The marketers of INDIO tried to promote its trendy save-the-rainforests theme. Yet it received more attention in the sports media, since it marked the acting debut of boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler (yes, that's been his legal name since 1981), top-billed in an insignificant role.
Daniel Morell (Francesco Quinn) is a half-breed son of a jungle chieftain and an American woman who trained in the Marines. Morell returns to his grass-hut village where a mining operation, headed by Whytaker (Brian Dennehy), is bulldozing a road right over anyone in the way--and such is the fate
of the hero's father. Assuming tribal leadership, Morell begins a one-man war against the encroachers, destroying machinery and refusing Whytaker's offer of a cash settlement. The villains seize Morell's entire tribe, and the eco-Rambo surrenders to free the hostages. From his cell, Morell
mystically moves the rainy season forward a month, and the downpour not only helps him escape but ruins the construction project. Whytaker loses his job, and Morell blows up the capitalist camp.
Hagler has the weak role of Quinn's former Marine instructor, imported to bring his student in line. The pugilist spends most of his scenes indoors brooding; only in the subsequent Quinn-less sequel INDIO 2 - THE REVOLT did Hagler's character finally became an active contender in the rumbles in
the jungle. Quinn's internal monlogues spoonfeed the audience with environmental propaganda ("Why are they butchering the lungs of the Earth?"), abetted by schmaltzy music. Quinn himself is an amalgam of cliches, at once the "native magically in tune with nature" and the bare-chested combat
commando--the mighty Quinn performs self-surgery on a bullet wound a la Sylvester Stallone in FIRST BLOOD, if anyone wondered where INDIO's inspiration lay. Dennehy does well as an intelligent, even somewhat honorable heavy. INDIO was shot in Borneo, Brazil, Argentina, and the Philippines.
Director Antonio Margheriti, an old hand at escapist films, steers INDIO at a satisfactory pace, with a surpringly low body count; the R-rating applies as much to the salty language as to bloodletting.(Violence, profanity.)
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