Bullet Points: U.S. Seals 2
On the surface U.S. SEALS 2 appears to be nothing more than a direct to video version of the Charlie Sheen/Michael Biehn flick, Navy SEALS. And while I hate to jump to conclusions like that, history tends to repeat itself. Hollywood is notorious for rehashing a successful formula, just take a look at all the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon clones out there.
U.S. SEALS 2 is no clone. U.S. SEALS 2 proved to be a unique action movie experience with moments that really blew my mind…
- Lulling Me In: The movie begins with the SEAL team running an operation. The stand outs of the unit are quickly identified. There’s Lt. Casey Sheppard (Michael Worth of To Be the Best and Final Impact fame) and Frank Ratliff (Damian Chapa of Blood In, Blood Out and Street Fighter fame). There’s a great moment where Sheppard shoots a guy, who proceeds to fall off the edge of a building, bounces off a truck parked below and then hits the pavement. There’s also the moment where we learn that Ratliff is something of a loose cannon, when he goes ahead and kills the guy that the team was supposed to bring in alive. At this point I’m entertained, but arrogantly believing my Navy SEALS wannabe assumption was 100% on the money.
- Off the Rails: The audience is introduced to a pair of hot Japanese twins named Nikki and Kamiko (both played by Karen Kim) and their father Matsumura. Matsumura is the martial arts sensei for both Sheppard and Ratliff. While the sisters look exactly the same (because they are both played by Karen Kim) their personalities are nothing alike. Nikki is the fun loving sister and Kamiko is more disciplined and serious. One night Sheppard and Ratliff spot Nikki at the local bar, drunk and acting a fool… Ratliff offers to drive Nikki home, but something happens on that drive home. Sheppard who left after Ratliff and Nikki, spots Ratliff’s jeep on the side of the road and Nikki laying on the ground beaten… Ratliff has officially gone off the rails! Nikki is dead, Sensei Matsumura kills himself, Kamiko’s world is shattered and Sheppard is haunted by all of it.
- Three Years Later: The movie jumps ahead three years and we are introduced to Major Nathan Donner of the United States Army. Donner is played by Marshall R. Teague, a man who has had roles in numerous action related TV shows and movies over the course of his career often playing military types. Donner is responsible for the safe passage of a world renowned physicist Dr. Jane Burrows. Unfortunately for the Major, he fails miserably at the task at hand and Dr. Burrows is kidnapped by Frank Ratliff. Ratliff at this point is 100% on the darkside and is an evil mercenary with two hired guns at his side, the lovely but deadly Sophia and Artie, an Asian guy with blonde hair. Ratliff kidnapped Burrows for two reasons, he wants her to arm the nuclear warheads he is in possession of and he wants to use her and the nukes he’ll be able to launch as leverage when he demands a billion dollars from the United States government.
- Extraordinary Circumstances: When Major Donner learns the identity of the kidnapper as former Navy SEAL Frank Ratliff, he looks to the people that trained Ratliff in the first place for help. Admiral Patterson of the United States Navy points Donner in the direction of a now retired from the military, Casey Sheppard. Sheppard is working as a welder now (they don’t mention if he does that by day and then dances at night Flashdance style) and wants nothing to do with his former life as a SEAL, that is until he learns that he can finally get his revenge on his “old buddy” Frank Ratliff. So Sheppard begins assembling his team, a team that includes another person who wants revenge on Ratliff… Kamiko. Yes folks they are throwing out the rule book and recruiting civilians for this military operation, but this is no normal military operation. There will be no guns involved in this operation. Ratliff, who may be or may not be crazy, is no dummy, he has a base on an island that was used for years by the Russians to test their nuclear weapons. The chemical fallout has altered the atmosphere around the island. There is methane in the air, and while breathable, one spark would blow the entire island up. And this is the point of the movie where my mind was officially blown. I did not see this twist coming and could have never possibly conceived it.
- Fight Night: That one plot twist took this from what would have been a military shoot ’em up to a battle between good and evil where each side had to use blades as weapons and rely on their hand to hand combat skills. And the fighters in this movie have some serious skills. When I say the fights in U.S. SEALS 2 are fantastic, I’m not just saying that because I wasn’t expecting there to be that level of martial arts action in the movie, the fights are FAN-freaking-TASTIC! Having seen Michael Worth in a few “tournament style” martial arts movies prior to U.S. SEALS 2, it was a whole new experience seeing him battle outside that realm.
I will officially file U.S. SEALS 2 under the category “pleasant surprise”. Damian Chapa was a compelling villain. Marshall R. Teague was great in the elder statesman role. His character Major Conner was given a job to do, when it didn’t go as planned, he rolled up his sleeves and got in the trenches and did all he could to make things right. How can you not respect a character like that? Then there’s Michael Worth, who is your quintessential movie hero. I don’t want to sound like Jerry Seinfeld’s mom, but how could anyone not like Michael Worth? And again, the action was top notch, which is a pretty important quality for an action move to possess.
I also feel it is pretty important to include some bonus Bullet Points whenever I review a film, so here we go…
- Familiar Face: Sensei Matsumura was portrayed by George Cheung, who should look familiar to all action movie fans. Cheung has been in movies like action blockbusters Rambo: First Blood Part II, Robocop 2 and Rush Hour and numerous direct to video titles like Shootfighter: Fight to the Death, True Vengeance and White Tiger.
- One Gun: I mentioned how there were no guns used on Ratliff’s methane island… that isn’t entirely true. Major Conner had a badass high tech air gun that he was able to use quite effectively against the evil forces of Ratliff.
- They Want Sound FX: One of the little things I really enjoyed about U.S. SEALS 2, was the exaggerated sound effects the movie utilizes, especially when characters would turn their heads or use those military hand signals that no matter how many action movies I watch I will never understand.
- Reunited: Michael Worth and Marshall R. Teague also worked together in the movie Fists of Iron.
- Spoiler Alert: The death of Ratliff is one of the most spectacular villain deaths in movie history.