HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Chain of Command
HTS Overall Score:67
Let’s get this out of the way first. I like bad action movies. I grew up watching those late night HBO action movies, or the really cruddy B-movie martial arts flicks like “Undefeatable” during the late nineties. There’s just something about horrible dialog, used mainly as a filler paste for the action scenes that litter the movie. Usually they’re badly choreographed and filled with washed up action stars, or actors who never really get a shot at anything else bigger. They range from “not bad”, to “that was pretty bad”, to “what did I just WATCH!!!” and “ok, that was so awful that it was hysterical” (you need to dig up a copy of “Undefeatable” if you want to watch the last type). “Chain of Command” is kind of in the middle of the batch, filling in the “that was pretty bad” category. It has its moments, and those moments are usually Michael Jai White kicking someone’s head in, but they are a bit fewer and further in between than I would have liked.
James Webster (Michael Jai White) has just come home from active duty as a special forces solider, only to be met with tragedy when his older brother (also an ex Special Forces soldier) gets mysteriously killed. Ticked off and out for blood, James uses his contacts within the military to get a lead on the person’s responsible. However, things get really sticky when his contacts and friends in the military start dying off one by one. His ONLY lead that even pans out is a mysterious soldier who claims to know the real reason. It seems that his old commander, Lt. Ross (Max Ryan) has stolen some serious money, and James’ brother was in on the deal with everyone else in their unit. Getting cold feet, he was going to blow the whistle, only to have Lt. Ross take out the problem. Thus enters James and his trail of bodies.
While James is tearing through bad guys like tissue paper, Lt. Ross’s superiors in the theft have called in another member of their old squad. Ray Peters (Steve Austin), a glorified hit man who is there to clean up the mess that Lt. Ross has created. As James is getting closer and closer to finding out the truth, Ray is working his way backwards through all the witnesses, where the two legends will have to come face to face in a meeting where only once can survive.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54082[/img]“Chain of Command” is a fairly passable action movie, and really its only saving grace is the inclusion of Michael Jai White as James Webster. Michael’s martial arts skills are absolutely legendary, going back almost 17 years ago when I saw him in “Universal Soldier: The Return” in high school. Jai White has usually played villains, and rightfully so, as his intimidating muscular frame and incredible speed has made him someone to be feared. However this is one of the times when we get to see him taking the good guy seat. Ironically, Stone Cold Steve Austin has almost always played a good guy in these cheap DTV flicks, but here we get to see the aging (and actually slightly chubby now) WWE star done the black and twirl his imaginary mustache. In fact, even though he’s on the cover as one of the lead billings, he’s not even in the movie for more than 10 or 15 minutes. Stone Cold walk out, makes an intimidating speech, and then fades away every few scenes until the very end. Strange, but true.
The acting isn’t something you’re going to paying much attention to. In fact, you’d be better off just forgetting about the acting altogether if you know what’s good for you. Just focus on the action sequences and drink your beer. Unfortunately the action in the movie is only so so, with mediocre fight choreography and someone behind the camera who obviously doesn’t have the skills or the experience to make a good movie. It’s not a bad movie, as I had fun watching Michael Jai White pounds bad guys into the dirt, but “Chain of Commands” falls into the giant vat of generic action movies that have saturated the market for over 25 years. Plot points seem confusing, only to never be tied up, and the main plot is about as generic as you can get. Decent, but not that good.
Rated R for violence and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54090[/img]“Chain of Command” looks very nice on Blu-ray disc. As with most DTV films, it’s show digitally in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and sometimes it looks more than a little “digital”, if you know what I mean. That shiny, glossy veneer, with an ultra-smooth look to the image just screams digital. Colors can be really well done, but there are quite a few times where they are a bit desaturated and grey. Blacks are a tad washed out as a result, although I didn’t notice any major artifacting in said dark scenes. Contrast is a bit hot, and skin tones can a look a bit pasty. Despite those little niggles, the digitally shot image showcases some fantastic detail, both in up close shots where you get to see every fiber on the cheap suits, down to the wide angle shots of a car chase. “Chain of Command” isn’t a big blockbuster, and it’s budget does show a few cracks and chinks in the video armor, but there is still plenty to like about the clean and clear digital image.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54098[/img]Similarly to the video encode, the singular 5.1 DTS-HD MA track does the job quite nicely. This is an action movie, and as such you can expect a fairly aggressive field of sound. Guns shots carry a lot of impact, Michael Jai White’s incredible kicks feel like they’re actually making contact with your chest and there’s a decent low budget score that pulsates with aggressive power. The dialog is clean and clear, but seems to be a fairly front heavy experience. There’s a few moments of directionality, but most of the action stays in those front channels, and relegates the surrounds to ambient noises and the score. The 5.1 track is fairly simple, and isn’t wildly nuanced, but it’s still quite powerful and does the job nicely for a low budget experience.
“Chain of Command” is NOT going to win any awards this year, but then again, anyone who expected a Steve Austin and Michael Jai White movie to be stunning or fantastic is out of their minds. Its passable action and a decent enough budget to not be offensive to action junkies. Michael Jai White still has the most incredible legs on the planet (I think even surpassing Scott Adkins in some ways), and I was decently entertained for an hour and a half. The cheap budget doesn’t betray itself too much in the video and audio, which leaves a very pleasant taste in the mouth, so if you like bad action movies, then this might make a decent rental.
Starring: Michael Jai White, Steve Austin, Max Ryan
Directed by: Kevin Carraway
Written by: Kevin Carraway, Lawrence Sara
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 88 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 22nd 2015
Buy Chain of Command On Blu-ray at Amazon
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