The Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission - Telly Savalas (The Dirty Dozen, TV’s Kojak) is at the helm in this Dirty Dozen sequel as Major Wright, the leader of a rag-tag group of fighting men, who must foil a plan by the Nazis intent on attacking Washington, D.C. using a poisonous nerve gas. The Dozen’s deadly mission: infiltrate the Nazi’s factory in occupied France and destroy the gas production … at any cost.
The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission - Major Wright (Telly Savalas) is back in action with The Dirty Dozen who are on a mission to stop the Nazis from creating a Fourth Reich in a move toward world domination. The Dozen face what may be their fatal, final mission in this exciting, no holds barred action film.
“Welcome to World War 2”
Sequels to popular movies are nothing new. In fact sequels and expanded world building crossing multiple franchises can be dated all the way back to Universal’s Monster Movies. While some movies need sequels, other movies are neatly told and wrapped up in a single entry. 1967’s Lee Marvin staring ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ while tons of fun, just never needed another entry; but that didn’t stop producers from cranking out three made-for-TV sequels. With ‘The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission,’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission’ We now have Telly Savalas leading another dozen men into the jaws of death - because they have no other choice.
‘The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission’
Following a familiar formula from the previous entries, we watch as Major Wright, a fun Telly Savalas, is now in command of assembling a group dozen men for a mission to certain death: Destroy the Nazi’s cache of super secret poison gas and extract a team of Nazi scientists who are being held hostage. These U.S. soldiers aren’t being assembled because they’re the best of the best but instead because they’re criminals - killers, rapists, and thieves - and are therefore expendable, but we're still supposed to like them.
The movie follows traditional TV movie structure, saving notes of importance for just before the commercial break fadeout, baiting you to stay tuned. While the movie may be predictable, I've got to be honest and say that it was fun. With some pretty decent production values, there’s plenty of action to enjoy and the cast, including Savalas, appear to be having a great time. Along with Telly Savalas, Ernest Borgnine reprises his role as General Wordon and he doesn’t waste time giving his role that unique Borgnine touch of just being ever so slightly over-the-top.
In no way does this ‘Dirty Dozen’ out shine the original, but it’s a nice compliment and a significant improvement of the previous made-for-TV sequel, 'Next Mission,' which featured Lee Marvin in one of his final roles. Helping to make this movie even more watchable is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously while staying true to the TV action movie formula. There are bits of humor peppered throughout while also making great use of Yugoslavian locations, night shoots, and it’s modest budget. Again, this isn’t a great movie, it’s just a fun one.
‘The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission’
Since ‘Deadly’ mission proved to be a halfway decent success, someone in some production office must have thought “The more Dirty Dozen on TV screens the better!” Only that wasn’t such a good idea after all. On top of a ‘Dirty Dozen’ TV series headlined by the always fun Ben Murphy, 1988 saw yet another made-for-TV movie once again staring an aging Telly Savalas as Major Wright and a campy Ernest Borgnine as General Wordon. This movie took the goodwill established with the last film and completely wasted it. ‘Fatal Mission’ feels more like a bad TV series pilot movie rather than a “Friday Night Movie Of The Week” event. The results are actually rather embarrassing at times for this great cast.
Joining the team for this outing is Jeff Conway, an unintentionally goofy Erik Estrada, and a fairly good Ernie Hudson who seems to be playing the only developed character in the movie. With this new Dozen, Major Wright must lead these men to hijack a train carrying the twelve men that would ensure the Thousand Year Reich. On top of this seemingly impossible mission is news that the Nazi’s know of Major Wright, his tactics, and have somehow managed to insert a double agent into the team of twelve. Wright must suss out the traitor and complete the mission knowing the Nazis are likely to be a step ahead at every turn.
This should have been a slam dunk, at least in terms of made-for-TV entertainment. Modestly budgeted and also shot in Yugoslavia, the motive of the film seems to be “Have more guns! More Explosions!” while basically rehashing many of the same plot beats of the previous movie. Had more of the previous film’s cast returned, it might have worked better. However, seeing Wright once again assemble a cadre of criminals is more than a little tedious. No one is given anything remotely resembling any kind of character development, except for Ernie Hudson who does his best to deliver a decent performance, only he’s completely wasted and rarely seen.
Another element bringing things down are the Germans, or rather the people pretending to be Germans. The accents are so thick and fake that it sounds as if the actors studied episodes of ‘Hogans Heroes.’ The thriller “who done it” element should have been a great fit, but here, once the ultimate Judas is revealed, you don’t really care. If you’ve read any of Agatha Christie’s works, it’s a reveal that is pretty easy to spot a mile ahead of the film.
Then you have the action - if you love loud booming 80s style gunshots, this is your movie. There are plenty of extended shots of guns rattling off an infinite amount of ammo, vehicles blowing up into big fireballs, a slow-moving train that creates any number of explosions without derailing, and plenty of Nazis meeting their end in a pantomime ballet of carnage. I was an extra in a couple films during my college years, it was fun but also boring at times. I would have loved to be one of these guys, randomly flopping myself to the ground as an explosion happens twenty yards away. In the right mindset, this movie is a hoot. If you’re expecting anything at all resembling the original, this is not your ‘Dirty Dozen.’ If you’re ready for “Good because it’s Bad” entertainment, I suggest you give this one a spin.
The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission - 3/5
The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission - 2/5
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Olive films offers up these two made-for-TV sequels to Blu-ray packed on a single BD50 disc. Housed in a standard Blu-ray case, the disc opens to a feature film select menu. Each title has their own main menu offering standard navigation options.
Olive Films brings ‘The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission’ to Blu-ray in an okay 1080p HD presentation. While the 1.33:1 pillar-boxed aspect ratio is maintained, neither film is necessarily all that impressive, but still a significant improvement. Colors are alright, if maybe a tad dark. Flesh tones are accurate and natural feeling. Black levels feel stable without too much of a crush problem. Film grain is also present leading to some nice detail levels. Characters, scenery, clothing - all come though with great clarity. The real knock against these movies is that they feel rather flat. In spite of even contrast and black levels, there just isn’t any real depth to the image. Some scenes, usually ones that are particularly bright appear to have been tweaked with a bit of edge enhancement.
The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission - 3/5
The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission - 3/5
Fairing better for ‘The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission’ are the English DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio tracks. Since these were two television movies made over 25 years ago, I was expecting some pretty flat audio. I was actually pleasantly surprised. Imaging has a lot of work to do throughout these movies, and sound effects, dialogue, and music come through with great clarity. While occupying only the stereo channels both films offer nice dimensionality, especially during the climactic battle and gunfight moments. Rife with heavy 80s bombastic sound effects, the sudden higher register sounds don’t blow out the mix or cause any noticeable distortion helping keep the audio nice and even.
The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission - 4/5
The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission - 4/5
No extra features are present.
If people think we’re living in an era of unnecessary sequels and spinoffs, all they need to do is look back some twenty years to see that this trend is hardly unique. ‘The Dirty Dozen: Deadly Mission’ and ‘The Dirty Dozen: Fatal Mission’ are undoubtably unnecessary sequels, however, there is little doubt they’re entertaining! Considering their made-for-TV origins, these two sequels offer better than average production values, entertaining casts, and fun, death-defying missions for the Dozen to execute. Going into these with the right mindset and marked expectations goes a long way to improving the experience. As movies, they're only OK. As TV movies from the late 1980s, they're actually pretty good. After all, you could be watching 1994's 'Scarlett' where she goes to Ireland and Timothy Dalton pretends to be Clark Gable! Olive Films offers these two 'Dozen' movies together on a single Blu-ray disc with okay HD presentations and surprisingly decent audio tracks. This one is most definitely for the fans, but if you’ve never seen them, they’re worth a look at least once.