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Special Forces (2003)

R  |  Video  |   |  Action, Thriller, War  |  June 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.7/10 from 494 users  
Reviews: 12 user | 12 critic

In a former Soviet Republic, the President is oppressing the people and with help from a former Bosnian General who's a sadist, he is extremely hated. An American reporter goes there to ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Major Don Harding (as Marshall Teague)
Danny Lee Clark ...
Bear (as Dan Clark)
Daniella Deutscher ...
Wendy Teller
Reyes (as Terence Rotolo)
Hasib Rafendek
Vladislavas Jacukevicius ...
Michael Saad ...
Hrankoff (as Mike Saad)
Rimante Valiukaite ...
Andrius Zebrauskas ...
Cezaris Grauzinis ...
Muldan Soldier
Henrikas Savickas ...
Geoff Parish ...
Private Regional Command


In a former Soviet Republic, the President is oppressing the people and with help from a former Bosnian General who's a sadist, he is extremely hated. An American reporter goes there to catch the atrocities on film but is caught. She is forced to make false statements. So the Americans sends a Special Forces unit to try and rescue her. It's a big deal for the team's leader because the Bosnian once captured him and tortured him. While there they run into a British agent who was sent there on a mission and they work together. But when they try to leave they're captured. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Thriller | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence | See all certifications »




Release Date:

June 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Special Forces USA  »

Box Office


$2,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


See  »

Did You Know?


Edited into Direct Contact (2009) See more »


Is That All There Is
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Edwards (as Steve Edwards)
See more »

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User Reviews

"a stylized movie that manages to push the limit on action filmmaking and stands apart from your standard independent action film."
17 July 2003 | by (Hollywood) – See all my reviews

Director Isaac Florentine's follow-up to his cult hit, U.S. Seals 2 revisits

America's military with more Hong Kong style action and martial arts. Budgeted at a mere $1.3 million, Special Forces manages to push the limit on action

filmmaking within a grimly patriotic story set in the shadow of the bloody

Bosnian-Serbian conflict.

Although unrelated to U.S. Seals 2, Marshall R. Teague returns, this time to

headline the film as Major Don Harding, in addition to acting as military advisor. He's the real deal when it comes to portraying a no-nonsense military officer. His mostly non-emotive persona, echoed by hisfellow team members offers a

nice stabilizing force to ground the stylized action.

Wendy Teller (Daniella Deutscher) is an American photo-journalist in

theEastern European country of Moldavia who stumbles upon local military

forces executing villagers. The commander is a veteran of the Bosnian War

named Hasib (Eli Danker) who captures the woman and attempts to exchange

her for captured war criminals. Its a bad call as the only response he gets is Major Harding and a team of Army special forces flown in to rescue her. Once

down, they settle in to discover her whereabouts with the aid of a local

schoolteacher and a seasoned SAS operative named Talbot (Scott Adkins). A

bitter, past encounter with Hasib fuels Harding's desire for revenge as well as to save the journalist. But after an attempted rescue is thwarted, his team members are either killed or captured. Armed with lethal martial arts ability, Talbot steps in to assist Harding in completing the mission.

Director Isaac Florentine has toned down the stylized action for this film while retaining the excitement of previous efforts. His credits include directing 70 episodes of the popular children's action series for television, the Power

Rangers. This fact and his love for modern Japanese action filmmaking in

general has led to his past use of exaggerated sound effects and camera work

suitable for genre filmmaking, but often at odds when paired with real-world

scenarios. Initially, martial arts combat is used sparingly and with quicker results in neutralizing targets, more in keeping with real combat training. This limited display of hand-to-hand combat may come as a bit of a disappointment to some, but the film adequately compensates in two ways. First, there is relative

newcomer Scott Adkins, who plays the Special Air Service operative. He's

appeared in smaller roles in films such as Extreme Challenge (2001) and The

Highbinders (AKA The Medallion). This could be considered his first breakout

performance as a martial arts star and an impressive one at that. This leads to the second compensation for action buffs, the end fight. You know its coming. The lead villain's sidekick, who does little else throughout the film is present for the sole purpose of taking on Adkins. This scene is outstanding and features the highly competent choreography of Akihiro Noguchi, another Power Rangers

veteran. But this is no kid's stuff. Scott's kicking ability and range of motion are outstanding. The fight is fierce, extended, and only briefly interrupted by

Teague's less potent, but solid brawl with Eli Danker. There may be more

gunplay and explosions than anything else, but Adkins' two or three fight scenes are good enough to warrant martial arts fans taking more than a passing

interest. Any way you slice it, Florentine, himself a martial artist, is clearly committed to filming some of the best martial arts scenes outside of Hong Kong. Its all the more impressive given that he's doing it on a small budget and in an industry not always receptive to allowing quality martial arts in their films.

Special Forces also scores points for it's ambitions. The film begins with a

sobering mass execution of innocent civilians by machine gun. To know that

similar acts have actually occurred in numerous countries and in many conflicts, especially in recent years, sets this film apart from your standard independent action film. This was written after 9/11 and was originally meant to be set in Afghanistan, putting it in touch with the fight against terrorism. Due to a change of plans, location shooting moved to Lithuania and the film's backdrop became ethnic cleansing. The authentic setting and the assistance of the local military further raise the scale of the film.

Depicting the role of America's special forces to any degree of authenticity

presents many challenges and this cast and crew surmount some of them. But

in the end, Special Forces remains a stylized action movie first by giving way to heroic fights and even bigger fireballs. For perspective, the Navy Seals actioner Tears of the Sun starring Bruce Willis shares the same fate on a $70 million

budget. The small budget is a limiting factor, but quality fight choreography, decent acting, and a notable action performance by Scott Adkins makes this

effort Florentine's best yet.

12 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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