DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)

    Nicholas Gonzalez as BOBBY JAMES
    Matt Bushell as NEIL CALAHAN
    Peter Coyote as PRESIDENT MANNING
    Keith David as SCOTT BOYTANO
    Ben Cross as COL. TOM MACKEY

    Rated R
    Studio: 20th Century Fox

    Directed by: James Dodson
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If you’re like me and you see a lot of movies in the theaters, it sometimes is difficult to make a selection at the video store. When I’ve seen all the new releases already, I thank god for the direct-to-DVD market.

Unlike several decades ago when the life of the movie ended in the theaters and was only resurrected briefly for the network television premiere, now movies see new life on DVD. Sometimes that new life on DVD is the only life they see at all.

Because it’s so expensive to promote, advertise and release a movie in theaters, it can be more economical to throw it out there on home video. In this sense, you actually have a better selection of direct-to-DVD titles now than you did several years ago.

Of course, these films have to be judged with a different scale. They weren’t event films, but often serve a function by giving a specific genre a new title. If you’re a fan of genre films like science fiction, horror and action, then the direct-to-DVD market is sometimes even better than what you see in the cineplex.

“Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil” is a direct-to-DVD sequel of the box office hit “Behind Enemy Lines” with Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman from 2001. Like many direct-to-DVD sequels, this really has nothing to do with the original film, but rather tells a similar story. This time, instead of following an inspired-by-actual-events story of a pilot shot down over Bosnia, the story follows a group of Navy SEALS sent in to North Korea to blow up a suspected nuclear facility.

There are three angles to the story. The first is that of the men on the ground and their struggle to survive deep inside enemy territory. The second angle is told in flashbacks as the leader of the mission (Nicholas Gonzalez) remembers his training, specifically with his mentor (Keith David). The third angle focuses on the mission control with the President (Peter Coyote) and his advisors as they try to come up with a strategy to disarm the North Koreans and prevent war.

Where many action films – especially the military action films – tend to be less than realistic, there was a certain level of realism in this film. Perhaps it was because that right about the time this DVD hit the market, the news came out that North Korea was conducting nuclear tests.

When Trey Parker and Matt Stone came out with “Team America: World Police” several years ago, they fingered Kim Jong Il as the new threat to the U.S. Like their nailing of Saddam Hussein as the number one bad guy in “South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut” several years before he made news again, Parker and Stone were right again. Now, a straight-to-DVD movie like “Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil” similarly predicts nuclear tests by North Korea.

Maybe the President and his cabinet should watch more movies, and perhaps they’ll have a better handle on international politics.

“Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil” isn’t a great film, but it’s not bad for a straight-to-DVD release. The editing is a bit heavy-handed, using MTV cuts to cover up some slow-moving segments. However, the tension and suspense works for what it was.

With a cast of solid B-listers like Peter Coyote, Ben Cross and Bruce McGill, there’s some decent acting going on. While these folks may have been just picking up a paycheck, they at least give a good performance.

The DVD comes with an audio commentary by the director as well as two behind-the-scenes featurettes. The most interesting part of the special features is hearing writer/director James Dodson explain how he was inspired by actual news events to write the story. This news story surrounding his inspiration was, sadly, more terrifying than anything the movie showed.

Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. Widescreen (1.78:1) and fullscreen (1.33:1). French and Spanish language tracks. French and Spanish subtitles. English language subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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