Written by: George Pacheco on December 28th, 2012
Theatrical Release Date: West Germany, October 24th, 1985
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Writer: Roy Nelson
Cast: Lewis Collins, Klaus Kinski, John Steiner, Manfred Lehmann
DVD released: November 19th, 2012
Approximate running time: 104 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Arrowdrome (Arrow Video)
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £12.99
Commando Leopard is the second film released in director Antonio Margheriti’s trilogy of war films starring British actor Lewis Collins, although it was actually released theatrically in Germany a year before its predecessor, Codename: Wild Geese hit theaters in America, itself filmed twelve months prior to THAT in 1984.
Confused yet? Don’t be, because Commando Leopard is yet another exercise in excess; in bullets, explosions and square-jawed heroes fighting their way through insurmountable odds. This film takes its subject matter—a guerrilla group pitted against a tyrannical dictator—with a comparatively serious tone when placed against Codename: Wild Geese, replacing most of the wisecracks with speeches about the horrors of war and the criminal behavior of despot generals.
As such, Commando Leopard is significantly less enjoyable than its predecessor, although not entirely without merit on its own as a trashy action epic. Although this follow up retains Klaus Kinski in a slightly diminished capacity, both Borgnine and Van Cleef are absent from the cast, which instead features English actor John Steiner—who should have earned honorary Italian citizenship, having appeared in so many of the country’s genre fare—in a fairly large supporting role.
The film was again produced by Erwin C. Dietrich, while the cinematography of Peter Baumgartner actually improves upon Wild Geese, showcasing an inspired set of set up shots and angles which make Commando Leopard seem a lot slicker than it really needs to be…which certainly isn’t a bad thing, for sure. The bouncy synth score of Goran Kuzminac, while serviceable, is noticeably inferior to Eloy’s Wild Geese effort, while the acting is of mid-range quality, particularly Collins’ heroic/stoic performance.
Despite the film’s flaws, Commando Leopard is still an enjoyable exercise in 80s action excess; the kind of time capsule picture which—despite such attempts as The Expendables series—really doesn’t come around anymore.
Arrowdrome presents Commando Leopard in a letterboxed widescreen format which doesn’t’ seem cramped or squished, while the picture itself is clear, with only a slight amount of grain present, which doesn’t impact the overall viewing experience. The mono sound is of average quality, with no noticeable drops or errors within the English dub. Apart from a collector’s booklet (not included for this review), there are no extras whatsoever to be found on this release. Although there was apparently supposed to be a ‘making of’ featurette included, it was absent on the screener sent to 10kBullets. Overall, Commando Leopard receives a solid print, yet overall subpar release from Arrowdrome.