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Michael Dudikoff is one of those guys that should’ve been bigger than he was. If you’ve ever seen American Ninja 2, you know what I’m talking about. For whatever reason, he took a long break from acting for about the past decade. Luckily for Dudikoff fans, he’s got a couple of projects in the works. (And apparently had a cameo in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, although I didn’t spot him.)

Our first Dudikoff flick is…

CHAIN OF COMMAND (1996) **

Chain of Command is a latter-day Cannon production. That means that Yoram Globus produced it without Menahem Golan. And like most of these Golan-less films, it’s lacking that je ne sais quoi that made the Golan-Globus movies so special.

Michael Dudikoff plays an ex-Special Forces soldier working as an advisor in an oil field in the Middle East. An impeccably coiffed terrorist breaks into the compound, kills a bunch of people, and takes Dudikoff’s American co-workers hostage. Dudikoff manages to escape only to later be kidnapped by a bunch of freedom fighters. He eventually joins the fight and throws in with his captors to rescue his friends.

Directed by David (Kickboxer) Worth, Chain of Command is a competent, but plodding actioner. It’s pretty by the numbers in just about every regard. And despite getting off to a strong start, it drags considerably once the film enters the second half. (The stuff with R. Lee Ermey as the corporate villain really bogs the whole thing down.) However, there’s a good death-by-pool-cue scene.

The best thing the flick has going for it is the performance by Dudikoff. He’s at his best when he gets all wide-eyed and swears a lot whenever a character pushes him too far. His one-liners (“Ditto!”) on the other hand needed some serious work.

I also admired the villain with amazing hair. Imagine if Raul Julia went to Paul Stanley’s barber, and that should give you some idea of the level of awesome I’m talking about. I guess they should’ve gotten the hairdresser to polish the script.

Our next Dudikoff film is…

STRATEGIC COMMAND (1997) * ½

Michael Dudikoff stars as a scientist who develops a super duper biological weapon. Richard Norton and his team of terrorists steal the virus and sneak it onto the Vice President’s plane. Of course, Dudikoff’s wife (Amanda Wyss) is also on the plane, so he joins a counterterrorist team to save her.

At first you think Strategic Command is going to be your average Die Hard rip-off. You got your basic terrorist takeover scenario. You have Bryan Cranston as the wimpy William Atherton-ish reporter. Heck, Norton’s character is even called “Gruber” for crying out loud. But as the movie goes along and Dudikoff and his team do a plane-to-plane transfer, it becomes obvious that inspiration here was Executive Decision.

But since Strategic Command is so bad, it becomes a subject to Executive Derision.

I mean it starts off OK, but the middle section has way too much stock footage of planes taking off that completely brings the movie to a screeching halt. And once the action switches over to the plane, the flick becomes pretty boring. Not only that; but the film’s finale ends the whole thing on a sour note with one of the more chaotically edited climaxes it’s been my displeasure to sit through.

Dudikoff does what he can, but not even his considerable talents can save this one. And Richard Norton is quite charismatic as the villain, yet his fight scenes with Dudikoff are all-too brief and very disappointing. And sadly, the great Paul Winfield is wasted here as most of his scenes require him to sit around a command center looking bored. I did enjoy seeing Amanda Wyss and Nick Corri reunited from A Nightmare on Elm Street though.

AKA: Executive Command.

And finally we have…

FREEDOM STRIKE (1998) **

Michael Dudikoff leads an elite squadron known as “Freedom Strike” on a covert mission to end a war in the Middle East. He also foils an assassination attempt at a peace treaty, but when the Syrian president is hit by a stray bullet, it makes the Americans look bad. Dudikoff and his team then have to stop a mad Syrian general from launching a nuke that could start WWIII.

At first glance, Freedom Strike looks no different from the likes of Dudikoff’s other Middle East-set flicks, The Human Shield and Chain of Command. But there are a few touches here that set it apart from the pack. The big difference here is that the film is set slightly in the future where a new Middle East war is brewing. There’s also a neat concept of a bullet-sized bomb lodged inside the president that needs to be defused before it’s extracted.

But other than a handful of solid moments, Freedom Strike is fairly par for the course. It particularly stumbles whenever Dudikoff isn’t out gunning people down or kicking their teeth in. And unfortunately Dudikoff’s final confrontation with the baddie is pretty lame.

Dudikoff is his usual reliable self. And Tone Loc was decent, albeit criminally underused. But it was James (Return of the Living Dead) Karen who delivered my favorite performance of the film as the President of the United States. I love him in just about everything he does, but I got a kick out of seeing him as the Prez. I’d vote for him, I know that much.

Next week’s Legend is Chevy Chase (and you’re not).

Comments

( 5 comments — Comment )
darksteel6
May. 9th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
I had no clue he was in Retaliation either, he also had a bit part in Olympus Has Fallen.

I enjoyed all these films, though Avenging Force is one of my personal favorites.

Which Chase films are you reviewing?


P.S. Did you receive my list of films?

Edited at 2013-05-09 06:22 pm (UTC)
thevideovacuum
May. 9th, 2013 09:29 pm (UTC)
From what I understand, he's one of Willis' old teammates. I'll have to frame by frame it when it comes out on DVD. Yeah, Avenging Force is my fave Dudikoff flick too.

Next weeek I'll be reviewing Three Amigos (probable contender for Greatest Movies in the History of the Human Race), Fletch Lives, and Cops and Robbersons.

Yes, I got the list. There's some I'm definitely interested in. Now it's just a matter of pulling out my DVD boxes and sorting through them and writing a list up for you. Seeing Iron Man 3 tonight, so it'll probably be tomorrow or Sat.

darksteel6
May. 10th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
Cool, BTW here's a few titles I forgot to list:
Son In Law
Mac And Me
North
The Andy Sidaris collection-Girls, Guns And G-Strings.
comeuppancereviews.com
May. 10th, 2013 10:34 am (UTC)
Nice Dudikoff write-ups. Thought Chain Of Command wasn't too bad...Loved when he got mad.
thevideovacuum
May. 10th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC)
Which was like all the time!

Thanks man!
( 5 comments — Comment )

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