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Jean-Claude Van Damme,
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Jean Claude plays an official who's just been appointed as Second In Command to the U.S.Ambassador at an American Embassy in a small, turbulent Eastern European nation. When local insurgents attempt a coup d'etat, the nation's President takes refuge inside the embassy. The embassy is then besieged by the well-armed insurgents. The U.S. Ambassador is killed in the ensuing action, and it's now up to Jean-Claude and the embassy's small detachment of U.S. Marines to fend off the attackers. Written by
Commander Sam Keenan is appointed second-in-command at the US Embassy in Moldavia, mere hours before the Ambassador is killed. The streets are full of insurgents attempting a violent uprising against the democratically elected president, who is now in the care of the US within the embassy. However with the insurgents laying siege outside and rescue many hours away, options for survival and limited and Keenan comes under pressure from without and within.
In a way I suppose we should see it as Van Damme returning to Europe to use his American-found fame to bolster film-making in Europe, however another way to see it is that his appeal has dwindled badly and he has taken to doing basic action films in Eastern European to squeeze every last penny out of the budget. Watching this film among others, it is hard to avoid the fact that the truth is almost undoubtedly the latter. The plot is fairly basic but in essence it is a war-zone version of Assault on Precinct 13. So what we are a looking for is a ratcheting up of tension across the film, with the silence being harder to watch than the action which by extension is more exciting for its quality as payoff.
Sadly that is not what the film delivers because instead everything is played out as basic as you like, with minimal tension, obvious plotting, wooden acting and action that plays like they all just hoped having shots of gunfire would be sufficient to justify it as an "action film". It is never awful by any means and indeed for those trawling the cable listings looking for something to have on like visual wallpaper, you could do much worse. But this is hardly praise and all through the film I never shook the feeling of it being a cu-price low rent affair with no aspirations beyond the bottom shelf of the video store and maybe a 2am slot on a cable station. Obviously there is a limited amount of money to play with but this is only an excuse for scale not for how good a film it is and director Fellows isn't able to do much. His cast don't help, with Van Damme on auto-pilot (without even much action to speak of for him), Cox filling a tired cliché of a female role and nobody else making an impression even if they had been given the material. The Eastern European villains are so bland and generic that even modern video games can produce a more realistic cast of characters.
Second in Command will be found on poor slots on so-so TV stations, was made in Eastern Europe and stars Jean-Claude Van Damme so really one could say that the clues are all right there for you to see for yourself. If you do decide to watch it then please note that it does live up to the low standards it suggests it will have and, while too bland to be really awful, there isn't much about it worth seeing.
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