Ronald C. Ross
Biker / War / Action
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The Losers (1970)
21st Mar 06
A group of Hell's Angels drink, fight and love before embarking on a dangerous rescue mission in Cambodia. With motorbikes. And big guns.
If your idea of a great time is watching a bunch of dirty, long-haired Vietnam vets fight, shag and drink their way through the jungle before getting stuck into a armour-plated motorbike rescue mission, then The Losers may be the movie for you. This is another obscure gem that Dark Sky Films has unearthed for our viewing pleasure, and I for one and very grateful for their continued efforts.
Readers, meet Link, Duke, Dirty Denny, Speed and Limpy. They're as filthy as they sound, and they don't take no shit from no-one. Captain Jackson enlists the Hells Angels to rescue an important American Govt. bod from a Red China camp in Cambodia. They accept the mission, and then proceed to make their Yamaha (Yamaha?) choppers battle-worthy, A-Team style. But they're not in a rush, oh no. There seems to be plenty time to scrap with locals, drink hard and fall in love with local girls. Not just sex, though - these guys have hearts, too.
One gets the impression that this movie was made with quite hippy sensibilities, even though it's violent as hell for 1970. Like Sam Peckinpah on a really loved-up trip who then remebers who he really is, The Losers contains some tender lovin' before the slo-mo bullet festival, and although this aspect won't please many tastes, it's part of what makes the movie unique. Politically incorrect and morally ambiguous it may be, but it's quite soft at the centre. These guys really fall for the (very) pretty locals and it's hard to blame them - it even makes them more vulnerable somehow, and you start questioning just how perilous their mission is going to be and who may not be strong enough to survive. Speaking of which, very little mention of the mission itself is given - talk of tactics and strategic particulars is wisely eschewed in favour of beer-assisted bike fittings ("Quarter inch steel plates and strapping, can you dig it?" "Yes, I can dig.") and mindless intimidation of the locals. Far out, man.
Being a big Peckinpah fan, I was in heaven during the bikes 'n' bullets climax in The Losers. It may take a little to long to happen - a primary weakness - but when it happens it really happens, and you'll be treated to Evil Kineval in Cambodia-style hijinks. The action choreography succeeds with admirable flair for 1970, and the stuntwork is gutsy and fun. Fast cutting only serves to improve these grenade-throwing-from-bike-as-it-passes-a-hut sequences, and the use of proper, big explosive blasts gets better every time. This has Peckinpah written all over it, and that's something to be embraced. Go on, embrace it.
Flaws include some awful hippy music and maybe one too many hippy love scenes, but there's never long to wait before the next fisticuffs or genuinely amusing hippy biker talk. Outta sight, man. Oh, and one last thing - if you ever wanted to see what happens when you shotgun a drum kit, this is where to see it. Pointless, maybe, but you gotta love it.