Sony // 2006 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // January 27th, 2006
The only thing harder than combat is rescue.
Mark Dacascos, who played the bad-ass kung fu Indian in Brotherhood of the Wolf, heads for the Philippines as an elite search and rescue commander, out to spring a comrade from the grips of a terror cell. What to make of this straight-to-video action release?
A botched incursion attempt into the Philippines by the U.S. military leaves Captain Amy Jennings (Theresa Randle) marooned on territory swarming with terrorists. She is promptly captured and held in unfavorable conditions by the head terrorist warlord, who also may be kicking up an anthrax scheme.
General Frank Lewis (Rutger Hauer, Sin City) opts to redirect his elite squad of butt-kickers, led by Lt. Matt Daniels (Dacoscos), into the teeth of the terrorist gang, and bring back Jennings.
Along the way, Daniels' squad will encounter sporadic gunfire, lethal adversaries hiding in the jungle, and maybe a little crotch rot. But just as the team members are on the cusp of fulfilling their objective, they learn from the general that a major offensive is being planned against the jihadists, and that Captain Jennings will likely be a casualty of the battle.
Not content with letting their sister-in-arms die with the scumbag terrorists, Daniels and his squad undertakes a dangerous mission: to penetrate the heart of the enemy compound and bring back Eagle One before all hell breaks loose.
Ah, another entry into the direct-to-DVD shoot 'em-up market. The Hunt for Eagle One is a serviceable, if not entirely satisfactory piece of action filmmaking. It's not bad, but it's far from memorable. Essentially, this is a mediocre flick.
First off, I was disappointed in the utter lack of Dacascos hand-to-hand combat. This guy is a solid B-movie action icon, who's pretty skilled at kicking the tar out of people with his bare hands. Unfortunately, none of this martial art prowess is taken advantage of here. I understand that this is a war movie, but throwing in some deft fight scenes could have gone a long away to inject some excitement into the proceedings.
Which is what this flick is largely lacking: excitement. There's only one kind of action here, and it involves Dacascos and his merry band of leathernecks crawling through foliage and engaging in blasé firefights. Thankfully, the heat gets turned up at the end, with the climactic assault on the terrorist compound, but even the inclusion of big explosions and flying debris wasn't enough to get my juices flowing.
The second strike against The Hunt for Eagle One is its completely un-engaging plot. You got your brave P.O.W. talking trash to her captors, biding time until the rescue wagon pulls up, and the protagonist and his squad-mates trekking through the jungle, occasionally trading bullets with the enemy in yawner gunfights, until the two meet, blow the hell out of everything, and leave. And then Rutger Hauer steps in to deliver some slurred lines. Ballgame.
Usually, this kind of threadbare storytelling is par for the course for mindless action films, but, what's missing from this film is mindless action. As I said, it does get rolling into time for the final skirmish, and I will grant it a few degrees of kick-assitude. Beyond this high-point, however, it's fairly tedious, uninspiring stuff.
That being said, the movie as a whole looks great. The war effects, save for some ridiculous shots of helicopters blowing up in the beginning, are well done, with most of the budget obviously blown on the last action sequence. And Dacascos still is a cool hombre, despite his restraint. Still, it's a mediocre undertaking through and through.
The film benefits from a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that holds its colors strongly. Details are sharp, too. A 5.1 mix pushes the sound, and while the L.F.E. is impressive, the discrete usage of the surrounds is disappointing -- especially when you consider this is a war movie. Trailers are it for extras.
Letting Dacascos kick the crap out of some terrorists would have been dope. As it is, this flick is pretty boring.
Report to the latrine, private.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R