The Spy Inferno (1988)

Directed by: Bruce Lambert
Written by: Samuel West
Producer: Tomas Tang
Starring: Tom Kelly, Scott Hoyer, Michael Moldau, Jane Welsh, Bob Keaton & Kathleen Court

Sourcing from the seemingly endless well of Thai actioners starring Sorapong Chatree (and Filmark themselves populating their frame with random Westerners and Hong Kong talent such as Kong Do and Sun Chien), the main body of the movie (in Roman characters) Suer Pooparn (thank you to Jesús Manuel Pérez Molina for this info) is used to weave a tale of village war in woods, fields and with Filmark's talent running alongside it. The mix and match is... well mixed but the original makers show some momentum initially. Then the basic story is dragged out to feature length...

The National Army and the guerillas are at war and in the midst of it, George and Johnny (in footage shot by Filmark) have stolen documents outlining secrets of the National Army. Protected by the guerillas, making sure these documents are not taken across the border is Agent 13 (the third, main piece courtesy of Tomas Tang's company) and over in the original movie, commander Chris joins up with border fighter Frank Ford (Sorapong Chatree). Frank's former girlfriend is fighting with the guerillas however...

Featuring as natural acting and staging as you can expect from a cast and crew that looks like they were informed of their roles 5 minutes before action was called, to Filmark's credit they do a good job of inserting themselves into the original narrative. Granted it's easy enough to match army uniforms but at least they are taking 'fire' from the other movie (and hence explosives and effects are called for) rather than just looking at it. Getting some pretty sloppy and threadbare exposition dumps out of the way early too, there is a sense here that the basics can carry this entire package (including the Thai footage) into acceptable territory for genre.

Because while dramatic conflict is in no way felt, it is established and then the makers go to town by matching the mayhem in the advertising art. Now, it's not stylish mayhem but rather it's merely big in volume. A lot of automatic firearms are utilized but staged in a stiff manner, including by the stuntmen responsible for reactions. On one hand admirable that they are trying, it doesn't lead to anything particularly snappy or cool other than the sparse use of squibs, basher-style kung fu and a boomerang knife introduced late as Chatri's main weapon of choice.

Clearly restrained by budget, no amount of heart can maintain momentum whilst crafting cinema this basic and threadbare and that is what happens ultimately for The Spy Inferno. More interesting as a business-venture for Filmark as clearly their poster promises the right content and there was a craving for action cinema in the thriving home video land of the 80s, it certainly isn't the hidden gem of Thai cinema presented at 80% or so by Filmark here. Some amusement pops up when combining the new shoot with the old but investment in what Filmark was about through and through generates more entertainment here.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson