Follow TV Tropes


Film / No Dead Heroes

Go To
Max Thayer NEVER Dies...

The Mission: Terminate the KGB Jungle Experiments.
The Goal: Destroy the Human Killing Machines.
The Order: Leave No One Alive!

No Dead Heroes is a 1986 action movie starring 80s B-grade action icon Max Thayer, John Dresden and Nick Nicholson, where Max plays a soldier who finds out his old supposedly-dead buddy from The Vietnam War is still alive... and is being used as a mindless killing machine by a ruthless KGB project.

In the 1970s, a botched rescue mission into a Vietcong camp, led by US Marine Lieutenants William Sanders (Thayer) and Harry Cotter (Dresden) results in William being the only survivor of the raid, having witnessed his friend Harry being captured by the Vietcong's Spetsnaz advisor, General Ivan Dimanovitch. The war soon ends, with Harry presumed dead by everyone including William, but a decade later Harry turns out to be still alive... and is now a ruthless assassin working for General Ivan, now headlining a KGB Project meant to strip prisoners of their humanity.

Dragged back in action, it's up to William to confront his old, brainwashed friend, to bring back Harry at all costs, and inspire the plot of an MCU movie a few decades later. Huh.

No Dead Tropers:

  • Big Bad: General Ivan Dimanovitch, the KGB advisor and Torture Technician working for the Vietcong during the Vietnam War; after the opening prologue, a following Time Skip a decade after the war had ended reveals Ivan had become a KGB director spearheading an experiment that converts captured prisoners into killing machines.
  • Book Ends: The movie starts with a lengthy action scene where William, our hero, is (seemingly) the Sole Survivor of a botched mission, with his team and the POWs they're assigned to rescue killed in action (sans Harry, who was actually captured alive and used as experiment of a KGB project). The film ends with a lengthy action scene William being the Sole Survivor because moments after snapping Harry out of brainwashing, Harry would instead be shot by Ivan, and Barbara gets riddled by bullets as well attempting to help William.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • In the opening rescue, Ivan personally - and gleefully - executes a prisoner by smashing the prisoner's head into a wall, and then shooting him in the skull.
    • William in the final shootout offs Ivan this way, thanks to Barbara tossing her pistol at him.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Harry, a former US Marine converted into a KGB assassin, thanks to a microchip implanted in his brain.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: The final scene in Rome, where William is being strung on a rack while his partner, Barbara, is subjected to being raped by Ivan's second-in-command. But the henchman is too preoccupied having fun with Barbara that he left his belt - with a combat knife - withint Barbara's reach. Cue Barbara grabbing said knife, stabbing the hencman, then killing another guard for his gun and breaking William out.
  • Dark Action Girl: Barbara, the Cambodian guerilla who is in charge as trainer of Ivan's South-East Asian army. But she's also quite handy with a gun and turns out to be a secret ally to William and the Americans.
  • Dies Wide Open: Ivan, the main villain. He's in the middle of gloating, after all, having shot Harry, and then Barbara, before William managed to grab Barbara's pistol and put a bullet in Ivan's face. The camera then zooms in to Ivan, permanently fixed in a surprised gesture with a bullet-hole in his forehead.
  • Downer Beginning: The movie opens with a botched rescue mission to liberate South Vietnamese and American prisoners from a Vietcong base. It started smoothly, but then Ivan leads a band of Spetsnaz into gunning down fleeing prisoners. Of the Marines sent on the mission, William and Harry are the only survivors, but then Harry gets captured alive by the Spetsnaz and everything goes worse from there.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: Between William and Barbara, the guerilla girl after the raid on Ivan's Cambodian base, after Barbara confesses to William the reason of her assisting the Americans is to avenge her family who was killed by Ivan's regiment during an ethnic cleansing.
  • Family Extermination: After the Time Skip, Harry is then revealed to have been converted into a KGB assassin. The first assignment Ivan gives to him? Sending Harry back to the States to his family... and slaughtering all of them.
  • Fat Bastard: Ivan's second-in-command, an overweight Sergeant who gleefully forces himself on Barbara.
  • Fingore: Pre-Time Skip in the Vietcong camp, Ivan tortures an unfortunate American POW by ripping his fingernails off via pliers.
  • Groin Attack: During the opening scene, William nails a Vietcong in the nuts with a crossbow.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: The final confrontation between William and Harry, where they end up beating the snot out of each other in Rome. William spends most of the fight trying to get Harry back, and succeeds when he smash Harry's head into a wall, damaging the microchip in Harry's brain.
  • Large Ham: Ivan tends to ham up most of his scenes, thanks to Nick Nicholson's solid performance. It's actually quite a glorious sight to behold.
    Ivan: [interrogating an American POW]: "If I say, you're a CIA agent, then YOU ARE AN AGENT!" (shoots said POW in the face)
  • Neural Implanting: The method used by Ivan to control Harry and convert him into his personal assassin, via a KGB-developed microchip implanted surgically under Harry's skull.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Towards the end of the film, Ivan, for no reason other than being a dick, decides to have Barbara raped by his Fat Bastard subordinate as punishment for her betrayal.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: Harry was assumed dead after being shot by Ivan's soldiers. But it turns out he had been instead converted into a killing machine serving Ivan.
    • Harry's family, consisting of his wife and teenaged children, had this vewry reaction the moment Harry steps into their house, as the last time they heard from him was his alleged death a decade ago. Too bad Harry is holding an Uzi and ready to massacre everyone.
    • William had this reaction as well after meeting Harry... right after the family masssacre.
  • Sadist: Ivan. Why else would he be assigned as a Torture Technician for the Vietcong? From gleefully beating captives to death to ripping the fingernails of tortured captives, he absolutely loves his job.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Basically every big battle scene would have stuff exploding, including huts, buildings, towers, what could be exploded, will explode. It's an 80s-action flick, after all.
  • Tap on the Head: This is the only method of releasing mind-controlled victims of the KGB neural implants, by hitting them hard enough on the head. William managed to release Harry from Ivan's control after tackling Harry into a wall, the bump behind Harry's noggin' damaging the microchip allowing Harry to regain his senses.
  • Villain in a White Suit: Ivan, post Time Skip, where instead of the Russian military uniform he wears in the opening scene, he spends the rest of the movie in a white suit.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Towards the end of the film, William had finally released Harry from mind control after damaging the chip in Harry's brain. As Harry regained his senses and realized what he had done as an assassin, William tries helping his friend back to his feet... but they're interrupted by Ivan, still alive, who then guns down Harry barely a minute after he's free from brainwashing.