Monday, March 29, 2010


I would have never, ever…ever, ever, ever thought a fun drive-in action pic could be set in Niagara Falls.

Well didn’t William Fruet’s 1979 lensed SEARCH AND DESTROY make me its little bitch. I’m just over a barrel for this forgotten slice of Canadian filmmaking.

Perry King (CLASS OF 1984) and Don Stroud (COOGAN’S BLUFF) star as Vietnam vets who’ve pissed of the wrong governmental Vietnamese liaison. Seems back in the shit, they left him to die when he left one of their buddies to die. And he lied about it! Dirty commie bastards.

Cut to 1978 and someone is bumping off the remaining members of King and Stroud’s platoon. There’s no secret here. It’s the Vietnamese liaison dude who’s listed in the credits as “Assassin”. Shit, this movie moves along at such a clip, they don’t have time to give the killer a name.

Since the assassin puts Stroud in the hospital pretty early in the film, this is Perry King’s movie all the way. And he and Victor Charlie shoot up downtown Niagara Falls in fast-paced, well-executed action scenes that make you wonder why Fruet’s FUNERAL HOME (1980) is such a goddamn sleep inducer.

Damn, I haven’t even mentioned George Kennedy’s in it fresh off of MEAN DOG BLUES (1978). I am now and he’s a fucking character actor rock throughout this entertaining nonsense. You know that feeling you had when you were a little kid that wherever you went with your dad, you knew you were safe? George Kennedy gives me that feeling in any movie I see him in. I know I’m going to get good old fashioned meat and potatoes scenery chewing and the movie isn’t going to suck too badly. I know he’s been in some shit but it’s ALL entertaining shit.

When somebody came up with the Ford slogan “Quality is Job #1”, I’d bet dollars to fucking doughnuts they were watching George Kennedy rip up the screen. It may have even been this movie. Ford owes George Kennedy some residuals.

From start to finish, SEARCH AND DESTROY shows excellent tech credits and has turned me onto a new band I knew not existed. Ever hear of FM ? I hadn’t but this progressive rock trio out of Canada has a Goblin-esque sound that right out of the gate makes your ears perk up and adds even more to an obviously skimpy bottom line.

And that’s the great thing about SEARCH AND DESTROY. There’s a level of craftsmanship plus dedication and chutzpah that comes across in every frame. You got Perry King damn near killing himself a couple times falling off of rocks and shit. The extras on the street during the downtown shootouts looked confused as hell as if Fruet and company went guerrilla on Niagara Falls during busy season. The music as noted before is top-notch and the acting all around great (save for Tisa Farrow but I didn’t have to tell you that). This little bastard has so much energy to it, I unplugged my DVD player and SEARCH AND DESTROY kept it powered up.

It also is one of the late great Film Venture International’s releases and that explains a lot too. Ed Montoro knew a pretty decent b-film when he saw it. It’s a no-brainer he’d throw a little loot towards Canada way to pick this fine sleeper for 1981 U.S. release. Why he chose to market it with a one-sheet with a guy who looks maybe Peter Coyote or Sam Waterston with a beard and a guy who kind of looks like Don Stroud, only that man knows. But nothing beats the poster for the retitling called STRIKING BACK that I poached off of the fantastic all things Canadian genre site, CANUXPLOITATION (who don’t share my love for this film).

The way of the winner! Fuck yeah. Sounds like a Wheaties ad. Actually, an all-bran cereal called SEARCH AND DESTROY with the STRIKING BACK artwork on the box taunting me to eat it with the way of the winner tag line? I don’t even need milk.

The Dark Sky double feature with THE GLOVE is gold and the print used here is flawless. Do yourself a favor and check out SEARCH AND DESTROY. You’ll be glad you did.

George Kennedy photo ganked from Cinissimo.

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