FILM OF THE WEEK (3/4/13): U.S. SEALS 2: THE ULTIMATE FORCE
Synopsis via DVD Empire:
At a secret Russian nuclear missile base, an ex-U.S. SEAL member is planning to launch a missile strike on the United States, and the only way to stop him is with the best of the best. Because of a natural gas refinery leak, the newly formed team must infiltrate without conventional weapons and use a mixture of martial arts skills, swords, crossbows and unconventional arms in their top secret attack.
For me, U.S. Seals 2: The Ultimate Force is one of those hidden gems in the video store. I used to bypass it at first because I had no idea what to expect. I didn't know who Isaac Florentine was and I had no computer to look up anything. So it was to my good luck that one day I finally decided to give it a shot, pick that puppy off the "New Releases" area by the register and have a looksy.
And me being a martial arts cinema fan, this movie was full of treats I did not expect.
The film packs a solid punch when it comes to action. It has a perfect set up for amazing action sequences with story about vengeance and honor, crossing between films like Broken Arrow and The Rock, with actors Michael Worth, Karen Kim, Marshall Teague, Kate Connor and Damian Chapa providing the dramatic build-up leading to the film's climatic battles. Adding to the film's martial arts feats are the appearances of actors and stunt performers Hakim Alston and Sophia Crawford reuniting since their appearance in the reality/fantasy martial arts hybrid TV series, WMAC Masters. Also on set are Dan Southworth and Mitch Gould who also share their own history in the Power Rangers TV series franchise with Sophia Crawford and Mr. Florentine. Together, combined with stunt coordinator Emil Videv and action choreography from co-star and former member of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, Andy Cheng, who dons blond hair and a killer scarf in the movie, and you have an action movie that is well put together to show the kind of raw, hardcore martial arts film direction that fans can enjoy.
Now, from what I have read in my share of internet surfing, some trolls and action film purists alike have argued that the film is cheesy and predictable with over-the-top acting and violence, and blah blah blah...
Personally, I didn't think that poorly of the acting, as long as the film got to where it needed to, and delivered what it was supposed to. At any rate, the bottom line is that the film gets the job done, storywise AND actionwise, and it proves that its popularity among true martial arts cinema fans illustrates the audience that exists and lives for these films, with fight scenes that are slick, sharp, fast, brutal and energetic right down to the very last kill. Moreover, U.S. Seals 2 is a reflection on Isaac Florentine's place in history as one of the best martial arts action filmmakers for to ever be seen on a film set to date, who know how to translate Hong Kong-stylized action on film for English speaking audiences.
I am glad I saw this film and rented the V.H.S. as much as I did to the point where I made my parents sick, lol. I loved this film so much, I even bought the DVD copy from the rental store for about $20 long before the place went out of business. And low and behold, for as long as I have been chasing the genre, I never would have thought I would have the good fortune of being Facebook friends with some of these people, including Andy Cheng, as well as Sophia Crawford and her husband, actor and stunt performer/coordinator/rigger Jeff Pruitt who will also be appearing in the upcoming film Battle Of The Damned with action superstar Dolph Lundgren.
I know, I'm kind of fan ranting at this point. And it would probably take forever to explain the fortuitosness behind a cast and crew such as the one put together for this movie. But anyway, I highly recommend seeing it if you have sorely made the mistake of blowing it off. It has a great cast, great action directors, and is a precursor to a number of great films from a filmmaker who knows what to do with the right formula to continue making martial arts action cinema history.
It's almost a shame that the folks at Artisan never got to put some BTS footage on the DVD. Thankfully, however, fans can get a glimpse of some of this footage on YouTube which shows the cast parodying themselves from time to time between bloopers on set. These home videos are funny and charming to watch see how much fun the cast had while making this movie, including Karen Kim who narrates some of these clips. You can view them HERE and HERE.
You can also purchase or rent U.S. Seals 2: The Ultimate Force at DVD Empiire, Amazon and Blockbuster or wherever DVDs are sold.
(This article was updated at 10:33am EST)