It's like playing a video in that one can stop the running of it, or fast forward or reverse it. Since really the only reason to watch this is to see Lisa Eichhorn get abused in various ways, I was able to zip from one such sequence to the next one. If you're interested in the plot, which I guess I can't call a rip off of "GI Jane" since the latter came along about a decade later, but that's what it feels like: Ms Eichhorn (who apparently is best known for not playing the Shelley Long part in "Cheers") is "Casey," an air force officer who has volunteered for some super macho training course, apparently meant to remind us of the real life SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) undergone by various commando types. Naturally she's the only woman taking the course. After the commander of the base (like the Scott Wilson character in "GI Jane") kindly warns her that he can do nothing whatsoever to protect her as the only woman involved, she's off to the races. Eichhorn has a kind of nice sisterly persona to her, but I didn't detect any of the inner steeliness that a woman would need to join the military in the first place and then volunteer for a course like this. Casey pairs off with an avuncular middle-aged major played by the usually reliable Tom Skerritt who unfortunately seems to be "phoning in" his lines here, like most of the rest of the cast. In due course they get "captured" (not much instruction in "evasion" is offered) and then this movie comes to life somewhat with the arrival of the Anthony Zerbe character, who deserves a new paragraph break.
Mr Zerbe is a personal hero of mine, now 74 with over a hundred titles on IMDb to his credit, mostly on TV and almost inevitably as the bad guy (although he did get to be the wise old "councillor" in a couple of the "Matrix" flicks). I've been enjoying his unique brand of smarmy menace since the 1970's. His characters sneer at any kind of "back story" or "motivation," they're just out to do you as much dirt as they can without even letting you have the consolation of thinking you're getting a rise out of them. Here he's "Becker," in charge of the training course (fascistic military types need a German surname, of course) who manages to function with no oversight from the brass whatsoever and (like Colonel Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now," also filmed in the Philippines) has gone off the deep end with his subordinates playing right along; maybe there was something toxic in the water supply? Of course he has it in for Casey from the get go; his scenes with her are pure Grand Guignol and worth the wait, especially with that handy fast forwarding. He has her "waterboarded" at one point (I don't recall even hearing that term until the Bush administration), stripped, de-loused, locked in cages etc. and in the piece de resistance, has her bound and gagged on the floor so he can "have his way" with her; this latter is rather minimally filmed, but sometimes less actually is more. (By the way the male soldiers in the course are also abused in various ways, but let's 'fess up, we're not watching it to see them.) This finally pushes the major over the edge; he leads the others in revolt, lots of people get shot etc. The violence is handled curiously flatly; overall there's a cheap made for TV quality to the whole enterprise; even the Philippine jungle that was such an important component of those Pam Grier prison flicks seems pretty tame here. Beyond the actors already mentioned, Richard Roundtree as Zerbe's chief underling has some fun barking invective at the captives; he has even more acting credits than Zerbe, but who knows him as anybody but Shaft? So bottom line, if you have about half an hour to kill (and don't have to pay separately for it), there's enough watchable material in "Opposing Force" to occupy about that much of your time...
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