Friday, August 12, 2011

TACTICAL FORCE (Blu-ray)

The latest direct to video, shot-in-Canada, disposable Steve Austin action vehicle, TACTICAL FORCE (a/k/a HANGER 14, 2011), was released this week on DVD and Blu-ray by Vivendi Entertainment.

The premise is simple: an overzealous 4-person S.W.A.T. team, led by an L.A.P.D. officer named Captain Tate (Austin, THE STRANGER, HUNT TO KILL) is assigned to carry out training exercises at a shuttered military base out in the boonies. Unknown to them, however, the abandoned airplane hangar they plan on using is a meeting place for two rival criminal gangs, both of whom are searching for a mysterious briefcase stashed there by a weasel named Kenny (Michael Eklund, HUNT TO KILL). Armed only with paintball guns, the tough cops find themselves outnumbered... and outgunned... by the vicious gangsters. The bad guys don't have a chance.

Written and directed by Adamo P. Cultraro, TACTICAL FORCE is an unremarkable little low-budget B-actioner, with TV movie production values, professional stuntwork, and a serviceable - if implausible - script. It's not very logical, and there are some obvious plot contrivances (the team's inability to get their hands on a functioning cell phone or radio, for example), but it holds up well enough to link the fight scenes together, and the characterizations of the various mobster characters are reasonably entertaining.

What it does has going for it, though, is its cast. Stone Cold Steve anchors the film with his formidable physical presence, and Michael Jai White (BLACK DYNAMITE) contributes considerable muscle, martial arts moves and charisma to the mix as Hunt, another member of the S.W.A.T. team. The remaining two cops are portrayed by the always fetching Lexa Doig (ANDROMEDA, FIREBALL) and Canadian TV mainstay Steve Bacic (ANDROMEDA, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR), and acquit themselves quite adequately. The villains are pretty well cast, too, with notably nasty performances from Peter Kent, Candace Elaine, Michael Shanks and Keith Jardine.

Vivendi's Blu-ray edition of TACTICAL FORCE sports a very nice, 1080p HD 1.78:1 widescreen transfer and DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. Bonus features include a behind-the-scenes featurette and a short piece on the staging of the movie's fight scenes.

TACTICAL FORCE is an adequate action time-killer with an interesting cast. It might be worth a Saturday evening rental if you're a Steve Austin fan, but don't expect to be blown away. There are some decent fights, but this is not a big-budget blockbuster action spectacle. It's more akin to the direct-to-video actioners churned out by Roger Corman in the 90s, starring Don "The Dragon" Wilson... just with better picture quality. If that's your kind of flick - and sometimes it's mine - you might want to check it out.

BUYTactical Force [Blu-ray]