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The Lost Idol (1990)

Nomination Year: 1993
SYNOPSIS:  Back during the Vietnam War, a platoon stumbles upon a temple in which sits a huge idol of solid gold. The troops take it and hide it in a cave, only to be betrayed by their commanding officer, who murders them all...or so he thinks. Erik Estrada, though severely wounded, escapes downriver and recovers in Cambodia, where he falls in love, raises a family and generally "goes native." Flash forward a few years. The war's over and the corrupt CO intends to return to claim his multi-million-dollar prize. Problem is, the country is embroiled in a civil war. He needs a guide. He discovers Erik and kidnaps his daughter in order to coerce him into helping. Erik complies. Unfortunately, the whole team is captured by rebel forces and the reason why they're there is tortured from them by the rebels' brutal but effete commandant. They're forced to get the idol, which attracts a pack of mercenaries and a group of government officials. Soon, avarice causes the whole area to erupt in violent conflict. In the end, nothing is gained by anyone, but perhaps we're all a little wiser for having learned one of life's hard lessons.

Smithee Award Winner! Oblivious

They Didn't Know the Ropes
The mercenaries, led by Erik and the evil Colonel, come up against a rebel camp. They must sneak around it or take it; if they're discovered, they're toast. Not much chance of that, though, because the rebel sentries are all about as dumb as fence posts. Our main characters rappel halfway down a bare cliff, a mere two feet above the guards' heads. To see them, the guards don't even really have to lift their heads -- the ends of the rappelling ropes are draped across the ground. In fact, one of the guards goes right up to one of the ropes, puzzled. It was a serious effort for these actors not to bring their heads into a natural, looking-forward position, because then it would've been obvious that they would have seen the intruders. In any case, the troupe jumps down from above, taking full advantage of the Element of Ignorance.

Smithee Award Winner! "Whoops!"

Details, Details...
The voice-over intro has many hilarious errors. They get the date wrong. The announcer says that "150 men of the 203rd were killed," but the characters talk about how they lost 203 men from the 150th, etc.

Smithee Award Winner! "WHAT?!"

He Flies Better Dead Than Alive
The copter pilot gets shot and killed early on, but takes off and flies for about five miles (long enough for a lengthy fist-fight in the back of the chopper). There's a cheesy fight, and stock copter footage of a different copter.

"WHAT?!"

Trained by Yosemite Sam Himself
When the tough group of mercenaries is introduced, one shoots a perfect outline of the big guy through a door, just like in a cartoon. Goofy.

Smithee Award Winner!MegaMetaSmithee Award Winner! Worst Acting

Worse Delivery Than Torgo's Pizza
Myra Chason really acts badly: stilted and sssslllloooowwwly. "Oh. You. Must. Be. Won Ton Ghoul." [change expression] "I've heard. So much. About you." Truly must be seen to be believed.

Worst Acting

"They Have Taken My Life Awayyy!"
Erik Estrada attempts to emote. When they kidnap his daughter he shakes with what we're supposed to believe is rage. Looking remarkably like Buddy Hackett, he spurts, "They-have-taken-my-life-awayyy."

Worst Acting

Dr. Variable Accent
Dr. Variable Accent slaps Myra around (not that she doesn't deserve it). He uses at least three different accents in the scene; must be a spy technique to keep his enemies guessing as to his origins. Is he German? French? Russian? Nobody knows!

Smithee Award Winner! Worst Picture

Too Much Bull To Handle
There's a heartwarming (more gut-wrenching, really) scene where Erik tries to plow a field using a recalcitrant bull.

Smithee Award Winner! Worst Picture

Yan Can Interrogate
The skinny Asian resistance leader tries to be intimidating and imposing while interrogating Myra, the Red Cross lady, but fails utterly. He gets in her face. "You were spying!" he roars, "How do we know your supplies were going to the wictims [sic.] of the war, and not to the Kampuchean People Liberation Front...WHO IS OUR ENEMYYYYY!!!" Myra spits back (with her customary abysmally bad acting) that she doesn't care about his damn war.

Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame
Erik Estrada "Ponch" on C.Hi.P.s 
Myra Chason  
Blackie Dammett  
Director Claim to Fame
Philip Chalong  

Bryan Cassidy

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© 2011-2014 Bryan D. Cassidy, Greg Pearson, Matthew Quirk, and Kevin Hogan. All Rights Reserved.