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Film / Special Forces

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Don't you hate it when the best character in the film note  gets left out of the DVD cover?

Special Forces is a 2003 Direct-to-Video action film directed by Isaac Florentine, starring Marshall Teague, Danny Lee Clark, Tim Abell and Scott Adkins. It is notably Adkins' first heroic film role and his first portrayal of a prominent named character, although he wouldn't get a starring part as protagonist until Undisputed II: Last Man Standing three years later.

An atypical Men-on-a-Mission film, the titular Special Forces are a band of American-based Private Military Contractors sent into the war-torn fictional Eastern European nation of Moldonia to rescue a kidnapped reporter, Wendy Teller, arrested while investigating a genocide committed by it's local military leader, General Hasib Rafendek. Upon arrival in Moldonia, the Special Forces end up working together with Talbot (Scott), a British operative, who is desperate to avenge his partner killed in the line of duty.

They started off trying to rescue a chick, and ends up overthrowing a dictator and liberating a small country from tyranny. Wait a minute, that sounds familiar

Special Tropes:

  • And This Is for...: Talbot lets out one of these before impaling Zaman, avenging his bestie Paul.
    Talbot: Remember the name Paul Canthis. When you're in hell. [stab]
  • Badass Biker: Talbot's main transportation around Moldonia is his trusty motorcycle. In the first meeting between Talbot and the Special Forces, an escaped enemy soldier is about to alert the local army about the Special Forces' presence, but Talbot's timely arrival on his motorbike took the soldier down.
  • Badass Crew: The Special Forces, of course. With Talbot the British operative joining the team for his own reasons.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Major Harding vs. Rafendek at the end, in a burning warehouse full of missiles.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Bear is one of the first member of the Special Forces to die. Not that most of them are going to survive the final act, though.
  • Counterpart Combat Coordination: It's no coincidence that the final battle ends with Harding, the leader of the Special Forces, taking on the main villain Rafendek while Talbot, the closest the movie has to The Lancer, fights Rafendek's Dragon Zaman.
  • Damsel in Distress: Wendy Teller, an American reporter who witnessed the genocide and ends up being captured alive by Rafendek's soldiers. The Special Forces' mission is to rescue her, but they end up uncovering a much bigger conspiracy.
  • Dark Is Evil: Played straight and subverted for Rafendek's dragon, Zaman. Audiences knows he's a prominent villain and not just another common mook due to his black Badass Longcoat and black beret, and the fact that he is depicted as a Mook Lieutenant leading lower-tier soldiers around. But towards the end of the film, he ultimately spares Wyatt's life when Wendy begs him to.
  • Death March: Used in General Rafendek's Establishing Character Moment; when he had hundreds of Moldonian refugees, being promised their freedom, marching towards the Moldonian border in the country's outskirts before suddenly unveiling a pair of heavy machine-guns which he then commands to mow down every refugee in the area. It's even more disturbing when earlier scenes shows several children among those refugees.
  • Dead Man's Trigger Finger: In Talbot's final infiltration scene, his cover is blown when he guns down a guard... who fires a number of shots just as he falls.
  • The Dragon: Colonel Zaman, Rafendek's Number Two and the most competent fighter in Rafendek's army, who can go toe-to-toe against Talbot in a fight.
  • Duel to the Death: Two simultaneously in the ending; Major Harding vs. General Rafendek and Talbot vs. Zaman. Goes without saying that the good guys are on the winning side.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Colonel Zaman ultimately spares Wyatt's life after Wendy pleads with him not to pull the trigger. They both get captured alive at the end instead.
  • Five-Man Band: The eponymous Special Forces (and Talbot), of course.
    • The Hero: Major Don Harding, leader of the Special Forces and main character of the film.
    • The Lancer: Talbot, the British SAS Operative who swears vengeance on Rafendek over his partner's death, forming an alliance with the Special Forces. He actually overlaps with the Sixth Ranger due to being the last prominent character introduced in the film.
    • The Smart Guy: Jess, the strategist of the Special Forces, and also their Friendly Sniper.
    • The Big Guy: The appropriately named Bear, who gets to kick all sorts of ass with a shotgun.
    • The Heart: Wyatt, the team's resident Nice Guy, who gives a necklace to a local child.
  • Forced to Watch: Quite a few...
    • Wendy and her cameraman is forced to witness a few hundred refugees getting machine-gunned by Rafendek's soldiers, while stealthily attempting to record video evidence of the massacre.
    • Talbot's partner, in the same scene, realize the refugee transfer to be a genocide, but can't do anything about it due to being brutally tortured and handcuffed to a jeep.
    • The Special Forces had to witness Saira being shot by Rafendek while keeping quiet, to prevent their cover being blown.
    • At the end of the forest shootout when the Special Forces are recaptured, among the last two survivors, Major Harding and Jess, Harding had to watch Jess being shot by Rafendek while he's held down by several soldiers.
  • Harmful to Minors: General Rafendek had no qualms executing Saira, a local schoolteacher in front of several children.
  • Hero of Another Story: Ultimately, the SAS Operatives, who are not part of the titular Special Forces but are heroes of their own mission.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Yeah, about that... what's the use of having silencers in their weapons, when one of the Special Forces' key members, Bear, solely uses a shotgun and explosives?
  • Hollywood Silencer: Played straight during night infiltration scenes, when Harding and Talbot, whose weapons are equipped with silencers, can stealthily take down guards without alerting attention.
  • Hope Spot: After rescuing Wendy and leaving Rafendek's base alive, the Special Forces then radios in a chopper, ready to deliver them back to the States... but said chopper suddenly blows up in mid-air before reaching the good guys. Cue numerous armored vehicles and battalions of Rafendek's soldiers coming up from behind.
  • Impaled Palm: In the final fight, Harding impales General Rafendek through both of his palms, straight into a rack, in a burning warehouse full of missiles. Rafendek ends up being blown to bits by an ignited missile.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Zaman, in the hands of Talbot, via a long metal bar.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Rafendek's soldiers couldn't hit a target right in front of them, despite most of them armed with machine-guns. It's hilarious.
  • Ironic Echo: "Morphine's kicked in, huh?" - firstly spoken from Wyatt to Wendy when she's recovered from her cell, and then from Wendy back to Wyatt when they're on an evac transport.
  • It's Personal: Talbot's reason for helping the Special Forces take down Rafendek? To avenge his partner, who was executed by Rafendek for espionage. According to Talbot, said partner has two children and a pregnant wife waiting for him in London.
  • Klingon Promotion: After Rafendek executes President Hrankoff and officially took over leadership.
  • Lancer vs. Dragon: The film's climatic final battle ends with Talbot fighting against Zaman, both of them the Number Two of their respective teams. The fight culminates in Talbot impaling Zaman with an iron rod.
  • Ludicrous Gibs:
    • Bear after leaping at a group of enemies while holding a grenade.
    • General Rafendek, after being nailed to a rack, and having a missile (meant to be mounted on armoured vehicles) fired into his direction. 'Good riddance.
  • Offhand Backhand: After killing a number of mooks in one scene, Talbot randomly fires his pistol behind killing an incoming mook.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: The Hezbollah terrorist leader in the opening scene gets his brains blown off with a tiny red squib. Despite being shot by a high-powered Sniper Rifle.
  • Puppet King: President Hrankoff, while being the official ruler of Moldonia, is merely a President In Name Only, due to General Rafendek growing too much in power and completely taking over his leadership. The General can in fact legalise unspeakable acts of atrocities, such as ethnic cleansing and executing the President's aide in public, and have everything swept under a rug and the President is unable to do anything about it.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The preferred weapon used by Bear. Appropriately enough, it can send mooks getting Blown Across the Room with each shot.
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer: Talbot is absent from most marketing or DVD covers, despite being a major player in the film. Granted, he didn't show up until the second act and it would seem odd to have a British SAS operative standing alongside members of a US-based Special Forces team...
  • So Much for Stealth: Wendy's attempts at recording the footage of General Rafendek executing an ethnic cleansing from behind a set of tall grass is blown when sunlight reflects off her cameraman's lenses.
  • Spanner in the Works: At the end of the film, the Special Forces are recaptured, and are awaiting their execution. But Rafendek completely forgot about Talbot, who comes back later, infiltrates his base, and help the surviving heroes escape.
  • Taking You with Me: Bear, after being mortally wounded in the forest shootout, instead grabs a grenade and jumps on one last group of enemies. The ensuing explosion kills everyone in the area.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: For Major Harding, who lose his former partner in a mission in Bosnia eight years ago.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: General Rafendek, despite being subserviant to President Hrankoff on the surface, ultimately grew too much in power until the President is forced into becoming a pawn for the General and is helpless to prevent Rafendek from allowing daily massacre of innocent refugees. Rafendek's takeover becomes complete in the last act when he had President Hrankoff shot while still in office.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: It's really no surprise that Talbot, being played by Scott Adkins, would have his entire shirt ripped off at the end of his duel against Zaman.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Talbot's partner, who is introduced as a captive of Rafendek who is investigating the refugee transfer, only to be captured alive and flogged by Rafendek's soldiers. Within the first four minutes of his screentime, he gets to witness the hundreds of refugees getting massacred, before Rafendek orders Zaman to execute him. The audience would later learn from Talbot of his backstory as a British operative and Talbot's best friend, who had a family waiting for him in London.
  • Zerg Rush: The tactics employed by Rafendek's forces. It usually doesn't work.