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.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
U.S. Seals II (2001)
I'm not sure if there's another movie that I've had more requests for than this one. And I'm not sure why I haven't gotten to it until now. It's probably the fact that, outside of the director, Isaac Florentine, the only name in this is Marshall Teague, whose only claim to fame is getting his throat ripped out by Patrick Swayze in Road House. Whatever the reason, we're here now, so let's see if it lived up to the hype.
US Seals II is about two Navy SEALs, one of whom decides to be a total douche and rape and kill their sensei's hot daughter. Now it's however many years later, and the douche SEAL has teamed up with some mercenaries to kidnap a hot nuclear physicist and make a nuclear bomb. That's enough for the non-douche SEAL to be recruited by the US Army to gather a team-- including the sensei's hot daughter's twin sister-- to go in and take this douche down. Can they make it happen?
This really does deliver in a lot of areas. Florentine gives us this great mix of high octane martial arts from modern Hong Kong cinema, the camp and nostalgia from 60s and 70s Hong Kong cinema, and the over the top explosions and whatnot from the American action genre. What more could you want? The fight scenes are amazing. Florentine lines up some top notch talent and lets them get after it. I also liked the idea that the island the baddies are holed up on has massive amounts of methane gas on it, so no one can use guns; and I liked even better that the main baddie still smokes his cigar and doesn't blow himself up. This is definitely the fun bad action flick you came for.
My one main gripe is the lack of a big name star for either the lead hero or the main baddie. The hero's name even leaves a little to be desired: Casey Sheppard. It sounds more like he's a contestant on The Bachelorette than a kick ass action dude. I'm not saying he (Michael Worth is his name) couldn't bring it fight-wise, but martial arts skills aren't all that's needed to lead an action film. This movie was calling out for a Mark Dacascos or Gary Daniels. Same with the baddie role (played by Damian Chapa). The guy was hatchetman material at best. They should've moved Marshall Teague over into the head baddie role and had this guy under him.
One thing Isaac Florentine does well is direct action and martial arts sequences. There are no MTV edits, no overly done split-second cuts. He also gets tons of quality talent, martial artists and stuntmen and women that really know what they're doing. There are no oversized dudes with shaved heads and sleeves of tats pounding each other to the music of Disturbed wannabes. Florentine knows what we want and he knows how to deliver. Some might think he's a little too over the top-- the Foley sounds on every little movement the actors make, down to a simple head nod, for instance-- but I think for us who really like B action and old Hong Kong cinema, it makes the whole thing that much more fun.
One area of action in this that didn't work though was the underwater fight between scuba divers. The underwater fight seldom works, and the only way it ever can is if it's done quickly, and it's done with only a couple people. The reason why you need the first criteria, is that there is only so much you can do underwater before it becomes excitement by repetition. This one didn't follow that, it was very long, and as such, very repetitive. The reason why you need the second part, is that because it's underwater, and the characters are in scuba gear, it's hard to tell who's who. When there are too many, as there were in this one, it becomes confusing, as it did here. It was an idea sautéed in wrong sauce, and while I like that Florentine tried it, being the great action director that he is, he should've known better.
For much of the history of movies and television, the world of the hot scientist was confined only to men. Actors like Robert Graves portraying etymologists in atomic bug movies or classic characters like The Professor in Gilligan's Island were the norm, while women were relegated to looking pretty as secretaries or housewives. Fortunately now, us guys can enjoy the hot scientist too, and this movie had a real looker in Kate Connor as the physicist. Hair pinned back against her head, glasses, short skirt-- be still my heart! To think that her character wouldn't have existed forty years before. Florentine also did a great job by casting two great female martial artists, Karen Kim and Sophia Crawford, because they really brought it.
This is currently on Watch Instantly, so I'd check it out. This is for B action fans only, because it is bad action to the max, and if you have trouble with how unabashedly and unironically bad action this is, you probably won't enjoy it. Otherwise buckle up and have a good time.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0283652/