Saturday, July 23

The Lost Idol (1990) - 1990 Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment VHS

From the IMDB: "After the fall of Saigon, a stranded group of US soldiers tries to make it through Cambodia to safety in Thailand. While taking refuge in an ancient abandoned temple, the men find a gold statue worth millions of dollars. They agree to hide the statue, then return to Cambodia when it is safe to do so and split the treasure. After hiding the statue, however, the lieutenant, overcome by greed, shoots his own men in order to keep it all for himself. Eight years later, the lieutenant, now a major, returns to retrieve the statue. Everything is going well until he hears about one of the soldiers he thought he killed now living as a farmer in a small Thai village. Fearing his secret will be revealed, the lieutenant must now decide how to deal with this ghost from his past."

Annnnd that synopsis is better than the reality of Philip Chalong's Thai-produced horseshit explosion The Lost Idol. Like the cover depicts, I'd like to say Erik Estrada eats beef while fucking all the ladies while throwing enough steaming lead into gookflesh to singlehandedly rekindle Vietnam...

Unfortunately for us, his character is a pansy, never even throws a grenade on-screen, and the million-miles-away-from-CHiPs actor is featured in maybe half of the total flick. A downtrodden Estrada never once gives us his affable grin and looks disinterested as if the film's shooting is disrupting a Pan-Asian vacation. That is if he's even appearing in a scene at all.

The action is pretty tepid and only picks up under its own dumb momentum as a jeep barrels through straw huts against incoming fire with a tail gunner raging back in the climax. Who is this noble warrior risking it all? Not Erik, he's too busy being huddled down behind some sandbags.  At a certain point, Estrada's character could have easily slipped off into the jungle, away from a battle he was forced to participate in under threat to his family. That's another thing, the film ends so abruptly we never have full closure to the story involving his kidnapped wife and daughter. There isn't even any end credits like by that point the film was sick of itself. The only thing the production manages to pull off really well are a few explosions featuring dummies that look spookily realistic as they flail through the air like recent videos of war in the Middle East.

It's a damn shame The Lost Idol was chosen for North American video distribution with so many better awesomely bad jungle brawlers currently MIA on any format stateside. The print has an unusual amount of rough damage with every segment splice for something from the late '80s. Like Estrada was sucked into a timewarp back to the '70s to experience what his career would have been without the smash hit biker cop television series. Otherwise, SGE Home Video's VHS is decent with trailers for the infinitely more interesting Basket Case 2 and Frankenhooker. Skip this one unless you're a trash action maniac, or better yet, seek out Enzo G. Castellari's spirited Lightblast (1985) with an equally spirited Estrada.

1 comment:

Craig Edwards said...

This one might be stacked up in the VHS Vault - doesn't sound like I'm going to enjoy it, but there you go. Thanks for the review! you dare tread upon the staircase?

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