Final Mission (1984) You want to see Death Wish and Rambo but can only afford to rent one movie

Theme Song: “Always on my Mind” performed by Steve Butler; lyrics by Patrick Shart; music by George Garvarentz; produced by Alistair Gordon.

Why do we need all those credits? Because this song is a fucking blazing facepunch of 80s AOR madness. The song is so good they put it in the movie like three times. Only the French were daring enough to release the song as a 7” single in 1984. No other country in the world could handle it. That’s how insanely good this song is.

Interesting Dated References: Intentionally throwing a home invader directly into your giant China cabinet/shelving unit, even though you know the layout of your own home and it took extra effort to get the prowler into position in front of said China cabinet/shelving unit; The hiring of actors who, in even minor ways, resemble Harrison Ford.

Best Line: Vietnam radio talk — “Thundercloud, this is Sunrise Armadillo, we’re all set here. Bring in the rain, I repeat, bring in the rain.”

Social Context: Veteran Filipino director Cirio H. Santiago (Demon of Paradise) was no stranger to B-grade action films and knock-off cinema (he directed no less than three Mad Max clones: Stryker, Wheels of Fire, and Equalizer 2000). Final Mission poses the question: What if someone doesn’t have enough money to rent First Blood and Death Wish? The answer: Make them into one movie titled Final Mission.

Summary: Deacon (as previously mentioned, the vaguely Harrison Ford-esque Richard Young) has a bad time in ‘Nam due to the discovery that his comrade, Slater, is fighting for the enemy. After a slowly-choreographed dust-up, Slater is captured and vows to get revenge on Deacon.

Many years later back in the states, Deacon is a showboating SWAT team member who draws the attention of a local gang after shooting one of their members (an uncredited Donald Gibb, “Ogre” of the Nerds films) during a standoff.

The gang’s plan of action: Find out if Deacon collects China and various breakable dinnerware; break into his home right after he puts his child to bed and begins making slow-motion love to his wife without even checking to see if the child is asleep; disrupt the lovemaking; lead Deacon into the living room so he can throw them through various shelving units full of plates and China cabinets; get killed. That last part further enrages the gang.

Luckily for the gang, they hang out at the same bar as Slater, who agrees to help them with Deacon. Unluckily for Deacon, he decides to go on a vacation to “the lake” where his wife and son are immediately blown up in a boat. Despite seeing the explosion and having an understanding of combustion, Deacon wades around in the water for 15 minutes looking for pieces before deciding his wife and son are dead and he must have revenge on “whoever did this.”

Realizing Slater was involved because of a telltale ‘Nam-exclusive detonating device, Deacon heads to the small town of Pinesville, where he finds out Slater’s sheriff brother may be harboring him. With little struggle he is able to charm the sheriff’s wife into telling him Slater is hiding in an abandoned mining camp, and promptly kills him. This ends the Death Wish/Rolling Thunder portion of the film.

Having now drawn the ire of the small town sheriff and his men, Deacon is forced to steal a giant MG 82 from a shop storefront and retreats into the mountains. There’s a lot of First Blood-lifting going on here, including a scene in which Deacon has to remove a bullet from his chest with a large hunting knife.

After the sheriff’s men and the National Guard are unable to capture him, Deacon’s old army colonel arrives to talk him down off the mountain. Then, because Santiago needed to wrap things up and get on to his next movie, Deacon and the general are walking down the mountain ready to surrender when the sheriff shoots the general and everyone opens fire on Deacon. The movie ends with a freeze frame and the righteous licks of “Always on My Mind” start up again.

Worth Mentioning:
– It may seem impossible, but there was a time in our society when we weren’t totally consumed with outward physical ideals, and the star of an action vehicle could look like this:

– The B-action pedigree on this movie is crazy. Young was in Saigon Commandos and Eye of the Widow. John Dresden (Slater) was in No Dead Heroes and Raw Force. Writer Anthony Maharaj worked on The Fighter (1989) and a bunch of Santiago’s movies. Look at the credits for Ronnie Patterson! It’s insane. You could get a good list of terrible movies to check out just from the people who were involved with Final Mission

Poster and Box Art: Thorn/EMI clamshell with excellent action art. A guy, a large gun, an explosion.

Because FInal Mission was Filipino-financed, it was released all over the globe with slight variations on the same artwork. Oh, here’s the 7” single released in France:

Availability: Used VHS or YouTube.

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