Hunt for the Golden Scorpion (1991)

HuntForTheGoldenScorpionCoverIn the deepest, most remote part of the Amazon, a treasure is hidden! A treasure so valuable that men would kill for it, women would almost have to undress for it, and entire armies would be destroyed by four people, including a Lebanese treasure hunter, for it! It is an object so chock full of golden awesomeness that an elaborate death trap guards its resting place! Wait a minute, this is an Umberto Lenzi movie starring Andy Forest. Scratch “elaborate death trap” and substitute “one poisonous snake” in its place!

Anyone who has had the misfortune to suffer through Mr. Forest’s wimpy brand of action hero in movies such as the similarly-named, similarly-themed and similarly awful Mark of the Scorpion, will no doubt realize that though there is only a single reptile slithering around the Golden Scorpion, that little bugger is pretty much the equivalent of a real man like Tony Anthony facing down the thousands upon millions of death traps in something like Treasure of the Four Crowns. And it’s a damn good thing it is since that’s the only event approaching good old fashioned tomb raiding that goes on in this one!

Made at the tail end of Lenzi’s career and sandwiched in between two gloriously goofy cop movies (Cop Target and Mean Tricks), Hunt for the Golden Scorpion appears as if it solely exists because Lenzi had some footage in Miami left over from Cop Target and some time in South America to kill before Mean Tricks got going. It also seems as if he rounded up whatever actors were hanging around the Bad Italian Movie union hall with passports and empty bank accounts at the ready.

Like director Sergio Martino‘s mystifying overuse of Daniel Greene (who is such a stunningly uncharismatic screen presence that he somehow is perversely watchable), Lenzi again puts Forest in the lead role of one of his films for no discernible reason.

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While almost anyone could have been put in the undemanding The House of Witchcraft without too much trouble, Forest also starred as the hero in Lenzi’s war movie Bridge To Hell. His chief accomplishment in that film was to be so hideously unsuited for battlefront heroics that he made relatively undistinguished Italian cinema journeyman Peter Hooten seem like a combination of John Wayne, Sylvester Stallone, and Audie Murphy when Hooten starred in another 1980s Lenzi war movie, Wartime!

David Brandon plays the guy who has already discovered the Golden Scorpion’s location and is imprisoned by a corrupt military man who also wants the statue. He is a much more reassuring presence having aptly played a variety of creepy characters in movies such as Beyond Darkness, Beyond Kilimanjaro, and Mean Tricks.

The same cannot be said though for female lead Christine Leigh whose main claim to fame is a career made up solely of ultra-obscure Italian action movies by famous Italian exploitation directors. Besides Hunt For The Golden Scorpion, her entire three film resume consists of Sergio Martino’s After the Condor and Ferdinando Baldi’s Just A Damned Soldier (with Peter Hooten and Mark Gregory!).

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Hunt for the Golden Scorpion‘s story isn’t terribly complicated or particularly inventive, but Lenzi manages to structure it so poorly and throw in barely enough bizarrely jarring moments that anyone serious about their Italian cinema obsession needs to see it.

Despite a movie such as this needing a big finish related to finding the treasure, we don’t get one here. The good guys find the treasure after using a particularly dopey way to avoid the snake (Forest coats his hand with latex from a rubber tree. Apparently they never heard of just using a stick to push that little bastard out of the way.) and then the bad guys take it away from them.

Yes, there is the entirely expected and completely lame doublecross later on, but how much tension and cliffhanging suspense is there when after the bad guy takes the statue, he gives our three heroes plane tickets home?

The bulk of the movie’s action takes place in the middle when Forest, Leigh, and the Lebanese invade a military installation to break Brandon’s character out (he is Leigh’s brother) and instantly transform into killing machines.

Just a few days before Leigh was in Miami leading a normal life, but now here she is in the jungle, disguised as a soldier and handling an automatic weapon like it was her hair brush!

Lenzi must have realized that the actual treasure hunting aspect of things wasn’t going to amount to much because he pours on the explosions and shooting like you wouldn’t believe! If watching guys fall off of lookout towers is your thing and seeing drums of fuel blow sky high makes your goodies tingle, the constant detonations will leave you giddily delirious!

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Also what the film lacked in Indiana Jones-inspired mayhem was more than made up for by moments that will have you laughing out loud. During the pitched battle at the military installation, Forest explains all the racket to the military official over the radio by claiming they were all just watching Rambo III!

Forest also explained his true identity at the end of movie and claimed he heard that the Golden Scorpion was up for grabs while he was in jail…in Kansas City!

The fight scenes featuring both Forest and Brandon are among the worst ever filmed, looking shockingly unnatural, as if both guys had never thrown a real punch in their lives.

And when Leigh asks how gorgeous she would look wearing the Golden Scorpion to the next Halloween Ball, you immediately wonder if the next Halloween Ball is at a nursing home or a trailer park since the Golden Scorpion resembles a gaudy over-sized broach more than anything else.

Finally, when all three of our heroes run happily through the airport at the end of the movie, you can’t help but note that it is a bittersweet moment. Bitter because the entertainingly prolific Lenzi would only make two more films, but sweet because Hunt For The Golden Scorpion marked the last role for both Andy Forest and Christine Leigh.

Sometimes you just know when you’ve accomplished all you set out to in your profession and that it’s time to hang it up. Perhaps that’s what Andy thought after uttering dialogue such as “let’s get out of here before I shit my britches!”

© 2016 MonsterHunter

5 thoughts on “Hunt for the Golden Scorpion (1991)

  1. Bill Shute

    Can’t tell you how much I enjoy your seeking out these super-obscure Italian late 80’s efforts, most of which never got any VHS circulation in the US. I knew of Andy J. Forest’s albums for the Italian “Appaloosa” record label and his stardom in music over there, but I did not know of his film career. Keep up the good work!

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  2. Boyd

    I believe I watched this turd a long time ago…could it be that someone in the movie states at some point that the (plastic) “golden scorpion” was worth 10 million dollars? And at the end the hero happens to switch the real scorpion with a fake one? If it’s the same movie, it had its moments, but wasn’t as fun as we expected…we hoped to see some cheap “ancient” caves, “deadly” traps and the sort of things you look for in any Indy clone.

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    1. admin Post author

      I’d have to pull out my copy of the movie to be sure, but that sounds right (the review was written years ago and I haven’t seen the film since). I have to say that I’ve been pretty much disappointed in almost all the Indy clones from Italy. But they usually had awesome VHS boxes!

      Reply
      1. Boyd

        The VHS art of the time was extraordinary…though we knew almost everything on the box was a lie, we used it as a parameter for renting movies: the more pretentious the box art, the better. Some things were unavoidable, like the attack choppers with searchlights, the extra-extra-buff hero (sometimes holding some kind of unrealistic super-weapon), explosions in the background, etc.

        Reply

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