Viewing Guide to Cirio’s Nam movies

November 17, 2012

I was looking through the archives and came across the post about Cirio Santiago’s Vietnam War movies.  One of my worst posts, as all it basically says is “wow he made a lot of these movies but I don’t have anything interesting to say about them.”  I’ve now trashed that post.

I’m here today to fix that deficiency by creating a viewing guide for Cirio Santiago’s Vietnam War movies.  This debuts my new not-exactly-objective rating system for jungle movies:

Jungle Rating System:
0 = no jungle
1 = only a little jungle and it’s nothing special (not sufficiently green and leafy, maybe filmed in a nature park during dry season, or it’s just a poorly maintained coconut plantation)
2 = only a little jungle but it’s pretty good (sufficiently green and leafy, perhaps dark, moist, or uniquely evocative)
3 = a lot of jungle but nothing special
4 = a lot of jungle and pretty good
5 = my entirely subjective jungle hall of fame

Trailers, reviews, and more info on these movies at youtube, IMDB.com, Bamboo Gods and Bionic Boys, and When the Vietnam War raged…in the Philippines.

(Also check out my Guide to Cirio’s Post-Apocalypse movies.)

Henry Strzalkowski demonstrates what these movies are all about (pic from Bamboo Gods):

First, sorted by release date according to IMDB.com:

1987:
Eye of the Eagle
Behind Enemy Lines
1988:
The Expendables
1989:
Nam Angels
Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy
Eye of the Eagle 3 (aka Last Stand at Lang Mei)
1991:
Field of Fire (aka Battle Gear)
1992:
Beyond the Call of Duty
1993:
Kill Zone
Firehawk

There’s a few more movies related to Nam that Cirio made, all predating the above.  Caged Fury is a “Women in Prison” movie set in Vietnam, but it has very little in common with these movies and doesn’t have much or good jungle.  The Devastator and Final Mission are First Blood knockoffs set in America, except for the opening scenes portraying the destruction of a village in Vietnam.  Not enough Nam or jungle to deserve more just a passing mention in this post.

Now, sorted from my least to most favorite, but they are all terribly entertaining.

Beyond the Call of Duty
Jungle Rating: 3
Keywords: gold, funny boat
Why watch this first?  If you want to start at with worst of this list and work your way up.

Note:  IMDB says this is edited from Nam Angels.  Not really…only a minute or so that was used from Nam Angels:  the gas torture scene filmed at Corregidor’s Battery Way. Several scenes were also taken from the Eye of the Eagle trilogy (Vic Diaz and Mike Monty cameos). In fact, nearly the entire first twenty or so minutes is scenes taken from Cirio’s other Nam flicks!  Beyond the Call of Duty doesn’t really begin until twenty minutes in and by then you are confused by the typhoon of disjointed action scenes that you just watched. Maybe it’s intended to replicate the chaos and confusion of the Fall of Saigon…I dunno.

Eye of the Eagle 3 aka Last Stand at Lang Mei
Jungle Rating:  1…yeah, it’s mostly set on the blasted firebase and the background doesn’t even look like jungle.
Keywords: Montagnards, improvised napalm
Why watch this first? If you want to compare it to Siege of Firebase Gloria and won’t miss R. Lee Ermey.

Eye of the Eagle 2: Inside the Enemy
Jungle Rating:  2
Keywords: Mike Monty sober, nudie bar scene
Why watch this first?  If you want to see the movie on this list that has partially believable gun battles (ie least reminiscent of old video games) but the most nudity, and you only have 78 minutes to waste.
Note: this is the only movie on this list not directed by Cirio. Carl Franklin directed it. Cirio was the producer. Definitely has a different feel to it.  Furthermore, none of the Eye of the Eagle movies have anything to do with each other.

Behind Enemy Lines, aka Killer Instinct
Jungle Rating:  3
Keywords:  Soviet villains, a cold cold ending
Why watch this first? If you want to study stereotypical portrayals of the Soviet commando in western cinema during the Cold War.

The Expendables
Jungle Rating:  3
Keywords: topless Vic Diaz, nudie bar scene, shower raid, Corregidor filming location
Why watch this first?  If the phrase “topless Vic Diaz” causes you to raise an eyebrow.

Firehawk
Jungle Rating:  5…best jungle on this list
Keywords:  caves that are supposed to be vietcong tunnels, nuke bomb plot
Why watch this first?  If you want to watch closest thing on this list to a normal movie.

Kill Zone
Jungle Rating:  3
Keywords:  nudie bar scene, Montagnards, Banaue rice terraces filming location, Corregidor filming location, David Carradine wearing aviators and chewing cigars, punji trap
Why watch this first? If you are a fan of former NFL player Tony Dorsett and prepared to think lesser of him, and want to see Carradine go batshit.

Field of Fire (aka Battle Gear)
Jungle Rating:  4
Keywords:  nudie bar scenes, David Carradine in a khaki jumpsuit, Corregidor filming location, punji trap
Why watch this first? If you were disappointed with the second half of Bat 21.

Nam Angels
Jungle Rating:  3
Keywords:  Montagnards, gold, Soviet (or is it Nazi?) Vernon Wells, motorcycles, nudie bar scene, Corregidor filming locations
Why watch this first? If the idea of Hell’s Angels in Vietnam interests you in the slightest and you want to see the next big step in the career of Vernon Wells after letting off some steam in Commando.

Eye of the Eagle
Jungle Rating:  4
Keywords:  Mike Monty drunk, Vic Diaz shot between eyes, Montagnards, memorable theme song, Corregidor filming location, non-nudie bar scene
Why watch this first? If you want to watch the quintessential Cirio Santiago Vietnam War movie.

Yup, I’m giving Eye of the Eagle the crown.  It was a tight battle between it and Nam Angels.  The deciding factor was Eagle‘s superior theme song.

This post needs some fire in the jungle.  The big winner Eye of the Eagle gets the last word, filmed at Corregidor ruins. (photo again from Bamboo Gods.)

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3 Responses to “Viewing Guide to Cirio’s Nam movies”

  1. […] Eye of the Eagle (1987) Corregidor is the headquarters of a “lost command”. Lotsa shots of the ruins and Battery Way throughout the movie, culminating in an explosive finale. A couple pictures in my Guide to Cirio’s Nam Movies show Corregidor ruins. […]

  2. This is a fantastic blog! Longtime fan of Cirio(20 years) and can’t get enough of his movies. My personal fave is FIELD OF FIRE. Still not on dvd. I’m really itching for WATER WARS to finally get released.

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