|Dirty Dozen, The: The Deadly Mission & Dirty Dozen, The: The Fatal Mission|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 23 May 2006|
Since both films follow the same format, the following synopsis applies to both “The Deadly Mission” and “”The Fatal Mission.” Gee, both of these missions sound really dangerous. Each film begins with Major Wright on some sort of patrol or mission. In one he is attempting to assassinate Mussolini and in the other he is trying to smuggle a member of the German resistance out of Germany. Needless to say, both missions go awry, a bizarre way to introduce the main character, showing him failing, though he does so with the aplomb Savalas was famous for.
Wright returns to Headquarters in England and is given an assignment by General Worden (Ernest Borgnine, who reprises his role from the original film, though Savalas doesn’t). Worden gives him a new assignment laced with strangely unexplained threats. Wright heads straight for the prison where he spends a few dialogue-heavy moments recruiting soldiers who are sentenced to death. It is always a lame way to introduce the characters and especially so here. After we are introduced to the rest of the group—which numbers more than a dozen, when taking Major Wright and the requisite MP are counted—they begin training. Almost a third to half of each film focuses on training. In a terribly hokey moment, a prospective recruit is killed when he says, “I can’t handle it!” as machine gun bullets whiz overhead. He stands up and is killed, leaving Major Wright and the others the opportunity to emote for the camera.
Eventually, after perhaps the third or fourth commercial break, the team makes their way to their mission area, which in both films looks like the same region of Eastern Europe. Since we already know the purpose of the mission, there’s little to see or do in the last third of the films, until we arrive at the end, each containing many explosions and some of the most poorly acted deaths ever captured on film—but not many. What proves to be the most disappointing, besides the entire exercise, is that hardly any of the Dirty Dozen die, in either movie. Why bother naming the films “The Deadly Mission” and “The Fatal Mission” when hardly anyone dies?
Not only are they made-for-TV claptrap, but they are poorly-made claptrap. Savalas seems to mail in his performances and the director seems to have believed that using Savalas as a caricature of himself was the way to go. The production design is poor, looking nothing like the 1940s. The acting, writing and directing are atrocious. Considering those are the three biggest parts of filmmaking, enough said.
The video transfer is fair, but looks exactly like what it is, a television show from the 1980s. If you remember the picture and sound quality of the ‘80s, like from “Airwolf,” then this is what you get. It’s to take nothing away from the 1980s, but the quality of almost all made-for-TV movies is average at best. There are no special features to speak of and the DVD menus are about as boring as unsweetened chocolate.
Skip these poorly made films and go directly back to 1967 and the original, Oscar-winning “Dirty Dozen.”