I just did something I despise to do. I watched a sequel without watching the original film. To top it off I'm reviewing the damn thing. I hate doing this as it is a little unfair to people reading as it gives me no point of comparison. Well I decided to as what I gathered in research this "sequel" really has nothing to do with Ferdinando Baldi's Vietnam Macaroni Combat flick "Warbus." The only comparison is that they both contain an armored civilian transit vehicle of the title. Other than that there are no plot or character carry-overs. For that I feel I can give "Warbus II" a fair review.
Shit most people wouldn't even know this was a sequel thanks to all its alternate titles. Made as and released in Italy as ""Warbus II", it got retitled "The Last Warbus" for American release and even "War Bus Commando" for video. To top it off it also got released in some areas as "Afghanistan Connection" and the foreign tape I watched (not sure what country but it had burnt in Asian subtitles) had the title card read "Afghanistan: The Last Warbus". Jesus Christ how many titles does this flick have? It rives the number of alternate titles of Amando de Ossorio "Blind Dead" Tetralogy and Lucio Fulci's "City of the Living Dead."
Well "Warbus II' was made in 1989 (four years after the previous film) and was one of the last Macaroni Combat films ever made. The year before we saw John Rambo battle Russians in Afghanistan . The Italians no doubt thought if Rambo fights a war in Afghanistan then they better make a rip-off with a similar premises. So we get Rambo-knock off character Johnny Hondo (Mark Gregory) going on a mission deep inside Afghanistan. His mission is to obtain top secret documents his father hid in the floor of a dilapidated school bus. When his rescue crew aren't able to get him out, he and some new found friends fortify the school bus and take on the Russian army to get out of the country alive.
The Basic premises of the paper thin plot is badass and bat shit stupid at the same time. The idea of fortifying a bus and ramming it down the enemies throat while driving down a road to hell shooting everything in its path gets my testosterone pumpin'. Still if you think about it the premises is also fucking ludicrous.
First of all a bus is not the ideal vehicle to take on a far superior Russian force. It's slow as a snail with hernia and would have a snow ball's chance in hell to stand up against the firepower of tanks, helicopters and the barrage of machine gun fire. Thankfully our hero Hondo has the uncanny ability to blow up helicopters with a few shotgun blasts. Second it would be a miracle to get the damn bus running. It's been sitting in a bombed out shell of a building for nine fucking years. Conveniently a prisoner Hondo rescues happens to be a god damn mechanic and to top it off a nearby town happens to have a bus they can steal parts and gas from. Think of this... if you have time to steal parts and gas off the damn thing then why wouldn't you just steal the running bus and fortify that one instead. God this movie is giving me a headache!
Needless to say by the grace of god they get the damn school bus running and fortified in a matter of hours (why this mechanic isn't working for NASA I will never know). Of course they complete just in time before the Russians bombard the place with missiles. This however still isn't the most far-fetched thing the plot offers. That honor goes to a sequence where our bus enters a Russian military compound, manages to beat tanks, guards and a fucking helicopter, steal gas and escape basically unscathed. Fuck this Hondo guy has better luck than Rambo!
The far-fucking-fetched plot is good for unintentional laughs but sadly the filmmakers had to cast that non-actor from the "Bronx Warriors" duology. Why the hell was Italian directors so interested in this guy? It must have been for his intense face to adorn poster artwork as this guy is absolutely worthless as a "hero". Card board cut-out defines this guy. To top it off they completely waste John Vernon as his "Colonel Trautman" superior with his amazing voice strangely dubbed by someone else. Oh there's also a chick that is desperately trying to look like Brigitte Nielsen circa "Rocky IV" and "Beverly Hills Cop II" but she's also completely wasted.
"Warbus II" seems to be panned even by hardcore fans of these late 80s Macaroni Combat films. To be honest I found it no worse than most of them. The plot had plenty of unintentional hilarity to it but it's a damn shame the filmmakers didn't pick a more likable actor to play the hero. Thankfully this would be Mark Gregory's final film before he faded into oblivion (did he ever rise out of oblivion to begin with?). For trash fanatics I say check it out.
Bonus Rant: I love the location the filmmakers picked to represent "Afghanistan". Desert terrain... not so much. It looks more like Spain to me.
Written By Eric Reifschneider