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January 8, 2013

Movie Review: The Wild Geese (Blu-ray / DVD Combo)

More than 30 years before action superstar Sylvester Stallone corralled a bevy of top talent for his smash hit The Expendables, veteran director Andrew V. McLaglen (Chisum, The Sea Wolves) made his own film starring some of Britain's finest actors with his feature The Wild Geese. Severin Films has taken the action classic, remastered it and stacked it with extra features for their own American release that should please fans of balls-out mercenary mayhem.

Richard Burton leads the cast as Colonel Allen Faulkner, the leader of a group of "mature" mercenaries in the unforgiving surroundings of South Africa to track down a kidnapped president played by Wintson Ntshona (Dogs of War, Ghandi). After agreeing with millionaire Sir Edward Matherson (Stewart Granger, The Prisoner of Zenda), to gather a group of his hand-picked men (Roger Moore, Richard Harris, and Hardy Kruger), Faulkner quickly moves forward to prepare his men for the risky mission.

This group may be older but they soon show that they're fully capable of completing the mission once all the Geese have their ducks in a row. The Wild Geese succeeds in not only the expected action but through strong performances by the majority of the cast - Burton's great and Jack Watson is one of the surprises of the cast as the hungry-for-battle boot-camp drill instructor.


The Wild Geese isn't the most violent film 
of its kind but it does have some bursts of carnage that will knock some viewers off their lazy-boys. A couple scenes in particular that resonate in my mind are a tremendously brutal ambush on a bridge of Faulkner’s boys. The other scene has a group of African soldier’s man-handling one of the Geese via machete. What was a fairly easy mission initially becomes complicated very quick here with a great twist.

(End of spoilers)

Severin Films has done a wonderful job on the restoration with their release. The colors are sharp on the transfer and the sounds of the roaring planes have never sounded better. It’s a treat if you’re seeing it for the first time or revisiting it after viewing the other home video releases or cable broadcasts.

The extra features are here in abundance: Director Andrew McLaglen is on hand for an interview, we also get to hear all about being a mercenary from former mercenary Michael Hoare, a very cool behind-the-scenes including a ton of on set footage is here, a documentary called Last of the Gentleman Producers focuses on The Wild Geese producer Euan Lloyd and finally an audio commentary with Lloyd, Second Unit Director John Glen and Roger Moore. No throw away extras here as these are definitely entertaining and well put together. The inclusion of Roger Moore on the extras was great and the fact he sat down to do a commentary is pretty impressive.

The Wild Geese is British action at its best and certainly an essential purchase. If you’re looking for one of the finest Blu-rays of 2012, look no further than this stellar release from Severin Films. Age is just a number, folks…these guys can kick ass!

(Screencaps for The Wild Geese Blu-ray courtesy of Rock! Shock! Pop! )

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