A small American convoy is travelling through Vietnam when it is ambushed by Viet Cong and General Douglas Corad and a couple of his officers are captured and lead into an underground prison. The Americans send in five elite troops from the 101st to trek into the jungle and locate the tunnels and find the officers but the men do not all get along and Sergeant Pete Rayo seems determined to make enemies. They meet with their ex-VC contact, but the group have got to worry about internal conflicts as well as attacks from VC patrols...
Written by Jim Gaines (who also stars as Sgt. Rayo), Jungle Rats is one of a number of low budget exploitation action films that he scripted in the 1980s in the Phillipines, set in Vietnam and directed by Teddy Chiu (who usually went under Teddy Page or for this film, Irvin Johnson). While the lasting impact of the Vietnam war meant that any American film that touched on the subject would bring in politics and emphasise the suffering of the soldiers, the Phillipine film industry had no qualms about using the Vietnam war as a backdrop for a trashy action story.
Accordingly the storyline in Jungle Rats is nothing more than servicable - the plot serves to get the characters into the jungle but does not afford them any real characterisation, there is certainly no authenticity about the operation or the military tactics involved (one of the characters replaces his beret with a bright blue cap which he wears throughout the film). Pacing is quite variable, the film can drag in places, but there are plenty of action scenes and the story builds up to an incredibly explosive and action packed finalé that makes the previous hour and a half quite forgivable.
Teddy Page had made a career for himself in micro-budgeted action films shot in the Phillipine jungle and he seems quite at home here - like the storyline, the direction is for the most part servicable but gets the job done - unfortunately an insistance in setting most of the early action scenes at night does mean that these sequences play out in an impenetrable blue-tinted murk that lets down the film considerably, but the film is salvaged with the extended and utterly over-the-top climactic battle which sees the lead characters blowing up a dozen huts in glorious slow motion, firing heavy machine guns from the hip and wiping out dozens of VC soldiers with a single wave of gunfire (this sequence cannot help but bring to mind the overlong gunfight parody in Hot Shots: Part Deux). The music is a typical mix of synthesised tracks that suits the film perfectly.
Acting is generally strong with a largely American cast - writer Jim Gaines casts himself as the unpleasant Sgt. Rayo and does an effective job making himself a bastard, Romano Kristoff is good as the lead while Far Eastern movie veteran Mike Monty (Zombi 3 (1988)) is well cast as the General.
For the most part, Jungle Rats is a servicable and unremarkable Filipino 'Namsploitation film with nothing to really recommend it - characterisation is non-existant, the storyline is predictable and the action scenes seem to take place entirely behind a blue filter. Fortunately the film benefits from good acting, the editing is at least coherent (the Hong Kong produced Black Warrior that was marketed as this film's sequel in some markets was rendered unwatchable by choppy editing) and the film boasts a thoroughly entertaining and over-the-top finalé that is exactly what you want from this genre - if only the whole film had been as good. Certainly recommended to fans of the genre and of interest to fans of low budget Eastern action cinema in general.
|Anyone famous in it?||No-one well known|
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Teddy Page (as Irvin Johnson) - a Filipino director he helmed a number of ambitious low budget action films including several set during the Vietnam war, such as Phantom Soldiers (1987) and Final Reprisal (1988)|
|Any gore or violence ?||Some blood.|
|Any sex or nudity?||A couple of very brief female topless shots.|
|Who is it for?||Certainly of interest to fans of the 'Namsploitation films.
|Visuals||Original aspect ratio - 1.33:1 fullscreen. Colour
Print as good as you can expect for this genre, a general lack of detail but nothing too severe - night scenes are murky but that is probably how they were shot.
Aspect ratio seems to be correct.
|Audio||English mono - sound is fine, although the dubbing on a couple of the minor characters is laughably bad.
German mono - sounds fine.
|Availability||German DVD release - title Dschungelratten.|
|Region||Region 0 (ALL) - PAL|
|Other regions?||Not otherwise available.|
|Cuts?||Cut status unknown - no apparent cuts. The opening credits look to be newly created.