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Phantom Kommando

USA 1985
produced by
Joel Silver for Silver Pictures, SLM Production Group, 20th Century Fox
directed by Mark L. Lester
starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, Dan Hedaya, Vernon Wells, James Olson, David Patrick Kelly, Alyssa Milano, Bill Duke, Drew Snyder, Sharon Wyatt, Michael DeLano, Bob Minor, Michael Adams, Gary Carlos Cervantes, Lenny Juliano, Charles Meshack, Chelsea Field, Julie Hayek, Hank Calia, Walter Scott, Greg Wayne Elam, George Fisher, Phil Adams, Ava Cadell, Mikul Robins, Branscombe Richmond, Matt Landers, Peter DuPont, Tom Simmons, Bill Paxton, Richard D. Reich, John Reyes, Billy Cardenas, Eddie Reyes, Vivian Daily, Thomas Rosales jr, Ronald C. McCarty, Jim Painter
story by Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman, Steven E. de Souza, screenplay by Steven E. de Souza, music by James Horner, stunt coordination by Bennie E. Dobbins

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Once upon a time, John (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was a top Special Forces colonel who wouldn't hesitate to get dirty on command - but that was long ago, now he lives retired life with his daughter Jenny (Alyssa Milano) in their house in the woods - when his former superior Major General Kirby (James Olson) stops by per helicopter to tell him that someone's out there killing his men ... and wouldn't you know it, as soon as Kirby's gone again, John's house is attacked by a militia, and while John does his best to defend it, Jenny's kidnapped. John tries to cut off the kidnappers' getaway despite them having wrecked his car engine, but ultimately is taken captive himself by Bennett (Vernon Wells), one of his former men gone rogue, and his team and brought to their leader Arius (Dan Hedaya), a former South American dictator once overthrown by John, who wants John to assassinate his successor to come into power again - it's the only way for John to get Jenny back. So the baddies sit Johnny on a plane to said country, accompanied by one of Arius' men (Charles Meshack), so John can't escape, and think they have him under control - but not so, on the plane John manages to kill his carer before lift-off without anybody noticing and manages to make it off the plane while it's still rolling on the tarmak ... and then he goes after Sully (David Patrick Kelly), small fry in Arius' organisation but John's only lead, and somehow while doing so he manages to attract stewardess Cindy (Rae Dawn Chong), who becomes his sidekick even though John wrecks her car.

Like a fighting machine, John goes through many of Arius' men, usually killing them, until he learns about the island Jenny's held. He thus breaks intoa gun shop, arms himself to the teeth, flies to the island, and just before the baddies are informed that he hasn't been on the plane to that South American country, he starts his attack and all hell breaks loose.

Suffice to say, John gets his daughter back, and is apparently rewarded with Cindy as his new girlfriend.


In 1985, Arnold Schwarzenegger was pretty much only just established as an action superstar, and Commando is widely considered as not one of his more memorable movies - which is a bit of a shame, really, as the film stands the test of time very well. Sure, on one hand this is typical 1980s macho action fare all over, taking plenty of advantage of Arnold's rather impressive physique, and of course the film's very reactionary an-eye-for-an-eye attitude is questionable at best. But that said, as an "action" movie it works nicely, it's fast paced, full of chases, fights and explosions, the story might be overly simplistic but the lead character has a believable and relatable motive for what he's doing, and he's not presented as a brute force of nature but as a human being that is vulnerable and has to rely on his brains and quick wits just as much as his brawn and heavy arsenal, often finding rather original and inventive solutions to standard situations (even if that means bending a law of nature every now and again). And while the movie's very brutal (with a body count above 100 to be sure) and loud, everything's done in a very comicbook-ish, exaggerated way. So basically, it's a film one shouldn't take seriously - to then be able to enjoy it very much.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD