“Code Name Zebra” (or “Zebra Force” as it is known outside of the United States) is a very questionable action flick from the mid 1970’s. In general, the story is not too shabby, and the film does have a pretty nice twist as the story progresses. The real problem of this film is the cheesy nature of the action and the phoned in performance of many of the actors. I would not categorize it as "bad" acting, but you will definitely notice a few choice scenes. After saying that, do not let the comment fool you. The film is definitely worth viewing, however it is no Expendables (not even the 1988 “Expendables” film).
As the film begins, we are introduced to a Los Angeles underground gambling operation owned by the mob. Quickly we find out that things are not as fun and glamorous as they appear when a bomb explodes, ending the party. After the explosion, a group of armed men run in and steal the gangsters’ money. We are then treated to one of the best parts of the movie, the rockin’ opening credits! This really sets the mood of the film, with edgy graphics and a catchy action theme song. After the credits, we are introduced to the men who crashed the party with a flashback to Vietnam. After an ambush, the Lieutenant is badly injured and, while in the hospital, creates a plan to use his old platoon as an anti crime unit after the war comes to an end. The Lieutenant (now voiceless and disfigured from the attack in Vietnam) describes his plan to his men. They decide to use blackface as a disguise and rob one of the biggest mob bosses in the country. After starting the plan and creatively fooling the mobsters, the Lieutenant and his men soon discover that things are not so easy, especially when people are not who they claim to be!
What can be said about Code Name Zebra? It is a standard actionsploitation film that seems very common for the mid 1970s. It has a nod to Vietnam, some racist elements, and it falls in to one of the “violence solves everything” kinds of stories. The positive aspects of the film are definitely the plot and the action scenes. There are plenty of explosions and gun battles to keep any action fan satisfied. Unfortunately, the racist aspects of the plot tarnish some of this reviewer’s ability to enjoy the film. Specifically, wearing blackface to trick a crime boss to believe the team’s heist is connected to an African American crime group.
All in all, I would recommend this movie to anybody who is a fan of action films. The story will keep your attention and the action scenes will fulfill your desire to see things explode! This film is now in the public domain and available, in full, on this website! Click the link below to watch the full movie!