Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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General Commander

Movie: :2stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :halfstar:
Final Score: :3stars:


You pretty much know what you’re going into with a steven seagal movie just from history. Seagal was once a major player in the 80s and 90s action world, and then just petered out right after the turn of the century when more and more directors were going towards the whole Jason Bourne thing of using a million cuts a second for action sequences, and no longer wanted martial arts action star who would charge a bundle (which kind of back fired on them when the big name actors with no martial arts skills were asking boocoo bucks). Seagal, Van Damme and several other 80s and 90s big wigs faded into DTV obscurity, with Seagal suffering the most of the bunch (Van Damme and Dolph actually made a pretty decent DTV career, and even have come back in the majors once or twice). His movies are generally bad to absolutely painful, but over the years he has put out some satisfactory C level entertainment. Sadly General Commander is NOT one of those films, and falls flat on its face with a giant F rating for effort. The movie is sloppy, Seagal acts less than he usually does, and his “super commando” schtick is getting really worn out and weak considering his age and physical ability in his 60s.

General Commander follows the same general plot line that ALL of Seagal’s post theatrical stint have followed nearly to the letter. Seagal is some big CIA government commando leader name Jake Alexander (sometimes called John, sometimes Jake, sometimes Alexander….even the writers can’t seem to make heads nor tails of his name) whose team suffers a manpower loss during a mission in the Philippines. After the loss of one of their own, the evil head CIA honcho, Agent Jessica Thompson (Megan Brown) disbands the team, and swears to send them back to the states where they will be retrained as a more “PC” CIA agent (it’s laid on pretty thick that the company wants to go more bureaucratic and business like vs. the “cowboys” that Jake and his team are). However, Jake and his team don’t want to be pulled off the case, and instead resign and team up once again to go after the head honcho who go their man killed.
Yup, you guessed it. Seagal and his super commandos sob and cry about their buddy’s death (like for 45 minutes of the film!) and then head off with their contacts to go track down the bad guy. The thing is, this is supposed to be an action film, but for the first 45 minutes or so there’s only ONE scene of action, and that’s the scene where their partner gets killed. The rest of the movie is spent with the characters coming to grips with their emotions over what happened, and finally getting this steely eyed expression on their face and walk slow motion down a hallway to team up and go kick some bad guy booty. Even then, the action is relegated to the last 15 minutes of the movie where Jake gets to have a mano e mano fight with the Italian mob boss (Seagal seems to have a fetish with fighting Italians). Otherwise we get a 10 minute quick cut montage of bullets flying and the movie ends with the typical middle finger to the CIA honcho who’s been questioning them throughout the film (in flash forwards) about Jake Alexander’s whereabouts.

One of the most disappointing aspects of the movie was seeing that Ron Smoorenburg (the leg guy in Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?, who also showed up in Triple Threat recently) was cast as a bad guy, yet he’s only in it for maybe 1.5 minutes, and his fight scene with Seagal is so badly truncated that he maybe throws two punches before an out of shape Seagal slaps him a couple of times and ends the fight scene. I guess you could say the entire film was like that. Seagal seems very bored and nonplussed, even forgoing his normal speeches about the environment to just mumbling into the microphone and looking for his trailer. I tend to know that Seagal movies are not going to be GREAT, but I still have an affinity for them, as I grew up with him in the 80s and 90s. Kind of like Van Damme, I’ll watch most of his films just because (although with Van Damme they’re actually pretty decent, and recently he’s REALLY improved his acting chops). It seems that watching a Seagal movie, though, is an effort in futility as the movie just keep getting worse and worse (at least his hair plugs aren’t looking as bad as normal.


Rated R for bloody violence, and language throughout

Video: :3.5stars:
Shot in digital with an unknown digital intermediate (most likely 2K considering the budget), General Commander looks about like what one would expect from a low budget film shot in the Philippines. There is a golden overtone with lots of shadow and hints of gray coming through. Detail levels are acceptable, but the image suffers from black crush, weak clarity and distinct banding that’s noticeable from the get go. The scene in the hotel room where their partner dies is probably the most crisp and clean, but once the film gets into the underground world of organ buying the film seems to get a bit murkier. Fine detail along faces and clothing are solid enough, with some scenes being super sharp, while others are noticeably softer and less sharp. The overall transfer is a solid enough one for a DTV film, but it’s very low budget and the image shows that limitation pretty obviously.

Audio: :4stars:
The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is a step up from the video transfer, giving us a very basic, but still quite pleasing 5.1 action mix. The track is a bit bass heavy, with fists and car impacts having some real weight behind them. The score adds that sort of “pulsing” action that really spikes during the club scene near the beginning, but still has a solid ambiance to it throughout with the low end. Vocals are pretty solid most of the time, with only Seagal’s trademark mumbling really being an issue in understanding anyone. Surrounds get a solid workout and overall it’s a perfectly good track, even as a low budget DTV film.

Extras: :halfstar:
General Commander Trailer
• Previews for Lionsgate Seagal films

Final Score: :3stars:

General Commander is exactly what one would expect of a modern day Steven Seagal film. It’s horribly written, even more horribly directed and the actors seem to have all been chosen based on the qualifications that they MUST act worse than Seagal does (which is a feat, if I do say so myself). The movie had a couple of inspired moments, but the moments were fleeting, and most of the them squandered quite quickly with too much melodrama and weak fight choreography so even this easily pleased action fan has to just give it two thumbs down. Their IS a Blu-ray release out there for the film, so for someone who wants to rent the movie the Hi definition release is avaiable, but sadly Lionsgate wasn’t releasing screeners of the Blu-ray, so we couldn’t give you an analysis of the film in Hi definition.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Steven Seagal, Sonia Couling, Mica Javier, Ron Smoorenburg, Megan Brown, Soraya Torrens, Byron Gibson, Jai Day
Directed by: Ross W. Clarkson, Philippe Martinez
Written by: Philippe Martinez, Lisa Gabriel
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 MPEG2
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English SDH, Spanish
Studio: Lionsgate
Rated: R
Runtime: 86 Minutes
DVD Release Date: May 28th 2019

Recommendation: Skip It

Last edited:


AV Addict
Jul 13, 2017
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Thanks for the review. Will skip this one based on your review. :)
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