Action Movie Fanatix Review: Laser Mission

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Starring: Brandon Lee, Debi Monahan, Ernest Borgnine, Werner Pochath, Graham Clarke

Director: B.J. Davis

1989  |  83 Minutes  |  Rated R

“That’s Mr. Asshole to you.” – Michael Gold

Brandon Lee’s death was without a doubt a tragedy.  As an actor, he hadn’t yet hit his stride and all that we are left with are a few movies that show a glimpse of what he might have become.  Laser Mission is one of his first movies and shows the great potential that the son of The Dragon had.

Michael Gold (Brandon Lee) and Alissa (Debi Monahan) are sent to Namibia to save Professor Braun who has been captured by Russian terrorists.  The Russians have stolen a large diamond and are going to have Braun create a powerful laser weapon.  Michael & Alissa must save Braun and stop the Russian terrorists.  It is also worth noting that when Michael & Alissa embark on their mission Alissa doesn’t have time to change clothes so she is stuck in a low cut blue dress for the entire rest of the movie.

Brandon Lee isn’t the best actor at this point but he proves that he was an action star in the making with Laser Mission.  He looks equally comfortable throwing kicks, chops and punches like his father as he does blasting away with a machine gun out the side of a speeding van.  One scene takes place in a court yard very similar to that in Commando.  The skinnier, more Asian Lee is just as believable in this scene as Schwarzenegger was in Commando.

Laser Mission is never a masterpiece, even by action movie standards.  The script is silly.  The sets often look cheap.  The special effects are very hit and miss.  Sometimes gunfire looks good, other times they don’t appear to be shooting anything at all.  No smoke.  No flame.  No projectile.  The producers apparently paid a lot of money to have David Knopfler’s (Dire Straits) song Mercenary Man because it plays multiple times throughout the movie.  Good thing it is such an awesome song or it would have gotten really old.  There are also two Cubans who are chasing Michael and Alissa (sometimes – when they aren’t distracted by shiny objects).  They appear to only know the most basic of Spanish words (por favor, aqui, uno, dos, tres and carumba – the rest of the time they speak English).  It is unclear if this is just further proof of the inadequacy of the writers or if it is their way of working some more humor into the movie.  It got a few chuckles out of me so I guess – Job well done!

Watching Laser Mission really helped solidify to me just how bright Brandon Lee’s future was.  Yes, it was a pretty dumb movie and Lee clearly had some work to do on his acting but he was still very young in his career and definitely showed some flashes of brilliance.  If he were still alive it seems likely that he would have had a part in The Expendables series along with the all time greats of action cinema.