The Film (3/5)
Mike Bradley (Played by Peter Fonda), is your average fun loving guy who hates violence. Bradley works for an air tight diamond mine company as a security guard. But something is fishy. Security boss Harry Webb (Telly Savalas) is brought in because he believes there’s an inside job of stolen diamonds. Bradley is set up by his boss for stealing diamonds and his girlfriend (Maud Adams) is held hostage by Webb. To get his girl back he joins a group of Mercenaries led by Lewis (Hugh O’Brian) to break into the base and pull off the ultimate jewel heist.
Killer Force (aka: Diamond Mercenaries, also the on screen title for this edition), is a fun mix of a heist film and men on a mission movie that just never really gels. The movie was directed by Val Guest (most of the segments in the 1967 train wreck Casino Royale), and while the movie has some wit and humor, the movie never escapes its issues.
The staging of scenes is pretty flat and at times awkward. The editing doesn’t help matters. One hilarious awkward jump cut goes from the diamond base to a smash cut with the Mercenaries circled around a table. Instead of getting a cool introduction, we just get a sudden, “bam! Here’s some new characters”. Likewise, some of the action and suspense scenes bring unintentional humor, such as in one moment where the mercenaries have to jump over a scanner device in the sand. The scene becomes funny as these men have to get a running start to hop over a six-inch hole.
On the positive side of things, the movie is well cast and everyone seems to be having a great time. Telly Savalas is top billed, but barely in the movie. He isn’t given much to do here, but he put his cool presence on autopilot and still leaves a good impression. His character is a one note tough guy obsessed with diamond thieves. Peter Fonda is the real star of the movie. He plays it cool like a hippie and gets plenty of silly wisecracks to say. Maud Adams is always a fun addition, she really earned her double Bond girl award (Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy), but sadly she comes off as just “the girl”.
As for the mercenaries we get a cool mix of character actors. Hugh O’Brian is a tough badass leader and reminds me of Rod Taylor. He is one note but comes off well in the many action scenes in the third act. The great Christopher Lee looks a little bored at times, but gets a few moments to shine, including a scene where he poses as a customer to question a call girl. By far the oddest casting choice is OJ Simpson. Simpson looks lost in the cast, but is charming enough to carry himself. Simpson also gets some of the most baffling bad one liners in the movie, like “What if we don’t believe in Santa Claus!?”.
The movie really shines with it’s over the top action scenes and it’s wonderfully 70’s funky soundtrack by Georges Gorvarentz. The movie is filled with car chases, shootouts, and plenty of helicopter explosions. The last 45 minutes is pure action mayhem. I can the see the weaker points in the movie, but I would say it’s worth at least one watch, especially if you’re in the mood for some low rent b movie thrills.
Audio/ Video (4/5)
The movie comes with a 2.0 DTS-HD master audio track. There’s no subtitle options. The track is well mixed and highlights the enjoyable funky soundtrack. There’s two moments where the audio suddenly drops down while OJ Simpson is talking, but that may be a minor issue with his microphone. The movie has a 1080p HD transfer. The movie is crystal clear with a huge amount of detail. You can count sweat drops on close ups. On the downside you can see an obvious bold cap on Telly Salavas’ stunt double.
The extras are a bit of a mixed bag. First up is the down beat Alternate ending. Next up is the alternate Killer Force titled opening credits. We get two theatrical trailers, one under Killer Force, and the other under Diamond Mercenaries. The second trailer is in really rough shape with terrible audio. To round out the Blu-ray we get trailers for The Passage, Firepower, and Blazing Magnum. Unfortunately, there also in a pretty rough shape.
Killer Force (aka: Diamond Mercenaries) is rough around the edges and a mixed bag. The cast is having a blast and the action is good. Kino gives the movie a gorgeous transfer, so if you’re in the mood for some cheap funky 70’s action this should fit the bill. Recommended for 70’s action fans.