U.S. SEALS, released straight to video by Nu Image in 1999, is usually overshadowed by its more spectacular sequel (we'll get to that later this week), but it's good enough not to be ignored.
Nu Image's military-oriented action movies of the late 20th and early 21st centuries are throwbacks to the 1980s, filled with tough, taciturn white males with big guns who blast their way into foreign countries, slaughtering hundreds of soldiers, mercenaries, and terrorists in the name of freedom. And, as popcorn movies, they invariably work. U.S. SEALS is a nice companion to Nu Image's OPERATION DELTA FORCE series, each filled with (mostly) no-name actors, surprisingly rich production values (courtesy of the favorable exchange rate in Bulgaria, where these were filmed), and lots of gunfire, explosions, and stunts.
A gung-ho squad of SEALS slips into an abandoned oil rig near Bulgaria, where modern-day pirates are hoarding their stolen cache of merchandise. Many baddies are killed in the firefight (and just one of the seriously outnumbered SEALS; wouldn't you know it would be the team's only black member), but one is the brother of the pirate mastermind, Rusty Blaise (J. Kenneth Campbell). He retaliates by blowing up the wife of the SEAL leader, Mike Bradley (Jim Fitzpatrick). After telling his traumatized son that his mother is "with Grandma Bradley now," Mike assembles the squad and, with the apparent blessing of his boss, Admiral Patterson (Burnell Tucker), journeys to Albania to kill the guy who killed his wife in retaliation for his killing the guy's brother. Got that?
As a 90-minute timewaster that makes lots of noise, you could do a lot worse than U.S. SEALS. The sharp cinematography, sound, and editing are a lot better than usual for a film produced this inexpensively, and the Bulgarian stunt crew is adept at staging mindless action scenes in which much stuff blows up for no reason. David Sparling's screenplay is brain-dead, no question about it, and if you're the type who gets distracted counting the number of bullets in each actor's clip or wondering how five guys with automatic pistols can wipe out an entire army of machine-gun-wielding commandos, U.S. SEALS may give you a heart attack.
But if you like a quick clip and solid performances in your direct-to-video fare, you might want to try this one out. Fitzpatrick is a handsome, suitably macho lead (with a slight resemblance to THE SENTINEL star Richard Burgi) who plays well against Campbell's hammy theatrics. Producer Mark Roper went on to direct a few Nu Image titles, whereas director Yossi Wein started out as a cinematographer before becoming a regular helmer for the company. Producer Danny Lerner, who also directed some Nu Image actioners back in the day, penned the stories for this and all five OPERATION DELTA FORCE flicks.