A Movie A Day #300: Death Before Dishonor (1987, directed by Terry Leonard)


In a fictional Middle Eastern country, tough-as-nails Col. Halloran (Brian Keith) has been kidnapped by terrorists.  The leader of the terrorists is named Jihad and he is played by the No Mercy Man himself, Rockne Tarkington.  The American ambassador (Paul Winfield) is a weak-willed Carter appointee who says, “We have to go through proper channels.”  Gunnery Sgt. Burns (Fred Dryer) ain’t got no time for the proper channels.  All of his men have been killed.  His mentor has been kidnapped and is being tortured with a power drill.  Even if it means breaking all the rules, Sgt. Burns is going to rescue Halloran, defeat Jihad, and kill anyone who has ever chanted “Death to the U.S.A.”

Totally a product of the 80s and about as politically incorrect as they come, Death Before Dishoner was an attempt to turn former football player-turned-TV star Fred Dryer into a movie star.  It did not work, though Fred does his best Clint Eastwood impersonation, chugging beer and speaking exclusively in tough one-liners.  Death Before Dishonor is dumb but entertaining.  (It may have been made for New World Pictures but it’s a Cannon Film at heart.)  The movie’s highlight if Fred Dryer chasing the bad guys in a jeep, keeping one hand on the steering wheel while using the other hand to fire a bazooka.  A close second is Brian Keith barely flinching while taking a power drill to the back of the hand.  No one’s tougher than an 80s action hero!

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