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INTERNATIONAL GUERILLAS [International Gorillay] (1990).

The Pakistan film industry (nicknamed Lollywood) is just a tiny blip on the map compared to neighboring India, and few of their efforts get discussed beyond their borders. This crazy, disjointed, colorful, 168-minute epic from director Jan Mohammad and producer Sajjad Gul is that rare exception. Created in response to Salman Rushdie's notorious "The Satanic Verses," it transforms mild-mannered intellectual Rushdie into an Islam-loathing super-villain! Nearly banned in England (until Rushdie personally opposed its censorship), it's a hallucinogenically awful mish-mash of music, action, crude comedy, continuity screw-ups, and dreadful production values. Although this emulsion-scratched, heavily-spliced print is in Punjabi, without English subtitles, it's still a mind-numbing experience. As anger toward Rushdie's book spreads across the country, Mustafa Qureshi stars as a police officer who tosses in his badge and recruits two younger brothers (Ghulam Mohiuddin and Javed Shaikh). Their Holy Mission: to destroy the sinister Rushdie and his immense network of traitors, and when evil military forces gun down righteous protesters -- including those close to the trio -- it galvanizes these Mujahid misfits! Played by Afzal Ahmad, Rushdie is a smug, bespectacled butcher in a double-breasted suit, who lives in palatial splendor, personally slaughters his enemies with a huge blood-soaked sword, and plans to destroy Islam by importing discos and casinos to Pakistan! As the brothers get closer to their goal, the path is pocked with various cliffhanger plights and stupid undercover disguises (e.g. posing as women and seducing two randy sheiks). One of the weirdest scenes has the trio dressing in baggy Batman costumes and tracking down a bunch of identical Rushdie impostors (in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE-style masks). The real Rushdie is far too evil to be stopped by mere mortals though, and just as our guerilla heroes (as well as their mom!) are crucified, Allah's lightning frees them, and Rushdie is attacked by a quartet of floating holy books (the Koran, Tawrat, Zabur, and Injil), which shoot laser beams into his skull until he bursts into flame! Wow! You can also expect a few teeth-grinding musical numbers, most of 'em performed by female co-stars Neeli and Babra Shareef (as Rushdie's moll). An early sequence has a bare-midriffed dame warbling to disco-style lighting-FX, with two cowboys suddenly busting in and dancing. In another, Rushdie is seduced by a sexy, gyrating visitor to his posh cocktail party. The filmmaking is beyond inept, and it's difficult to criticize any of the actors, since they're as subtle as Sam Kinison on PCP. It's a fascinating, hypnotically-wretched dose of action-packed Islamic-agitprop, and in today's era of constantly elevated-fear, it's refreshing to see a pro-terrorist movie that also delivers unintentional belly laughs.

© 2003 by Steven Puchalski.