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SEQUEL-PALOOZA: MILITARY DOUBLE FEATURE

Special Note: I wanted to have this up for Veterans Day, but just couldn’t swing it. Yeah, yeah, I know I’m a procrastinating sumbitch, but what can you do? Still… mad respect to all our veterans. This one (two?) is for you…

SNIPER 2 (2002) ** ½

You know, when you’re looking at the opening credits of a movie and you see certain names that just make you pump your fist in the air and yell, “Yes!” Director Craig R. Baxley is one of those names. When you see Baxley’s name in the credits for a DTV Sniper sequel, you know you’re in good hands. Sure, Sniper 2 is no Action Jackson or Stone Cold, but it actually manages to be marginally better than its predecessor thanks to his competent craftsmanship.

This time around, Tom Berenger gets pulled out of retirement to assassinate some Serbian general. He is teamed with a cocky death row inmate (3000 Miles to Graceland’s Bokeem Woodbine) to perform the hit and after a rocky start, they form a mutually respectful relationship. The assassination goes off without a hitch, but when his partner is arrested by the Serbian police, Berenger defies orders and sets out to rescue him.

Sniper 2 has more action than the first one. There’s less an emphasis on sniping and more of a concentration on gun fights, explosions, and tanks running through walls. It starts with a bang, continues solidly along, and unfortunately ends with a whimper as the sniper vs. sniper finale falls kinda flat. It’s funny that the film is at its best when it plays like a generic action movie and falls apart once it focuses on the snipering.

The strong cast helps. Berenger is great and his performance is easily the best thing about the movie. Bokeem Woodbine is pretty good too and is able to generate some chemistry with Berenger. (Although I do have to say that I missed Billy Zane.) And it was nice to see Johnny Cage himself, Linden Ashby turning up as the dude who sends Berenger on his mission.

Overall, Sniper 2 is slightly off the mark, but it should be right on target for fans of DTV action sequels.

U.S. SEALS 2: THE ULTIMATE FORCE (2001) *** ½

I never saw U.S. Seals 1, but the fact that Part 2 was directed by Isaac Florentine was enough to get me to watch it. I like Florentine’s Undisputed sequels as much as the next guy, but U.S. Seals 2: The Ultimate Force is an entirely different animal. Whereas the Undisputed sequels are legitimately good action films, U.S. Seals 2 is almost epic in its badness. It’s definitely one of the best bad movies I’ve seen in a long time.

Okay, so this one U.S. Seal dude goes rogue and kills his sensei’s hot daughter, which causes the Kung Fu geezer to commit hari-kari. Casey is the team leader and this turn of events breaks his heart so much that he quits the Seals to become a welder. Later the Bad Seal kidnaps a hot scientist and forces her to make a nuclear warhead. Casey then grudgingly comes out of retirement and gets his old Seals team together to kick some ass.

Before I get into the awesomeness that is U.S. Seals 2: The Ultimate Force; let me first lay all of my nitpicks out on the table. First off, the flick really suffers from not having any name stars in it. Sure, it’s got plenty of nuttiness (more on that later), but I can’t help but think how much more awesome it would’ve been with a third rate (or heck, even a fourth rate) action star in there. Someone from the world of WWE, football, or even a celebrity sibling would’ve sufficed. I don’t know any of these guys from Adam and all of them are mostly bland, forgettable, and interchangeable.

Another complaint is that it takes a while before the movie starts becoming truly awesome. You’ve got to wait about 40 minutes before Florentine kicks things fully into gear. During this time you’ll probably be thinking, “What the fuck is so goddamn special about this shit?” But wait my friends. Be patient. Because once the action starts, it never stops.

U.S. Seals 2 is one of those movies that have generous helpings of So-Bad-It’s-Good moments sprinkled in with So-Bad-It’s-Awesome scenes that makes you shake your head in disbelief. Let’s just start with the bad guy’s lair. Early on, there’s a bit of dialogue about how the slightest spark in his lair will trigger a nuclear explosion. So instead of the Seals going in with their usual guns and sniper rifles, they have to attack the place brandishing swords, knives, and machetes. This is legitimately awesome because it confounds your expectations totally. When you think about a movie about Navy Seals, you think of someone dressed up like refugees from Call of Duty or Socom in camouflage running around with guns; not dudes in black slinging swords around.

But after about five minutes of guys sword fighting you start to wonder… “Hey… what would happen if the swords clanked together and created a spark? Wouldn’t that trigger a nuclear explosion too?” Folks, I live for Bad Movie moments like this.

Then there’s all the WHOOSHING, WHIZZING, and SWOOPING noises on the soundtrack. It’s kind of acceptable whenever someone punches or kicks, but it gets to a point where the WHOOSHING sound effects happen when someone simply turns their head or nods in agreement. Then the camera gets in on the action and starts making the SWOOPING noises every time it does the simplest moves. These noises happen so often that it goes from being funny to annoying to borderline brilliant. (You can definitely tell that Florentine cut his teeth on Power Rangers episodes from these scenes.)

I think the scene that sealed the deal for me came when our heroes are crawling around in a ventilation shaft in the ceiling while the bad guys are walking down a corridor below. The good guys make a noise and the villains stop dead in their tracks. Then the good guys look nervously at each other and there’s a tense moment where no one does or says anything. After some glances have been exchanged, the henchman… err… woman starts slashing the ceiling up with her sword, but luckily, the Seals have already crawled backwards and avoid getting stabbed. Questions: A) How did the Seals know the villains were directly underneath them when they are stuck inside a ventilation shaft? B) How did they know the bad gal was going to stab the ceiling when there was no way for them to see what she was up to?

Again, it’s stuff like this that cracks me up in these kinds of movies.

And I haven’t even gotten around to talking about the gun that shoots acid. Or the fact that this movie features a record amount of scenes of guys getting stabbed and it having no effect whatsoever on them. If you can’t already tell, U.S. Seals 2: The Ultimate Force is not simply a bad cheesy action movie, it’s a gloriously bad cheesy action movie.

Oh, and I didn’t even tell you about the best part… the finale. (Kindly skip this paragraph if you want to the ending to remain Spoiler free.) In the end, the villain tries to slice Casey with his sword, but he grabs it by the blade and is able to push it in between the bad guy’s legs. Casey can’t quite push the sword toward it’s intended target (the bad guy’s testicles) as we see his hands bleeding profusely from holding the blade. Finally, Casey’s girlfriend sees them struggling and she grabs the sword from the other end. Together, they push upwards on the sword and they slice the villain up the middle, crotch first, until the sword slices through his brain and the two halves of his dead body fall over. Brilliant.

(End Spoilers.)

To sum up… SEE THIS MOVIE ASAP! Seriously, all my bad movie blogging buddies… this is one you all need to review! Forget the dull first half and fast forward right to the good stuff if you must, but definitely check it out. You’ll be glad you did.

Followed by Frogmen: Operation Stormbringer. (No, I didn’t make that up. That’s the actual title, I swear to God.)

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Comments

( 9 comments — Comment )
(Anonymous)
Nov. 14th, 2011 04:44 pm (UTC)
Hell, yes! US Seals 2 is a freakin awesome movie. I've been trying to tell people for years. The stunt work by Andy Cheng (one of Jackie Chan's Stunt Team) is superb but the plot is relentlessly stupid. You know how some movies are great to watch while drinking a beer this is more like 5 beer minimum.
Jack T
thevideovacuum
Nov. 14th, 2011 06:21 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. It was a pleasant surprise. Oh, and I had two beers in me when I saw this one. Five Beers probably would've made it Four Star material.
darksteel6
Nov. 14th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
This was pretty good, though I kinda prefered the first film and the third one(which is actually titled U.S. Seals: Dead Or Alive, the title you mentioned is actually the overseas title) but the best Florentine film is definitely Special Forces, you HAVE to see that film!
thevideovacuum
Nov. 14th, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know Frogmen: Operation Stormbringer was an alternate title but it was so cool that I had to throw it out there. And yeah... I need to see Special Forces; mostly because of the Adkins Factor.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 14th, 2011 08:31 pm (UTC)
Ha! Yeah Sniper 2 was okay but you're right the ending really fell flat compared to the original. Have you checked out Sniper Reloaded? It's got Zane in but no Berenger. It's surprisingly decent though.
Jack T
P.S. Love the site - you're a movie reviewing machine! Check out my site when you get a chance http://www.collectedcinema.blogspot.com
comeuppancereviews.com
Nov. 14th, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
Nice write-ups! Definitely looking forward to watching both movies. Saw U.S. Seals 2: The Ultimate Force (Great title) a long time ago.
thevideovacuum
Nov. 14th, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
Jack T: I'll definitely check out your site. Thanks for the support; 'preciate it! I have Sniper 3 and Reloaded on the ol' Netflix Queue, but I don't know if I'll get to them before Sequel-Palooza ends this month.

Ty: Thanks man, I'd love to see you guys review US Seals 2!
comeuppancereviews.com
Nov. 16th, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
We will definitely be reviewing both of those in the future!
thevideovacuum
Nov. 16th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Can't wait! I think you'll have as much fun writing about US Seals 2 as you will watching it.
( 9 comments — Comment )

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