McBain (1991) Synapse Blu-ray Review



McBain is an underrated action picture with some great set-pieces and a winning cast; Synapse have done a nice job of remastering the film and given us a few special features making this a worthy addition to your collection.

Plot: A Vietnam vet repays a hefty debt to the solider who saved his life in ‘Nam.

Review: News goes out that the Vietnam War is over, but the Vietcong don’t get the memo. As a small platoon of soldiers clears out in a chopper, they make one last stop to a POW camp to try to rescue a few guys, and it’s a good thing they do: POW Robert McBain (Christopher Walken) is about to be killed in a death game with a bunch of guys in a Thunderdome-type situation, and a solider named Santos (Chick Vennera) saves his life just in the nick of time. Santos tells him that one day McBain can repay his debt if a half a hundred dollar bill makes its way to him someday. 18 years later, Santos has become a fledgling revolutionary in Columbia, just trying to keep his village out of the influence of the drug cartels operating on the order of the dictator-like President, and when he stages a desperate coup against the government, Santos is executed live on television, which is how McBain finds out that his old war buddy has been killed. Weeks later, Santos’s sister (Maria Conchita Alonso) – with the half a hundred dollar bill – comes knocking on McBain’s door and tells him that it’s time to pay his debt by helping finish what Santos started in Columbia. Knowing he must pay what’s due, McBain assembles the original team together again: Dalton (Jay Patterson), Gill (Thomas G. Waits), Eastland (Steve James), and Frank (Michael Ironside), who since the war has become extremely wealthy and essentially finances the team as they form a fully armed, but unauthorized by the U.S. government, unit that will blow the snot out of the Columbian government in an all-out siege that will reignite the warriors within them.

McBain, which was shot mostly in the Philippines, looks like it cost a fortune, and it’s a shame it was such a bomb when it came out in theaters. It’s a full-on explosive action film in the style of the Rambo and Missing in Action movies with a great cast and some impressive action scenes. Walken, who’d done this sort of thing before (I’m thinking of The Dogs of War), does a pretty fine job in a mostly underwritten role, but the movie has plenty of moments for him – and the rest of the cast – to shine. It’s got everything a big budget exploding hut action movie should have – exploding helicopters and jets, tanks getting blown up, Uzis, bazookas, and even a sequence where McBain and his team take on the mob in New York as a preface to their revolution in Columbia. It’s exactly the sort of thing that inundated the market in the Men’s Adventure pulp novel genre of the 1980s and early 1990s, and sadly has all but disappeared in this decidedly emasculated era where action films have somehow mutated into an age of superheroes and skinny and pallid looking action heroes who look like they’re still in high school. McBain is two pills of the right stuff, and there’s no need to call the doctor in the morning. From writer / director James Glickenhaus.

Synapse has just issued McBain on Blu-ray, which marks its high definition debut. The transfer sparkles in a crystal clear widescreen image, and special features include a new commentary by Glickenhaus and the trailer.