War Bus Commando (1989)

War Bus Commando VHS CoverThis time all our school buses loaded with the Shah of Iran’s stolen gold come home!

Genial special forces operative and all around killing machine Johnny Hondo has only been back home at his Montana ranch for a month following a daytime rescue mission (during which he was inexplicably dressed in black) in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan when his country comes calling again!

General Ross tells Johnny that his father, General Hondo, is dying in Washington! A deathbed conversation is quickly arranged for the Hondos and the General sends his son on one final explosive suicide mission!

General Hondo makes it clear that there is no chance for Johnny to succeed, but that he needs to do it to restore his old man’s military honor!

A lot of you civilians out there probably are judging General Hondo pretty harshly, putting his boy in a tight spot by asking him to take on a “no chance in hell” mission into enemy territory just so that the General will be remembered as an honorable soldier.

You need to understand though that guys like me and Johnny Hondo live by our own code of honor. When our country trains and brainwashes our conscience out of us so that we can hit the international flashpoints and protect our nation and Big Oil’s national security interests by any means necessary, we aren’t just soulless automatons intent on destabilizing unfriendly governments.

You see, despite some of the unpleasant things that freedom and democracy sometimes demand us to do, we are also bound by two immutable rules of soldiering: never leave a man behind and if a man is left behind, you will undertake a secret mission to rescue him, no matter how suicidal that secret mission is. In Johnny Hondo’s case you just need to substitute “man” with “school bus.”

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As in the case with most secret rescue missions, a lot of information is on a need to know basis. Usually, the only thing a guy like Johnny Hondo needs to know is that it’s a suicide mission, but that its success is vital to all America holds dear. What he doesn’t need to know is all the doublecrossing his superior officer is planning.

So it is then that Johnny Hondo parachutes back into Afghanistan not knowing that the top secret material in the school bus his dad drove from Iran is a couple of bricks of the Shah’s gold. That Johnny never stopped to question how it is that no one supposedly knew what the top secret material was even though his dad loaded it onto the school bus just demonstrates what a good soldier he is. That scripter Dardano Sacchetti expects us to believe that a general could drive a school bus from Iran to Afghanistan without arousing suspicion just means that the Middle East must have some really big ass school districts.

Once in Afghanistan, Johnny acquires a native boy sidekick and his sister, locates the school bus, also locates a couple of soldiers being held captive who were with his father on the school bus mission, and sets about wiping out the entire Russian military in the process.

What could have been a very boring movie with its lack of plot and ugly locations (Johnny just wanders around various rock-strewn landscapes) is actually a very boring movie with lots of explosions and guys getting shot!

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It also helps that Johnny decides to undertake his secret mission wearing a white turtleneck and a fancy tan coat. So often, these one man armies forget that looking good is just as important as the body count you accumulate during your mission. But should we have expected anything less from femininely-handsome Mark Gregory (1990: The Bronx Warriors, Delta Force Commando) in his final screen appearance?

He’s not the only welcome familiar face though! There’s also Bobby Rhodes as the curse-prone POW mechanic who spearheads the repair of the school bus! Bobby played the pimp in Demons and the gym instructor in Demons 2 and is able to get the school bus running after Johnny and his little sidekick manage to locate a new battery, distributor, spark plugs, tires, and gasoline in a nearby town!

It’s a testament to Johnny’s special forces training that he was not only able to find a village in the middle of Soviet-controlled Afghanistan that had all these parts, but that he was able to haul it all back to the school bus on foot without anyone noticing!

But someone did notice! The evil Russian commander that Johnny battled in the opening rescue mission somehow recognizes Johnny’s model good looks! That’s the kind of crafty business that made the Cold War so hard fought. That this Russian was able to notice Johnny Hondo even though he was the only clean shaven guy in a white turtle neck scavenging car parts in a small Afghanistan village really goes to show just how close we were to losing the Cold War!

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Luckily, this Commie had problems getting a helicopter which allowed Johnny and friends to engage in a “fixing up and armoring the school bus” montage before the Russians could start trying to blow them up as Johnny made his mad dash across the sixty miles of hell on Earth that stood between him and the sweet freedom of the Pakistani border!

Finally, it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for ever since we first heard that Johnny Hondo was headed back to Afghanistan to rescue a school bus: Johnny Hondo becomes War Bus Commando! What this means is that he sticks his gun out of the little port hole in the metal shielding of the bus and takes pot shots at the Russians. He also ends up driving the War Bus.

After gunning down the helicopter the evil Russian commander finally managed to get his hands on and getting doublecrossed by one of the POWs he rescued, Johnny, his native sidekick, and Bobby Rhodes all get rescued by General Ross in a jeep!

General Ross is mildly upset that his gold got blown up, while Johnny’s not pissed at all that General Ross tricked him into all this just so he could get his hands on some gold. In fact, Johnny has a good laugh as his native sidekick points out that his pet horse has survived the secret mission and is now running after the jeep to freedom as well! Dang, but that was a fun secret mission!

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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