Sunday , February 25 2024
A wargame becomes an all-out game of war as Tom Skerritt and Anthony Zerbe go head-to-head.

DVD Review: Opposing Force (aka Hell Camp)

Within the first five minutes of Opposing Force, you get the sneaking suspicion that movie’s main female character — played by Lisa Eichhorn — is going to wind up as an unwitting participant in a forced sexual act. Sure enough, there is one rather rough moment that is achieved during the film’s, ahem, climax, though to label this as just another rape/revenge flick would be inappropriate. Truth is, the moment in question is done in a decidedly discreet fashion — which makes it easier to take, though the entire movie itself isn’t an overly hot item. But then, when you stop to consider that the film’s original title was Hell Camp, any expectations of this being something other than a low-budget exploitation flick are immediately washed away.

Despite the fact that Lisa Eichhorn’s character is the central one here, the top-billed performer in this 1986 military training venture is Tom Skerritt, who was no doubt brought in to give the film some star power. That, or he was in need of some easy money — I just hope they paid him adequately for all the abuse he went through in order to make this movie. The story has a group of soldiers who enroll in a rugged special ops training course. The crew is not an unusual one, save for the first ever woman in the mix (Eichhorn), who alienates her macho male cohorts. Sent to the course (a remote island, which starts out as a small Filipino locale but later turns into a large American one), they are all immediately captured by the “enemy.”

The “enemy,” however, may be just that: deprived of food and clothing (there’s a lot of nudity here, kids), and tortured by a seemingly-sadistic commander (Anthony Zerbe, who’s in top form here) and his second-in-command (Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree). Essentially, Zerbe has been on the island for far too long. He even admits to such. While his methods of breaking the wills of his “guests” have become second nature to him, he isn’t quite sure on how to handle the troupe’s female — an uncertainty that will eventually cause him to crack and commit the aforementioned rape. Once said act is done, Skerritt learns of the abominable crime, to wit the wargame becomes an all-out game of war.

While some of Opposing Force’s co-stars in this Orion Pictures non-hit never went on to have what you might call “careers,” it does house a few familiar faces. Some of you may recognize Robert Wightman, better known as John-Boy Walton nobody liked. Two of the bad guys are played by B-movie favorites George Cheung, and Italian/Filipino regular Jim Gaines. Another identifiable mug is that of John Considine, who pops up during the film’s opening and epilogue as a Eichhorn’s commanding officer.

Widely unavailable on home video since the glorious days of VHS, Opposing Force has been given a new lease on life from MGM via its Limited Edition Collection of Manufactured-on-Demand discs. The movie is presented in an anamorphic widescreen ratio with Dolby Digital sound accompanying. There are no special features or subtitles included with this release. But then, the fact that MGM has given us something this campy is special enough.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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