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US Navy medical officer Jake Fuller is detailed for a goodwill visit aboard a Russian submarine. But he and his companion, Lt. Swain, end up alone among terrorists, who have taken over the submarine and threaten to fire its nuclear weapons.Written by
Wilhelm Noeker <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"For a conscientious objector, you sure have a talent for killing"
Michael Dudikoff's popularity as an action hero is a mystery that I'll probably never understand, but his output on the direct-to-video market was pretty consistent, even as the home video slump of the late 90s began. 1998's COUNTER MEASURES may be a pretty good vehicle as far as fans are concerned but can be regarded as an average low-budget adventure for the rest of us. Full of Cold War throwbacks and an agreeable amount of decent action, this is the fare of slow Saturday nights or Dudikoff completionists.
The story: A Navy SEAL-turned-medic (Dudikoff) finds himself trapped on a nuclear submarine commandeered by the crew of a merciless idealist (James Horan) planning to recreate the Soviet Union by starting a world war.
The film is directed by cheapo connoisseur Fred Olen Ray, whose economic style is evident in the ample use of recycled footage and the unconvincing submarine set. Beyond this, the movie is competently made but registers a notable cheese factor for its laughably patriotic, anti-red overtones: an anthemic orchestra kicks in every time we catch sight of a US naval ship, while many scenes featuring Russian characters open with a foreboding bellicose score. Villain James Horan is about as evil as the script demands of him but is all the more memorable for it – at least more so than Dudikoff. Dudikoff's sidekick is played by short-lived action star Alexander Keith/Wendy Schumacher, whose conventional role was probably edited to allow for some butt-kicking when the producers found out that s/he puts on a better fight scene than Michael.
Speaking of fight scenes, they are the heart of this one's action content, which is otherwise limited to some shootouts and a ho-hum submarine battle. The eight fights are middle-of-the-road type stuff, even when considering the most exciting ones like Keith's two-on-one brawl and the unexpectedly sound encounter of Lada Boder. Dudikoff is serviceable and makes grisly use of a corkscrew in more than one brawl, but his fights are not only predictable, they sometimes go beyond general suspension of disbelief. For example, I'd buy that Dudikoff's character can defeat the one played by MMA heavyweight Oleg Taktarov, but I have a hard time believing in the ridiculously slow strikes of a fire extinguisher that he uses to do the job.
Nevertheless, the fact that the movie keeps a good pace and is never boring is enough to buy it a passing score from me. If you're a general action fan and not too disappointed by the fact that the fighter jets featured on the DVD cover don't seem to appear in the movie, you may have the same impression.
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