DESERT WARRIOR (1984) *
Mark Harmon is the leader of the Tuareg, a band of peaceful people living in the middle of the Sahara. Two soldiers enter the camp and Harmon offers them water and shelter. The army comes looking for the soldiers, but Harmon won’t let them leave because of his people’s sacred “Law of Hospitality”. When the army kills one of the soldiers and arrests the other, Harmon goes out for revenge.
You know, I’ve heard of some weird excuses to get revenge in a movie, but killing people in the name of hospitality might be the weirdest one yet.
I like Mark Harmon a lot (he was the bomb in Summer School), but he is hopelessly miscast as a swarthy dude on a camel. He just looks fucking ridiculous and you can’t take him seriously for a minute. He’s also totally unconvincing when spouting fortune cookie wisdom like, “water has no owner in the desert!”
Sometimes a movie can rise above the miscasting of its leading man if it’s got tons of action. Well, Desert Warrior can’t boast that claim as it’s boring as all get out and contains more scenes of men riding camels through the desert than the human mind can take. If fact, it’s about as much fun as watching a camel turd dry out in the sun.
There is ONE good scene that shows some promise. It comes after Harmon is captured and tortured by the army when he escapes and grabs a machine gun and blows a bunch of shit up. If director Enzo (Inglorious Bastards) Castellari kept this vibe going throughout the rest of the film, it might’ve been an OK Rambo rip-off. Too bad this scene only lasts about thirty seconds. After that, it’s back to more wandering through the desert bullshit. The finale does contain a decent shootout, but I frankly couldn’t give one single solitary shit by the time it rolled around.
In fact, of the 50+ movies I’ve reviewed for the It Came from the Thrift Store column, Desert Warrior might be the worst one yet. Yes, worse than Lambada: The Forbidden Dance. Still, if you ever wanted to see Mark Harmon eat a camel hump; you might enjoy it.
AKA: Tuareg, the Desert Warrior.
THUNDER WARRIOR 2 (1987) **
Mark (Escape 2000) Gregory stars an Indian cop named Thunder that has to face racism on the job. Thunder uncovers a plot involving drug dealing dirty cops who plant a stash of coke on him. He’s quickly sentenced to serve hard time and the racist guards put him in “The Sweat Box” to torture him. Thunder eventually escapes and makes a run for it with his pregnant wife in tow. The cop that framed Thunder gives chase and causes their Jeep to flip, which results in his wife losing their baby. Then there’s only one thing left for Thunder to do: Dress up like an Indian, smear on a mess of war paint, and go out for revenge.
I never saw the first Thunder Warrior and I wanted to like this one, but it was just too all over the place to be fully enjoyable. The first act is like a cop movie, the second act plays like a prison flick, and the third act is more or less a straight-up revenge film. The flick particularly bogs down in the final half hour during the sequence where Thunder dangles from the double-dealing deputy’s helicopter for what seems like FOREVER. Things pick up once he goes all kinds of First Blood on the police station, yet the whole thing is ultimately ruined by a mystifying final shot that makes no sense whatsoever.
If you can make it through the lulls, you’ll be rewarded with some pretty cool stuff though. There’s a badass fight in a diner involving some bikers where Thunder defends the honor of a hot MILF. We also get a funny Thunder vs. transvestite fight as well as a good stunt where he jumps a cop car over the fence to escape prison.
It probably doesn’t help that Gregory is a bland hero. He goes through all the Rambo motions, but we never really care about him. Even after the death of his kid, he never really registers as someone with a burning desire for revenge. Luckily, the ever-reliable Bo Svenson is around as the sheriff to clean up in the thespian department.
AKA: Thunder 2.
Special Note: A couple weeks ago, this column celebrated its first birthday (on Nov. 4th to be exact), but I forgot to mention it. Before that first Thrift Store video (Straight Jacket), I hadn’t bought a VHS tape in over five years. Now I’ve bought over 50. Yep folks, this here is the 50th post for It Came from the Thrift Store, something I’m kinda proud of. I don’t know how long this column will continue (Answer: As long as the Thrift Store keeps selling cheesy VHS movies), but here’s to 50 more!
Next week we’re going to have a “Black” Double Feature of Black Moon Rising and Black Mask 2: City of Masks.