War Bus Commando video boxWe are introduced to the main character, Johnny Hondo the Unstoppable Green Beret, during a daring raid against a Russian outpost in the middle of some backwater third-world country (that suspiciously looks like a small villa in Italy).

Johnny’s mission: To free a captive CIA agent who is being interrogated by Russian intelligence.

Johnny, dressed all in black, manages to sneak into the villa (OOPS! I mean, ‘Russian outpost’) in broad daylight past oodles of Russian soldiers by hunching his shoulders and pussyfooting like Elmer Fudd. All the while, we are repeatedly shown scenes of the CIA agent’s interrogation at the hands of a Spetznatz agent who looks like Lacroix from “Forever Knight”.

Johnny bursts into the room, spraying bullets from his submachine gun like water sprays from a fire hydrant — and the six or so guards standing on all sides of the CIA agent are dropped in a hail of gunfire. Miraculously, the hostage is unharmed.

Handing a pistol to the CIA agent, Johnny leads him out of the base, where at least twenty guards are waiting in the courtyard. Apparently, Johnny’s sneaking techniques don’t work once shots have been fired.

The apocalypse begins: Johnny slaughters every last Russian, with the help of the CIA agent (who shares Johnny’s ability to hit absolutely anything with his weapon, regardless of range or movement of the target). The Russians expedite their own deaths by actually leaving good cover to jog toward Johnny and get shot, rather than firing from behind cover. We’re even treated to alternated slow motion close-up shots of Johnny’s weapon spitting ejected shell casings and Russians dropping like dominoes – and we learn that the H&K MP5 fires from a closed bolt as these shots are repeated over and over.

After firing well over eighteen clips worth of ammunition, Johnny runs out of bullets just as more Russians begin making their way down a mountain pass toward the villa, or Russian base, or whatever it is, I can’t lie any more. He begins to radio a helicopter to pick them up after snatching up an AK-47. Johnny engages these new Russians, who line up single file along the path down the hill for his convenience. You’ll laugh out loud as the Russians gleefully hop over the bodies of their fallen comrades on the path to take the exact same position that their buddy did – just to get shot. Infantry tactics for films like this is hilarious.

The Weather Helicopter To The RescueApparently, this new band of Russians poses a threat to the helicopter, and it is unable to rescue them. This is when Johnny’s magical abilities first manifest (see this film’s General Weirdness), when he says “I’ll handle this” and his AK-47 is transformed into a rocket launcher (I kid you not, a full length rocket launcher appears from nowhere! This guy is better than David Copperfield). He fires it several times without reloading (more magic), and all the Russians die. The helicopter appears, looking very much like a traffic helicopter, and the two board and fly to safety.

I’ll Handle This BeforeI’ll Handle This After
“I’ll handle this!” Nothing up mah sleeve…POOF!! Now I’ve got an RPG!

After some interlude scenes of Johnny frolicking in “Montana” (could be the Alps) with an unknown female companion, the real movie begins. A man from “The Government” appears at Johnny’s house to offer him a mission: Reclaim “Top Secret Documents” hidden in Afghanistan. Nope, Johnny’s retired.

But, it turns out that Johnny’s dad wants him to go, because nine years ago Johnny’s dad was trying to get the documents back to the U.S., and was intercepted by the Russians and had to stash them in a school bus. In a plot hole large enough to march the former Red Army through, he was able to hide the bus before having to vamoose. Documents, being as heavy and bulky as they are, obviously would have weighed him down too much to escape – so they had be left behind. I wish I were making this up.

After a poignant scene with his father (who is on his death bed), Johnny takes the job.

Take My Gun, JohnnyFrom the Silly Pathos Department: Johnny’s father is on his death bed in a hospital. Johnny tells him about his assignment. Johnny’s dad asks him to take the assignment, with the following argument:
Johnny’s Dad: “You must take the assignment, Johnny! Restore my military honor! Here, take my pistol, keep it with you!
With that, Johnny’s dad produces a handgun from the nightstand drawer and hands it to Johnny! In the hospital! This is the kind of hospital that lets you smoke, drink and gamble, too. Right.

Slurp It Down!He goes to the “Headquarters in Pakistan” (maybe another little villa or bed and breakfast in Italy), where he meets the sorry lot of morons that will be his support staff on this mission: A pretty blonde CIA agent without whom this little band “couldn’t get a match through customs”, a four-eyed gunsmith who looks at weapons as though they were women, and a troll-like radio operator. This is also the time that our noses are rubbed in the radio operator’s odious eating habits as he feeds off of pears straight out of the can (very easy to come by in Pakistan).

After “The Briefing” which is basically a rehash of the whole pointless mess that passes for plot, Johnny loads his Huge Bag O’ Gunz the nerdy weapon smith’s only contribution to this travesty – aboard another traffic helicopter and away he goes.

Tourist in AfghanistanJohnny bails out of the traffic helicopter because Russian Migs are quickly approaching. Once Johnny leaps out and the traffic helicopter heads for home, the Migs seem to loose interest in both the helicopter and Johnny, and fly away. Dressed like a stylish Italian tourist lugging a titanic kluge bag, Johnny begins to seek out and destroy the legions of Russian soldiers that dot the Afghanistan landscape (for reasons that are a mystery. Apparently, the Red Army placed outposts randomly along roads and camped hither and yon throughout Afghanistan without radios, armor or air support. As a result, Johnny easily annihilates them in a series of meaningless battles – they only outnumber him about two dozen to one at best. Any critical thinking skills you had would have been ruined by now anyway).

Johnny and his followersJohnny is somewhat lost, because his leap from the traffic helicopter was unexpected. However, he meets an Afghan boy (about twelve of thirteen years old) and his suspiciously light-skinned older sister, who offer him a rather bizarre proposal: If he will take them to the United States to live, they will not only guide him all around Afghanistan, but they will let him use their “spare horse”.

At this point my laughter reached a fevered pitch: An Italian man trying his best to pretend to be from the United States is promising to take an Arab boy and his Italian sister with him so that they can all be Americans. Does this make sense? Anyhow, the kid ends up being the coolest character, calling Johnny “boss” all the time.

Unfortunately, just as you thought it couldn’t get worse they are all captured by moujahadin guerillas, who beat the crap out of Johnny while interrogating him about what he knows about “Captain Johnson”. In a disaster of post-production editing, Johnny seems familiar with who Captain Johnson is (even though the audience has no idea)!

Meanwhile, the kid and his sister are allowed to wander around entertaining the guerillas, which predictably turns violent when one of the leering soldiers tried to remove the young lady’s veil. She begins hosing them with an AK-47, which gives her brother a chance to free Johnny. The girl gets gut shot before Johnny can start sowing grenades like seeds in the field, and lives only long enough to gasp at her brother to go with Johnny to the US.

It is at this point that one of the most disturbing aspects of this film becomes apparent to the audience: Hundreds of soldiers are slaughtered in a camp of perhaps two dozen men, because enemies emerge mysteriously from tents, buildings or just over the next hill ready to be butchered.

It’s NarniaAnyhow, Johnny finds the moujahadin prison camp, a magical Narnia-like realm which holds Captain Johnson and his sidekick. The prison camp is a strange place. Decending a ladder into a cave, the visitor comes into a lush miniature world under the rebel camp. This is where the prisoners hang out. Apparently, this realm is so wonderful that no one wants to leave: There are no bars to keep anybody in!

These pair of losers really round out this party. They are strangely familiar with the documents that Johnny is seeking, because they know his father. By this time the coincidences are so thick and unlikely that this comes as no surprise.

These two direct Johnny and the little boy to the bus, which has apparently been “hidden” for the past nine years.

It’s Really Hidden, HereThe bus that they were looking for ends up being a Blue Bird yellow school bus, like the kind you went to elementary school in. What’s more, it would be hidden only to the blind…it’s entire camouflage scheme consisting of a bunch of spare lumber being stacked up along all sides of the bus. The yellow peeking through the stacks of wood probably could be seen for miles.

It makes sense in an odd way, though. This motley band is able to scrounge for parts; a fresh battery, gobs of sheet metal and an arc welder from a nearby town that resembles a small village in Greece. I never thought that Afghanistan would be filled with such modern luxuries, but they apparently don’t need to salvage a school bus, so they must have as many motorized vehicles as they need.

The War Bus ROARS INTO ACTION!The bus undergoes a complete metamorphosis, and is transformed from a stupid school bus into the War Bus (the film makers achieve this effect by using a completely different bus), a magical vehicle the likes of which has not been seen since K.I.T.T. from “Knight Rider” so many years ago. Johnny searches the Bus for the documents, and finds an ammo box in the floor. Confident that this contains the stuff he’s looking for, he replaces it without checking. This is a ‘plot point’ (plot point?) that will return later in the film.

The War Bus “roars” into action (about the same way that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang “roared”), but the protagonists only have 5 gallons of gas, and that wont get them to the Italian (Pakistan) border. They must raid a Russian fuel depot to get the gasoline that they need.

Stopping a few hundred yards away, these four clowns plan their attack (the tattered critical thinking that I had left screamed “THEY’VE STOPPED WITHIN SIGHT OF THE BASE”, but I did not hear). Since time is of the essence, they plan to attack right away (a plan that could have been made on the road).

Here’s some good cover AAAGH!The War Bus crashes through the gates of the miserable little depot, guns blazing. Completely unprepared for the assault (even though the War Bus stopped easily within sight of them) Russian soldiers die, and die, and die. They use the same dubious infantry tactics as before, except a few decide to take cover behind big stacks of oil cans (with predictable results).

They also trickle out of tents and buildings rather than fire out of windows (it reminds one of the monster generators in Gauntlet. However, the stupid protagonists never catch on that they could end the stream of Russians by lobbing a grenade in that tent over there).

The entirety of the gasoline in this depot is stored in a two-and-a-half ton small fuel truck (by some miracle, it does not catch a stray bullet and explode). Instead of pulling the bus alongside the truck and running the hose from the truck to the War Bus, they stop a few yards away to fill up small gas cans and run them over to the Bus. This, of course, exposes them to enemy fire, and each protagonists gets hit at least once. They show that they are injured by staggering and yelling the obligatory “I’m hit!”, but it doesn’t stop them from hurrying the gas cans along. They are also quick healers: by the next scene, they’re all fine. The little kid even takes a RPG blast to the face and is knocked ass-over-teakettle in the War Bus, but after some moaning and rolling around he gets up and dusts himself off.

Inside the smelly war busNeedless to say, everybody gets away just fine (occasionally wincing and moaning to prove that they’re still injured, but they’re awfully spry for taking 7.62mm Soviet slugs). Johnny gets around to looking at the documents that are stored in the Bus, and finds that the ammo box doesn’t have documents but gold bars instead!

Everybody suddenly begins acting like they’ve got the Treasure of Sierra Madre, even though the little box could only hold about four gold bars. Captain Johnson and his sidekick hold Johnny and the kid at gunpoint, spewing about how they’ve searched for that gold for nine years. Apparently, they knew Johnny’s dad had hidden the gold, but got captured by the moujahadin before they could get it. Go figure.

Anyhow, they make Johnny drive to the Greece/Italy border (or the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, whichever you prefer), and kick Johnny and the kid out of the Bus just in time for more Russians to appear over the hill (they are unaccompanied by vehicles, so one is forced to wonder how they got there).

Gunfire ensues, and even though the War Bus is completely immune to damage, Captain Johnson drives it into a ditch anyway. This proves too much for the War Bus, and it explodes.

Johnny and the kid are rescued from Russian gunfire by the blonde CIA agent and her boss riding in a jeep. A horse, also immune to gunfire, begins running behind the jeep as they make their getaway. Everyone laughs as the kid explains that it’s his horse, and that she never goes anywhere without him.

The boss of the operation apologies to Johnny, saying that he was sorry for not telling Johnny about the gold and for setting him up. The film ends with Johnny shrugging and saying, “I don’t really mind.”

I heard sobbing…it was several hours later that I realized that the sobbing was mine.



This entry was posted on Thursday, January 10th, 2008 at 11:45 am and is filed under Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

1 Comment so far

  1. Benny B. on March 4, 2010 9:57 am

    A very thorough review of Warbus Commando.

    Circa 1990 when I was a middle school tot, I somehow talked my gaggle of friend out of renting a popular ninja flick at our local video rental place and successfully lobbied to rent Warbus Commando.

    It was so bad, I don’t think we even watched it past the opening massacre. We laughed so hard at the sheer badness of it, that was all we needed. This rental blunder is still brought up by my circle of friends that were lucky enough to witness it.

    One scene that I clearly remember and which we rewinded 100 times due to the incredulousness of it, was the scene in which either the good guys or the bad guys (can’t remember) lobbed a grenade at the other. On the surface nothing special, but upon closer inspection, the soldier simply grabbed a loose rock from the near by cliff wall and chucked it as a grenade which of course exploded and killed multiple enemies! I can still hear the laughter that erupted.

    Anyway, that’s more evidence for possibly the crappiest and least thought out movie of all time (as if it really needed it).

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