Bridge to Hell (1986)

Is The Dirty Dozen too mainstream for you? Did you find The Inglorious Bastards to be more machismo than your pansy constitution could handle? Are you looking for World War II action and adventure where there isn’t so much annoying emphasis placed on the action and adventure parts?

Perhaps you’re just intimidated by the sheer size of these dirty dozens or these half a dozen bastards that are running around blowing up Nazi gear, killing Third Reich rats, and generally leaving the viewer breathless with the wanton disregard for everyone’s safety as they take on their suicide missions that have no chance in hell of succeeding! Isn’t there a movie for those of us who just want a teensy taste of WWII thrills and chills that won’t keep us up past our 7:30 bedtime?

If it’s only a meager slice of military cheese that your sensitive cinema stomach lining can handle, Bridge To Hell goes down nice and easy without all that good movie aftertaste!

The inoffensive chef of this fleeting and forgettable foxhole fondue comes as a bit of a surprise since he’s spent an entire career being as offensive as possible. Whether it be his shocking giallo flicks of the early 1970s (Spasmo), his mean and ugly cannibal epics of the late 1970s (Cannibal Holocaust) or his memorably cruddy horror paychecks of the late 1980s and early 1990s (Black Demons, Hitcher In The Dark), Umberto Lenzi usually can be counted on to elicit some type of reaction from the viewer. (Usually falling somewhere in the spectrum between “disgust” and “barf bag.”)

With Bridge To Hell though, Umberto does the unthinkable – he bores our ass off!

Bridge to Hell 1

Three deserters (American, Italian, Austrian) are trying to get out of Yugoslavia and run into trouble during the latter part of World War II.

It’s probably being disingenuous to complain that we don’t know anything about these three or why we should even care about them. I knew damn well that this was an Italian war movie with Lenzi at the helm when I started it.

Still, Michael Dudikoff endorsed this as part of the “Michael Dudikoff Presents Action Adventure Theater” line of Cannon-distributed movies on the VHS box as well as during a painfully stilted introduction by him at the beginning of the movie. If you can’t trust the Dude on these matters, who can you trust?

Really though, truth be told, I wasn’t expecting anything deep about these characters anyway. At most I was hoping for them to be defined by their military training and/or psychosis. Like one guy is an expert at explosives and another likes to stab people – that sort of thing. Or maybe there’s a guy who’s trying to prove that he isn’t a coward or steals lots of stuff. Shoot, that’s all I want to know about people in real life anyway!

The three deserters are on the lam from the Germans and meet up with some resistance fighters. They agree to help our guys, but only if they will fly some missions for them against the Germans.

Bridge to Hell 2

That doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable until you realize that it’s going to be two biplanes dog fighting against the German Luftwaffe! It also means that our guys have to drop bombs out of the airplane on German positions by hand! It probably wasn’t too big a disappointment for our heroes then when the planes became too damaged to fly.

They then join up with an ex-nun who helps lead them across the countryside toward freedom. Along the way she manages to mention that her old convent has a bunch of golden chalices that just happen to be worth five million dollars.

Lenzi at least is trying to work in the standard World War II movie conventions with his band of derelicts getting a whiff of some treasure and changing up their deserting plans long enough to try to steal it. It’s just that it’s done so halfheartedly.

Stealing a bunch of nuns’ treasure? Isn’t that just the sort of thing you would expect from a bunch of Nazis? Of course it is! They’re trying to steal it, too!

Once the “good guys” have the treasure (after a particularly unconvincing ambush of the Nazis who were also there to take it), they attempt to sneak away in the middle of the night to ditch the ex-nun. They are unsuccessful which leads to another scene where they trick her into stripping to her underpants and bathing in a river while they pretend to take care of engine trouble!

Bridge to Hell 3

It’s just further evidence though of how weak all of Bridge to Hell is that it was a PG rated bathing scene instead of the full on skinny dipping that always goes on in Italian war movies!

At least there was some action in the movie. A train and some planes got blown up. There were also a couple of bridges getting blasted. Or at least models of all these things were destroyed.

None of it was really done in spectacular fashion though and a lot of it involved our guys just watching. And the only thing that passed for tension and suspense was when one of them fell off a bridge after getting shot. Even that was botched as Lenzi decided to give us a full on shot of what was obviously a very limp dummy hurtling down to its demise.

Bridge To Hell is the sort of movie that makes the following quote possible: Director Umberto Lenzi and star Andy Forest would team up again with better results in The House of Witchcraft!

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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