(a.k.a. Namís Angels)
Review By-Sean Patrick Dolan Director: Jack Starrett Cast: William Smith (Link Thomas), Bernie Hamilton (Captain Jackson), Adam Roarke (Duke), Houston Savage (Dirty Denny), Eugene Cornelius (Speed), Paul Koslo (Limpy) Source: Dark Sky Films (2006; NTSC, All Region) Runtime: Approx. 95 minutes
THE LOSERS is the tale of the Devilís Advocates, a biker gang comprised of Vietnam veterans who return to the jungle for a "black ops" mission to rescue a CIA man held captive by the Red Chinese in Cambodia. The area they must infiltrate is remote and, because this mission is off the books, the U.S. military can only accompany the Advocates to the border. The plan is to ride the rest of the way on heavily armored motorcycles (which they will construct themselves), swoop in, save the G-man, and then get the hell out as fast as possible. This wonít be an easy task, and not just because of the logistical difficulties of the mission. Captain Jackson, the man in charge of overseeing the operation, quickly finds his hands full with the motley crew of Link, Duke, Speed, Limpy, and Dirty Denny. Not only do the men have bad attitudes, they are also much more interested to getting back to the "fun and games" they engaged in the last time they were there than in getting any work done. This involves booze, drugs, stealing from the locals, numerous other rackets, and, above all, lots and lots of whoring. Once they are back in their old environment, Jacksonís hardest task is getting them to work. Eventually though, with the help of Link and Duke, the two leaders of the group (who turn out to possess just enough of a sense of duty and work ethic), Jackson is able to rally his troops for the mission- and they turn out to be a formidable group when focused, more than up to the task.
THE LOSERS is obviously a Vietnam genre film (which played almost exclusively in drive-ins at the time of its release) and was directed by Jack Starrett, best known for his exploitation films such as RACE WITH THE DEVIL and CLEOPATRA JONES. Starrett also has on his resume directing credits for several popular 70ís and 80ís TV series, including "Starsky and Hutch" and "The Dukes of Hazzard", so it should be no surprise that many of the films stars, including William Smith and Bernie Hamilton, also have a long list of TV appearances. Shot in the Philippines on what was obviously a low budget, one could hardly expect THE LOSERS to feature Spielberg caliber battle sequences. Indeed, the action consists mostly of the drinking, whoring, and brawling which is the bikersí forte. However, the action does pick up suitably during the final raid into the Chinese P.O.W. camp, which is enough to prevent the viewer from feeling completely cheated. Basically, this is a B-grade action film, but there is a little depth to it. Most of the Advocates turn out to be likable misfits whom you do not particularly want to see get blown away. And, while it would be a bit of a stretch to call THE LOSERS a character study or credit it with much serious political commentary, you could see the men recruited for this mission as representing many of the confused young men drafted largely unprepared into a chaotic war that turned out to make little sense.
I found myself wondering if the Advocates went into their first tour of duty in a similar state as we see them here (rebellious, prone to alcohol and other substance abuse, almost nihilistic in their view of the world) or if their earlier experiences in the war helped to make them this way. As it turned out, even Captain Jackson- the seemingly straight-arrow for most of the film- had committed a few wartime indiscretions of his own.
I reviewed the 2006 Dark Sky Films DVD release of THE LOSERS. The feature film is presented in the 1.85.1 aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound. Both the picture and sound quality are very solid for a release of this type, and the cover art on the DVD sleeve is perfect, letting you know exactly what to expect while remaining stylized in a manner befitting the filmís era. Extras include an above average audio commentary by stars William Smith and Paul Koslo, a photo gallery, radio spots, and theatrical trailers. My only complaint- I would have preferred the alternate title, NAMíS ANGELS.
Story: 3/5Bitch Slaps Extras: 3.5/5 Bitch Slaps Picture/Audio: 4/5 Bitch Slaps Overall DVD: 3.5/5 Bitch Slaps
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