Friday, 23 November 2007

U.S. Seals 2

U.S. Seals 2 (2001)

Directed by: Isaac Florentine
Screenplay by: Michael Weiss
Starring: Michael Worth, Marshall Teague and Damien Chapa.

Seriously, this movie rocks. If you are kung fu fan or into b-movies in anyway, then check out U.S. Seals 2. Martial arts a go-go, in a film that defies its budget and manages to be far more entertaining than many of its blockbuster counterparts. Having practically bugger all to do with the first U.S. Seals, and U.S Navy Seals in general, the film is mainly an excuse for some gob smacking martial arts sequences, courtesy of Hong Kong maestro, Andy Cheng. Renegade U.S. Seal, Ratliff (Chapa), kidnaps an American science boffin, and with his elite team of mercenaries, whisks her away to an abandoned island where she will be used to activate 2 nuclear missiles. Ratliff is demanding one billion dollars (insert Doctor Evil laugh here), or he will start blowing up half of America with said missiles. Enter Casey (Worth), a U.S Seal and former compadre of Ratliff. Along with General Donner (Teague) and a ragtag bunch of fighters for hire, Casey sets out to the remote island to save the scientist and settle a few scores.

Rogue military soldiers. Stolen missiles. Abandoned islands. An elite team sent in to save the day. Sound familiar? Yep, this is basically The Rock mark 2. However, this is no straightforward rip-off. It’s a rip-off with kung fu. But it’s all part of the fun. Things kick off with a John Woo flavoured opening sequence before the action slows down to let the story take shape. Yes, U.S. Seals 2 does actually have a story and it’s nice to see a little movie taking the time to at least develop a plot, no matter how cheesy it is. When the action kicks in again, it’s a non-stop barrage of wicked martial arts combos. Fight co-ordinator, Cheng and director Florentine, have pulled out all the stops. The combat scenes are fluid and brutal, and the initial scrap on the island is a brilliant free-for-all as the Seals take on dozens and dozens of bad guys, the action cutting seamlessly between different fights. Due to some plot contrivance nobody can shoot a gun, thus all characters swagger around brandishing samurai swords, chains, fighting sticks and their good old fists. This leads to a number of creative fights with various weapons, climaxing in a great showdown in a room raining down with water. Michael Worth is an energetic hero and proves his worth in the fight scenes, Andy Cheng even gets in on the action, as henchman Artie and stuntwoman and martial arts stalwart, Sophia Crawford, also pops up as the obligatory bad girl.

Isaac Florentine’s trademark ‘swoosh’ sound effect is used to full force here, meaning every time a character turns their head, points, raises their gun, or even blinks it is accompanied by a swoosh. A bit cheesy but, again, it all adds to the fun. Florentine is known for delivering kinetic action films with dazzling martial arts on a minuscule budget (check out Special Forces and the great Cold Harvest). His films contain well shot and choreographed action that make big budget action films like Romeo Must Die, look all the more lazy. Along with fellow director, Steve Wang (Drive), Florentine really should be shooting action flicks in the big league.

If you are fan of action, then seek out this surprisingly good flick. Cheesy and over the top, yes, but damn if it isn’t a lot of fun.

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