David J. Desjardin
Michela Da Sacco
Touted as the “ULTIMATE homage to 80’s action movies” Heavy Weapon: Precursor to War has set a pretty high bar for itself. After all, we’re talking about paying tribute to everything from Rambo (First Blood Part II), Commando, Cobra, Bloodsport, Iron Eagle, Lone Wolf McQuade, Missing in Action… even 80s action movies that were themselves parodies like Action Jackson and Reno Williams. That’s a tough list to live up to, especially for a story told through a comic without the assistance of a brash soundtrack and the constant sound of background explosions.
So, does HEAVY WEAPON live up to it’s lofty expectations? Yes… and no. While the story obviously takes its cues from the aforementioned library of epic 80s action flicks, Precursor to War plays things a little too straight at times and avoids the over-the-top elements that would have turned an average homage into an ULTIMATE one. The plot itself is one that’s sure to be familiar to anyone who’s ever watched Rambo III or Commando; a war-weary soldier is asked by his former commanding officer to return to the battlefield and refuses, only to be drawn into the conflict anyway when his mentor is caught behind enemy lines.
In this case, that solider is Sergeant John Magnum, a former elite Special Forces members who bears a striking resemblance to musclebound actor Terry Crews. His commanding officer? Colonel Deckard, who I can only assume is an homage to Rick Deckard (Blade Runner) and Colonel Sam Trautman (Rambo). He also reminded me of a young Tom Selleck for some reason. Anyway, after sticking it to his court-appointed psychologist (in more ways than one) like a real macho douchebag, Magnum packs his bags and takes off for the sleepy town of Redland City (ie. Hope from First Blood) where his first order of business is stomping some convenience store robbers. After thoroughly putting his boot up their collective asses and being questioned by local law enforcement, Deckard appears to recruit Magnum for one last mission.
Apparently, a team of soldiers have been caught in South America and are being held prisoner by a drug cartel in Costa Rica. Deckard wants Magnum’s help is rescuing them but he declines. Deckard leaves without him and when word reaches Magnum that Deckard and his men were also captured, Magnum vows to launch a one man war against the drug cartel to rescue his former mentor and friend. Magnum lands in Costa Rico, kills a deer for dinner and then plows through an entire army of men before being captured by the villain of this story, Vladimir, and his strongarm cronie, Koh. See, this whole thing isn’t about South American or drug cartels at all… it’s really all been part of Vladimir’s elaborate evil plan to get revenge on Magnum for killing his brother, Dmitri.
Before long Magnum breaks free, finds his friends and setting booby traps in a game of cat and mouse with Vlad’s forces. It’s all very action-oriented and while the script hits all the right marks it never really rises above the genre references it so lovingly mimics. Part of this could also be attributed to the medium (comics vs film) or even the artwork, which does an excellent job establishing the quieter aspects of the story, like establishing the setting and characters, but lacks a sense of impact in some of the key action sequences.
Credit where credits due, Desjardin and his team have gone to great lengths to make HEAVY WEAPON feel like an 80s action movie, right down to the various VHS and Betamax inspired covers to the tale of a lone soldier going against a foreign army for revenge. They even took the time to create a string of fake, 80s-style product tie-in advertisements like a Tiger Electronics inspired “Twin Hydras” handheld game and a “Borgmorphers Warrior Force” toy line. I just wish some of those concepts had made it into the main story, like Vlad’s army turning out to be Borgmorphers instead of run-of-the-mill bad guy soldiers.
Want to learn more about this comic? Check out the official HEAVY WEAPON website and get a free 15-page preview from the book.
OUT OF 5
HEAVY WEAPON aims high as an ambitious “ULTIMATE” tribute to action cinema and while it doesn’t quite reach that mark, Desjardin and his team do deliver a solid story filled with plenty of 80s references that will have fans breaking out their guidebooks to find every last Easter egg.
+ Decent storyline and cast
+ Imagining Terry Crews as “black Rambo”
– Action need more impact
– Lack of over the top moments