Second in Command isn't that bad of a movie, in my opinion, largely because there are enough gunfights, explosions, and general mayhem to overshadow some of the weaknesses in the story. With a couple of exceptions (largely moments of less than heartfelt Marine bravado), the acting is acceptable. Van Damme is Van Damme, of course; he's fine as long as he's shouting orders or killing people, but the romantic relationship between his character and a female reporter doesn't have enough spark to light a cigarette. And while I'm on the subject, why oh why can't we have at least one military-related movie without the main character getting sidetracked all the time with a love interest? In this particular case, the little love subplot does more harm than good -- it's pretty hard for me to respect a military attaché to a country clearly on the brink of internal chaos who stops off on his way to the embassy to conduct a very personal inspection of a female reporter. By the time Sam Kennan (Van Damme) reports for duty, several journalists are dead and things are already beginning to hit the fan over at the Presidential palace.
The story takes place in the fictional Eastern European country of Moldavia. In this supposedly peaceful country, supporters of the former leader are unhappy with the newly-elected President, and a Communist insurgency is egging them on wholeheartedly as they surround the Presidential palace. With the military (yes, the entire military) having been dispatched elsewhere for some stupid reason, only a few palace guards stand between the President and what is quickly becoming a lynch mob. Over at the American embassy, the ambassador agrees with Keenan that they must act to preserve the fragile democracy by extracting the President from the palace.Read more ›
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Following his release of Hard Corps,Van Damme starred in this 2006 film Second in Command.The production values are high(as have been most of his more recent works) and Van Damme comports himself well in this role. In this film Van Damme is a Navy SEAL Commander Sam Keenan,who arrives in Moldova(a real country by the way)to attend the US Embassy there.Unbeknownst to him he has arrived at a bad time,when the country is in upheaval.Foreign reporters are killed and the situation goes quickly from bad to worse.The US ambassador makes Keenan unofficially second in command,and immediately taking control of the situation he leads a team to retrieve that country's President.Back in the compound the embassy itself comes under attack from rebels. A call to the Pentagon for help elicits two response teams,each about six hours away;the US Marines in choppers and members of that country's armed forces out on patrol in the countryside.The attacking forces pummel the embassy and at any time it could be over run,if not for the smarts of Keenan.However a rocket attack kills the ambassador and the Pentagon,without having received any "official" word Keenan was made second in command,turns that job over to an attending CIA agent.The agent,against Keenan's wishes who elects to remain behind,forms an escape plan for the embassy's staff.He enlists the help of a local citizen supposedly loyal to the US,to provide a bus to take them to safety.They utilize a secret tunnel to escape but the supposedly "loyal" citizen double crosses them and tips off the rebels.Just before the bus is full and the Moldovan president is on board the bus blows up,killing all aboard.The rebels attack and the remaining group are forced to retreat back into the embassy,with the rebels hot on their trail.Read more ›
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I agree with a review below, but Moldavia is not a fictional country, it exists!!! :))) Seriously!;) This movie is for Van Damme fans, but if you have some free time, check it out too, it's not that bad.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Dolph Lundgren already made this movie & it's called, The DefenderMay 17 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
From a Van Damme fan, this was a big disappointment. The camera work and directing is terrible. The camera could not stay still for more than 3 seconds and I started to get a headache after the first 12 minutes. What was with everything being filmed in close up. I thought I had a full screen copy but I checked and it said widescreen. I find it hard to believe by the way this movie looks that they spent 22 million on it. What did they spend the money on, the fake CGI helicopters and a truck load of home movie digital camcorders!! Dolph Lundgrens The Defender is similar to this, made for 5 million and is a much better attempt at this type of movie and looks more than its budget. Second In Command does come of as a very cheap looking TV movie of the week with bad actors and cheaply dressed sets. Every actor in this was completely wooden including Van Damme who is taking himself way to seriously these days and the, I want to act and be taken seriously is starting to get tired. Show some personality or at least smile once in a while!! The fight scenes with Van Damme are short lasting about 15 seconds, are badly staged and filmed and consist of nothing more than a few kicks and a punch. The showdown with the main villian at the end is filmed in slow motion to drag it out a bit but is so dull you would rather speed it up just to get the movie over with. The action set pieces are terribly executed, filmed and lack any imagination. The movie is incredibly boring and I don't know why Van Damme thought this would be a fun, enjoyable action movie that the fans want to see because it's not. For me I'd have to put Second In Command between Derailed and Universal Soldier 2 in Van Dammes worst movies list with Derailed being the worst movie he has made since his career took of with the excellent Bloodsport. I'm very thankful I rented this instead of buying it outright DVD unseen expecting it to be as good as In Hell or Wake Of Death. A big step back for Van Damme. Based on this, I am no longer looking forward to Til Death as it is another Simon Fellows directed, "I want to be an actor" Van Damme vechicle. Definitely rent before considering a purchase.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Terrible FilmAug. 31 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
I agree with the problems related to all the technical issues cited by other reviewers, but found the movie problematic at its core. First, military personnel are not EVER in the chain of diplomatic authority in a United States Embassy. So the entire premise of this movie is an impossibility because the character JCVD portrays would never be "Second in Command." Sure, there is a willing suspension of disbelief when watching a movie, but there is just SO MUCH WRONG in this movie, that verisimilitude is impossible. A Navy Commander (O-5) outranks a Marine captain (O-3) and would ALWAYS have command precedent in a military situation, whether a message was sent to higher authority or not. Marines simply do not dress nor act like those depicted in this film. The uniforms were wrong. The "Gunny" had a soul patch and chin whiskers! NEVER! And the Marine captain tells a Marine to "seal this room, soldier." ARRGGGH! No Marine, under any circumstances, would refer to another as a "soldier." How about the Marine Expeditionary Unit helicopters, hovering over the Embassy, announcing, "This is the U. S. Army..."? Oh, and what Marine Embassy Security Unit, defending their post from attack during the hours of darkness, would have the building bathed in light?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Rent before you buy!May 5 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
I went to several stores here in Charlotte, NC to search for the DVD and found very few copies were available (they were hidden on the shelf--not even in the "new release" section) and were retailing at $22. I thought that was a bit rediculous for a direct-to-dvd Van Damme flick, but being a fan I spent the money anyways.
Overall, I found the movie very boring and completely forgettable. I think it finally hit me that Van Damme will never make another movie that I will thoroughly enjoy (the last being Maximum Risk - 10 years ago).
The Plot - D
Don't worry about spoilers as this plot has been used so many times before there is nothing to spoil. Hero gets dispatched to a war zone, hero must gain respect of peers, hero must have a love interest to break up the action segments, hero must be betrayed or have something bad happen, and then the hero saves the day. If you are familar with the original Assault on Precinct 13, then picture that movie but in a military, foreign country setting. Also, it doesn't help that the movie is very short--standard 90 minutes or less.
Character Development/Acting - C
Van Damme was playing, well Van Damme (actually Commander Keenan). His acting has not changed in over a decade. (His acting improved back in 1995's Timecop from his earlier movies, but has never gotten any better since Timecop.) He is stiff, hard to understand and never really all that believable as a Navy SEAL. For those of us who loved his old movies and the martial arts--forget it. He has maybe 3-4 one-on-one fights where he does a few kicks, but mostly uses punches, a knife, a gun and a assault rifle to dispatch the enemies. They try to give his character a back story about why he won't evacuate the embassy, but it is so vague and short, that it really doesn't matter.
As for the supporting actors, there were no standouts. They all played their roles and I have never seen any of them in anything before. At least in Wake of Death, you had a young Asian actress who, in my opinion, did a great job in her role alongside Van Damme. In this movie, every supporting actor was utterly forgettable. The forced romance between the female newsreporter and Van Damme's Keenan was out of place in this kind of movie and there was no chemistry between the two.
Music Score/Sound - D
Was there one? Seriously, I cannot remember even one melody or action score. As for sound, well, it was the typical machine guns, loud explosions, etc.
Cinematography/Visual Effects - C
This category would have actually gotten a B, except that certain scenes have some very noticeably bad CGI and model effects. The actual cinematography was good with some hand camera work that made you feel that you were watching the events unravel on CNN. Likewise, the scale of the movie seemed a lot larger due to the camera angles and the existing architecture. (One scene has a bunch of people trying to assault the embassy and it was very convincing.)
Movie Overall - C
DVD Features - F
This release is perhaps the best example of a poorly made DVD. It only contains the movie and a bunch of trailers of other direct-to-dvd movies. But get this--there is no trailer of the actual movie, teaser or otherwise!!
Likewise, there are no special features or commentaries.
And this is from Sony Home Entertainment!! They spent no money on this package and then have it retail over $20.
I only hope, as a Van Damme fan, that The Hard Corps will remove the sour taste in my mouth that I have after watching Second in Command, a truly bargain basement thriller that should retail at $5. Rent this movie, before buying!!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Familiar Materials, But Well-Executed ActionsAug. 7 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Among the numerous numbers of the direct-to-video films, Jean-Claude Van Damme's `Second in Commander' is far better than other average or below-average action films including those starring Steven Seagal and Wesley Snipes. The film's plot is just a retread of the familiar situation like `Assault on Precinct 13' or `Alamo,' but it keeps us entertained from the beginning to the end.
Jean-Claude Van Damme is a newly arrived US commander Sam Keenan in some politically unstable Eastern Europe country where the insurgents try to capture the president of the country. The people are led by renegade leader Anton Tavarov (Velibor Topic), and they surround the U.S. Embassy where Keenan, the president and other Americans barricade themselves in the building. The rest of the film is about the chess game to survive, and the whole process is surprisingly well-done.
Except the opening chapter where the film attempts to establish the `documentary' tone with shaky camera and grainy image, the setting of `Second in Command' is limited to the embassy where outnumbered marines try to fight back the swarming militia with firearms. There is a suggested romance between Jean-Claude Van Damme's character and a US journalist played by Julie Cox, but the sub-plot does not detract us from the tension of the film.
Though Jean-Claude Van Damme does not show his martial arts skills as he used to (except the last sequence), the film's actions are effectively done, and though the range of his acting is still very limited, Van Damme's acting as washed-out commander is not bad. Unfortunately, the special effects used to express the explosions fail to convince us, lacking the money they should have. And most curious thing is, though the embassy is surrounded by the insurgents, their attack is always from one side of the block (namely the front gate), which is quite inexplicable.
But in spite of its lower budget, `Second in Commander' is a good action film. Perhaps you must have seen everything in this film done elsewhere, but that does not change the fact the film has enough power to hold our attention throughout.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Communism rears its ugly head, and Van Damme is thereJuly 1 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
Second in Command isn't that bad of a movie, in my opinion, largely because there are enough gunfights, explosions, and general mayhem to overshadow some of the weaknesses in the story. With a couple of exceptions (largely moments of less than heartfelt Marine bravado), the acting is acceptable. Van Damme is Van Damme, of course; he's fine as long as he's shouting orders or killing people, but the romantic relationship between his character and a female reporter doesn't have enough spark to light a cigarette. And while I'm on the subject, why oh why can't we have at least one military-related movie without the main character getting sidetracked all the time with a love interest? In this particular case, the little love subplot does more harm than good - it's pretty hard for me to respect a military attaché to a country clearly on the brink of internal chaos who stops off on his way to the embassy to conduct a very personal inspection of a female reporter. By the time Sam Kennan (Van Damme) reports for duty, several journalists are dead and things are already beginning to hit the fan over at the Presidential palace.
The story takes place in the fictional Eastern European country of Moldavia. In this supposedly peaceful country, supporters of the former leader are unhappy with the newly-elected President, and a Communist insurgency is egging them on wholeheartedly as they surround the Presidential palace. With the military (yes, the entire military) having been dispatched elsewhere for some stupid reason, only a few palace guards stand between the President and what is quickly becoming a lynch mob. Over at the American embassy, the ambassador agrees with Keenan that they must act to preserve the fragile democracy by extracting the President from the palace. That's not the hard part, though. The hard part involves keeping the President secure inside an American embassy housing a force of only fifteen Marines. The insurgents surround the place, ready, willing, and able to storm the building, drag the President out, and start building their new Communist government. From this point on, the action is hard and heavy.
Things aren't all that peaceful inside the embassy, as there is some question as to who is really in charge. Keenan insists that they stay and try to hold off the militants until backup arrives in the form of the President's Army and a force of American Marines, while a truly insufferable CIA agent recommends evacuation. It proves to be something of a moot point, as the heroes have one heck of a fight on their hands.
You have to take some of the events at face-value. I'm still scratching my head over the idea of sending the country's entire army several hours away from a volatile capital city, and I don't believe for one minute that there is any city in Eastern Europe that American forces couldn't reach in less than four hours. I also don't think Keenan lived up to his billing as the best at what he did, as he made several mistakes that proved costly later on. I also have to wonder why no one tried to kill the leader of the insurgents; the guy was constantly in the line of fire, but no one even took a pot shot at him.
Despite some obvious weaknesses in its easily predictable plot, though, Second in Command did succeed in capturing and sustaining my attention. It's not a great film by any means, but it's hard not to get some kind of kick out of a movie with this much hard-hitting action.