1986 / Director. Neal Israel.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
Director Neal Israel had previously directed films such as BACHELOR PARTY and MOVING VIOLATIONS. He was clearly a hot comedy director on the scene at the time and so when he made the 1986 movie COMBAT HIGH for NBC television it was actually his association with POLICE ACADEMY (he wrote it) that inspired the network to retitle the movie to COMBAT ACADEMY... and as you can see, the poster art looks like a page torn from the same book. Strangely this greedy money-grab doesn't bother me in the least because COMBAT ACADEMY fits right in with that whole POLICE ACADEMY world. With characters that reflect many of the police academy's characters (Lassard, Mahoney etc) this movie takes the same premise and structure and tweaks it for a military environment. Audiences would be right for being hesitant but there's no need... COMBAT ACADEMY is hilarious in its own right. It's been years since I had seen it and I recently watched it with the entire family. To my own surprise my kids were in fits of laughter. Both are fans of POLICE ACADEMY and they took to this one as though it was an official sequel. Director Neal Israel successfully exploited the format and gave NBC a movie property that was up to theatrical standards (it's TOO good for a TV movie). Nearly 30 years later and the movie is still relatively unknown. Thanks to George Clooney's star power (this was his debut film) COMBAT HIGH received a few small DVD releases in Europe but has gone without and kind of fanfare in more other territories. I would love to have seen sequels but that was never to be. And so COMBAT ACADEMY has become something of a cult favourite and a sought after title. There's a huge amount of satisfaction when watching it and its comedy is consistent enough to make it a comedy classic in my book!