (Ron O'Neal), Wilson (James Mitchum), and new recruit T.J. Christian (Reb Brown!)--get the job done, but T.J. starts to have second thoughts after witnessing atrocities committed by Kjemba and his men, who are after in-hiding rebel leader Jaunde (SHAKA ZULU's Henry Cele). Tensions mount as T.J., realizing he's been working for the wrong side, wants to do the right thing and stop the mission, while the openly racist Virelli only sees the money. Also complicating matters is T.J.'s falling for an American nurse (Joanna Weinberg)--referred to by the endlessly charming Virelli as "the gash"--doing humanitarian work with the Shinkasa rebels.
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One of the more obscure films in the Cannon canon, MERCENARY FIGHTERS was recently made available as part of MGM's manufactured-on-demand "Limited Edition Collection" (available via numerous online vendors as well as Warner Archive) in a surprisingly nice-looking 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer.