Plot: As social and political upheaval spreads across the Congo, the area has become a violent and dangerous locale. President Ubi (Calvin Lockhart) has pressing matters that need to be handled, but require the kind of skills and firepower his own forces lack, so he brings in professionals. Captain Curry (Rod Taylor) is a man’s man, a veteran soldier of fortune who has seen and done it all, while Sergeant Ruffo (Jim Brown) was born in the Congo, but was raised and trained in the United States. While the mercenaries are being paid to carry out Ubi’s mission, Ruffo sees this as a personal task, to lend a hand to his people. The squad is tasked to recover an invaluable cache of diamonds and rescue a group of civilians, which means rough terrain, ample violence, and frequent clashes with rebel forces. Can the mercenaries not only carry out these perilous tasks, but also help keep the Congo a free republic?
Entertainment Value: A thoughtful, historically accurate look at the political turmoil in the Congo, Dark of the Sun is one of the rare movies that puts real life events into proper perspective, enriching our minds and spirits in the process. Well, that’s a lie. This is a bananas, over the top action movie in the vein of The Dirty Dozen that is loosely based on actual events, but very, very loosely at best. The movie gives us a minor amount of background on the Congo’s situation, then explodes into near total nonsense for the rest of the duration. But when I say nonsense, I mean that is the best, ridiculously fun action movie way possible. The narrative is ludicrous, with inexplicable plot devices and odd approaches to the prominent characters. This includes an unlikable lead, holier than thou soldier of fortune, and an ex-Nazi devoted to redemption, though he still brandishes his swastika adornments. So imagine this goofy trio surrounded by more oddball folks, surrounded by outlandish situations and over the top, blood soaked action, then you have an idea of what Dark of the Sun delivers. The finale is glorious and an ideal cherry on top of this outrageous experience, so for me, this movie backs up all the hype and then some. If you prefer more coherent or grounded action however, Dark of the Sun will likely drive you to madness, as logic and common sense are chucked out the window right off the bat here. But for fans of cult cinema and outlandish action movies, this is one you need to have in your collection.
This kind of movie greatly benefits from a colorful cast, given the eclectic group up premise behind the concept, so Dark of the Sun delivers a solid one. Not as star studded or deep as some of its peers perhaps, but what it lacks in star power or depth it makes up for with ridiculous character development. I think my favorite has to be Jim Brown, who might as well as be the living embodiment of Jesus, as the movie treats him like a selfless, holy figure of righteousness. This is to bolster the paper thin social/political elements, given that Brown’s character is a native of the Congo, but it is taken to such outlandish levels, it turns into pure camp. Rod Taylor is a vision of masculine splendor and not the usual action hero, as he takes a rather cold approach and while it is odd, it seems right at home in this movie. He’s tough as nails and in Dark of the Sun, that is all we need from our mercenaries. Peter Carsten also has a colorful, off the wall role and while Yvette Mimieux is gorgeous as always, she’s given little to do in this one. The cast also includes Kenneth More, Andre Morell, and Calvin Lockhart, while the legendary Jack Cardiff served as the film’s director.
The Disc: Dark of the Sun graces Blu-ray via a new 2k scan from Warner Archive and the movie looks fantastic. The image is super sharp and retains a natural texture, so the inherent grain is present and the visuals shine. I was surprised by how clean the print is and how much fine detail is visible, as I knew Warner Archive would deliver a great treatment, but this was well beyond my expectations. I think fans will be thrilled here, as the movie has been given a tremendous presentation. The extras include the film’s trailer, as well as an audio commentary track with some of the Trailers from Hell crew and a couple podcasters. I don’t often like these third party commentaries and this one was no exception, there’s some interesting trivia, but not enough content to support a full length track.