Friday, July 15, 2011

Forgotten Brandon Lee... Laser Mission (1990)

I don't think I try to hide the fact that I love crappy action b-movies and Laser Mission is one of the highest order. From the moment David Knoflpler's power ballad 'Mercenary Man' kicks in over the opening credits you know you're in for an ultra low budget action classic.

I think part of the appeal of b-movies is that you can see the joins. On big budget movies, the quality of the acting, cinematography, music, lighting, set everything is so perfect you almost forget you're watching fiction. In b-movies that never happens. You sit there watching people trying to act as best they can to fool you into thinking you're watching a big budget movie but it never happens. But hey that isn't a necessarily a bad thing. If everyone just watched professional theatre no one would go to see amateur dramatic productions.

So yeah, everyone can probably agree that The Crow was Lee's biggest film. And that Rapid Fire and Showdown in Little Tokyo were neat little unambitious action flicks. Laser Mission is probably right at the bottom of his memorable movies but it's still worth watching. The guy really had a lot of charisma and it shows, even in this little b-movie.

Laser Mission sees Brandon Lee play Michael Gold, an American Secret Agent, who's sent out to track down a scientist played by Ernest Borgnine, whose knowledge of how to create a laser cannon has also attracted the attentions of the KGB. When Borgnine gets kidnapped Gold teams up with Alissa, a blonde woman who claims to be Braun's daughter, to track him down. Sparks fly between the two as they go on a globe trotting journey to recover Borgnine, all the while trying to stay a step of the evil Colonel Kalishnakov.

This is a very low budget flick and ordinarily with films this cheap, they are dull, boring and pad everything out. Luckily this has two things going in its favour. One, director BJ Worth is a former stunt co-ordinator so we at least get a lot of action, car chases, and fights and not too much talking. Two, Lee gives the role his all, relishing the chance to reel off quips like no tomorrow and diving into the physical stunts. There's a definite air of 'poor-man's' Bond to Laser Mission. In an early scene, Gold walks through airport customs, the man behind the desk checks over his passport and asks him "Are you here for pleasure or business Mr Gold?". "A little bit of both you might say," Gold replies trying to surpress a grin. Later he falls through a roof onto a couple's table and calmly says to them "I just dropped in to say... bon appetite!" Both lines sound exactly like something Pierce Brosnan would say. There's also a little Romancing the Stone in the love/hate relationship between Gold and Alissa.

The rest of the cast can't really act. Borgnine, in particular, sees fit to
put on some unidentifiable accent. At times I think he was reading his lines off a card just off camera. Why is it when name actors turn up in low budget films they choose to scupper their performance with bizarro accents?. A lot of the extras also struggle with their lines and there's a slightly annoying subplot involving two moronic Russian, who Gold is always easily outwitting, that seems like something that would fit in with a more kid friendly film.

Anyway Laser Mission might be in the bargain bin at your local pound shop but it is worth a least a quick watch with a beer and pizza. If you don't even want to put down your hard cash the film is
up in its entirety on Youtube (it's public domain), check out part 1 here


  1. I had a lot of fun with this too, and loved Brandon Lee. i also agree about Ernest Borgnine and that weird accent. Totally sauteed in wrong sauce. Good stuff.

  2. Great write-up! Love the opening song too. Also when have a chance, check out our review:

  3. i am completely agreed, the crow was the best movie that brandon made, but laser mission also if the script is a little banal inside there is a story between the characters that u can follow, and then Brandon is great also if he was at the beginning he is almost comic i think he would be great also in a comedy.

  4. So true guys, love the little bits of comedy and one-liner Lee gets in this. It's a nice side to see considering his most famous role is so dark and brooding.

    He also gets some great lines in Showdown in Little Tokyo.

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