Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jungle Raiders - 2/5

Antonio Margheriti is the Italian king of rip-off films. Whatever type of film was popular in America at the time, Antonio was damn sure to make at least one Italian rip-off of it. After making a slew of Vietnam War "Deer Hunter" rip-offs, Antonio and his son saw an American film entitled "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Antonio loved the film and instantly thought all adventure films should be like that. It comes to no surprise that he quickly started to pump out some Indiana Jones rip-offs, the first two entitled "Hunters of the Golden Cobra" and "Ark of the Sun God" both starring genre great David Warbeck. Jungle Raiders always captured my attention more though as it was produced by the notorious Cannon Group, my all time favorite production company for producing cheesy action films (American Ninja, Missing in Action, etc.). Cannon producing an Italian Indiana Jones rip-off directed by Antonio Margheriti, I'm going to be in bad action heaven!

The film has our Indian Jones clone Christopher Connelly playing Captain Yankee. Yes, that is his name. Not near as catchy as Indiana Jones I say. Captain Yankee makes a living by giving rich vacationers in South America a fake deadly adventure. Getting board making this living he takes a job, more like black mailed in to it, from a museum director to find...oh get this....the ruby of doom! Also along the ride is Captain Yankee's arch nemesis (played by Lee Van Cleef!).

We get everything we want in a cheap Indiana Jones rip-off including stereotypes, bad models, deadly booby traps, and outrageous action sequences. Still however I came out a little disappointed. Being an Italian rip-off produced by my favorite Cannon film company, I guess I was expecting some monumentally awesome bad action film and instead just got only a merely entertaining bad action film. Don't get me wrong as this is fun in a B-movie way. Perhaps the aspect I didn't like was Christopher Connelly as our Indiana Jones-type lead. He was just blah when a film like this need a character that was a little more over-the-top, much like Cannon's other Indiana Jones rip-off King Solomon's Mines.

There is a group of people out there that love these bad Italian rip-offs. I am one of them. Jungle Raiders may not be the best or most entertaining of these B-movie rip-offs but it's a must for fans. Sadly the film is extremely hard to find anymore as it has never been released on DVD and the old big box VHS version has been out-of-print for 25 years. Thankfully my friend Bill tracked me down a copy and I was able to finally see this long-lost Cannon "classic".

On a side note I have to say I love the cheesy American poster art, especially the way "Jungle Raiders" is written in the exact same font used on the all Indiana Jones promotion artwork. I miss the days when awesome box art like this lined the video store shelves as opposed to new crappy, photoshop covers.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

Jungle Raiders Trailer

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