U.S. Seals II: The Ultimate Force
*/**** Image B- Sound C
starring Michael Worth, Damian Chapa, Karen Kim, Marshall R. Teague
screenplay by Michael D. Weiss
directed by Isaac Florentine
by Walter Chaw The only things you really want to know about U.S. Seals 2 are whether or not it has nudity (yes) and martial arts (also yes). The more sophisticated filmgoer will be curious if the film is unintentionally funny (yes), if a paintball gun that shoots acid balls figures into the proceedings (yes), and if there's a final showdown that incorporates the nudity, martial arts, and paintballs (alas, no). Unless you're in the lower 10% of human intelligence, you don't need me to tell you that U.S. Seals 2 is a cheap-o direct-to-video action knock-off that happens to be a sequel to a film that no one in their right mind saw in the first place.
Its main audience is probably a foreign market that has the luxury of not speaking English and the misfortune of lacking in bodacious Caucasian starlets dying to take off their tops. Come to think of it, there are probably enough unsupervised twelve-year-olds with their parents' Blockbuster cards in the United States that U.S. Seals 2 will make back its triple-digit budget domestically, thus fulfilling its only reason for being. Films like U.S. Seals 2 are microcosmic explanations of the kind of thinking that drives most big-budgeted Hollywood blockbusters: minimize the smarts, eliminate the nuance, and pump up the base-instinct pleasers with the knowledge that tits, blood, and explosions translate well abroad.
From what I gathered, an evil Navy SEAL rapes and kills an Asian slut whose sister is a kung fu expert. Years pass and the evil SEAL becomes a James Bond-style villain, stealing two nuclear warheads and sequestering himself away on a remote desert island, the atmosphere for which is contaminated with the highly flammable gas methane. Why the island has its own atmosphere is something of a mystery to me. (Knowing that methane is the chief chemical by-product of bullshit, by the way, will aid immeasurably in understanding this film.) Because a cloud of methane hangs over the island hideout of bad SEAL, good SEAL, and good SEAL's team (of ex-SEALs, oddly enough), along with the sister of the dead harlot, are unable to use firearms in their quest to bring the baddie to justice. Why telephones, transistors, electronics devices, Bunsen burners, sparks from the clash of metal against metal, and the launch of the stolen warheads in question don't seem to concern anyone is just one of those questions that would be troubling had anyone involved in the film earned the benefit of a doubt. Perhaps wisely, rather than spend much time on the plot, U.S. Seals 2 dedicates the majority of its running time on some reasonably well-choreographed fight sequences--stopping off, of course, for a quick drink at a pool hall/strip joint.
The acting is not worth mentioning (mostly because I'd like to save those adjectives for future Chris Columbus projects), and the direction is (maybe willfully) cartoonish. Gestures from finger movements to head bobs are scored with a dramatic "whooshing" noise that starts off as hilarious and ends as something embedded in the unconscious. Watching a normal film after U.S. Seals 2, I was actually surprised not to hear every movement punctuated by an exciting airplane noise. The fight sequences are energetic and implausible in the best '70's chop-socky tradition, aided in that comparison by the imperfectly looped dialogue and wire-aided gymnastics, and their violence (particularly in a pair of climactic confrontations) is so gratuitous that they begin to move into the realm of camp. U.S. Seals 2 is the kind of film enjoyable in large groups with a healthy dose of a pharmaceutical judgment inhibitor. It's indefensibly bad, but enjoyable anyway.
Artisan's bare bones DVD is presented in a fullscreen transfer that is reasonably crisp. Though it's hard to get too upset about a film like this being released in a cropped format, it points to a new philosophy among DVD distributors of pandering to the lowest common denominator that should be nipped in the bud. The Dolby 2.0 stereo is fine, though as I mentioned, the dubbing is off and, especially in the early going, the picture sounds like it was recorded in a coffee can. The only extra is, mercifully, the film's trailer. Originally published: January 25, 2002.
95 minutes; R; 1.33:1; English DD 2.0 (Stereo); CC; DVD-5; Region One; Artisan