J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

S.W.A.T. Under Siege: Michael Jai White Throws Down

Supposedly, this is the second straight-to-DVD sequel to the 2003 feature reboot of Robert Hamner’s 1975 TV show S.W.A.T., but none of the characters are the same (not even from the prior DVD sequel) and the action moves from LA to exurban Seattle. It seems like strangely unnecessary branding, as if every movie about the FBI had to credit the Efren Zimbalist, Jr. show. In this case, it obscures what is important about this film: Michael Jai White being a badass. Quite conveniently, the villains will come to the good guys, Die Hard-style in Tony Giglio’s S.W.A.T.: Under Siege, which releases today on DVD.

Even on the Fourth of July, there will be no rest for Travis Hall’s S.W.A.T. team. They have been mobilized to back-up a DEA agent supposedly intercepting a massive drug shipment. Of course, there are way more cartel thugs at the remote warehouse than they had been told to expect. Instead of drugs, they find a seriously cut dude with a scorpion tattoo chained up in the shipping container.

Since they lost their sketchy DEA dude in the firefight, they will have to interrogate Scorpion as they call him (and indeed it turns out to be his handle) on their own. Basically, Scorpion tells Hall there will be a bunch of really bad cats coming your way, but if you uncuff me, I’ll help kill as many as I can, or words to that effect. It is a pretty fair deal, even if the S.W.A.T. officers do not fully trust Scorpion. Regardless, the shadowy international kingpin will show up with a small army of mercs, just like Scorpion predicted.

Without New York and Los Angeles theatrical releases, S.W.A.T.: Under Siege will sadly be ineligible for Oscar consideration. However, you can do far worse if you just want to see some testosterone on screen. As Hall, Sam Jaeger is likably clean-cut and shows off some solid action chops, but White really takes ownership of the film, unleashing his inner Bane as Scorpion. Among the bad guys, Monique Ganderton (Charlize Theron’s stunt person in Atomic Blonde) totally outshines the dudes as Simone, the chief enforcer-bodyguard.

Under Siege has no pretentions regarding its place in the universe, but it offers up some nifty fight scenes and it does not give viewers much time to contemplate its limitations. White and Ganderton show why they are such reliable professionals and Adrianne Palicki (the almost Wonder Woman) has her moments as Hall’s civilian boss. Recommended as a bit of old school meathead unrepentantly B-movie fun, S.W.A.T.: Under Siege releases today (8/1) on DVD.

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