Not unlike US Seals 2 from two years before, "Special Forces" is an awful representation of the military faction from which it derives its title but is nevertheless a sturdy DTV action movie. Goodness knows why director Isaac Florentine was saddled with these Americana-themed projects, and bless those uninformed viewers who bought them under the assumption that they were to watch something realistic. Make no mistake, Florentine fanboys: even though the cover art of this movie is about as generic as they come, this is a full-out kick & gun show made very much in the mold of our favorite Israeli kung fu freak...so unless you're leery of ultra- pro-American overtones, indulge.
The story: when a beautiful reporter (Daniella Deutscher, "Hang Time") is captured by militant forces taking control of the ex-Soviet republic Muldania, a decorated Special Forces team - including Marshall Teague (Road House), Tim Abell (Soldier of Fortune, Inc), and TJ Rotolo ("Power Rangers" series) - is dispatched deep into enemy territory, where they will be aided by a lethal British ex-soldier (Scott Adkins, Ninja) while fighting the iron will of an evil warlord (Eli Danker, Undisputed II - Last Man Standing).
Early on in the movie, the viewer is afforded close-ups of all five members of the team while their names flash across the screen; this is early foreshadowing that their actual characterization is going to remain at nil throughout the movie. With the exception of Marshall Teague (the young Sean Connery of B-movies) and Eli Danker, almost every character in the film is a cardboard cutout with few scenes to display any kind of personality; this deficiency is nothing new in films like this, but it does make it hard to give a damn when any of the guys die. Yes, this is definitely a film where actions speak louder than words, and in this sense, no one speaks louder than Florentine's golden boy, Scott Adkins: in the first of several team-ups between the director and martial artist, Adkins supplies numerous exhibitions of his swift, acrobatic kung fu throughout the movie, including a lengthy grade-A fight with stuntman/henchman Vladislavas Jacukevicius. The `round half-dozen shootouts supplied by the SF team are pretty good and feature novel use of camera movement, but these pale in comparison to the extravagant martial arts and eventually feel like they're just there to tide you over until Scott starts flying through the air again.
However, the extended storyline eats at me. In what's probably the only reason that the studio felt safe in releasing the movie under the "American Heroes" label, the movie plays out like an idyllic American conquest tale in which the stalwart Yankees take the fight to numberless hordes of immoral foreign bad guys and beat them with pure national superiority - a red, white & blue daydream of pure patriotic melodrama taking place in a fictional European country. The Muldanian militants are less like a group of political extremists than like a faction out of a James Bond movie, with soldiers being heartless idiots in general and head heel Eli Danker doing crass things like shooting politicians on the steps of the capital building without reprimand. Granted, this over-the-top instilment of national pride befits Florentine's over-the-top action, but I still can't get behind it for its sheer one-sidedness of issues like this.
A few illogical moments (e.g. when faced with two dozen advancing militants and a tank, the SF team finds effective cover behind a log) convolute this otherwise soundly-made, straight-forward movie, but chances are that this won't make or break the film for you. Fans of the director ought to add this one to their collection, but while casual viewers shouldn't be quick to write this one off, they should know that it's not great enough to disregard the remaining variety of DTV cinema. At least check out Florentine's other films, first.