Artisan // 1999 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Harold Gervais (Retired) // February 15th, 2002
No regrets. Just kick some ass!
From Isaac Florentine, the acclaimed director of Desert Kickboxer and Power Rangers Time Force Quantum Ranger: Clash for Control, comes an epic that was probably weeks in the making; US Seals 2: The Ultimate Force! For such an anticipated release, Artisan Home Entertainment has rolled out the soiled carpet and spared as little expense as possible. Full Frame action at its best is yours if you leave the clubs at home and give these Seals a spin.
Frank Ratliffe (Damian Chapa-Street Fighter) is a former Navy Seal. Jailed for a rape/murder he certainly committed, Ratliffe does what all murderous psychos must when he escapes from prison: he puts together an army of kickboxing mercs and kidnaps a nuclear physicist with plans of holding the United States ransom. Meet his demands or he will launch a top secret -- and forgotten about -- Soviet stealth missile at the East coast. The cost? Only one million dollars...oh sorry, one billion dollars.
This being the kind of movie it is, the military contacts the man who got Ratliffe arrested in the first place: his former commanding officer, Casey Sheppard (Michael Worth, Fists of Iron). Forget the fact Sheppard has left the Navy (the screenwriter certainly did), but it also turns out Sheppard has a personal stake in this -- the woman Ratliffe killed was the daughter of their mutual sensei. Sheppard feels responsible because he was in the same room as the sensei when he committed hari kari out of shame. Oh, and Sheppard was also in love with the sensei's other daughter, Kamiko (Karen Kim, The Power Within). Once more, this being the kind of movie it is, Kamiko turns out to be a pretty bitchin' ninja warrior babe so she is...all together now...invited to join the team. In fine Dirty Dozen style Sheppard puts together his rag tag band of hard cases and nut jobs. The only catch for the mission is the island where Ratliffe has himself and his crew holed up is an abandoned Soviet base where there continues to be leaks of methane gas. The leaks make for an explosive situation, thus standard firearms are off limits. This, of course, opens the door for lots of swordplay, hand-to-hand combat, and general flying-through-the-air mayhem. So saddle up kids. It's time to hang out with the ultimate force as they infiltrate, detonate, and annihilate. Are you pumped as I am? Well, are you?
Sometimes I am so out of the loop. I mean who knew there was a US Seals 1? It's kind of like sleeping through the years 1988 through 1992 and realizing there was a George Bush before the one in the White House. Seriously though, is it any surprise to anyone when I write that this is not a very good movie? If there were a contest about how many clichés and tired old movie plots could be thrown into one movie then maybe US Seals 2 would be able to win some kind of award. I hate to completely dog a movie. You can stop your laughing, I really do hate it. It's not going to stop me, but it doesn't mean I like it. I honestly believe in my heart that no one sets out to make a bad movie, but it's hard to believe going into this that anyone connected with it thought there was a chance for respect or acceptance. For the embarrassment this movie will cause on a résumé I hope everyone was well paid. I'm having a real crisis of conscience here so I'm going to force myself to find something nice to say. Well, some of the acting might be decent, but it's so hard to tell through all the contrived scenarios and howling bad dialogue. As the Major who was in charge of protecting the scientist, Marshall R. Teagne (The Rock) turns in some credible work and as Ratliffe's ass kicking girlfriend Sophia Crawford (Lethal Girls 2...again, who knew there was a Lethal Girls 1, and where can I get a copy?) sure looks good. Speaking of looking good so does costar Karen Kim. but this is hardly the place to discuss my thing for Asian women. Moving on, as it stands there are a couple of cool action sequences courtesy of, and I quote the advertising blurb on the back of the disc, "a Jackie Chan Stuntman Team member." [Editor's Note: That would be Andy Kai Chung Cheng, Jackie's little-worked stunt double for the Rush Hour movies and Shanghai Noon.] Other than that, there is little to recommend.
Okay. With US Seals 2 we have terrible writing, barely competent direction, lackluster acting, all wrapped up with a climax that sees the bad guy split quite literally in half from the crotch up by our two leads. They ain't whistling Dixie when they say they don't make them like they used to.
The picture is presented in standard 1.33:1 and I have no idea what the original aspect ratio of this lovely film was. There were no technical specs available through Internet Movie Database, but my best guess is this was shot open matte and bordered to 1.85:1 for whatever theatrical release it may have received. The picture never really looked cramped, but after an hour and a half of this stuff, who really cares? For a movie only a couple of years old it was surprising to see as many nicks and scratches as were present. Colors were generally okay but in some cases they looked a tad bit faded or washed out while blacks were solid with little in the way of pixel breakup. Like the movie itself, the image was pretty lackluster.
The sound fared a little better. The mix may have been a 2.0 Dolby Digital Surround but it packed quite a nice wallop in the low end. Unfortunately for anyone with working hearing, the movie's hackneyed dialogue was well mixed and clearly heard. Background distortion was pretty much nonexistent and the innocuous music by Steve Edwards is able to be just that. Of course, if you don't have working hearing then Artisan has gone out on a limb and close captioned this little movie for your enjoyment as well.
You want special content? Extras? Okay. How about a trailer? Of course, I heard Star Damian Chapa wanted $75,000 like The Arnold for a commentary track but Artisan would not cough up the dough. Cheap bastards. Of course, if I were still trying to pay off The Blair Witch Project 2 I might be a little tight with my wad of cash as well.
I really don't mean to be unpatriotic, but in technical movie critic terms US Seals 2 sucks. I mean, I would not exactly run out of the house to see this again, but if you really feel the need I'm sure it will pop up on Skin-a-Max late one night pretty soon. In other words, rent or purchase at your own risk.
Guilty as sin. I hope with all my heart I never have to judge a movie directed by Isaac Florentine or written by Michael D. Weiss again. I need to watch a "good" bad movie but I don't seem to have Navy Seals lying around the apartment. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R