Director: Enzo G. Castellari
Italy - 1977
I was tricked.
First off, let's talk about this video box cover (please see above). At first glance, one might think,
"Say, isn't that Fred Williamson?!" And then, two seconds later, "It is! It
is Fred Williamson!" After positively identifying one Fred Williamson, said
individual would probably move on to the title, "G.I. Bro?! I do believe
that's a take-off of the classic G. I. Joe cartoon, except they swapped
"Joe" for "Bro" because Fred Williamson is African-American!"
Finally, mere moments after that revelation, "I'm willing to bet that since this
movie stars Fred Williamson, has a title like G.I. Bro, and is distributed by a
company called Mack Video, that this here film is blaxploitation!"
Well, let me be the first to tell you: You'd be wrong.
A gang of unruly prisoners are rounded up by the military police, and then prepared to be shipped out to the brig. We
have Nick: the wise-crackin' wormy guy with everything you might need (for a price,
naturally); Berle: a deserter who lacks the stomach for war; Fred (Fred Williamson!): a
pack of dynamite with a short fuse who killed his Sargent after being pushed over the
edge; Tony: an Italian troublemaker with a grudge against black people and a penchant for
the ladies; and last but not least, Lt. Robert Yeager: a fighter pilot with glasses too
big for his head, who was caught (on several occasions) flying his jet out to see his
This fearsome foursome are loaded into a truck, and their long trek begins across enemy lines
to the military prison. Just a couple hours into the trip, however, the truck comes under
attack from German artillery, forcing the MPs to take cover and the prisoners to be
plucked off one-by-one while sitting in the back of the vehicle, not unlike fish in a
barrel. Finally, after seeing several of their fellow inmates riddled with bullets, the
gang break free from their confines, overcome the police, and take off into the woods.
Once they reach safety, the convicts regroup, and decide to cooperate with one another
in order to attain a mutual goal -- freedom in the neutral grounds of Switzerland. So,
with that lofty aspiration in mind, Lt. Yeager takes command and
they head for the hills (or the Alps, for that matter).
While taking a break in an abandoned barn, some racial tension is averted between Fred
and Tony upon the discovery of a German soldier hiding in one of the haylofts. Adolf
(couldn't they have thought of something a little more original?), as it turns out, has
fled from his post in the German army because, like Berle, he too is sickened by the
brutality of war, and tired of seeing his fellow countrymen slaughtered by bullets and
mortar shells. After pleading his case with the crew, they reluctantly allow him to join
in on their quest, but only with the grave stipulation that any funny business will
result in a bullet to the head.
Setting back out on the trail, the new alliance is soon put to the test when they
encounter a group of German soldiers blocking their path. Adolf volunteers to go and speak
to them, and see if he can convince his comrades to move along. Naturally, tension mounts
as Adolf speaks to his German counterparts. Suddenly, he turns around and exclaims to his
buddies in hiding, "They're Americans!" And immediately, the soldiers gun him
down -- thus triggering a battle between the Americans posing as Germans and our rag-tag
conglomeration of military misfits. Our heroes eventually come out on top, but have little
time to celebrate before they are almost immediately overtaken by a sect of the French Resistance.
Come to find out, the French are there to meet with the division of soldiers the escapees just eliminated; but with some fancy talking and a little bit of luck,
Lt. Yeager is able to convince the rebels that they are, in fact, the platoon they've been
waiting for. The French then lead our crew back to their camp, where they await the
arrival of Colonel Bruckner, the officer-in-charge en route to dispense the orders behind
a dangerous mission.
When Bruckner arrives, he immediately realizes that Yeager's motley bunch are not the
elite group of commandos he was set to rendezvous with, but once again, Yeager's sharp
tongue saves their collective behinds, and he is able to convince the Colonel that though
their methods may be unorthodox, his men are still sharp as tacks, and both willing and
able to tackle any mission Bruckner has in mind.
Thought somewhat hesitant, Bruckner eventually concedes to Yeager's plea, and unveils his
strategy to infiltrate a German train and confiscate a top secret V-2 rocket warhead (I
heard they were quite the rage back then). A dangerous mission, indeed; and some may go as
far as calling it suicidal, but it's our heroes only chance for amnesty from their beloved
country, not to mention a chance for Tony to score with the hot nurse from the French
Like I said before, I went into this thinking I was going to partake in some wholesome
blaxploitation goodness. But come to find out, not only was this not blaxploitation, but Fred Williamson only had a minor
role! It's Bo "Speed 2: Cruise Control" Svenson who runs the show as Lt.
Yeager. Now, G.I. Bro isn't a bad film -- as a matter of fact, it was done fairly
well -- but I was disappointed, nonetheless. War movies just aren't my bag, man! I wanted
smooth one-liners, stylin' clothes and foxy ladies; instead, I got drill cadences,
military fatigues, and a bunch of guys running around in their boxer shorts. Not really
what I had in mind.
But being the open-minded and objective film reviewer that I credit myself to be (ha!),
I will say that G.I. Bro is a decent war film. A Dirty Dozen with Bo
Svenson, as opposed to Lee Marvin. The acting hardly rises above mediocre, but the true essence of the movie is the action scenes.
He's no John Woo, but Enzo Castellari does have a flare for gunplay, not to mention an
incredible body count. Just try to keep count of everyone who bites it.
The movie doesn't break any new ground -- it's all been done before, and probably even
better. But you could do a lot worse for your video rental dollar. Just don't go into G.I.
Bro with a hankerin' for some Dolemite.
- The opening credits. It starts off with "G.I. Bro," then follows
with the main cast of characters, then it says "G.I. Bro" again, then
talks about some of the technical support, then it says "G.I. Bro" again,
and moves along to the producers, then once again, "G.I. Bro" -- I must
have counted the title card being shown at approximately five times. Was that for the
benefit of the viewer's short attention span? Was the film having an identity crisis?
- After being lead to the French Resistance's HQ, one of our heroes asks a rebel if he
can speak any English, to which the man replies, "Son of a b*tch...f*cking
bast*rd." Ha ha! They only know swear words! Now, that's funny!
- After learning that the Resistance have a hot nurse, Tony feigns an appendicitis in
order to trick her into "checking him out." After discovering the hoax, the
nurse then deflects a feeble pass made by Tony. But at the end of the film, after an
explosive battle, Tony and the nurse are reunited like long lost lovers. Did I miss
During the aforementioned conversation between our war-torn couple, Tony
states that this war is no place for a girl, and that she should go home. The nurse then
retorts, "Home?! I have no home!" Which, as we all know, was blatantly stolen
from Bela Lugosi in Bride of the Monster.
- At one point, some of our escapees discover a random pool of naked women way back in
the woods (I'm sure that happened a lot in WWII). Anyway, our sexually-deprived
(depraved?) heroes make like their German soldiers and join the women for some frolicking
and merriment -- that is, until Fred Williamson shows up. Once the women see this big
African-American arrive, the boys' gig is up, and wacky hijinks ensue. Click here to revel in the wackiness.