Indio 2: The Revolt

Director: "Anthony M. Dawson" (Antonio Margheriti)
Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Frank Cuervo, Dirk Galuba

One of the things I try hardest of all to do when I am writing a review for this web site is to not repeat myself. The reason for that is pretty obvious; if my readers were to see the same topics discussed over and over, it would get boring and predictable pretty fast, and the likelihood of them coming back to my web site would diminish considerably. But after writing almost 800 reviews for this web site, it is sure getting harder and harder not to repeat myself. What I would like to first talk about in this review is something I have kind of discussed before - formulas. I talked about formulas before in my review of Liar's Moon. But before you think I am totally repeating myself again, let me assure you that I would like to talk about a different formula than the one in Liar's Moon, one that I don't think I have discussed in detail before. So that gives this formula discussion a fresh angle. It's a formula that no doubt has its roots in westerns, the story of a group of villagers who are being terrorized by a group of really bad guys, and a lone fighter (possibly joined with some companions) comes to the area, and fights the bad guys. No doubt you have seen your share of cinematic takes on that formula over the years. The question rises as to why this formula has been so popular for so long. Thinking about it, I came up with several likely theories. One is that viewers while watching these movies like seeing what the hero (or heroes) are doing, and can imagine that they too would do the same thing in the same situation. Another reason has to be that the majority of moviegoers like seeing a great evil being crushed, and these kind of movies more often that not have evil players who are really bad.

There are other reason for the popularity of the formula, of course, including that moviegoers like to see a protagonist receive admiration and adoration from people he saves. And, of course, that these films are a great excuse for a number of action sequences. Yes, it's easy to see why this formula has been so popular. I have to admit that I like watching these movies as well. But that doesn't mean that any movie producer can simply commission such a movie and expect excellent results 100% of the time. There are potential pitfalls in this genre for filmmakers. One of the most obvious is that the formula has been done so many times before, you have to find a fresh angle to differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack. It can be done - for example, the well done The Stranger cast a woman as the hero. But there are other potential pitfalls. One of them is that you have to be careful enough with the depiction of the villagers. The question as to why the villagers just don't band up together and crush the enemy on their own always seems to come up in these films for me at least. And kind of related to that is another problem some of these movies have, that being there is a subtle kind of racism. I remember when Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom came out, there were some accusations of racism with the depiction of the helpless Indian villagers depending on a white hero to save their children. Another example of this can be found with one of the classic examples of the formula, The Magnificent Seven. In that movie, as you may recall, poor Mexican villagers had to depend on white American gunfighters to get them out of their jam. I believe there were some protests about that as well.

There's no doubt about it - if you are making a movie that follows this formula that is set in a foreign location and involves heroes that have a much different ethnic background than those helpless villagers, there can be a really tough balancing act to do. But it can be done, as long as enough Indio 2: The Revoltcare is placed in the making of the movie so that the end results don't insult any viewers. When I got a copy of Indio 2: The Revolt in my possession, I didn't know before watching it whether the end results would be palatable or insulting. I did know that the previous movie had a main character who had a partial sharing of the villagers' ethnic background, but that this was not the case in this sequel. Let me explain by first telling of what happened in the previous movie. In the first Indio movie, there was a half-Indian American Marine named Daniel Morell (played by Francesco Quinn of Platoon) who learned that his South American homeland on his father's side was threatened by an evil corporation bulldozing the rain forest. Equipped with the fighting skills he learned in the Marines, he managed to defeat the corporation despite their best efforts, which included recruiting Daniel's former Marine instructor Sgt. Jake Iron (played by former boxer Marvelous Marvin Hagler). Indio 2: The Revolt starts off with Daniel (whose face we don't see here - obviously being played here by a double), living peacefully in the rain forest with his tribe, being killed off in the first few minutes by a representative of some new (I think) corporation wanting to cut down the rain forest. When Sgt. Iron (again played by Hagler) gets wind of this, he heads to the rain forest to not only avenge his student's death, but to whip up the local natives so they can fight the corporation and save their rain forest home.

There's a funny thing with the casting of the bad guys in the two Indio movies. In the first movie, the chief bad guy was played by Brian Dennehy, who also played the chief bad guy in the Sylvester Stallone movie First Blood. With Indio 2: The Revolt, the chief bad guy behind it all is played by Charles Napier, who also played the chief bad guy behind it all in Rambo: First Blood Part 2! Somehow I have doubts that this casting was just a coincidence, especially since all four movies are actioners taking place primarily in the wilderness. Anyway, since I am on the subject of casting, I might as well first talk about the performers in Indio 2: The Revolt. When it comes to Charles Napier, there is a big disappointment, though it has nothing to do with Napier's performance. Though he plays the evil head of the corporation cutting down the rain forest, he's only in the movie for a couple of minutes, showing up to quickly chew out his chief employee doing the dirty work in the rain forest, and then quickly goes home. That chief employee, the real adversary in the movie, is a character named Vincent Van Eyck, played by German actor Dirk Galuba. I will admit that actor Galuba does look somewhat imposing in every scene he's in, but when it comes to his actual acting, the movie disappoints again. Though his character does (some) bad things, you never quite get the sense that this guy is a real evil person. He's too business-like instead of getting down and dirty. Even if Galuba had gone more towards the route of chewing the scenery, it still would have been better than his more often than not blasť tone in the finished product.

When it comes to the supporting players in Indio 2: The Revolt, most of them are serviceable and not much more. The one exception is actress Jacqueline Carol, who plays "Mama Lou", a gunrunner and drug supplier the protagonists encounter during their travels. It isn't a big role, but she manages to be quite lively and fun to watch with the little screen time that she has. The only other performer that's left to discuss is Marvelous Marvin Hagler as the movie's chief hero. I will give this to Hagler: He does indeed look imposing and magnetic, gives it his all in his action sequences (especially when it's hand to hand combat), and he manages to give his character a good amount of likeability despite his insufficient acting skills. There are two problems with his acting, the first being that his sometimes slurry enunciation occasionally makes it a little hard to understand what he is saying. The second problem is that when you do understand what he's saying, he always seems to speak it with the same tone of voice, whether his character should be shouting or speaking with disbelief. But to be honest, Hagler's amateurish acting didn't bother me as much as some other problems to be found in the movie. The screenplay (by the same two screenwriters who wrote the first Indio movie) has some significant flaws. There is not much of a story here, for starters; it's just more or less another fictional film concerning a greedy corporation putting the screws on the inhabitants of land they desire. You have seen this story and its various plot turns many times before. Nor is there much in the way of character development or evolution, not just with the Van Eyck character, but also with Hagler's character and the tribespeople he helps out. With the good guys lacking just as much color as the bad guys, I think some viewers will find it hard at times to get involved with what is happening.

From what I have discussed up to this point, you might be thinking that it's sure shaping up for Indio 2: The Revolt to be getting a negative review from me. So you may be surprised to find out that I'm giving the movie a marginal recommendation. Yes, the characters and story in the movie may be far from inspired, but there are other things about the movie that are worthy of merit and help make the movie watchable. For starters, there is some good eye candy on display. This is one Italian movie that clearly had an ample budget.  The various sets built for the movie, like the tribal villages, do not look the least bit slapdash. Yes, there are some miniatures that don't quite convince (a trademark of the director), but wisely we're only given very brief glimpses of them. The movie was shot in four countries (Borneo, Brazil, Argentina, and the Philippines), and while that might seem to suggest there is a schizophrenic look, director Antonio Margheriti (Mr. Superinvisible) puts the various (and spectacular) locations together that we can believe everything is taking place in one specific area. More importantly, Margheriti manages to take the familiar story and characters and make them work. One such way is with the relatively fast pace of the entire enterprise; no scene ever goes past the breaking point, so the audience never starts to fidget in their seats. The audience also won't be expressing impatience when it comes to the action scenes. I will admit that there is somewhat less action than I would have liked; in the first hour of the movie, there are only two sequences that could be safely labelled "action scenes". But after that first hour, the action starts to come more frequently, and climaxes with a jaw-dropping large scale battle sequence that's genuinely exciting. So there is some stuff to like in Indio 2: The Revolt. But while I am giving the movie a recommendation, let me say again it's a marginal recommendation. If you actively seek this movie out, chances are you won't find your time, money, and effort to have been worth it. But if you come across it by accident during your travels (like I did), and have to pay little to no money to watch it (like I did), and don't have extremely high expectations (like I did), the odds are better that you'll find it an okay way to pass 104 minutes of your time.

(Posted November 11, 2018)

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

See also: The Magnificent Seven Ride!, The Muthers, Riverbend