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By Phil Hall | June 13, 2005

In case you are wondering why Pakistan is not considered to be a major source of quality of cinematic entertainment, look no further than the utterly inane (but often entertaining) “International Guerrillas.” This 1990 oddity is a feverish slapdash of Islamic fundamentalism and galumphing fantasy spiced with disco dance sequences and paranoid babblings about the alleged threat to global Muslim devotion.

“International Guerrillas” was made during the Salman Rushdie brouhaha, when the Ayatollah Khomeini placed a fatwa on the British author’s noggin for writing “The Satanic Verses.” In this film, Rushdie is not an embattled writer but the bold head of an international crime syndicate. Sporting the loudest and tackiest wardrobe this side of the Rudy Ray Moore canon, Rushdie is determined to wipe Islam out of Pakistan with a series of robberies and the creation of casinos and discos.

However, a weary police officer and his two younger brothers (who happen to be robbers) form a small holy arm to counter the Rushdie crime wave. At one point, the Islam-defending siblings dress up in Batman costumes to prove they are serious about fighting this threat.

Throughout the film is a wild woman who turns up to perform hip-shaking dances and to sing suggestive tunes with lines like “Look my way and admire my beauty.” Clearly the malcontent mullahs who advocate Islamic theocracy would have cardiac arrest seeing this hoochy-koochy act going on, but that discrepancy is never explained here.

“International Guerrillas” gained some notoriety when Rushdie himself petitioned the UK censors to allow the film to be shown on British television (they want to ban it for defamation, although a ban based on poor filmmaking would’ve been applicable here). The film was never shown in the US and is only now finding its way into American DVD release.

“International Guerrillas” is so crude and stupid that it becomes unintentionally hilarious, not unlike yesteryear camp classics such as “Reefer Madness” and “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” Criticizing it is pointless – the film deserves to be seen and enjoyed on its own wonky terms and not put in the perspective of real filmmaking. Had the midnight movie circuit remained alive, it would certainly secure a place in that late-night world. As it stands, it is easy to imagine this flick finding its way around as a party favorite – and perhaps the American soldiers currently occupying neighboring Afghanistan can send over that country’s now-flourishing opium poppies to help make viewing “International Guerrillas” all the easier?

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