Tuesday, March 7, 2023

ATTACK FORCE Z (1981) (Severin Films Blu-ray Review/Screenshots)


Label: Severin Films
Region Code: Region-Free
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 93 Minutes 36 Seconds  
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85.1)
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HD MA Dual-Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Tim Burstall 
Cast: Mel Gibson, Sam Neill, John Phillip Law, Chris Haywood, John Waters, Sylvia Chang

Attack Force Zed (1981) is an Australian-Taiwanese co-production loosely based on real-life events, with an ensemble cast starring pre-fame Mel Gibson (Mad Max) and Sam Neill (Possession) as well as  and John Phillip Law (Danger: Diabolik, Barbarella), Chris Haywood (Razorback) and John Waters (Breaker Morant) as a band of multi-national soldiers with the elite Z Special Force, a top-secret Pacific WW II commando unit, are tasked with recovering a high-priority passenger from an American military plane that has been shot down over a South Pacific island held by the Japanese. 

The five-man assault team arrives off the coast of the island by sub and launches a daring mission via kayak, clandestinely arriving on the island they encounter stiff opposition with some casualties, including a somewhat surprisingly cold-blooded resolution for one of the wounded soldiers by their own. Once there they reluctantly team-up with a famer who is also a resistance leader named Lin (Koo Chuan Hsiung, The Silent Wife), alongside his daughter Chien Hua (Sylvia Huang, Mad Mission Series), to take on the oppressive Japanese troops stationed on the island, leaving a wake of blood and carnage as they move along. 

This is a decent low-budget military operation flick, the ensemble cast of are a blast with early turns from pre-fame Mel Gibson and Sam Neill are terrific. You can see both had charisma to spare even then, especially Gibson who showcases his action chops by setting a hey wagon and fire and shoving it atop a machine gun nest! The Taiwanese 
locations look great and the production value is strong throughout, it's easy to buy into the locations, even if the ham-fisted love story between John Phillip Law and Sylvia Huang will have you rolling your eyes. Directed by Ozploitation veteran Tim Burstall (Alvin Purple) the direction is fairly taught and the violence is well done but not overly slick or showy, with plenty of hand to hand combat,  strangling, knife throwing, and bloody squib-action with machine gun fire, and explosions galore. 

Audio/Video: Attack Force Z (1981) arrives uncut on region-free Blu-ray from Severin Films in 1080p HD framed 1.85:1 widescreen, scanned in 2K from the original negative. The source is in great shape with only a few minor nicks and scratches to contend with, the grain looks naturally course throughout with some nice texturing to it, and colors looks terrific. The lone audio option is English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Dual-Mono with optional English subtitles. It handles dialogue well, and the sounds of gunfire and explosions are full-bodied, the score from Eric Jupp sounds great even if it does come off as sorely dated and corny sounding, but it does the job. 

Extras on the disc include an archival 29-min The Z Men Debriefed featurette, directed by Mark Hartley (Not Quite Hollywood) featuring Producers John McCallum and actors John Waters and Chris Haywood, reminiscing about the making of the film, how director Phillip Noyce (Patriot Games) was originally tasked with directing before being replaced with Tim Burstall, this has some fun recollections of Burstall and his capabilities, as well as that of Neill, Gibson and Law, and enjoying time spent with the local Taiwanese film crew. We also have a 3-min black and white Photo Gallery and 3-min Trailer for the film. The single-disc release arrives in a black keepcase with a single-sided sleeve of artwork.  

Special Features:
- The Z Men Debriefed – Interviews With Executive Producer John McCallum And Actors John Waters And Chris Haywood (29 min) 
- Photo Gallery (3 min) 
- Trailer (3 min) 

Attack Force Z is a decent military-operation flick, the ensemble cast gives it a whiff of prestige in hindsight given that Neill and Gibson went onto be huge international stars, but it's still has enough pulpy cheese and rough ozploitation edge to it that will please the exploitation film fans. Severin's presentation looks and sounds terrific and the extras are quite enjoyable, so have at it if this men-on-a-mission flick sounds intriguing.  

Screenshots from the Severin Films Blu-ray: