Warner Archive / Released June 7, 2011
Take elite commandos, send them on a do-or-die assignment – and sit back and watch the action explode. The men-on-a-mission formula that worked in 1967’s The Dirty Dozen and in Where Eagles Dare (released in the U.S. in 1969) provides another salvo of volatile screen adventure with this strike-force saga released in 1968. Rod Taylor and Jim Brown are among a mercenary unit rolling on a steam train across the Congo, headed for the dual tasks of rescuing civilians imperiled by rebels and recovering a cache of diamonds. The film’s violence is fierce, unforgiving, ahead of its time. Quentin Tarantino would offer a tribute of sorts to this red-blooded wallop of a cult fave by using part of its compelling score in Inglourious Basterds.
Ultra-violent mercenaries join forces on a suicidal “men on a mission” versus native rebels adventure. Unceremoniously exploitive, Dark of the Sun is jam packed with such an eclectic and sadistic execution, it’s almost overwhelmed by the nastiness within. But, it’s done so well and with a visual punch by cinematographer turned director Jack Cardiff that stays with you long after the picture ends. The action is virtually non-stop and includes a fist fight from vines and a Taylor fighting an (ex) Nazi with a a chainsaw. Apparently the film presented is the edited version (the unedited one has been out of circulation for decades and apparently included male on male rape and a nun being fed to a crocodile ), but this is it’s first digital release (it never made it to laser disc, so cinegeeks can’t be choosers). Dark of the Sun is a hard one to watch at times, but is definitely worth a viewing (especially for Tarantino fans who can definitely see the influence that this had on the director). Extras include a trailer, which for a Warner Archive title is a special feature. Dark of the Sun fails only as it wasn’t released wide and stuffed full of extras. Highly recommended.