The Soldier is really only remembered for one scene. The Soldier (Ken Wahl) is being chased, on skis, across the Austrian Alps by two KGB agents, who are also on skis. The Soldier is in Austria to track down a KGB agent named Dracha (Klaus Kinski, who only has a few minutes of screen time and who is rumored to have turned down a role in Raiders of the Lost Ark so he could appear in this movie). The Russians want the Soldier dead because they’re evil commies. While being chased, the Soldier goes over a ski slope and, while in the air, executes a perfect 360° turn while firing a machine gun at the men behind him. It’s pretty fucking cool.
The Soldier, who name is never revealed, works for the CIA. He leads a team of special agents. None of them get a name either, though one of them is played by the great Steve James. When a shipment of Plutonium is hijacked so that it can be used it to contaminate half of the world’s supply of oil, The Soldier is assigned to figure out who is behind it. Because terrorists are demanding that Israel withdraw from the West Bank, Mossad assigns an agent (Alberta Watson) to help out The Soldier. She gets a name, Susan Goodman. She sleeps with The Soldier because, she puts it, the world is about to end anyway.
The Soldier was obviously meant to be an American James Bond but Ken Wahl did not really have the screen charisma necessary to launch a franchise. He is convincing in the action scenes but when he has to deliver his lines, he is as stiff as a board. Fortunately, the majority of the movie is made up of action scenes. From the minute this briskly paced movie starts, people are either getting shot or blown up. Imagine a James Bond film where, instead of tricking the bad guys into explaining their plan, Bond just shot anyone who looked at him funny. That’s The Soldier, a film that is mindless but entertaining.
Ken Wahl may have been stiff and Klaus Kinski may have been wasted but there are still some interesting faces in the cast. Keep an eye out for William Prince as the President, Ron Harper as the director of the CIA, Zeljko Ivanek as a bombmaker, Jeffrey Jones as the assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense, and George Straight performing in a redneck bar. Best of all, one of the Soldier’s men is played by Steve James, who will be recognized by any Cannon Films aficionado.
Surprisingly, The Solider is not a Cannon film. It certainly feels like one.