Game for Vultures (1979)
Spain released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Mono ), Spanish ( Mono ), Spanish ( Subtitles ), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: The South African businessman David Swansey is delivering illegal German helicopters to Rhodesia. That makes the patriot Gideon Marunga an angry man. ...Game for Vultures (1979)
- Language : English, Spanish
- Package Dimensions : 18.03 x 13.76 x 1.48 cm; 83.16 Grams
- Director : James Fargo
- Media Format : Import, PAL
- Run time : 113 minutes
- Actors : Richard Harris, Joan Collins, Ray Milland, Denholm Elliott, Richard Roundtree
- Subtitles: : Spanish
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
- Studio : Sogemedia
- ASIN : B003TN6SHO
- Number of discs : 1
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Being a history buff and having a keen, apolitical interest in Rhodesia/The Rhodesian Bush War I was impressed by the level of authentic details depicted in the film and, perhaps more surprisingly, the broad impartiality exercised in its depiction of protagonists and antagonists alike (especially considering that the general tone of most contemporary British reports/documentaries/coverage on Rhodesia from the period were staunchly anti-Rhodesian).
Certainly the filmmakers did their research on the conflict with impressive authenticity in uniforms and equipment and one particularly accurate scene where the guerrillas execute a black store owner because one of the radios they had previously [i]looted[/i] from him exploded, killing a couple of rebels. This actually happened as Rhodesian security forces became adept at rigging commercial radios with explosives (as well as deliberately poisoning food), secreting them in rural, isolated stores vulnerable to attack.
'Vultures is an often frustrating film however, not least because Harris' character 'Swansey' - whose clandestine activities should render him a fascinating protagonist, is surprisingly one-dimensional. His girlfriend - portrayed by Joan Collins no less (!) feels somewhat extraneous too.
Of far greater interest (and arguably better written) though is Richard Roundtree's Gideon Marunga - Swansey's opponent and an inspirational if deeply flawed guerrilla leader. Marunga is depicted pleasingly cynically and proves to be a refreshing antithesis to the noble, near-flawless 'freedom fighter' cliche one might've expected.
Other minor issues within the film are the guerrilla's exaggerated combat effectiveness as they're shown mowing down scores of Rhodesian soldiers with ease (in reality the kill ratio between Rhodesian and guerrilla forces was something ludicrous like 50:1!). Worse, sub characters/sub plots seem to go nowhere or are left unresolved. Accents are all over the place too (Harris doesn't even attempt a Rhodesian accent) and from a technical perspective, post production dubbing is noticeably shoddy/un-synched in places.
I'd imagine 'Game for Vultures' didn't exactly set the box office alight, not least because the film was the unwitting victim of real life events overtaking fiction with its 1979 release coinciding with major diplomatic breakthroughs that would end both the war and Rhodesia as a nation state within mere months.
Much of what the film depicts then must've seemed like almost ancient history or indeed an epitaph of a practically dead nation to contemporary audiences.
All that said hardly a classic but not bad either, holding some worth to those interested in the period, the Rhodesian Bush War and/or Rhodesia itself.