I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Tactical Force

tn_tacticalforceLike STONE COLD or COBRA, TACTICAL FORCE begins with our cop heroes using excessive force to stop an armed robbery at a grocery store. Unlike those movies it has no style and feels amateurish. I was already losing hope even before Steve Austin and Michael Jai White drove up in a SWAT truck together and didn’t look cool. That’s two of my favorite guys right now, I never expected to see them do a movie together, and you give them an entrance like this? I’m sorry, I know you need to protect the head, but Michael Jai looks goofy wearing that big ass helmet. Let him be fake for a second so he can start the movie looking cool.

That opening scene shows us that this Force doesn’t really put much thought into their Tactics. Their whole strategy hinges on the robbers not ever shooting at them. Fortunately it works. Austin, being Stone Cold Steve Austin, puts his gun down, then charges the guy and does some WWE on him. MJW shoots a guy with his childhood BB gun, which he still carries for good luck. Tactical Force Team Member #3 Steve Bacic throws a filet mignon at a guy. There’s a girl on the team too (Lexa Doig) but I don’t think she does anything.

mp_tacticalforceThe team naively believe they’re gonna be commended for saving the hostages – obviously they haven’t seen those other movies I mentioned. As they get yelled at and  later have to take a re-training class it feels more like a POLICE ACADEMY than a serious action movie. But it gets more serious when they go to a warehouse for unchaperoned testing and there happens to be a business deal going down between Russian gangsters and some other guys over a PULP FICTION style McMuffin briefcase containing “the item.” But they don’t have their real ammo with them, or their radios, or cell phones, and they have to figure out how to get out of there.

Their opponents include the white guy from IP MAN 2 (Darren Shalavi) and Keith Jardine as the expert they call in for emergencies. When the goateed UFC legend comes bald-head-to-bald-head with Stone Cold you just see Jardine punching toward the camera and suddenly he has Stone Cold in cuffs. Stone Cold says, “You got a drop on me this time, but it won’t happen again, buttercup.”

Two things about that line:

1. Most people sarcastically calling somebody “buttercup” would just come across as a smarmy prick. For example, the white guy from IP MAN 2. He’s a very good martial artist, but if he called somebody “buttercup” it would just seem like such a forced insult. Only a big gruff guy like a Steve Austin, or perhaps a Danny Trejo, can call somebody “buttercup” and it’s funny. “Cupcake” or “Sugartits” would also work, as long as it’s not a lady he’s talking to, then it just seems inappropriate.

2. I love these type of promises in action movies, these vows of future asskicking. But I’ve been betrayed by so many of them lately that more than anticipating an Austin vs. Buttercup brawl I just got nervous that it wouldn’t happen. So I’ll save you guys the stress by telling you that yes, they have a fight later on. Stone Cold does some jiujitsu moves, which I didn’t expect. One of the better parts of the movie.

To a lesser extent I was anticipating the MJW vs. white guy fight, at least after I realized it was that Shahlavi guy and that it would be stupid to put him in an action movie and not have him do some kicks. But when the fight did happen I have to admit it kinda bothered me that suddenly these two guys who have shown no previous evidence of martial arts skills are suddenly doing moves like that. I shouldn’t complain because usually I like that sort of absurdity, but it kinda stuck out in this one. MJW has an interview on the blu-ray where he talks about making his fighting styles fit his characters but I don’t know man, this seems like your usual badass MJW poses, kind of over-the-top for an underachieving cop. When does he have time to train for that shit?

And for a SWAT team these guys sure don’t get to use alot of SWAT tactics. Or even acknowledge that they’re stuck in a situation where they don’t get to use their usual bag of tricks. The script is also goofy in that it sets up this whole thing about the boss being mad at them for their recklessness and property damage in hostage situations, then puts them in a dilemma that involves no hostages or damageable property. It also brings in a bunch of plot complications in the epilogue that seem to have no purpose unless they’re planning a sequel. Which would be pretty presumptuous.

The movie looks very cheap and plain and is shot with a small cast mostly in a generic warehouse. Whenever Austin gets to fight the choreography seems pretty good but they unwisely use some kind of video effect that makes the frames vibrate. I think it’s supposed to make it look like he has Hulk strength and is making the whole earth (maybe even the fabric of reality) shake, but it looks like something you could do to your home videos on iMovie. I felt the same about the annoying whip pan effect they use every time they cut from a good guy scene to a bad guy scene.

This is a shitty movie, but I will give it credit for allowing Stone Cold and MJW to use some of their charms. MJW in particular gets to play a funny character who’s a badass but kind of dumb and not in charge like he usually would be. He actually got one really big laugh out of me. I won’t give it away but it involves him doing a poor job of coming up with something cool to say as he launches a grenade at some guys. But actually he’s so cool that he almost makes the ridiculous thing he says work. Almost.

Also I got a kick out of the scene where they see what’s in the McMuffin without showing it to the audience (yeah, that old move) and he dramatically says “This changes everything.”

As soon as I read about this movie I thought a Steve Austin/Michael Jai White team-up was too good to be true, and I assumed MJW’s character would die early on. So that’s the good news, they really are both in the whole movie together as a team, it’s not one of them in a cameo. And they both do good work, it’s just that the movie around them is not what they deserve.

On the extras Austin talks about being a big fan of MJW and wanting to work with him for a long time and how he suggested casting him. It seems like they genuinely are friends now, so it would be nice if they got to make a better movie together. They do have a good chemistry. Even a return to these characters would be cool if it had much better direction.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2011 at 11:55 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

27 Responses to “Tactical Force”

  1. I guess a Michael Jai White/Steve Austin team up was too good to be through so they had to somehow screw it up.

    When will we get a Colombiana review? Got interested in the film when I read in a review that it had a Commando like shoot out in the end. I guess I should wait for an Unrated dvd, as a shoot em up film is kinda hard to enjoy when it’s PG-13.

  2. Maybe they could an UNDISPUTED 4 where George Chambers is forced into a prison “boxer vs. wrestler” underground fight with Austin as his opponent?

  3. It’s a shame this doesn’t live up to its potential because the concept is one I can get behind. It reminds me of either US SEALS 2 or SPECIAL FORCES (I forget which), that early Isaac Florentine joint where no one could use guns because the air was explosive or something, which gave everyone an excuse to use kung fu instead of boring ol’ firearms. It always sucks when a director drops the ball like this. You can procure the finest ingredients and cook up a delicious dish but if the guy who’s supposed to be serving it to you just dumps it all over the floor, everybody’s going hungry. #labored analogies

  4. I thought Xmas had come early when I read about this film exisiting. And then I saw it.

    NOTHING here works at all – especially when it comes to the action. Every single fight in this is edited to death. It almost works as a video warning of what not to do.

    And getting Michael Shanks to play a Russian gangster? Holy shit, someone on the film needs to know how to cast for type. I’m guessing Lexa Doig is only in this as she’s married to Shanks and they have some sort of “hire one, get the other free” deal.

    The nadir comes at the end, with our heroes being given some info that makes literally no sense and they react to it like they’re in a sitcom or something, and actually say things like “no way!” and “It doesn’t make sense!” as if acknowledging it makes it OK that the film did it.

    I love Steve and MJW but fuck, they were wasted in this. I’m glad to hear they’ve become good buds as that’s the only worthwhile thing either of them will have gotten out of being in this piece of DTV shit.

  5. I have been really excited about this film since I heard it featured a dream team of Stone Cold & MJW, so I am disappointed to hear that the film is not up to par with the caliber of it’s stars. However, I am still going to check it out. To piggy back on Majestyk’s analogy, I am going to invoke the “5 seconds rule” and eat the food off the floor. What is the worst that can happen? It is not going to kill.

  6. That’s actually Marcellus Wallace’s soul in the briefcase.

  7. The cryptic macguffin in a briefcase goes all the way back to Kiss Me Deadly, but I think my favorite variation on this theme might very well be Repo Man.

  8. “Hello, Cleveland! We’re Cryptic MacGuffin! Are you ready to ROCK?!”

    *launches into opening chords of title track from their debut album, THE LIGHT IN THE BRIEFCASE.*

  9. no, it contains a golden Elvis suit

  10. MJW and Stone Cold could very well be the Billy Blanks and Roddy Piper of the modern era.

    Hopefully their take on TOUGH AND DEADLY brings out the potential in the material.

  11. I still wondering whether the makers meant this to be a comedy. They sure tried to force in as many lame jokes as possible and kept the fighting to a minimum. Also, look at the opening credits. Generic white letters being shot onto a black screen with the sound of machinegun fire, sounding like a cheap sample you can download off the internet for free. That wasn’t meant to be cool, right? Please tell me it wasn’t.

    Oh, and for a better fight between MJW and Darren Shahlavi, watch the first two episodes of that recent Mortal Kombat Legacy webseries. Obviously that was done on the cheap as well, but it looks better than Tactical Force and the fight ends in a way that kinda makes the whole thing worth watching.

  12. By the way, regarding that Mortal Kombat thing: be sure to watch the uncensored version. It’s all about that last second of the fight, which fades to black in the censored version.

  13. I’d like to think that when you open the briefcase, THIS is what you see:
    http://youtu.be/3Aknd-BhQvI

  14. I shut this off about 40 minutes in. A good 85% of it involved the sassy bad guys arguing in an abandoned warehouse.
    A criminal waste of MJW! He deserves much better than this. As for Austin, he should go back to wrestling. All of his film work has been disappointing.

  15. Mr wadew, there’s talk of Austin and CM Punk feuding in the near future and maybe doing a match at Wrestlemania. I’m not sure if they would do it since it would overshadow The Rock vs Cena but I’m hopeful!

  16. Austin/Punk has always been talked about because they’re such a natural fit as opponents, the Straight Edge guy and the Beer Swilling Redneck. But Punk’s a face now, and it looks more like they’re setting up him vs. HHH for Wrestlemania next year.

  17. Stu, with The Rock vs John Cena at this year’s Wrestlemania it would be silly to put Austin vs Punk when that shouldn’t take a back seat. I say wait one more year. It’s not like Punk or Austin will be doing anything different a year and a half from now.

  18. Was that directed at Casey, Stern? I was pointing out there’s not so much rumours of Austin/Punk as there’s ALWAYS been talk of the possibility but that they seem to be going in another direction.

  19. Mike A. – Good call on the Mortal Kombat webisodes. I had yet to watch those. I wonder how the webisodes are funded and how they make money off of them (a thirty second add on youtube probably isn’t enough to cover even their restricted budget). The series has some recognizable names and faces, which is pretty impressive. The fight choreography puts most major action films to shame, sadly enough.

  20. I don’t know Mr Stu and Mr Sternshein. I think it’s entirely possible to have a Punk v Austin match at Wrestlemania. CM Punk is going to need a high profile match and it can’t be against Cena. I also don’t see a Punk v HHH feud being all that interesting or lasting that long. They’re feuding now and I just don’t see it sustaining itself for another 8 months.

    Who else does that leave for Punk to feud with?

    I also think Undertake’s match is going to end up being huge if the Undertaker is well enough to make regular appearances again. I hope his 20th, and probably last, Wrestlemania will be something memorable and won’t just appear out of nowhere like his and HHH’s feud from last year. That made no sense.

  21. wadew: Have you seen DAMAGE? I think that’s Austin’s best movie so far. Not for the fights, but the story and characters are surprisingly compelling. It has Walton Goggins in it too.

    There are some good MJW bits that you probly missed if you turned off TACTICAL FORCE, but otherwise you didn’t miss too much. I’m sure the part with the grenade launcher is destined for youtube so you can check it out then.

  22. RBatty024 – Yeah, some of those MK webisodes are pretty good, especially the first few. Others didn’t quite live up to their potential (Scorpion VS Sub-Zero didn’t do much for me ) but the series entertained me enough that I would go see a theatrical version made by these guys.

    As for funding, like you I can’t imagine them making a lot of money from a webseries, but I figured it was meant to test the waters a little bit, to see if there is an audience for this kind of thing and get some buzz going, then make a full movie out of it.

  23. “I also don’t see a Punk v HHH feud being all that interesting or lasting that long. They’re feuding now and I just don’t see it sustaining itself for another 8 months.

    Who else does that leave for Punk to feud with? ”
    They’re not feuding per se yet. They’re building up tension between the two of them based around the fact Punk is anti-establishment, trying to change the safe, predictable ways WWE runs, and HHH as the new boss, is representing that status quo, and is trying not to rise to the constant jabs and insubordination Punk is giving him, particularly about his family. There’s no story reason for Punk to feud with Stone Cold in his current characterisation, unless they go with Punk say Stone Cold revolutionised the business once, but in recent years, he’s became a watered down charicature in the PG era, stripped of all his edge.

  24. I was really torn on the MK webseries. I hated the first few episodes, then there were a few that I liked, but not loved. Near the end, when it seemed that it all comes together, I even was somehow interested in it, but then they didn’t show the final episode until Comic Con and by then I stopped caring again and so far didn’t bother with catching up on it.

  25. I’ve only watched the first two episodes, but I was genuinely impressed by them. Of course, my reaction is partly due to the fact that I was never a Mortal Kombat fan to begin with, and because I had pretty low expectations. As for something freely given away on the internet, I felt it had strong production values, well choreographed fights, and passable to decent storytelling considering its short running time. It would probably make an interesting full length tv show.

    The internet has done wonders for niche markets and genre interests. I mean, who was clamoring for a Mortal Kombat tv show in 2011? I still have no clue how something like this makes money, but it would be fun to see other franchises make the move to the internets.

  26. RBatty024, I think the webseries got its funding because Warner wanted to use it to promote the new Mortal Kombat video game.

  27. So my Blood and Bone/MJW high didn’t last very long. Saw this one right after it and talk about a disappointment – the whole movie looked like a TV pilot; it’s not Deadfall or anything, but I haven’t seen a movie this flat or cheap-looking in a really long time.

    The idea of crossing Assault on Precinct 13, Southern Comfort, and Armored isn’t bad. I appreciate the F-bombs being dropped left and right to the point of comedy, I appreciate the semi-comedic tone. But the leads just don’t have any chemistry together, the action scenes are lacking, and the wannabe Tarantino dialogue, especially between the villains, is excruciating. And it takes alot for me to notice “bad acting”, but Keith Jardine is fucking terrible in this.

    MJW and Austin try their best (you’re right – the female on the team, Doig, does literally nothing – she doesn’t even have a fight with the villainess), but it’s a lost cause and this is the exact type of movie people think of when they shit on DTV.

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