The Soldier (1982)
The Soldier is a curious beast. This independently financed action film from the early eighties draws on Cold War themes and features sub Bond exploits, endeavouring to punch above its weight. It also had one of those trailers that really over sold the film. You know the kind. One that showed all the best action sequences and implied that there was a lot more content of that kind in the movie . The marketing also made a big deal about Klaus Kinski's, blink and you'll miss him, cameo. I remember the promotion of the film in my local video store during my teenage years. Specifically the high expectations I had (the director's previous movies was The Exterminator) and how the film never quite lived up to them. I wanted to like it so much but even back then it was clear that the movie was lacking.
After a second viewing of The Soldier some thirty four years later the flaws are more glaring obvious than ever but also far more understandable. Director, writer and producer James Glickenhaus simply ran out of money. The budget was mainly blown on the various action sequences and their respective international locations. This is why after such an initially promising premise the story fizzles out in the final act. Characters vanish and the ending is very underwhelming and over too quickly. This is very much a film of two halves. Still it is not without interest, featuring two standout stunts. The first being a spectacular high fall from an exploding cable car, a scene that turned up in several commercials at a later date. There's is also an excellent slow motion full burn, caused by a booby trapped light bulb.
Hardcore fans of action movies will enjoy the cast of The Soldier. Featuring eighties 'B' list action heroes, Ken Wahl and Steve James, performances fall exactly within the parameters you expect with such casting. The plot featuring renegade KGB agents hijacking a plutonium shipment and attempting to plant a nuclear device in the Saudi Arabian Ghawar oilfield, is somewhat impenetrable. However it doesn’t really matter. It’s just that sort of movie. The film curiously features a soundtrack by German electronic music collective Tangerine Dream, who scored a very eclectic selection of movies during the seventies and eighties. Overall I would only recommend The Soldier to fans of this niche sub-genre. The more casual viewer would be better off watching one of the more mainstream offerings from this period such as Nighthawks or 48 HRS.