Counter Measures (1998)

Counter Measures is really the story of a man and his corkscrew. Michael Dudikoff (Black Horizon, Black Thunder) at first blush seems to be in your classic Die Hard on a submarine scenario, battling a bunch of terrorists, but then you realize it’s like Die Hard on sub with a corkscrew!

Besides the Dude, Corkscrew is the deadliest character on board the renegade Russian sub Odessa! It’s killing people, healing people and even opening booze bottles! Is there anything this little guy can’t do?

Corkscrew though doesn’t go looking for trouble. Just like the Dude, Corkscrew is pressed into service only reluctantly. In fact, it’s actually the Dude himself who is forced to call in Corkscrew when things get too hot during a mission he never wanted to be on in the first place!

The Dude plays Captain Jake Fuller, leader of SEAL Team 4. You remember SEAL Team 4 – they were the dudes whose operation went to hell, and a bunch of guys got killed. Good men including, the Dude’s brother who freaking died right in Fuller’s arms! Brother killed on a SEAL mission you lead? That’s about a 10.5 on the haunted bad ass Richter scale! And can cause a guy to swear to never pick up a gun again, assert conscientious objector status and spend the rest of his naval career hiding as a medical officer!

Seven years go by and the Dude is still pussing around as the deadliest doctor this side of Jack Kevorkian when he’s called on to participate in a crew exchange aboard a Russian sub. The Dude doesn’t want to do it, but Naval Intelligence wants him there to have a look around and assure him it will be a cakewalk. Which only assures the audience that someone is about 25 minutes away from cutting a swath through a bunch of heavily accented extras with just his trusty corkscrew!

And if it isn’t bad enough that the Dude is being sent to do something other than treat sailors with the clap, he’s saddled with a nurse, Ensign Swain! The Dude isn’t thrilled, but what you are going to do, right? I mean, someone’s going to have to empty Vladimar’s bed pan full of vodka-scented piss. But is Ensign Swain really what she seems?

While the Dude is drawing the suckiest submarine job since he made Crash Dive a year or so before this film, director Fred Olen Ray is busying padding the film out with an icky sex scene between a couple of crooked Russians. It does set up that the Odessa has one of those mega weapons these sorts of movies traffic in, Hailstorm.

Hailstorm is a nuclear warhead, but it achieves its mega weapon status by having a cluster warhead which allows six different nukes to be fired off at once. And as a bonus, Hailstorm is really unstable so if the Dude farts in its direction, the entire ocean could turn into a really salty mushroom cloud!

It doesn’t take the Dude long to realize something is terribly wrong on the Odessa when he treats a member of the crew for exposure to a nerve gas the Iraqis used during the Gulf War. And while the Dude is suspicious enough to team up with Corkscrew during a celebratory drink with the Odessa’s crew, he wasn’t suspicious enough to not drink the drugged booze he used Corkscrew to open!

The remainder of the movie is the Dude, Corkscrew and Swain battling the terrorists and trying to stop them from using Hailstorm. The Dude shows no ill effects from seven years of being a sad sack incapable of kicking ass as he beats up people, kills them, gets shot and teams with Corkscrew to cut a guy’s throat and to dig a bullet out of his own leg! Swain does okay, too, demonstrating an aptitude for kickboxing and shooting and holds up pretty well when she’s shot twice herself.

As is usually the case in these submarine action movies though, we hit drydock whenever the action shifts from the Dude and company to either the Naval commanders who argue about whether to give the Dude more time or to just sink the Odessa. Even worse is the subplot involving the American ambassador in Russia babbling with his Russian counterpart. Not only does it not add anything to the story, but it’s just dull (and more importantly, probably really cheap) exposition.

It does provide the most bizarre moment of the film (aside from the scenes where the American ambassador appears to be reading his lines off cue cards) when after everything is wrapped out the Ambassador apparently advises his wife he is going to run for president, while his Russian counterpart decides to commit suicide!

Don’t worry though, the Dude saves the day one last time by responding to offers to serve aboard a sub or go into Naval Intelligence by stating he’s going on vacation! You’ve earned it! Corkscrew and Swain, too! Despite the expected, but tolerable slow parts, Counter Measures along with Crash Dive, is the perfect one-two Dude-in-a-sub punch that will flood your torpedo bays with a welcome payload of wet and wild violence!

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