Losers, The (1970)

Losers, The (1970)

“I didn’t know you were going to show up looking like a bunch of freaks.”

During the Vietnam War, a major (Dan Kemp) convinces a group of Hell’s Angels bikers (William Smith, Paul Koslo, Adam Roarke, Houston Savage, and Eugene Cornelius) to rescue a CIA operative (Jack Starrett) by riding their motorcycles through the jungles of Cambodia.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Motorcyclists
  • Nonconformists
  • Vietnam War

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that this “cult film is almost ruined by repulsive characters and [director Jack] Starrett’s overuse of slow motion during action sequences”, adding that “it’s junk, but one of the few films made during the Vietnam War that dared to chastise American GIs for impregnating and then abandoning Vietnamese women and, even more significantly, suggest that the U.S. government had no concern for our soldiers in Southeast Asia” — an idea brought home in the powerful and “depressing ending”. I disagree that this film is “junk”, instead aligning more with Stuart Galbraith, IV’s review for DVD Talk, in which he writes: “Filmed near the height of the Vietnam War, it’s one of the very few American movies of that period set right in the thick of the fighting, and its graphic violence and extreme pessimism toward the war — this despite the movie’s outrageous premise — make it a fascinating time capsule for those reasons alone.” There’s something appealing about the idea of sending Hell’s Angels into a P.O.W. zone to kick ass and help out; not only that, but these long-haired “losers” show unexpected creativity and cleverness in the final jail-break sequence.

Note: Film fanatics may recognize strong-jawed Smith as the lead male character from Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973).

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An unusual and intriguing premise
  • The creative closing collage image

Must See?
No, though it holds interest as a cult flick.


One thought on “Losers, The (1970)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see – but the assessment given is fair and accurate and those with a particular interest in films about the Vietnam war will want to check it out.

    This is probably the most interesting (and most unique) of the films involving the Hell’s Angels – though, of course, it’s ‘competing’ against what tend to be low-level examples of cinema. For what it is, it’s got a decent script, the acting is serviceable and the direction, photography and editing are more-than-competent.

    Apparently the original ending had the ‘good guys’ triumphing but that was changed by director Starrett. Considering what a failure the Vietnam war was, the director settled on a more appropriate conclusion.

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