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Theatrical release poster by Steven Chorney
|Directed by||Willard Huyck|
|Produced by||Gloria Katz|
|Written by||Robert Grossbach (novel Easy and Hard Ways Out)
Gloria Katz (screenplay)
Peter Michael Goetz
|Music by||Patrick Williams|
|Edited by||Sidney Wolinsky|
|Cinema Group Ventures
Eddie Murphy Productions
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||July 20, 1984 (USA)|
|Running time||94 minutes|
|Box office||$19,265,302 (domestic) |
The movie takes place as two parallel plots separated by several years: In 1982, Moore is an engineer developing a targeting system on a tank for the United States Army and in 1984, Murphy is an American tank commander who finds himself forced to use the vehicle when Iraq invades Kuwait (an unintentional foreshadowing of the Gulf War that occurred six years after the release of the film).
The protagonists never interact in any way throughout the film. However, a cut scene showed both Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy together, but was edited out from the final film.
The film progresses as the indifferent and incompetent Moore slowly becomes more and more conscientious as he sees his corrupt employer falsifying test results on the notoriously unreliable system. This is interwoven with clips of the reluctant Murphy being forced into combat with a pair of ill trained Kuwaiti crewmen and the lemon of a tank (the machine gun falls apart in Murphy's hands, etc.).
The film reaches its climax when Murphy attempts to fire the main gun, which jams due to an overheated component ("The WAM's overheating! The WAM's overheating! What the hell is a WAM!?!"). Flashbacks then show the reformed Moore ignoring his bosses' orders to cut costs and making a sound engineering change to fix an anticipated overheating problem in the component ("Damn it, something on this tank is going to work!"). The camera cuts away to the tank's innards, showing Moore's fan turning on and cooling the component, and the AA rockets getting launched to save Murphy from an Iraqi anti-tank helicopter. The film ends with Moore and Murphy as heroes in their respective jobs.
Production and critical reception
Screening reviews for the movie were so scathing that the studio re-worked it and created a part for Eddie Murphy, who was at the peak of his popularity. Murphy's part was almost unconnected with the rest of the film and his character never even came into contact with the main cast. Eddie Murphy was credited as "Strategic Guest Star". Murphy would later joke about taking that role when he hosted Saturday Night Live that his reaction to being offered the role was "What?! How dare you give me a script like this! Oh, THAT much money? Let's go!" The movie was nominated for a Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for Worst Picture.
ABC edited just 35 seconds from this film for its 1987 network television premiere.
- "Best Defense (1984)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- "Best Defense Review. Movie Reviews - Film - Time Out London". Timeout.com. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- "1984 7th Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 2, 2013.