The Bad Pack

Cost: £1.09 (Play.com)

Tag line: A crack team of elite mercenaries… A deadly group of desperate terrorists… There is only one outcome!

Sample dialogue: “The great turning point in our lives is when we gain the courage to accept our evil as what is best in us.”

Robert Davi does not like you. He does not care about you or whether you have a good time. You may have seen him in ‘Die Hard’, ‘The Goonies’ or ‘Licence to Kill’ and thought to yourself “Hey! This guy’s cool. I like him.” Well he’s not cool and you shouldn’t. He is seriously uncool. Nothing will ever illustrate this more clearly than his participation in a little film called ‘The Bad Pack’.

I don't know. Maybe he's wearing it ironically? Which I guess would make him the first hipster action hero.

The ‘Bad Pack’ in question are a team of seven ‘elite’ mercenaries hired to defend a village of Mexican illegal immigrants from a fanatic militia group who’ve been terrorising them – mostly by riding dirt bikes through their fruit stands.

If you think that sounds suspiciously like the plot to ‘The Magnificent Seven’, you’d be right. If you thought it sounded suspiciously like the plot to ‘Seven Samurai’ or ‘Battle Beyond the Stars’ you’d also be right, but I don’t think the makers of ‘The Bad Pack’ set out to rip off any of these films. In fact, I’d wager they haven’t seen any of these films. If these guys are intentionally ripping off anything it’s the original pilot of ‘The A-Team’. So it’s worse than you might fear. Instead of diluting Kurosawa or John Ford, what we actually get here is a half-assed and generally incompetent riff on Stephen J Cannell.

No offence to the late Mr Cannell (or, as some like to affectionately refer to him, 'God').

Instead of cigar-chomping Hannibal Smith we’re presented with Confederate-hat-wearing James Mcque (Davi), who works at a motorcycle shop and hangs out at a diner that is never more than five minutes from being robbed. When a masked assailant puts a gun in Mcque’s ear and demands he give up his wallet and valuables, he responds: “I don’t mind you taking this stuff. Just leave the sunglasses. They’re my favourite pair.” What follows is a fight scene so woefully inept that it’s depressing more than laughable.

Rowdy Roddy Piper steps into the ‘Face’ role, which might seem odd at first. Given his wrestling persona, you might expect Piper to be more suited to filling the boots of ass-kicker Mr T or ‘Howling Mad’ Murdock, as opposed to a smooth-talking ladies’ man. In the context of ‘The Bad Pack’, however, it makes sense, as he’s the only member of the entire cast to display one ounce of charisma.

As for the Mr T position? Ralf Moeller takes that, while our Murdock surrogate is Latrell Hoffman (Patrick Dollaghan). How much is Hoffman like Murdock? Well, you remember that scene in the original ‘A-Team’ where they had to break Murdock out of a mental hospital? Well if you liked that, you’re going to LOVE the scene in ‘The Bad Pack’ where they have to break Hoffman out of a mental hospital. It’s the same scene, is what I’m trying to say here. Basically, somebody, probably a 10-year-old kid (and not a very bright 10-year-old kid), saw ‘The A-Team’ and thought “I’m going to write that movie”, and so that’s exactly what they did.

The world wouldn't see an A-Team rip-off this shitty till, well... 'The A-Team'.

Anyway, to round out the cast we also have a woman, a black guy and a traitor from the militia side. None of these characters are very interesting, with the possible exception of the Black Guy (Larry B Scott), an acquisitions agent with no field skills who speaks primarily in abbreviated slogans he must immediately explain (“That’s I.N.G.T.H. It’s not going to happen.” “I’m a C.D.M. A can-do man.”), which seems to me to defeat the time-saving point of abbreviations.

He’s also interesting for the way in which other characters relate to him, i.e. pure, seething hatred. This is especially true of the Mexican villagers. When the plane carrying our intrepid band of killers-for-hire arrives at the village, a crowd of farmers and their wives rush to greet them. First out the door is Roddy Piper, who they cheer (as anyone surely would). Next is Ralph Moeller, and again they cheer. Then comes Black Guy, and the crowd fall silent. He steps down from the plane bemused, as the villagers gaze at him, apparently ready to murder him if he so much as opens his mouth. Now, these people don’t know Black Guy. They don’t know how irritating he is. They’ve never met him. They only know that they’re paying him money to save their lives AND that he’s black. That’s it. Apparently that’s enough to hush the hell up and stare him down like he’s a piece of shit on a shoe. I’ve watched this scene a couple of times and there’s simply no valid interpretation other than this – these Mexican villagers are a bunch of racist bastards.

This isn’t limited to one scene, either. It continues at the town meeting where Black Guy tries to lead the audience in a round of applause for Mcque… and they sit and stare daggers at him. They may want to be rescued, these villagers. But not if it’s by a black guy. Seriously, these ungrateful, hypocritical ass-holes are a lynch mob waiting to happen.

NOT PICTURED: The greatest action cast ever assembled.

So the Bad Pack set about gathering together some weapons and putting a plan together to stop the militia, led by professional Kurt Russell look-a-like (and sound-a-like) Marshall R. Teague. All in all, this section of the film takes about 7 to 12 hours. I’m not sure. I wasn’t counting. But that’s what it felt like.

By the way, did you know Vernon Wells (Commando, The Road Warrior) is in this movie? He’s close to unrecognisable, playing a biker militia henchman with about four lines, but I looked it up on imdb. It’s definitely him. Which begs the question: What’s up with that? Vernon Wells is awesome. If I were making an action movie I’d kill to have him play the villain. But here he’s not the villain. He’s not even Henchman #1. Four lines and we never see him again. That’s the kind of behaviour that unfairly raises a person’s hopes and then dashes them. You know who else is in this crap? Clifton Collins Jr.

In the prestigious role of Townsman 1, no less.

Eventually, the Bad Pack storm the militia compound and it is even more tedious than you could possibly have imagined. Every fight seems deliberately choreographed to be as slow and clumsy as possible. Every action sequence is edited so that any hint of excitement or immediacy is removed.

This all builds to a showdown between Davi, armed with a pistol, and Teague, armed with a knife. Forgoing any sense of sportsmanship, Davi shoots Teague in one knee-cap (“That’s for the first amendment”), then the other (“That’s so you never walk on anyone again.”). The whole compound is rigged to explode and Teague has no chance of escape. Davi tells him: “You’ve got two minutes before you’re pixie dust. How fast can you crawl?” He then makes his escape, leaving Teague to his doom.

It’s not much of a showdown, granted, but it’s not as bad as it could have been. But then, with 30 seconds left, Davi reappears over Teague, who I feel I must reiterate is unarmed, crippled and doomed. “One more thing,” he says, “This is because you’re a lousy card player,” and SHOOTS HIM DEAD. Now, first off, that “lousy card player” comment refers to a scene earlier in the film where the two men play one round of Blackjack, Teague ends up on 20 and Davi on 21. That’s not lousy. It’s not a winning hand, but it’s about as close as you can get. Secondly, Davi’d already done his whole quip thing while dooming Teague to death a minute and a half earlier. There was absolutely no need for him to go back. It plays as though he said the bit about pixie dust, ran out of the room, then thought “Oh shit! I know what I should have said. I should’ve called him a lousy card player!” then TURNED BACK and killed him. That’s not cool. That’s lame and pathetic. It’s not even a good quip!

And this is, above all, the greatest crime committed by ‘The Bad Pack’. It’s boring, it rips off ‘The A-Team’, it’s badly directed and poorly acted, but, most importantly, it presents a vision of Robert Davi that the world was not meant to see. Specifically, it is the vision of a man dressed in a pink, long-sleeved shirt, with chinos, white sock and black shoes, sunglasses and a Confederate cap. A man who is described as a mysterious bad-ass, but in practice is a lumbering bore who, when offing his enemy, can’t even come up with a half-decent pun. There are a hundred reasons why every copy of ‘The Bad Pack’ should be confiscated and burned, why it should be erased from the memory of humanity. But this one is the most serious – it is the film which took Robert Davi and turned him shit.

Please note - this film is not fit to lick Con Air's sweaty balls.

Good movie, bad movie or beer movie: Bad movie

[John McNee]