Dark Mission (1987)

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CIA agent Derek Carpenter (a glum-looking Christopher Mitchum) is dispatched to Peru to track down former revolutionary-turned-drug lord Luis Montana (Christopher Lee). Once there, matters become complicated when he becomes embroiled in a turf war between Montana and another faction led by the seductive Elena (Alicia Moro), and doubly so when he falls for Montana's daughter (Cristina Higueras). Prolific European erotic horror filmmaker Jesús Franco seems an odd choice to direct this very mainstream-oriented action thriller; while the end result looks fairly professional, Franco's leisurely pacing and the film's low budget undermine any serious attempt to deliver the suspense or action pyrotechnics required by this sort of movie. And shorn of his signature obsessions and penchant for off-kilter surrealism, Franco becomes just another workmanlike foreign director churning out subpar films designed to emulate Hollywood product. Franco does manage to flesh out the character of Montana beyond the usual stereotype of the imperious gangster, making him a principled and conflicted man who views his current trade as another method of combating American imperialism. The perennially classy Lee responds with a typically fine-tuned performance; unfortunately, the rest of the cast, which includes European sex star Brigitte Lahaie and Richard Harrison (who seems very upset with his buffoonish character) are stuck in one-dimensional roles. This French-Spanish production was overseen by Franco's longtime collaborators Eurocine, who produced several of his notable titles, including The Awful Dr. Orlof and Female Vampire.