Action Movie Fanatix Review: The Annihilators

They Fought For Their Country.  Now, They’re Fighting For Their Friends.

Starring: Christopher Stone, Andy Wood, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Jim Antonio, Gerrit Graham, Paul Koslo

Director: Charles E. Sellier, Jr.

1985  |  87 Minutes  |  Rated R

“They wanna fuck with us, we’ll fuck with them.” – Roy Boy Jaggers

I had read about The Annihilators online and I really like ensemble action movies like The Expendables and the beginning of Predator so I figured I should check it out.

Gangs have taken over the city of South Point, GA through extortion, robbery and murder.  After one of their own is killed, The Annihilators, a Vietnam War special ops platoon, get back together to make things right in South Point and take out the gang’s leader, Roy Boy and his thugs.

The opening of The Annihilators appears to just be some stock footage of the Vietnam War with all of the credits blasted onto the screen with a machine gun sound effect.  Awesome effect but the sound effect got a little annoying after the 20th time.  What follows is one of The Annihilators’ last missions in ‘Nam.  It all appears to be shot in a U.S. forest with some jungle noises played over the top.  The Viet Cong troops don’t get subtitles for anything they say.  It obviously isn’t important.  It is this battle that results in Joe’s crippling injury.

We then flash forward to 1985 South Point, GA.  Joe is now wheel chair bound and working in his dad’s convenience store.  He gets killed with a meat tenderizing mallet by Roy Boy who kind of looks like a chubby, mulleted Kurt Russell.  A perfect excuse to get The Annihilators back together.

The Annihilators come to town and teach the citizens of South Point how to defend themselves and their own version of morse code.  Three raps on an object signifies danger and unity.

In between crappy shootouts there is a little turmoil caused by Woody’s alcoholism.  Woody then falls in love with a local waitress.  That is pretty much it for extra story.  They then take it to the gangs a couple times before the final shoot out.

The cover of the VHS would lead you to believe that these former soldiers are going to go all commando on the gangs.  That awesome mask that the one Annihilator is wearing never makes an appearance and neither does his crossbow.  Big letdown there.  They mostly end up in shoot outs and fist fights with the gang members where no one is hurt.  It is a lot of scenes of guys shooting at each other from across the street but never hitting anything.  Just a bunch of bullets pinging off metal objects around them.

We are told that there are three separate gangs in South Point.  One would think that The Annihilators could run around killing tons and tons of gang members from all three gangs.  Instead there are probably less than 15 gang members killed in the whole thing.  Not exactly annihilation.

The final battle is actually pretty fun.  Not even remotely realistic but fun none the less.  The action isn’t edge of your seat but there are some good kills.

One high point for me was the Roy Boy character.  It wasn’t a career defining acting job for Paul Koslo (or maybe it was) but it was an incredibly entertaining character.  He always seems to be standing in the middle of the street yelling things out to the neighborhood.  He calls a ton of people mothers… not mother fuckers, just mothers.

After an early scene that featured a topless girl getting stabbed and a wheel chair bound vet getting his head smashed in with a mallet the entire rest of the movie was very tame.  Had it gone with a more violent take on the same story it would probably be a cult classic action movie.  Had it been a little closer to what was “promised” by the VHS cover it would have been awesome.

The Annihilators was pretty much what I expected… a poorly acted, low budget 80s actioner.  It’s worth watching but only if you go in with low expectations.  I don’t really know why but I can see myself watching it again.  Hopefully the VHS holds up.