THE RUTANGA TAPES, released direct-to-video, is a topical but average action movie.
The corrupt president of Rutanga, an emerging African nation, has been profiting from a chemical weapons factory, run by East Germans and protected by Libyans, which masquerades as a fertilizer plant. An East German scientist Barnhard (Wilson Dunster), actually a US spy, copies factory computer
printouts onto a tape. Chased and wounded by Assad (Arnold Vosloo), Fariq (Sean Taylor), and their soldiers, Barnhard boards a crowded bus and passes the tape to the young son Matthew (Dustin Montgomery) of recently arrived journalist Kate Simpson (Susan Anspach). The passengers are taken hostage
the Libyan enforcers, but Matthew escapes and is befriended by !Xao (Cosie Kruiper), a bushman.
Entering the chase for the incriminating tape are CIA operative Bo Peterson (David Dukes) and his buddy Josie (Henry Cele), leader of Rutanga's rebel forces. The villains are eventually dispatched by Bo and Josie (who is killed), but the only tape recovered is a harmless music cassette. Still,
it's enough to blackmail the Rutangan president into shutting the plant, throwing out the East Germans and embracing the US. Final shot has !Xao heading back to the bush, the much-worried-over tape worn about his neck like a talisman.
Patrick Lee's screenplay doesn't have much of a plot, but it is well conceived and cynically observant enough to posit the Africans as backward pawns of larger, more powerful adversaries, in this instance the US and, oddly, East Germany. The main stumbling block is that the mercenary terrorists,
despite their firepower, are--to a man--incompetant. The film functions as one long chase, interrupted by shootouts, with well-staged, if unsuspenseful, action sequences. Tobie Swanepoel's handsome photography makes excellent use of the film's Namibian locations.
The most interesting sections are the quickest: little Matthew with his savior, the bushman !Xao, each babbling in a language unknown to the other. Although Susan Anspach (BLUME IN LOVE) has little to do, the acting is decent, and the largely stage-oriented Dukes (ONLY WHEN I LAUGH, WITHOUT A
TRACE) makes an ingratiating action hero. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: THE RUTANGA TAPES, released direct-to-video, is a topical but average action movie. The corrupt president of Rutanga, an emerging African nation, has been profiting from a chemical weapons factory, run by East Germans and protected by Libyans, which masq… (more)