Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Black Cobra 3 (1990)


Robert "Bob" Malone (Fred "The Hammer" Williamson) is brought to the Philippines by Interpol agent Greg Duncan, the son of an old friend, to help investigate the theft of American weapons. Partnered with C.I.A. agent Tracy Rogers (Debra Ward), the trio find themselves constantly thwarted in their investigations, leading them to suspect they might have a mole amongst them. The film climaxes with the three infiltrating a base and blowing everything (and everyone) away.


Once again having no direct connection to any previous film in the series, this time we're in pure Commando/Missing In Action/Delta Force territory as Malone goes behind enemy lines so he can mow down dozens of unlucky Filipinos with various weaponry. But don't worry! He also gets plenty of opportunities to show off his hand-to-hand skills, and throws plenty of his trademark goofy kicks. This is the part where I make sure to mention that i'm certainly not making fun of Fred "The Hammer" Williamson as I imagine, even at the age of 70, that he could beat my sorry ass all day without breaking a sweat.

Unfortunately Nicholas Hammond doesn't return for this sequel, so instead Williamson is partnered with bland pretty-boy (and really awful actor) Forry Smith who obviously has never played Spider-Man in a short-lived late-70s television show. However, a quick peek at his IMDB profile shows that Smith did play The Green Hornet briefly in Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story so I guess i'll cut him some slack. Smith takes on the brunt of the running, jumping and machine-gun firing in the film. Debra Ward is expected to stand around (success) and look pretty (fail), but I applaud the writer for not saddling Malone with another tired love interest.

We're still definitely in low-budget territory, but the action is ramped up considerably and there's hardly a ten minutes stretch where someone isn't getting punched or kicked. The final act has plenty of gunfire and explosions, and the film benefits when it stays away from the lame dialogue and focuses instead on blowing things up. Production values are slightly better than the previous two films as well.

Image quality is slightly better than Black Cobra 2, though still only at VHS level. There is lots of dubbing still on display, but it's generally not as atrocious as the previous film, nor as prevalent as the first. Unfortunately we're no longer treated to the rockin' soundtrack from the second film as the music is generic action fare.

The best of the three Black Cobra films I have available (there is a fourth, but i've heard WIlliamson only appears in stock footage, and it's helmed by the always uneven Umberto Lenzi), Black Cobra 3: The Manilla Connection is a servicable action film with a cookie cutter plot and a reveal at the end that would be a surprise to only the dullest of viewers. The second film still trumps all in terms of unintentional comedy, but there are a few fun moments here for undiscriminating action fans.

Recommended to fans of The Hammer. Everyone else might want to stay away from all three.

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