“First there was the last, now there is the” FIRST ACTION HERO. Following hot on the heels of LAST ACTION HERO is a modern-as in it’s just about 20 years old as opposed to 40 years old-poliziotteschi or Italo-crime flick set in Miami. It was fairly cheap to film in Miami at the time and most films from this era were shot either there or the Philippines or the Caribbean to keep costs down where there were film crews waiting to be hired for shoots.
Fabio Testi (WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?, FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE) is Mark Fierro, a loose cannon that gets results. His family life is a shambles as his ex-wife loses herself in the bottle and kicks their daughter out of the house winding up on Mark’s doorstep. Did I forget to mention his ex-father-in-law is the head of one of the gangs? His only option is to lose himself in his work. He transfers back to Miami from Tampa just as the streets are about to explode in a violent gang war. The gangs have cranked up the violence to compete to control the lucrative Miami drug trade and the DA is riding his ass about his unconventional methods. When he begins to stir things up he is ambushed by mask wearing, shotgun wielding baddies around every corner. He is a bad mother fucker as he executes the wounded with cold indifference. Even if they surrender.
The film is a disjointed series of set pieces strung together by a paper thin plot that is incomprehensible at times. It’s Italian…what did you expect…Someone wants to wipe out all of the competition in Miami. Unfortunately violent men do not give up so they have to be removed through violent means. Machine gun attack on a funeral leaves mourners stacked like cord wood. Humorously enough there is an explosion on the casket when the bullets strike it. These guys are so brutal they bust into a hospital operating room and machine gun a man under anesthesia. Fierro has the fight of his life on his hands as the masked assailants take out all of the mafia heads. Eventually they meet their end at the hands of Captain Fierro.
With their chief enforcers down the man trying to take over the city kidnaps Fierro’s daughter in a desperate attempt to hang on to the power he has seized. The ending is an epic shootout at a rock quarry as Fierro drives various vehicles and shooting mobsters and their cars with his .44 until they burst into flames. All this with an up beat light jazz song that may be a rendition of Mr. Sandman! This thing has to be seen to be believed.
A fun bit of trivia is that FIRST ACTION HERO was one of the inspirations for Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Sadly the most easily accessible copy is a shitty public/grey domain release that is a rip of a bad tape. The picture quality is piss poor and there are times when the picture totally cuts out or is a green screen while the dialogue continues. This is a film that deserves a better release than it currently has…even if it is in a multipack. It doesn’t have to be 2k just cleaned up a bit.