• Opposing Force (Scorpion Releasing) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: November 12th, 2019.
    Director: Eric Carson
    Cast: Tom Skerritt, Lisa Eichhorn, Anthony Zerbe, Richard Roundtree
    Year: 1986
    Purchase From Roninflix

    Opposing Force - Movie Review:

    1986’s OPPOSING FORCE may look and feel like a typical 80’s Cannon Films action flick. with its synth score, quasi-USA armed forces worship and lacings of exploitative nudity and sexualized violence, but this film was actually an Orion production and though granted a theatrical release, it most probably hit the radar on viewer’s of a certain age as an HBO videocassette.

    Female officer Casey (Lisa Eichhorn, YANKS and CUTTER’S WAY) is determined to qualify for combat. To that end, even though she knows the military still hasn’t sanctioned women in that capacity, she’s determined to undergo a rigorous group training exercise that simulates being stranded behind enemy lines, risking possible capture and mock-torture. Casey, along with a number of other officers, is dropped into a jungle area. There, run by the mentally unstable commander Becker (a hugely entertaining Anthony Zerbe of THE DEAD ZONE and KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK fame) and his more levelheaded but hardass lieutenant Stafford (SHAFT legend Richard Roundtree), these two and their men will attempt to either break Casey and the other soldiers' spirits or teach them how to survive brutal captivity..

    After a perfunctory scene with a senior officer allowing her to participate (played by John Considine) but informing Casey that, as a women this may not be the best idea, we are introduced to the usual often interchangeable characters that make up her military team. There’s the wise but good-hearted and cynical Logan (Tom Skerritt}, chauvinist pig naval officer Ripkin (Paul Joynt), the reckless Botts (Robert Wightman), and goofy country boy Conway (Ken Wright). Things start off as expected after the drop, despite Logan suffering a leg injury that causes him to limp throughout the rest of the picture. The men were sent in paired up and, of course, the sexist Ripkin immediately dumps Casey. She ends up paring with Logan who was separated from his partner after the parachute drop.

    The rest of the movie involves a mix of MISSING IN ACTION and THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME plot tropes with a feminist twist. The only mystery in the film is whether or not the commander played by Anthony Zerbe is genuinely crazy or just trying to test Casey as hard as possible to prepare her for combat. However, after a particularly rough scene we know the answer. The movie belongs to Logan and Casey on one side and Zerbe and Roundtree on the other - the rest of the soldiers are mostly there to be abused and tortured without developing much in the way of personalities. But Zerbe especially is highly entertaining. FORCE was done during his busy character actor phase in the 1980's and while it isn’t as juicy a role as the one he had in THE DEAD ZONE or his James Bond outing it is still a good showcase. Some of the imagery here is also incredibly familiar from any number of Vietnam war era set Cannon exploitation flicks. How many times have we seen the guy spreadeagled on the bamboo poles and the people put in cages and soldiers forced to eat what looks like sloppy oatmeal with their hands? The chase scenes are reasonably well done, however, and this is a movie that passes the time pretty quickly without taxing the brain too much. Call it B-movie 1980's action comfort food.

    Opposing Force - Blu-ray Review:

    Scorpion’s 1080p AVC encoded 1.78:1 framed transfer is from a new scan and looks pretty good. There really aren’t any major detrimental issues to report here aside from some occasional softness in a few scenes. Skin tones look correct and light and shadow are well represented without any obvious digital tools used to scrub the image. Color representation is particularly strong which is something the film needs for the many lush jungle scenes.

    Audio is covered by a perfectly adequate DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that is clean and properly balance. This is a mono track so adjust your expectations accordingly when it comes to explosions and gunfire. That said, everything sounds fine without ever getting tinny. The one or two dropped lines over the course of the film appear to be organic flaws from the original soundtrack. Subtitles in English are included if you need them.

    The only real extra of note is an audio commentary with director Eric Carson. Carson’s biggest claim to fame previous to this was the Chuck Norris actioner THE OCTAGON. Carson focuses well on the film and has a lot of interesting stories to tell about the making of it and how it came to be. Most of all he’s very appreciative of the actors and has a lot of positive things to say about them. Past that, there’s interesting information about the original script and how it was laid out and how many things were cut. Apparently this was originally much longer but the producers wanted it stripped down to the action essentials. Carson also talks about the critical appraisal of FORCE and it’s feminist subtext. This material is probably the most interesting part of the audio commentary. All told, Carson is interesting and engaging and this track is worth a listen for fans of the film.

    Scorpion has also included an alternate ending to the film which is definitely worth seeing as it’s fairly long as well as a bunch of trailers for other titles like DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.

    Opposing Force - The Final Word:

    Scorpion has delivered a very nice presentation of this forgotten action film. For people that enjoy this genre, this is a solid piece of entertainment and Scorpion’s release is far and away the best home video presentation the film has ever gotten. Recommended for those so inclined.

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