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Film / The Soldier

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The Soldier is a 1982 Cold War action film/spy thriller, starring Ken Wahl, Alberta Watson, Klaus Kinski, and Joaquim De Almeida and directed by James Glickenhaus. Tangerine Dream provided the score.

After a heist on an American plutonium transport by rogue KGB agents, the governments of the world receive a threat that the Saudi oil fields will be hit with a nuclear explosion, thereby destroying 50% of the world's petroleum supplies for the next three hundred years, unless Israel is forced to evacuate all its settlements in the West Bank. It's up to an independent group of CIA-linked covert operatives, led by a man known only by the nickname "The Soldier", to stop the threat.

Not to be confused with the sci-fi film Soldier.

This film provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: As delivered at the KGB Spy School; if you're going to try the Baby Carriage trick, make sure the carriage is between you and the target vehicle to absorb the impact in case the driver doesn't stop.
  • Avengers Assemble: The Soldier's Force is shown being called from their off-duty activities; one getting sozzled in a cowboy bar, another flying a glider in England, another mountain-climbing in France.
  • Badass Crew: The Soldier's Force.
  • Baby Carriage: Subverted in the Batman Cold Open. A woman with a baby carriage steps out in front of a limousine and is promptly run over. Shocked bystanders rush to help. She turns out to be a terrorist and the baby carriage is full of weapons. The 'bystanders' pick up the weapons and aim them at the limousine...only to be gunned down by the Soldier's Force.
  • Badass Israeli: After his own link to the CIA is cut off, the Soldier doesn't hesitate to call on Mossad's assistance, having apparently worked with them before.
  • Bar Brawl: While picking up one of his teammates in a bar somewhere in the Deep South, a black member of the Force starts a fight in the bar with several of the patrons who drunkenly throw various racial slurs at him. The brawl continues after they leave with the requisite cliches; people being forcibly slid down bars and thrown out windows, and the band playing on like nothing much is happening.
  • Briefcase Blaster: During the mission briefing, the Soldier opens a suitcase with everything they need for the mission enclosed neatly in foam sections, from a Tranquilizer Dart-firing automatic weapon to folders containing the nuclear launch codes.
  • The Cameo: Klaus Kinski appears as the Soldier's contact who sets him up to be killed in St Anton. In the cowboy bar, country music singer George Strait appears As Himself.
  • Chase Scene: The ski chase in St Anton, and the car chases in West Berlin.
  • Checkpoint Charlie: The Soldier plans to drive through Checkpoint Charlie to make contact with the KGB, but unfortunately the marine officer he held at gunpoint earlier happens to be there, and recognizes him.
  • Clean Up Crew: A terrorist assassination team is ambushed by the Soldier's Force, a Black Helicopter lands on the road, the terrorists bodies and weaponry are loaded inside, a team member sprays the bloodstains away, then everyone flies off in the helicopter. Assassination and clean-up, all in one convenient package!
  • Cool Car: The Soldier jumps a silver Porsche 930 Turbo over the Berlin Wall.
  • Counting to Three: When the marines enter the Israeli embassy grounds in hot pursuit of the soldier, Mossad commandoes point their guns at them and their commander starts counting down. The marines quickly back out the gate.
  • Cradling Your Kill: The Soldier does this with the mook he shoots during the ski chase, as he's an Almost Dead Guy.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Literally! In the last days of his administration, Richard Nixon activated the US nuclear forces for no apparent reason. The CIA feared he'd gone insane, and decided to have a contingency plan so they could gain access to America's nuclear arsenal if needed. The Soldier makes use of this plan for his own ends.
  • Creation Sequence: The Director's assassin constructing his lightbulb bomb. The scene was censored in Britain.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: The Soldier is pursued onto the Israeli embassy grounds by US marines after breaking into the US Embassy. The Israelis order the marines to leave or they'll open fire.
  • Disconnected by Death: The Soldier forces his way into the US Embassy at gunpoint and has them place a phone call to the Director of the CIA, who turns on his desklamp to take down the message. Unfortunately a KGB agent has filled the bulb with flammable liquid that explodes when the light is turned on, killing the Director and preventing the Soldier from verifying his identity and passing on what he's discovered.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The heroes manage to infiltrate a U.S. nuclear missile site by posing as high-ranking Air Force officers. The subterfuge is aided by them having the proper access codes.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Shown during the Avengers Assemble scene, despite the fact that Scene Shift Captions are being used. The green fields of England and the French Alps somehow require establishing shots of the Palace of Westminister and the Eiffel Tower. The CIA Director has the Capital Building visible through the window of his office, but at least he has an excuse.
  • Empty Quiver: A Renegade Russian KGB operative steals plutonium from a US military convoy, and uses it to make an atomic bomb to blackmail the United States by threatening to detonate it in the Saudi oilfields unless the US forces Israel off the West Bank. The Heroes "R" Us group takes over an ICBM silo and gets the KGB Big Bad to back off by threatening to launch on Moscow.
  • Fake Kill Scare: In an early scene, an Israeli agent shoots a Palestinian terrorist in the head to intimidate a Palestinian informant into betraying more of his comrades — it implies the informant was responsible for the capture of the murdered terrorist, who screams, "Traitor!" just before dying. Except the killing was faked, and the "dead" terrorist was actually a deep-cover Israeli.
  • Faking the Dead: The female Mossad spymaster demands that a terrorist informer identify another captive terrorist. She then Boom Headshots the captive on the spot. Turns out he's a Deep Cover Agent wearing a Latex Perfection mask with bloodbag.
  • Fanservice: The redneck bar has two women Mud Wrestling.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: The Soldier is resting in a safehouse when he's attacked a ninja assassin! After trying to murder the Soldier with a Razor Wire garrotte and a huge machete, the ninja surrenders when the Soldier draws a gun. Turns out the attacker is just one of his team doing an Attack Hello, so the scene is entirely superfluous.
  • Grenade Launcher: When a helicopter turns up to investigate what's happening at the ICBM silo, a member of the Soldier Force fires a grenade that explodes on the ground in front of the helicopter, somehow causing causing it to crash.
  • Heroes "R" Us: The title character is the leader of an elite unit formed after the "Iranian fiasco" (presumably the Iranian hostage crisis and the disastrous attempt to resolve it) and reporting only to the Director of the CIA. Which causes problems when the Director is assassinated.
  • Hidden Supplies: The USAF car has been sitting in a locked Kansas farm shed for god knows how long. When the Soldier's Force turn up to take it (they have the key to the padlock in their briefcase), the old lady who owns the farm quickly hurries her curious son away.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: The Batman Cold Open has the Heroes "R" Us dressed in black uniforms and berets, being picked up in the middle of an American city by a Black Helicopter (at least it's very early in the morning) after wiping out a terrorist squad. The whole scene runs on Rule of Cool, so no-one asks why a deniable government dirty tricks team are outfitted like Highly-Visible Ninja. The rest of the movie however they're genuine Rogue Agents, so wear the appropriate civvies.
  • Improbable Age: Susan Goodman, the female Mossad agent, is supposedly the head of their covert operations.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: That Tranquilizer Dart gun is actually a "full-auto" BB gun, the LARC International M19-A.
  • It's Raining Men: After the KGB boss gives the order to cancel the operation, Soviet commandos do a parachute drop directly onto where the bomb has been hidden and disarm it.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: A KGB agent is shown bugging the office of the CIA director. Later he poses as a cleaning lady to enter the office and Booby Trap his desklamp.
  • Machine Pistols: Ingram MAC-10 submachine guns are the preferred weapons for the Soldier's unit.
  • Montage:
    • The Title Sequence quickly establishes the Cold War battleground of the film.
    • The climax cuts between events at the ICBM base and those in West Berlin, coupled with Stock Footage of US naval fighters (for the impeding attack on Israel).
  • No Name Given: The Soldier's true name, and those of his Force, is never revealed.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: The atomic bomb is hidden in an oil drum piled in a stack of similar oil drums, out in the middle of the desert. They even remove an oil drum so nothing looks out of place.
  • Not Helping Your Case: The Soldier breaks into the US embassy and forces them at gunpoint to place a call to the CIA director. When armed marines burst into the room, he takes the technician hostage, but asks him to verify his identity with the CIA director. Unfortunately when the technician picks up the phone the line is dead (as is the director). The Soldier then fires a burst into the ceiling and jumps out the window, pursued by angry marines.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: The KGB boss has a sawn-off shotgun up his sleeve with a wire attached to the trigger, so it fires as he raises his hands in surrender when confronted by a police officer.
  • Pre-Climax Climax: The Soldier has a plan that will either avert war in the Middle East or, if it goes wrong, start WW3. The night before they carry out the operation Susan tells him There Is Only One Bed. The Soldier starts to say he'll take the couch when she tells him to stop being a fool as the world could end tomorrow.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted when Susan executes a terrorist, with a bloody splatter on the wall behind from a through-and-through Boom, Headshot!. Subverted with the reveal it's been faked.
  • Ramp Jump:
  • Renegade Russian: Renegade KGB operatives steal US nuclear material and, posing as terrorists, threaten to detonate an atomic bomb in the Saudi oilfields unless the US forces the Israelis off the West Bank.
  • Reverse Psychology: When the Soldier reveals that his men have a nuclear missile targeted on Moscow, the KGB boss naturally says he's full of it. The Soldier's only response is a laconic "Maybe". The KGB boss decides not to call his bluff.
  • Rogue Agent: The heroes are a deniable government dirty tricks team, but when their contact in the CIA is murdered they have to become rogue agents for real because no-one else in the US government knows they exist. Appropriately they're fighting KGB agents who themselves turn out to be rogue.
  • Scene Shift Caption: Used to establish both time and place.
  • Shooting Gallery: A Scary Black Man rushes through a crowd waving a gun, then turns to aim at the audience—only for the scene to freeze as a red dot appears on his chest. Turns out the title character is testing his skills at a video-based shooting gallery. He then dials up the Difficulty Levels for a Shoot the Hostage Taker scenario.
  • Take a Third Option: Not liking the choice of the U.S. using military force to make the Israelis remove settlements from the West Bank, or seeing half of the world's oil supply destroyed, The Soldier decides on a third option: his team takes over a missile silo in Smith Center, Kansas, with Independent Launch Control, then inform the KGB agents who put the nuke in the oil field either to remove their bomb, or if it goes off, his team will nuke Moscow.
  • Trust Password: SKY BLUE ICE DAWN is the access code to get into the ICBM base, then GEORGIA RAIN to get into the launch room.
  • Vulnerable Convoy: Renegade Russians attack a convoy transporting nuclear material, to make an atomic bomb.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Although the airmen in the silo are sedated, a helicopter whose occupants we can't see is made to crash via a grenade launcher.