Directed by stuntman turned director Hal Needham of Smokey and the Bandit, Hooper and The Cannonball Run, Megaforce was an action film like no other.
Released in 1982 by 20th Century Fox, it followed the Republican dream of an elite secret force of volunteer soldiers who would fly into action in gold lycra cat suits shotting rockets at anything that moved.
Riddling the inside covers of comic books, it appealed instantly to many readers as a comic book style action film that surely was based on something… somewhere. But no. It was the brainchild of Hal Needham who, in the words of Dr Clayton Forrester of MST3K only needed a car and a track to create drama. Which is good, because that’s all we get here.
The weirdest thing about this movie is that while it shares much with the GI Joe cartoon series and other such macho boyhood fantasies of destruction, it has none of the charm or character… it’s that bad.
Taking place in a fictional future, the film introduces the audience and the bald chick from Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the English guy from Knight Rider to charismatic Ken doll Ace Hunter.
Ace smiles and flits his 80’s hair so much, you’d think he was a model of some sort… and it would have been a better profession for him to be fair. He also attempts to introduce the weird ‘thumb kiss’ as a sign of affection… which never really caught on.
Ace’s crack team of hastily thrown together characters (the redneck guy, the clumsy brainy guy, the black guy who listens to classical music instead of Gladys Knight-shock!) are available for hire to protect freedom where the world powers aren’t allowed to because of pesky international law.
The gun happy crew of dirt bike enthusiasts are equipped with everything from lasers to rockets to flying motorcycles in order to take out the evil warlord (played by shameless character actor Henry Silva) who is hiding behind the aforementioned international laws to attack some obscure fictional country near Mexico or Afghanistan… it’s never really clear.
The film is so full of itself that you might think that it is one of two things, a satire or a spoof. But it’s actually neither. If it were a satirical look at how the US Government viewed itself as a righteous cowboy force looking out for the little feller, that would actually be interesting.
But no, it really is about guys in tights destroying tanks with motor bikes and smiling their way to the end credits.
An inspirational component to ‘Team America,’ it’s surprising that Megaforce has not turned up more often as a device to comment of the current global war or just on bad 80’s movies. Again, it might just be that bad.
I got a chance to review a portion of the film a few years ago at my friend Tom’s place and was shocked to see how much I remembered yet failed to recall exactly how bad it really was. The movie retains a legion of ‘so bad it’s good’ followers to this day, despite the lack of a DVD release.
More stunning in my research for this article was that a sequel was at one time considered. There are just so many unanswered questions, I guess. But sadly the powers that be decided against it.
A line of metal vehicles and an Atari 2600 game were released as tie-ins, though no comic book was ever produced (despite the obvious possibilities). It was recently announced that the game will be made available for XBox Live download sometime this year. Tom, I expect to hear reviews on the game.
In this continuing era of 1980’s remakes designed to distract the American populace that they are living in a virtual rehash of ideas, it’s important to remember Megaforce. For those who don’t remember the past are forced to rent it from Netflix.
And nobody needs that.