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VAL GUEST'S 'KILLER FORCE' AKA 'THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES'

Titles: KILLER FORCE/THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES Year: 1976 Rating: ***

The only thing more pathetic than Peter Fonda's fake beard is that director Val Guest had almost no career after making some of Hammer Films' best work, from horror to war to science-fiction to (like this) crime thrillers...

And while KILLER FORCE is no Hammer there's Dracula himself, Christopher Lee, within a group of DIAMOND MERCENARIES in a South African desert where the beautiful-vastness of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA meets the jeep-leaping potential of THE RAT PATROL, and, either indoors or out, Lee's the most cold-blooded villain (killing perfectly good hooker Marina Christelis for no apparent reason) in a movie all about villains...

Hugh O'Brian, OJ Simpson and Christpher Lee in KILLER FORCE

Meanwhile, buried lead Peter Fonda works for Telly Savalas, an uncompromising, office-set security chief (whose scenes were probably shot in a few days between KOJAK episodes) for an impenetrable diamond-mine outpost... 

And soon the morally ambiguous Fonda's hired to go undercover into Christopher Lee's gang actually led by square-jawed Hugh O'Brian alongside Lee's 007 moll Maud Adams (as Fonda's girl) and O. J. Simpson, turning in his most natural non-performance since some genuine athletic abilities are used during the busy second and third acts...

OJ Simpson in KILLER FORCE with Peter Fonda

That's when the rudimentary semi-complicated heist premise becomes more popcorn mainstream and thus, outright entertaining, and even suspenseful... the latter most likely thanks to director Val Guest...

The underrated British auteur (from QUATERMASS to HELL IS A CITY) does a nifty job with a standard script and meager budget that could have been forgettable without a consummate professional behind everyone, and everything.

Telly Savalas and Maud Adams KILLER FORCE
Telly Savalas in KILLER FORCE
Hugh O'Brian in KILLER FORCE
Christopher Lee and OJ Simpson in KILLER FORCE
Peter Fonda in KILLER FORCE
Peter Fonda in KILLER FORCE
Hugh O'Brian, OJ Simpson and Christpher Lee in KILLER FORCE
Marina Christelis in KILLER FORCE with Peter Fonda
Marina Christelis in KILLER FORCE
Marina Christelis in KILLER FORCE
Marina Christelis in KILLER FORCE with Christopher Lee
South Africa location from KILLER FORCE
South Africa location from KILLER FORCE
South Africa location from KILLER FORCE
Hugh O'Brian, Peter Fonda and Maud Adams from KILLER FORCE
From KILLER FORCE the actual title being THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES
Peter Fonda in KILLER FORCE
Peter Fonda in KILLER FORCE
Hugh O'Brian in KILLER FORCE
Hugh O'Brian in KILLER FORCE with Peter Fonda and OJ Simpson
Val Guest gets credit for THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES aka KILLER FORCE
Hugh O'Brian in KILLER FORCE with Peter Fonda
Hugh O'Brian in KILLER FORCE
Val Guest's KILLER FORCE with Peter Fonda
Maud Adams in KILLER FORCE aka THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES
Foreign poster for KILLER FORCE aka The Diamond Mercenaries
Christopher Lee and Hugh O'Brian in KILLER FORCE with Peter Fonda
Christopher Lee and Hugh O'Brian in KILLER FORCE with Peter Fonda

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