Klaus Kinski wears tight, white ski-pants

The Soldier aka Codename: The Soldier; Der Söldner; Le soldat (Dir James Glickenhaus, 1982)

Basic plot: When Russian terrorists steal a nuclear device, they hold the world hostage by declaring that they will contaminate half of the world’s oil supplies unless the Israelis pull out from the West Bank.  The US government calls on an anonymous agent, codenamed The Soldier, to assist them in finding a resolution to the matter

Cast: Dracha – Klaus Kinski; The Soldier – Ken Wahl; Susan Goodman – Alberta Watson; Ivan – Jeremiah Sullivan; The President – William Prince.

Filming locations: Buffalo, New York, USA; Kurfürstendamm and other locations in Berlin, Germany

Release date: June 1982

Availability:  The Soldier is available on a Cinema Club DVD, which includes the film trailer as a bonus feature.  The DVD costs about £8 including postage from Amazon.

The film in full – *SPOILER ALERT*:

Well, if you like helicopters, massive explosions, men on fire, dead bodies everywhere and ski-chase shoot-outs, then this is the film for you.  Unfortunately that’s not at all my cup of tea and, unfortunately for me, Klaus Kinski, who definitely is my cup of tea, is not in the film for very long at all.  Expect to see Klaus for just the one sequence at about 30 minutes into the film – it’s all over within less than 3½ minutes.  On the plus side, you get to see his tiny buttocks encased in tight, white ski-pants.  What more could you ask for?

As for The Soldier – I must admit because of the DVD cover (and the way Amazon market the film) I had originally thought the film was called Ken Wahl Codename: The Soldier and only realised later that he was in fact the “star” of the film.  Apparently Ken Wahl was in The Wanderers but it’s been so long since I saw that film that I can’t recall him if he was.  Anyway… hereafter known as The Soldier Ken Wahl, ah yes! What happened in the film?

The best thing about the film, apart from Klaus’ tiny appearance, is the stylish opening credits along with the Tangerine Dream soundtrack.  But aside from that, from what I can gather The Soldier Ken Wahl is in charge of a special force “completely outside the normal channels”.  There are only five members of the unit and they are superbly well-trained.  The Soldier Ken Wahl reports only to the Director of the CIA.  The Director contacts The Soldier Ken Wahl for assistance when a group of Russians steal some plutonium and potentially hold the world hostage by declaring that they will detonate their device and thus contaminate half of the world’s oil supplies unless the Israelis pull out from the West Bank within 96 hours.  

The scene where the Russians steal the plutonium is a laugh – they blow up the lorry and two cars which are protecting the plutonium but somehow the contents remain totally intact.  They remove the plutonium and escape with it in the boot of an Alfa Romeo. 

Naturally the Israelis are not prepared to pull out of the West Bank, so disaster seems imminent.  At this point the US “unleash” (unofficially, of course) The Soldier Ken Wahl to save the day – you don’t assign The Soldier Ken Wahl, you unleash him, according to the film’s tagline…

Before he will take on the job, The Soldier Ken Wahl wants to know if the Russians are really behind the threat.  The Director of the CIA does not authorise anything but lets slip that Dracha, a Russian KGB agent, is allegedly on a skiing vacation in St Anton, Austria.  Although he’s a loyal KGB agent, Dracha (Klaus Kinski) has always been straight with the US in the past, so The Soldier Ken Wahl heads off to St Anton to see if he can get any information out of Dracha.  Have they not heard of telephones, these special agents? 

Anyway, here comes Klaus… dressed from head to toe in white ski gear, including goggles worn on the forehead.  Fantastic!  He spends the 3½ minutes doing the following:

  • Staring at The Soldier Ken Wahl
  • Staring moodily out of the ski lift window
  • Pouting
  • Pretty much not talking at all (apart from two lines of text: a) What does the rest of the CIA think of this idea of yours?, b) I see)

The Soldier Ken Wahl is totally unaware that he is now on the KGB’s wanted list because he was responsible for the deaths of four KGB agents (who are apparently trained to use prams to trick diplomatic limousines into stopping before they make their attacks!).  His trip to see Dracha leaves him in their direct firing line, so when they finally stop staring each other out, Dracha and The Soldier Ken Wahl make their way to a private ski lift and chat briefly (see comments above, you can hardly call that a chat, can you?) before Dracha locks The Soldier Ken Wahl in the ski lift and sends it off on its journey.  A couple of KGB agents are concealed on the sides of the slopes waiting to shoot down the ski lift with The Soldier Ken Wahl inside.  But The Soldier Ken Wahl is too clever for that (he’s superbly well-trained, see?) and has already kicked his way out of the lift and is down on the slopes skiing (when did he get the skis on?!!), in a high speed chase with some agents wielding guns.  Dracha sees the escape, looks vaguely concerned and then flees.  That’s the last we see or hear of him – unless I fell asleep for the rest of the film, which I don’t think I did.  Sadly.

Anyway, the rest of the film is what you’d expect – more of the same, fights, explosions, car chases etc – and when the Director of the CIA is blown up (the Russians planted a bomb in his desklamp), The Soldier Ken Wahl finds himself operating totally outside of governmental channels and with only his four unit members for assistance.  He doesn’t die – he can’t because he’s The Soldier Ken Wahl – but he does sustain a variety of injuries and gets to have some kind of love interest thing going on in between attacks (which I believe is compulsory in such films – I’ve not seen many of these films, but there’s always a love interest somewhere), plus a massive car chase across the Berlin Wall.  Blah, blah, blah.

Not one of Klaus’ best choices, this one – and that’s saying something! When they say Dracha’s allegedly on a skiing vacation, I reckon Klaus actually was on vacation there and the director saw him and asked him if he wanted a day’s work for pocket money because I can’t imagine that it was the role that drew Klaus to take the work. 

Kinski’s acting methods:

What with all the ski gear to carry, Klaus was unable to put his hands in his pockets as is his wont – he probably couldn’t have pockets in those ski-pants as they only just fit where they touch! – so there are no shots of Klaus performing his usual schtick.  Instead, he does get to do what he does best – STARE and look out of windows moodily.  There’s so little to go on with this film, what else can I say?  I’ve provided lots of Klaus shots to illustrate the review and brighten it up a little instead.

Klaus is listed as making a “special appearance” in The Soldier.  I’ll let you into a secret, shall I?  I think “special appearance” is a codename for a blink -and-you’ll-miss-it appearance!Other information about the film:  In his book Kinski Die Biographie (aufbau taschenbuch, Berlin, 2008), Christian David says Klaus was paid $15,000 plus expenses to fly over to St Anton for filming between 11 – 13 January 1982.


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About tinynoggin

I love films (anything from exploitation stuff to stylish Eastern European cinema, but I'm not really into blockbusters and modern Hollywood), music (Serge Gainsbourg, Michel Polnareff, Left Banke, Francoise Hardy, The Seeds, Love, The Zombies, etc) and books (Kurt Vonnegut, Julian Maclaren-Ross, Patrick Hamilton, Alan Sillitoe, and more). I take photographs with my Lomography Diana F plus or my Olympus Trip and like making stuff in my spare time.
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2 Responses to Klaus Kinski wears tight, white ski-pants

  1. Pingback: Some Klaus Kinski posters | Du dumme Sau – a Kinski Blog

  2. Pingback: Klaus Kinski hangs out with a Professional | Du dumme Sau – a Kinski Blog

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