Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media
Captain America (1992)
Paramount Home Video | Review by Dan Taylor

Captain America starring Matt SalingerMuch like THE PUNISHER, this feature film sat on the shelf for a few years before being picked up for video. (It was filmed in 1989 and not released on tape until three years later.) Though not as horrifyingly bad as you may've been told, CAPTAIN AMERICA is a perplexing, bewildering attempt to bring the red, white & blue-clad hero to the silver screen.

I'll be totally honest with you...I've never been a big fan of tha Captain. In fact, his rampant patriotism and "gee whiz" mannerisms were always a bit too Supermanish for my tastes. I've always preferred comic book heroes that busted heads first and asked questions last (ala Wild Dog). I guess the only time that I followed the comic adventures of the Cap was during the 1970s when the funky black Falcon was his partner; you know, that whole Shaft-with-wings thing. What's the point??? I don't know how much of this flick is faithful to the comic origins of the character, and I don't really care.

Oh yeah, the flick -- starting off strongly enough, director Albert Pyun (DANGEROUSLY CLOSE, RADIOACTIVE DREAMS) whips us through the origins of Nazi super-fascist Red Skull and his American "brother," Captain A. Directed and written with a heavy-handed, ham-fisted approach, the opening 20 contain the flick's most lively moments. Oozingly evil Krauts and Wops, double-crossing Nazi spies, secret passageways, cheesy rockets, and that impeccable German fashion sense give the start a period charm not unlike the underrated ZONE TROOPERS. And then, it all screeches to a sleep-inducing halt as Captain America gets sent into cryogenic suspension in Alaska (don't ask) and the Red Skull tires of wearing that exhaustive makeup and undergoes reconstructive surgery.

When the flick pops into the present, what little drive and spunk it had evaporates into thin air, leaving the viewer with the equivalent of a run-of-the-mill "terrorists have kidnapped the President" TV-movie drivel (where's Bill Devane and Susan Lucci?). Oddly enough, for a movie titled CAPTAIN AMERICA, Matt Salinger spends precious little time in the ridiculous CA costume; at least Christopher Reeve spent a healthy chunk of the Superman films wearing the garb. Chasing (and being chased by) bad guys around Italy, the script reduces the character to a sixth-rate James Bond clone with the grown-up daughter of his old girlfriend as a sidekick / foil / accomplice...yawn.


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