Strategic Command (1997)

Strategic Command DVD CoverMichael Dudikoff (Avenging Force, Chain Of Command) is having one of those days at the office. Terrorists have broken into the Dude’s government lab and stolen a bunch of Bromex 365, hijacked a plane with the vice president aboard and are threatening to blow it up over Los Angeles, and if that doesn’t sound like all kinds of overtime, on that same plane is the Dude’s wife!

The Dude plays Dr. Rick Harding who is the best dang chemical weapons Delta Force guy that kicked all kinds of butt in the first Gulf War. He spends his days now in the lab, wearing his lab coat and his “I’m a doctor” eyeglasses.

While this may seem a bit ridiculous to the amateur viewer who only knows the Dude from his American Ninja days, those of us who have seen Steven Seagal as a world famous Yale archeologist in Out For A Kill aren’t about to think twice when the Dude starts talking about sulfuric acid and adrenaline. Besides, you can’t be an American Ninja when you’re 50, can you?

Despite the fact these terrorists all wear matching black tactical outfits, use hand signals, and have little earpieces to communicate with each other, they seem to be a bit snakebit right from the beginning. First, what should be a routine theft of the most deadliest element ever conceived by anyone, including God himself, turns into a cluster when some idiot drops some of it and gets the crap poisoned out of him! Then they also decide to hit the Dude’s facility when the Dude is there! You just know that’s going to result in an elevator fight!

Following the theft of the Bromex, the terrorists hijack the vice president’s plane with the help of a crooked Secret Service agent.

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Mrs. Dude is a news reporter who is there to interview the VP and the head terrorist gets aboard the plane by disguising himself as her cameraman. (If you are travelling exclusively with the vice president and you notice that your regular cameraman has been mysteriously replaced with a new guy wearing the worst fake mustache ever seen in the movies, you should probably be a little suspicious. That’s the first thing I learned in broadcasting school.)

The Dude learns his wife is on board the plane and convinces his superior to put him on the commando team that’s going to raid the aircraft while it’s in flight despite the personal involvement he has in the mission. It would have been a better movie if his boss simply refused and forced the Dude to hijack his own plane to do it anyway, but it’s still a great movie because the Dude attacks the head terrorist with a coffee pot in one scene!

So, who are these terrorists and what do they want from us this time? The leader is identified as Carlos Gruber. Carlos (Richard Norton of Deathfight and Not Another Mistake legend) is a guy who never seeks publicity or takes responsibility for his acts of terror. He also doesn’t have any political or religious affiliations.

But all that’s changed! Why? Who knows? He just wants some chemical weapon guy the U.S. is holding released and $100 million. And really, do we need to know any more than that?

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Guess what though? The Dude only needs to know his old lady is flying the unfriendly skies, that they’ve started killing hostages and Mrs. Dude has the next bullseye tattooed on her pretty little reporter’s head!

Thus begins what the government calls Operation Intercept but I what I called Operation Executive Decision! You know what that means: mid-air plane-to-plane transfer of commando team from an SR-71 Blackbird to the hijacked 747! It also means the commando teams spends way too much time hanging around under the floor drilling holes to snake their little peeper cameras through.

The Dude manages to see his wife slapped around which causes him to insist to the other guy with him (their “team” turned out to be three guys and one of them was a fat ass who spent the whole movie defusing a bomb!) that they get started whupping ass!

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The terrorists for their part are the standard issue pre-9/11 group of Eurotrash slugs with ugly accents that we loved to battle so much for some reason in the 1990s. I would imagine that was because there weren’t any special interest groups devoted to white Europeans that would complain like Arabs, blacks, women, and gays if any of them were depicted as terrorists.

The Dude is much better than this movie deserves and pretty much carries everything by himself, especially since the movie doesn’t always make much in the way of any sense. For instance, after the attack on the lab, the Dude gets a tip that something’s happening down at the docks. He gets involved in a big shootout and the next thing you know he’s at HQ begging to save the hijacked plane. I guess someone at the docks gave him the tip, but what was the point since Gruber called in the threat anyway?

Then, there’s all this time spent babbling and sweating over this bomb on the plane and finally at the very end of things, the guy just yanks the guts of the bomb out defusing it! I also would hope that the Vice President travels with more than three wimpy Secret Service agents and that strange cargo isn’t allowed to be loaded in the plane’s baggage area.

Still, the Dude does snap a guy’s neck in a bathroom and Mrs. Dude even pitches in by spiking the terrorists’ drinks with her co-anchor’s near-lethal hair tonic. Vitalis + Bromex 365 + The Dude Family = Dead Terrorists & Satisfied Viewer!

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