Monday, April 20, 2009

Film Review: TUAREG-THE DESERT WARRIOR (1984, Enzo G. Castellari)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 97 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Mark Harmon (SUMMER SCHOOL, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS, NATURAL BORN KILLERS), Aldo Sambrell (THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY -was in Lee van Cleef's gang, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST- was in Jason Robards' gang, DR. ZHIVAGO), Antonio Sabato (BARBARELLA, GRAND PRIX), Paolo Malco (Castellari's ESCAPE FROM THE BRONX).
Tag-lines: "In the burning wastelands of the Sahara, they fight for justice and honor!"
Best one-liner: " "A Tuareg can become a stone: the toughest of all desert plants."

Let me break it down for you. There are two types of Enzo G. Castellari films: those with loads of asscrack, and those with little to no asscrack. TUAREG: THE DESERT WARRIOR is all about nomads and burkas and desert robes, so it falls into the latter category. So what I'm saying is this: there are far better Castellari films out there- 1990: BRONX WARRIORS, THE NEW BARBARIANS, THE LAST SHARK, THE HEROIN BUSTERS... yet somehow, you, in your infinite quest for laughable Italian entertainment have made it all the way here to TUAREG. So I guess that means you're ready. White, blue-eyed Mark Harmon (SUMMER SCHOOL) plays our Bedouin hero, which immediately cancels out any cultural diversity points the film might have won for telling a Bedouin's story.

He is a Tuareg, which means he follows the code of the Tuareg, which means that he'll be explaining the code of the Tuareg a lot, which means you're gonna hear the word 'Tuareg' far more than you care to. Tuareg.

Mark Harmon: tortured by Italians, including Enzo himself (wearing cap, on the left)!

Video volume is very low: adjust settings accordingly.

Everything Mark Harmon says is completely stilted, as if he is reading his lines off of Cue. Cards. One. Word. At. A. Time. There's a lot going on here, though: frequent use of the phrase "What the shit?," the line "One ass in uniform is worth eight out," a stuffed animal cheetah attack,

an obligatory quicksand scene, made-up place names like "The Gualta of Vayla" and "The Land of Tick-tobra," and the same timpani/horns dramatic stinger (stolen from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) every single time something dramatic happens.

The main plot thrust involves Harmon attacking these soldiers who have insulted Tuareg custom. The soldiers are always listening to little radios that are rocking out wildly smoove jazz. And in one scene when Harmon gets the jump on them, he holds them at gunpoint and says "I do not want to kill anyone. Now take off your clothes. You should know when you have won or lost, and you have lost. Now take off your clothes, too." WHUUTTTT? And it all ends on such a bizarrely politically-charged note, that it becomes THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS fused with THE NEW BARBARIANS. I highly recommend this movie. Four stars.

-Sean Gill

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