action, blaxploitation, movie, movie review

Flashback Review: April 30th, 2014 Movie – Black Cobra 3: The Manila Connection

black cobra 3

So here is something that I got my curiosity going. This whole Black Cobra series had four movies in it. Mills Creek used three of them to fill out their Martial Arts box set, but why not use the 4th movie? I mean, I would have had no problem getting rid of one of the TV episodes of The Master that was in this set for another actual movie. Alas, that was not to be as I learned, later on, that the 4th movie never received a US release, hence why it was not included in this collection. So let me go ahead and re-watch Black Cobra 3: The Manila Connection, and see if it is worth hunting down the final movie in the series to watch.

The plot: In the Philippine jungle, Charlie Hopkins, an American special forces agent, breaks into a guarded compound searching for some stolen U.S. weapons but he is spotted and forced to retreat, fighting his way out of the compound and through the jungle. Charlie manages to get away by jumping off a waterfall and swimming to safety, but is wounded in the process. He makes it to the home of a local girl he knows but ends up dying in her place so she quickly strips him of all his ID and dumps the body by the river so it can’t be traced back to her. Some time later, Lt. Gregory Duncan attends a meeting with his superior officer at Interpol as well as an officer from the State Department and a CIA agent. The explain that Hopkins was working on a mission for the State Department to help tracking a missing shipment of CIA arms, including some LAN missiles, that were being shipped to various regions. The thieves were blackmailing the State Department on releasing the evidence of the CIA’s actions and Duncan has 15 days to find and retrieve the weapons. The CIA will loan him a tech officer but since this mission is technically off the books, any back up he needs will have to be among people he trusts and Duncan says he has just the man for the job. In Chicago, Lt. Robert “Bob” Malone stops am armed robbery at a grocery store and when he gets home, he plays a tape that was sent to him from Duncan asking for his help. Malone goes to the commissioner to get some time off but is refused at first until the governor calls and says Malone is being requested for a special assignment. Malone travels to the Philippines and checks into his hotel, having a run in with a somewhat picky woman at the front desk and elevator. After getting up to his room, Duncan meets him and takes him to his room to introduce him to their CIA tech expert Tracy Rogers, who happens to be the woman he had met downstairs. Malone asks some questions about the details of the case and then he and Tracy decide to go check out Hopkins’ place to see if they can find something that the police or CIA missed. Finding evidence that Hopkins frequented a particular club, they head there and ask the bartender and one of the dancers if they know Charlie but they get no response. After they leave, a woman comes up to the dancer they were talking to and asks her what she told them. Outside, Malone feels like they are walking into a trap and when their cab driver pulls a gun on them, he attacks him and his two friends but is forced to let them go when Tracy is attacked and needs help. Returning to their hotel rooms, Malone finds that the adjoining door between his and Tracy’s room has been broken and Tracy, upset that he had just walked in, puts a device on the door that will alert her if someone is on the other side. The next day, Tracy says that she is heading to the airport to pick up some equipment the CIA is sending her and Malone and Duncan head to the port to follow up on a lead about a witness. At the port, they speak to speak to the witness, who said he saw some men taking the crates to a nearby warehouse and they head over to question the manager. As they look around, Malone finds a heavy caliber bullet on the floor and shows it to Duncan, causing the manager to call for his men to get them. Malone and Duncan are able to deal with the men, then go to question the manager but before he can talk, he is killed by Jackson, the CIA agent that assigned Duncan to the case. Jackson explains that the manager was going to shoot them, showing them the gun he had on him, and Duncan decides to let Jackson handle the police that are approaching, as he and Malone are on “vacation”. Returning to their hotel room, Malone receives a call from the dancer that knew Charlie, saying she has some papers and pictures marked top secret and Malone agrees to meet with her and pay her for them when she gets off of work. When they arrive at the church where they are to meet her, they find a show behind a gate and, cautiously begin searching for her, only to find her body and no sign of the papers. They decide to check her place to see if the papers are there and find that it has been ransacked and the taxi driver and the other two men are waiting for them. Malone and Duncan manage to avoid getting killed and deal with the two men but the taxi driver gets away. Duncan is suspicious of Tracy, as she was the only other person that knew about the meeting, but Malone tells him not to jump to conclusions just yet. As he goes to leave, Malone notices something strange about a Jesus display case and opens it to find a package containing the photographs and documents. Meanwhile, back at her hotel room, Tracy receives a coded message saying that something will occur tomorrow. The next day, Malone, Duncan, and Tracy are going over the pictures, trying to figure out which specific area Hopkins was searching when Tracy notices a strange idol that Hopkins had drawn. Malone pulls out the idol he had found in Hopkins place, which looks just like the one Hopkins drew, and Duncan says he knows an antique dealer that might be able to give them some information. Heading to the bazaar, they speak to the dealer and learn the area where that tribe once lived in but as they leave, Malone notices they are being followed and are forced to deal with their attackers. Returning to their hotel room, they find Jackson waiting for them, who wants to know what progress they have made but they are reluctant to say anything definitive and Jackson leaves, then makes a call from the payphone downstairs. As Duncan and Malone go over the map and figure out the best place for where the camp Hopkins had found is, Duncan notices Tracy using her coded transmitter and questions her about it and she says she is making her nightly reports. Duncan says that someone is letting people know where they are going to be and Tracy says her reports are coded so it can’t be her and Malone keeps the peace, saying that everyone is tired and could use a break. The next day, the three drive into the jungle and find the waterfall from Hopkins’ pictures and search for a way up it. Continuing through the jungle, they find the camp and make their way inside. As they start searching the buildings, Tracy splits off from them and heads inside the communications center, where she begins working on the computers to try and crack the access code. Meanwhile, Malone and Duncan keep searching for the weapons and, noticing some odd looking wells, head down one of them to investigate. They eventually find the weapons and starting setting up explosives to deal with them when Malone finds the missiles and sets the timer on one of them, then they fight their way past the guards and back onto the surface. Once back on the surface, they make their way towards a nearby helicopter, fighting off the guards along the way, then wait for Tracy, who has finished her own mission and destroyed the computer room. Once Tracy is on board, they fly off as the missile explodes, destroying the weapons and camp as well. Tracy tells them that she traced the computer terminal that was linked to the thieves network and Duncan says he knows where it is. Landing the helicopter outside a compound, the three make their way onto the grounds, taking out the guards along the way. They confront Sir Malcolm, who was behind the blackmail scheme, and when he says it is too late and the information will be sent out to the world, Tracy reveals that she deleted the information from the system before she destroyed it. Jackson appears, thanking them for their work and says that he will deal with Sir Malcolm now and dismisses them but Malone gets suspicious of how Jackson knew they were there. Seeing Jackson picking up an uzi, Malone quickly shoots him, as it is revealed that Jackson was the mole. As soldiers come in to secure the compound, Duncan and Tracy talk to Malone about teaming up again but Malone is quick to say no and is ready to head back to Chicago, doing his best to ignore their attempts to persuade him.

Holy cow, this movie was so laughably bad that it hurt to watch, and I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. The acting was pretty stiff all around and a lot of times the characters didn’t seem to have any real emotions, even when they were supposed to be angry. The story was ok but I feel like they kind of lost sight of what they were trying to do and decide to change things without telling the audience, making for a bit of confusion towards the end. And I know that there is a bit of suspension of disbelief when you go to the movies but I honestly have to call out the ridiculousness of the first scene of the movie. When Hopkins was first sneaking into the camp, my first issue is that it was broad daylight and he was trying to enter at a point where he had no cover whatsoever. Then, he took his time to slowly attach all of these panels to the fence so that he could then slowly cut a hole in the fence without breaking the circuit or tripping an alarm. How in the hell he wasn’t spotted and shot within a minute of his trying to do that put the whole movie in a tailspin for me because it honestly felt like they weren’t even trying from the get go. The action scenes were pretty ridiculous at times, such as Fred Williamson (Malone) walking along upright seemingly without a care in the world while Forry Smith (Duncan) was ducking and covering during the final firefight as they are leaving the jungle camp. It is bad and I honestly kind of want to find the 4th movie just to see if it is possibly any worse than this one.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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