• Kommando Leopard



    Released by: Ascot Elite
    Released on: May 13th, 2014.
    Director: Antonio Margheriti
    Cast: Lewis Collins, Klaus Kinski, John Steiner
    Year: 1985
    Purchase From Diabolik DVD

    The Movie:

    Directed by Antonio Margheriti and produced by Erwin C. Dietrich, Kommando Leopard was the second of the three films they’d make together starring Lewis Collins (the first being Codename: Wildgeese and the third and final being Der Commander). When the story begins, a nasty dictator in an unidentified Central American country rules his people with an iron fist. The populace becomes tired of his corruption and soon some resistance fighters begin to get organized.

    Meanwhile a rag tag group of soldiers of fortune are sent to the same country. Their mission? Blow up a dam. It’s not all that important why. The group is led by a tough guy named Carrasco (Lewis Collins but along for the ride are another mercenary named Smithy (John Steiner) and an older solider (Luciano Pigozzi) who was a friend of Carrasco’s father. Of course, Carrasco and his team wind up working alongside the rebels to take out the dictator but find out the hard way that his right hand man, Silveira (Klaus Kinski), is even more of a malicious psychopath. Thankfully they get some help from a kindly priest named Padre Julio (Manfred Lehmann) – but will it be enough to stop Silveira and save the day?

    Like most of Margheriti’s jungle action movies, the story is decent enough but the highlights are the action scenes. Expect to see plenty of explosions and some quality shoot outs to bring the bloody violence to the forefront of the story. The director’s penchant for miniatures and models in place of large scale sets is in full effect here (and typically quite well done) and we get plenty of slow motion scenes to accentuate the stunt work employed in the film. To Margheriti’s credit, his work in this department definitely gives the movie more of an epic, big budget feel – most of the time, in this picture at least, his tactics work very well.

    As far as the performances go, Lewis does a decent enough job as the hardboiled mercenary who gets wrapped up in the political dispute. He doesn’t have the most range you’re ever going to see but he handles the material quite well. Kinski is Kinski, and as such he’s manic enough to own the part and he’s infinitely watchable here. The material isn’t quite as ridiculously over the top as the earlier film they co-starred in but it works. John Steiner is amusing in his part too, and the omnipresent Luciano Pigozzi is pretty effective as the priest sympathetic to the cause.

    All in all, it’s a pretty satisfying watch. It does frequently take things to ridiculous heights but manages to play things pretty straight. The subject matter here is a bit darker than in the other two movies that Margheriti and Dietrich made together but it’s delivered with style and it makes for an exciting war movie.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Kommando Leopard debuts on Blu-ray, uncut, from Ascot Elite framed at 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. Contrast is a little off here and sometimes things look a little flat but detail and depth are better than standard definition could provide. The stock footage inserts can sometimes stand out but that’s not a problem with the transfer so much as it is an issue with the way that it was shot and cut. Black levels are okay and skin tones look decent enough. The greens could have maybe looked a bit lusher but the bright hues of the explosions are nice and colorful. There are no issues with any obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement and this would seem to be a pretty faithful representation of the source material.

    DTS-HD 5.1 Surround Sound mixes are provided in German and English while Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks are provided in French, Spanish and Italian. There are no subtitles provided. The English audio is fine. Dialogue is easy enough to understand and the score sounds good enough to work. There’s some decent power behind the gun shots and explosions here and while this is still limited by the age and low budget of the material, it sounds fine.

    The main extra on the disc is a commentary track but it’s in German without any subtitles. The disc also contains a featurette on the disc entitled Soldner Stories, a featurette on Manfred Lehmann entitled Strib Iangasm Den Philippines and a featurette on Thomas Danneberg entitled Soldner Und Synchronstar. Unfortunately none of these extras are subtitled, they’re all in German and German only (which makes sense given the target market for this release).

    Rounding out the extras are a trailer for the feature, trailers for a few other Ascot Elite action Blu-ray titles, the film’s original film soundtrack as an isolated score and a decent sized still gallery. Menus and chapter stops are also included. And once again, for the BD-Rom equipped out there, if you pop the disc into your computer you’ll have access to the complete text of the incredibly rare one hundred and ninety seven page book on Dietrich’s films, Mädchen, Machos und Moneten: die unglaubliche Geschichte des Schweizer Kinounternehmers Erwin C. Dietrich. It’s also all in German but it’s loaded with pictures and archival images. Additionally the cover art for this release is reversible, with one poster art style on side A and an alternate poster art style on side B – it’s a little thing but it’s a nice touch.

    The Final Word:

    Kommando Leopard is pretty awesome stuff, just a really lean, efficient and ridiculously entertaining action movie that makes good use of a fun cast. It’s well shot, fairly slick in terms of production values and fast paced. Despite the fact that the extras on the disc aren’t English friendly (it is a German market release, after all), this is still a strong release overall.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!