The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Counter Measures aka Crash Dive 2 (1999)

Photobucket

In our move to get Michael Dudkioff back in the fold, we also go to a throwback, something more indicative of 1990 than 1999. Even the name spells great bad DTV action: Counter Measures. No one thought to pick up a dictionary-- even worse, no one stepped in that just happened to know countermeasures is one word not two? But as much as we knew The Stranger was going to be a sack of asscrack by its opening credit sequence, we know a movie with a misspelled title is going to be pretty sweet.

Counter Measures (sic) has Dudikoff back after the first Crash Dive, now working as a Navy medic because he abhors violence. Problem is, he's in the wrong line of work to abhor violence, and as far as Uncle Sam's concerned, once a Navy SEAL, always a Navy SEAL, and he's sent into action with a cute blond to take a Russian sub back from some dudes hell bent on bringing back the Cold War. How much does this sound like a throwback?

Photobucket

Maybe it was the strong bitter taste left in my mouth from The Stranger, but I liked this. I mean, it was awful, but a lot of fun awful. The film starts with some pitched battle with Dudikoff as the medic cradling a dying comrade in his arms, imploring the boy to "don't die on me!" If you were going to make a parody of 1990s bad action, you'd probably script that scene. And it just keeps on from there. Unlike its predecessor, we didn't have long, drawn out submarine fights-- in fact, the one we did have ended with a great torpedo strike on the US sub by the baddies after some chick higher-up told the US sub to back off, to which the Navy guy that wanted the sub to engage says "you just killed 125 US sailors" in as grim an I-told-you-so a voice as possible. Dudikoff kicked ass and took names, instead of getting his ass kicked like he did in the first one, which was also refreshing. Having Oleg Taktarov to fight made it more believable when he struggled as well. Just a fun time.

Obviously, this isn't a film worth taking seriously, but that's what makes it so great. I mean, the people making it, Fred Olen Ray in particular, exude no irony whatsoever, which adds to the charm; but this really is a throwback, because as the decade changed, so did the DTV approach to filmmaking. Golan-Globus had been done for a while, and PM was winding down. The Matrix and Crouching Tiger were putting a premium on high flying martial arts and gimmicky special effects, and this trend would only get worse with The Bourne Identity and it's model of quick cuts preventing the audience from focusing on anyone thing, a slight-of-hand trick that allowed DTV filmmakers to much more effectively cover up inadequacies, and also allowed them to cast bigger names and spend less cash on the special effects that the 80s and 90s films were so known for. Here we had a film trying to turn the tide, the farmer outside of Byzantium, holding onto his livelihood as the rest of the Romans had fled behind the city walls as the Huns approached. Watching a slew of extras convulse and spit yellow bile up as a result of the nerve gas the baddies were using to take them out, I lifted my beer to them, and everyone involved with this movie. Good for them.

Photobucket

And this was vintage Michael Dudikoff. I wouldn't say it was his best, because he has a ton of much better films, but he and Fred Olen Ray collaborated here to create something pretty sweet for us bad action movie honks. All of my complaints with part 1 were addressed in this sequel, which is all we can ask for, right? If you had any questions as far as how awesome Dudikoff would be in this one, once he slits a bad guy's throat with a corkscrew, all doubts perish. And when he uses that same corkscrew to fish a bullet out of his thigh-- well, I'm actually confused when he does that, so let's skip that part. Anyway, this is the kind of film that made Dudikoff an inaugural Hall of Famer as much as the American Ninjas, because this proves just how much we love seeing him in a DTV actioner.

This movie had a really hot femme fatale, whose first scene sees her buck naked. Later she wears one of those business suits with the long coat and short skirt that makes it look like she's not wearing any skirt at all. It's a classic dilemma for us Western guys: we find those Eastern European women to be such hotties, but we know we can't trust 'em. I mean, poor Dave, the overweight, balding, used car salesman plunks down some serious cash to fly over to Moscow and pick out his favorite down-and-out hottie from Minsk or Odessa, only to get her home and find himself two months later emptying out his bank account online at gunpoint by his new bride's visiting "cousins". He tells himself he'll never let that happen again, saves up the cash he earned by unloading another couple hundred lemons on his unsuspecting community, only to find Match.com isn't cutting it for him, and he's back in Moscow. Poor Dave.

Photobucket

The last time we saw Fred Olen Ray, he was boring us to sleep with Mach 2. He's an interesting case, because he has some 115 directorial credits, but a good chunk of those are bikini films, so I'm never sure how much I should feature him, or even consider him as a candidate for the Hall of Fame. This is his sixth film we've reviewed, the other five being the aforementioned Mach 2, Operation Cobra, The Shooter, Fugitive Mind, and Alienator (a film I just discovered somehow didn't make it into my archives, even though I reviewed it back on July 30, 2007!). Maybe not Hall of Fame yet, but at least a tag, how does that sound?

This is a bit of a tough one to find, as it's on DVD, but not available at Netflix. Who knows why that is. Also, Amazon sells it new for like $25-- way more than you should be spending. I found it on VHS, but it's not mine, I'm borrowing it. That's what you should do, unless you're a Dudikoff completist, which I'm not (it's enough being a Dolph completist!). It is fun, though, so if you can get it cheap, or better yet for free, go for it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0150209/

10 comments:

  1. Olin Ray and Dudikoff - what a combination! This does look fun. I'll see what I can do about tracking it down.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In Australia it will be called Crash Dive 2, not Counter Measures. I guess you Aussies are a little less forgiving when it comes to misspellings, huh?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I believe this was what inspired Agent Red. Of course while I never cared for this (I haven't seen it in ages, I will go on record that such is far better than Agent Red.) Of course Matt here likes Agent Red, which is weird cause it's always sited as the worst Dolph Lundgren movie. I can't disagree with such an honor.

    As for Counter Measures (should be countermeasures) (which is the right term) Such a title implies people who measure counters or count measures. I think my favorite Dudikoff movie of the military branch is Soldier Boyz because that one really was inspired in its absurdity, mainly the ridiculous white supremacist who sacrifices himself scene, but now i'm kind of curious to see this one again.

    Also The Human Shield...I know it's on VHS but The Human Shield this is Dudikoff's best 90s Cannon effort, I mean it's Dudikoff joining forces with the director of Magnum Force and Hang Em High. I would argue that The Human Shield is probably my favorite Dudikoff movie of the 90s next to The Silencer (whih is a legit good movie.) but you just can't go wrong with such.

    Actually between that and Cyberjack, Black Thunder, Freedom Strike and The Shooter one realizes Dudikoff made some classic bad movies.

    Yet try as he might, nothing will ever match his American Ninja 1-2 and Avenging Force peak.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh and Dudikoff is in a new movie called The Human Factor according to IMDB. So seriously how cool is that?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm glad you brought up the new Dudikoff effort, because I totally forgot. I've been having the worst time getting Human Shield, but hopefully sooner rather than later, cross your fingers.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Didn't know this was a sequel to Crash Dive!

    I just found Counter Measures at a used VHS shop in CT. It has a shiny silver cover.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Crash Dive is quite a gamble, Foxwoods style, and believe me, the house always wins. Boring submarine fights that will put you to sleep.

    Here's my review right here:
    http://www.mattmovieguy.com/2009/08/crash-dive-1997.html

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes, Agent Red was a remake of CounterMeasures or something along those lines... I think a lot of footage from these later Dudikoff DTVs made it into some of Dolph's DTVs 5 or so years later. I have a soft spot for these old Duds movies, even though they are, as Matt pointed out, quite terrible.

    I got my copy for like 2 bucks, so don't know why it costs so much now- it's not like this is a rare movie in any shape or form.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This one really worked in that soft spot sort of way, which was why I liked it. I kind of dropped the ball in pointing out that Agent Red was a remake, so I'm glad you guys picked me up on that one.

    ReplyDelete
  10. It is Fred Olen Ray (instead of Olin), a modern Ed Wood. Ray and Dudikoff also made a western "The Shooter".

    If you check out Fred Olen Ray you should also check out Jim Wynorski. He is in the same category, but his movies are often more fun.

    ReplyDelete