Forces" has a running conceit that is liable to drive anyone who demands
common sense logic from their movies mad. In it, a member of said Special Forces
carries a shotgun as his long weapon of choice, while his comrades wisely carry
assault rifles with silencers attached. Being that the soldier in question's
weapon is a shotgun, it's obviously not "silenceable". Which begs the
question: If you're part of a team that specializes in silent infiltration, and
maintaining that silence for as long as possible, why in the world would you
choose a shotgun?
"Special Forces" works better than
expected as a stylish action movie with no relation to real life, the
kind of movie where men with assault rifles decide, for whatever reason,
to engage in martial arts fights instead of, you know, just shooting
each other. It's the kind of movie where, given the opportunity, the
director decides to shoot everything from an extreme perspective, action
scenes go on for about 5 minutes too long, and when there's a major
battle, bombs drop out of the sky even though no one seems to be firing
them. But there are times when "Special Forces" tries to be
more, and that's when it flails about like a kid who doesn't know any
The film's setting is one of those nondescript
Eastern European countries beset by a murderous general who is killing
(from what I can gather) refugees on behest of the country's despot.
Naturally, this is a rather serious topic, and certainly one that
doesn't belong in a movie with 10-minute gunfights and kung fu.
Nevertheless, a white-haired Marshall Teague leads the cast as Major Don
Harding, a Special Forces commander tasked with infiltrating the Eastern
European country in question to rescue one of those pain in the ass
idealistic journalists who went and got herself captured by said
murderous general. The general happens to have a history with Harding
that goes back to Bosnia during the unpleasantness of the '90s. It's
this history that second-in-command Jess (Tim Abell) is worried about,
but Harding assures him that "the mission is king".
Via two CGI helicopters, the team is inserted into
the country, and makes their way into the city to meet their contact, a
female freedom fighter that moonlights as an underground teacher. They
also team up with a SAS commando (Scott Adkins) who had come into the
country a while back, but lost his partner to the General, and now wants
some payback. All of this leads to a lot of knife stabbings, shooting
with silenced guns, karate kicking, and of course shotgun blasting.
Special mention goes to those CGI helicopters, which are surprisingly
more convincing than the usual set of cheapos that usually populates
these direct-to-video actioners.
As a strictly genre entry, "Special
Forces" is entirely watchable, and easily one of the more
entertaining B-action movies I've seen in a while. There's simply a lot
to like about the film, but of course the ideal way to approach it is
knowing when to shut down your brain (the whole shotgun fiasco is one,
whenever the team gets into those endless shooting matches with the army
of faceless soldiers is the other) and just go with it. Of course the
bad guys mostly suffer from Stormtrooper Syndrome, namely their
inability to hit the broad side of a barn, and the good guys never run
out of bullets unless the script calls for an "I'm out of
The film's leads, Teague and Abell, are convincing as
commandos; either they went to movie boot camp, or they've been in so
many of these movies that it's become second nature to them. The only
real standout in the supporting cast is Scott Adkins, who looks to be a
very impressive martial artist in real life. He certainly delivers the
kicks and punches with great skill, and is undoubtedly the film's star
in the Third Act. As the cartoonishly evil Rafendek, Eli Danker makes
you hate him, which was obviously the whole purpose of the character.
There's not really a love interest, although the film does indulge in a
quickie romance that's too laughable to mention.
Although a high bodycount is
usually appreciated in these films, "Special Forces" goes
beyond the call of duty. We're talking in the thousands here. Okay,
maybe that's stretching it. But Harding and company definitely killed
somewhere in the high hundreds. Really, folks, even for direct-to-video
B-action movies, that's some serious cinematic carnage.
"Special Forces" was directed by Isaac
Florentine, who honed his skills on various incarnations of the kiddie
"Power Rangers" TV show/movies, and it shows. Everything about
the film is exaggerated -- when shot, soldiers are tossed into the air
and sometimes jerked backwards a good five or six feet. If all you're
looking for is a good time without having to work that thing you call a
brain, then "Special Forces" delivers for its entirely
90-minute run. In any case, it's no more or less ludicrous than the
recent big-budgeted "Mr.
and Mrs. Smith", which also required a lot of suspensions of