Action movie buffs able to shut off their thought processes for 92 minutes should get a bang out of this exciting but illogical exercise in violence. Spanning the years from the Vietnam War to the present, AMERICAN EAGLE covers a lot of ground as it incorporates terrorism, patriotism,
white slavery, and illegal arms sales into its plot. The film opens 20 years ago in Vietnam, with three buddies parting company violently. When Max (Asher Brauner) and Rudy (Robert F. Lyons) prevent their war-loving pal Johnny (Vernon Welles) from murdering a Vietnamese civilian, Johnny carries a
grudge for several decades. Although Rudy abandons his warrior role to become a restaurateur, Max and Johnny become soldiers of fortune, meddling in various conflicts around the globe--always on opposite sides. However, Max has begun to question the ethics of his mercenary activities for the US
government. Pressured by his girl friend, Angela (Kai Baker), who also happens to be Rudy's sister, Max opts for retirement, without realizing that Uncle Sam, like a Mafia don, expects his employees to remain in his organization for life. Hiring Johnny to reawaken his old friend's warrior
instincts, US intelligence tries to re-enlist Max's cooperation. Naturally, Johnny has a secret revenge agenda in mind. Working for Assad (Anthony Fridjhon), a Middle Eastern big cheese with whom the US government wants to maintain friendly relations at any cost, Johnny kidnaps Angela (along with
five other gorgeous models) when she visits Rudy in the Ivory Coast. When the cops are slow to respond, Max and Rudy decide to blast the hell out of their enemies. Capturing Johnny's henchman Manny (Joe Ribiero), Max and Rudy nearly drown him in order to learn the whereabouts of the women.
Although one of the models is killed during a dispute between Johnny and a lesbian white slaver, Max and Rudy free the others and confront not only Hassad's men but also Max's former boss, Slovak (Ron Smerczak), who has cooperated in this elaborate scheme to bring Max back into the fold.
Functioning as a two-man commando team, Max and Rudy wipe out most of Hassad's trained guards. After denouncing Slovak for his involvement in Hassad's plot to assassinate a prominent American politician and to install a new government in a Middle Eastern country, Max prepares for his showdown with
the vengeful Johnny. In the brutal hand-to-hand combat that ensues, Johnny is killed when he falls on his own knife. With Angela in tow, Max and Rudy escape, but not before they destroy Hassad's munitions compound and foil his takeover plans. After seeing how low the US government is willing sink
to hold on to a valued employee like himself, Max is definitely ready for retirement.
If you overlook several far-fetched plot developments, AMERICAN EAGLE is acceptably gritty action fare. Most notably, it seems implausible that Johnny would carry a grudge for over two decades just because his friends prevented him from carrying out a senseless killing. The desperate recruitment
tactics practiced by the US government in this film also seem highly unlikely, but, given the disturbing revelations of the Iran-Contra affair, perhaps anything is possible--even government-instigated assassinations of American citizens. The script is lent added depth by its questioning of US
intervention in the affairs of other nations.
Other aspects of AMERICAN EAGLE are more conventional. Most of the villains are stereotypical bad guys, and Welles' characterization of Johnny is right out of FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH (he's as hard to take seriously as he is to kill). In the leading roles, Brauner (who also wrote the script) is
brooding and forceful without being sufficiently charismatic, but Lyons accomplishes the nearly impossible feat of subtly fleshing out a role in a full-throttle action picture. His flashes of sensitivity amidst all the carnage are both credible and moving. For genre fans, grenades are exploded,
buildings are blitzed, women are victimized, and the sneering villains are finally punished after the film's death toll has surpassed that of a natural disaster. Unremarkable, but fast and efficient, AMERICAN EAGLE is satisfactory escapism with an edge. (Violence, profanity, nudity, substanceabuse, sexual situations.)
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: R
- Review: Action movie buffs able to shut off their thought processes for 92 minutes should get a bang out of this exciting but illogical exercise in violence. Spanning the years from the Vietnam War to the present, AMERICAN EAGLE covers a lot of ground as it incorp… (more)