Freedom Strike (1998)

Freedom Strike (1998)- *1\2

Directed by: Jerry P. Jacobs

Starring: Michael Dudikoff, Tone Loc, James Karen, and Felicity Waterman

 In a pre-9/11 world, some evil terrorists get a nuclear weapon. Of course, only the Freedom Strike team, led by  Tom Dickson (Dudikoff) can stop them. They need to do this in a timely manner so President Mitchell (Karen) (whose first order of business as President surely was to inform us of all the great deals at your local PathMark) can broker a peace deal with the Syrians. This clearly won’t happen without the presence of Tyler Haynes (Loc), a military officer deeply involved with the proceedings, and Maddie Reese (Waterman), a former SAS officer/love interest to Dickson. Meanwhile, there’s some drama at yet another news station named ZNN. Will they be successful or will the military have to embark on Mission: Funky Cold Medina? Find out today... (actually, don’t...)

Well, sadly, this was the state of DTV in 1998. Just another soulless/mindless aircraft carrier and plane slog. As if it would excite any viewer anywhere, at the start of the movie, presumably to get us sucked in to the story, a bunch of characters sit at radar screens and some others are continually jawing about military mumbo-jumbo and coordinates and such. We’re officially in the same sort of territory as Surface to Air (1998), Submerged (2005), Submarines (2003), and even Agent Red (2000) (like this, also an Andrew Stevens production. We’re learning fast to avoid his stuff). And if you think the pacing picks up from there, you might as well sit back and get comfortable, because it’s pretty tedious from here on out.

It’s unfortunate that top fan favorite Dudikoff wouldn’t have something better to do than this, but, on the flipside of that, if it wasn’t for his presence - along with some classic Tone Loc - then we’d really be in trouble. Dudikoff does shoot a bunch of terrorists, which is nice, but he does minimal Martial Arts. The middle-east setting makes this a much worse Chain of Command (1994). There are some boring dogfights, and some - not green screen explosions, which would be bad enough - but some CD-ROM explosions. From what we remember, when you wash out while playing your flight simulator in 1994, this is what happens in this movie. Very regrettable. We’ve seen better explosions while calculating our taxes on TurboTax.

But that’s what happened at the end of the millennium - the magic and weirdness of the 80’s and some of the 90’s was replaced by a predictable, overly-logical, and straight-ahead style with no room for the offbeat in any way. Maybe that would be different if it wasn’t an Andrew Stevens production chock full of stock footage of airplanes flying around and whatnot. But this movie is nothing more than a by-product after the demise of Cannon Films. If this was a Cannon Dudikoff, it might be another story entirely. But, as it is, it would fit in rather well with the later American Heroes series of straight-down-the-line military slogs.

But here’s the real crime: Tone Loc doesn’t show up until 36 minutes in. (We were on Tone Loc watch). And even then, his presence is pretty scant throughout. His voice alone could almost carry the movie - imagine a scratchier, slurrier Barry White. Of course, it’s the same as on his recordings. Just why he’s playing a military man in a Dudikoff movie is not explained, but that was one of the only things the movie does right. What this movie should have been is be an actioner after the mold of Avenging Force (1986) - instead of Dudikoff and Steve James, it’s Dudikoff and Tone Loc busting some heads. Another missed opportunity.

There is a Dudikoff-Art Camacho fight, which is a movie highlight (?), but pretty much nothing can penetrate the overwhelming aura of suck surrounding the film as a whole. It’s not Dudikoff’s or Loc’s fault. It’s hard to believe this is by the same director as the enjoyable A Dangerous Place (1995). Finally, we noticed that a man named J.A. “Cappy” Surette was a military advisor on the film. He probably cursed the fact that Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf got to live it up on the set of Crimson Tide (1995) or whatever, while he’s stuck on this turkey.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

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Roger Renman said...

I agree completely. Something went seriously wrong with Dudikoff's movies (and DTV action in general) in the late 90s. On the other hand, perhaps this type of movies were futuristic, with so much military action consisting of a group of guys sitting in a room watching screens nowadays.

Joe Armstrong said...

As an unapologetic Dudikoff fan (hence the screen name), I agree with your assessment that this was quite a dud (a DUD-ikoff, perhaps?).

I do feel Tone Loc on the cover was comical, as his involvement in this was brief (a la Dudikoff's in American Ninja 4). His girth made believing he was a military man quite a stretch (I'm on a roll!).

Nice reference to Cannon Films. You guys know your stuff.

The PathMark joke may go over the heads of some regional readers, BUT I WAS CRYING AT WORK AT THE JOKE. Another killer line was the CD-ROM flight simulator one. Just really, really well done, good sir!

Hope this means more Dudikoff reviews. Long live the Dude!

venom said...

Definitely have to disagree here, I thought this was a really fun movie.

I think most of Andrew Stevens films are pretty good.

Ty said...

Roger: Yes, maybe they were ahead of their time. Perhaps there will be more Tone Loc in the future as well...

Joe: Dud-ikoff, Haha! Dud-ikoff's like this, tend to bring out the humor in all of us. Thanks for getting the references.

Venom: This was a bad movie overall. It's not Dudikoff or Loc's fault. Just the poor script and plainness of it all.