* * *
Directed by: David Worth
Starring: Michael Dudikoff, Karen Tishman, Todd Curtis, and R. Lee Ermey
Merrill Ross (Dudikoff) is an ex-Green Beret who now works as a consultant for an oil refining company in the country of Qumir in the Middle East. When terrorists take over the facility, this starts a chain of events (or perhaps commands) that lead Ross through a complex series of double crosses and entanglements involving the CIA, the Qumir government, the terrorists, oil barons, and the militia groups fighting the terrorists. Can he trust the mysterious Maya Robenowitz (Tishman)? See if Ross can negotiate his way through this quagmire tonight!
Dudikoff is at his most personable and happy-go-lucky here, and this sort of upbeat performance undoubtedly carries the movie. At 97 minutes, Chain of Command drags at times. This could easily have been remedied by chopping 7 minutes, but Dudikoff’s performance buoys the movie nevertheless. Because the main baddie, Rawlings (Curtis), strongly resembles Michael Angelo from Nitro (and has the laugh-out-loud hairstyle that that would imply), and Dudikoff has his trademark cool hair, it’s truly a case of cool hair vs. evil hair in true 80’s style, even though this movie is from the 90’s.
We also see R. Lee Ermey with glasses, a mustache and a bolo tie, and Keren Tishman, who plays Maya, is a horrid actress, but, interestingly, gets hotter as the movie goes on. The jaunty music matches Dudikoff’s personality this time around, but still there are some classic cliches such as guard-tower falls/blow-ups, and the prerequisite wacky taxi driver. Speaking of that, this seems to have been shot in some of the same locations as previous Cannon vehicle Deadly Heroes. As far as room decor, there are multiple pictures of Bill Clinton on the walls. Not just presidential portraits, mind you, but one is a painting lovingly recreating his moment on the Arsenio Hall show where he wore sunglasses and played the saxophone!
Director David Worth, of Air Strike fame (?), does a competent, if silly job, and underrated actor/director/stunt-coordinator Guy Norris is also on hand. Norris directed Rage and Honor 2: Hostile Takeover, and also worked in various capacities on Day of the Panther and Hurricane Smith, among many other things. His profile as someone in the film industry should be higher.
And we can’t possibly overlook the brilliant, hard-rockin’ tunes by Canadian band Slash Puppet: “When the Whip Comes Down”, and “Rippin’ on a Wishbone”. These songs are pure hair metal, coming rather late in the day for that sort of music. But they are enjoyable and basically disposable, much like Chain of Command itself. Slash Puppet I tell you. Slash Puppet.
So is Chain of Command one of the best Dudikoffs or one of the best Cannons? No, not really, but you gotta love how 80’s-style action continued to thrive into the 90’s with this generally entertaining outing.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty
Also check out write-ups from buddies, The Video Vacuum and DTVC!