It may take awhile, like almost the whole movie, but guess what happens once eagles finally strike? They leave a terrorist sized stain of freedom all over the Malaysian island where a U.S. Senator has been kidnapped and held hostage! And lots of huts blow up! When will those dudes in southeast Asia get the memo that building their huts with gasoline soaked reeds is just asking to have it blown sky high by pissed off American GIs looking for payback!
One of the last movies that Filipino directing legend Cirio H. Santiago (Raiders of the Sun, Stryker) shot, When Eagles Strike was clearly made in the aftermath of 9/11 with its storyline of Al Queada terrorists taking on the combined forces of the United States and the Philippines. It isn’t really a bad idea to finally shoot a movie in the Philippines and actually have the Philippines play a part in the story instead of it standing in for Vietnam, Cambodia or Laos as is so often the case in these war movies. It also isn’t that far-fetched what with the Al-Qaeda connected Abu Sayyaf terrorist group operating in the country.
Unfortunately, the execution of the rescue operation is so nosily dull and the characters even more noisily dull that the only reason to keep watching is because Cirio almost always manages to deliver some entertainment eventually. Strangely, it’s only when our heroes get captured by the terrorists that Cirio unleashes everything we’ve been waiting for.
The bad ass American in charge of the operation is a marine named Andrew. He’s usually snarling about something and despite a silly story about a broken watch he carries (it’s his albatross he says – the watch of the first man who got killed under his command) his massive arms are the only real development his character has. (It’s also probably a good thing he stopped the whole watch carrying tradition with the first guy since he gets about 50 guys killed on this mission.)
I won’t lie to you though. When Andrew was telling his Filipino comrade on the mission that one man can’t make a difference, I almost dishonorably discharged my DVD player right through my TV!
What kind of crap talk is that, marine? If it is one thing that every real American who watches action and war movies knows it’s that not only can one man make a difference, it’s always ONLY one man that can make a difference. I shouldn’t have to hear that from Filipino Guy who even had a better haunted back story than Andrew! (Filipino Guy’s little daughter and sexy wife were blown up by a car bomb.)
But us Americans also know that sometimes it takes a bit of time to get properly riled up. So I was willing to ride out Andrew’s unpatriotic jibber jabber for a little while because if there’s one thing better than a guy who was gung ho right from the beginning, it’s the guy who suddenly turns into Uncle Sam on steroids once he’s being tortured!
Caught and being subjected to repeated electrical shocks by the scummy head terrorist, Andrew finally digs down and finds his inner eagle! When the head terrorist sneers that us Americans only bomb countries we’ve never even been to, Andrew asks him why the Taliban has driver’s ed classes and sex ed classes on different days. Because the camels need the rest! Damn Andrew, I can still hear Lady Liberty laughing!
Ultimately, Andrew delivers where it matters most – the final hand-to-hand combat showdown between him and this guy. When it appears that scumbag terrorist has the upper hand, he brags that he’s stronger. Andrew gives him the finger showing the pin from a grenade he pulled on the guy’s vest and says “I’m smarter” and then kick’s this guy’s Islamofacist ass into a pond where the dude explodes, sending chunks of loser everywhere!
Even Cirio must have realized you couldn’t have 88 minutes of guys just running around the jungle shooting at each other, so there’s also an entirely needless subplot with Stacy Keach and Jesse Vint as a general and CIA agent respectively trying to get information out of a detainee. Nothing ever comes of this and Keach is reduced to yelling over the phone at his Filipino counterpart to send in rescue choppers.
In addition to its tedious reliance on non-stop gun battles that demonstrate no strategic acumen on either side, elements of the film have dated badly as well. For instance, the idea that America wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists and release detainees in exchange for the return of the Senator. Obviously this was made before Barack Obama took office and traded five hardened terrorists for a captured American soldier back in May 2014. When Eagles Strike may be a bad movie, but at least it’s just a movie.
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