“I can still kick ass,” says Dolph Lundgren at the end of Command Performance, a big, dumb, sort of affably block-headed throwback to ’80s-style knuckledusters in which he plays a rock ‘n’ roll drummer caught up in a nasty hostage situation with some terrorists. With the much talked-about The Expendables looming on the horizon for Lundgren later next month — another action entry from resurgent multi-hyphenate Sylvester Stallone, co-starring Jet Li, Jason Statham and Mickey Rourke, among others — this mid-grade straight-to-video programmer is a reminder of the sort of meat-and-potatoes entertainment that Lundgren and fellow down-market action star Jean-Claude Van Damme served up so consistently more than two decades ago.
Lundgren plays Joe, a drummer and a former member of a biker gang. He and his band are about to make it big as the Moscow opening act for Venus (Melissa Ann Smith), America’s hottest pop star. Impending glory quickly turn into chaos, however, as an armed gang of political fanatics storm the arena, capturing the pop star and her even more important guests of honor — Russian President Dmitri Petrov (Hristo Shopov) and his two teenage daughters. With the death toll rising and the hostages’ lives on the line, it’s up to one non-plumbing Joe to come to their rescue and save the day.
Directed by Lundgren, and co-written with Steve Latshaw, Command Performance doesn’t boast the most stellar production design, nor does its execution leave one thunderstruck. Does it tick the boxes, though? Does Lundgren get to stab a guy in the head, you might wonder? Yes, yes he does. But what about play a riff on an electric guitar, and then smash the bejesus out of another baddie with said instrument? Why yes, he gets to do that too. Command Performance is a rather appropriate title for this flick, as it is the definition of playing to one’s base. The conflict is generic, and much of its dialogue purely functional, but there’s a streamlined, unfussy uniformity of purpose that, on a certain level, one has to appreciate. Well, if they happen to like copious amounts of emptied automatic weapon clips and springboard-powered stuntmen flying 10 feet up into air.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Command Performance comes to DVD divided into a dozen chapters, presented in 2.35:1 widescreen, with English language Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo audio mixes, and optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles. Although the back cover touts an interview with Lundgren and and behind-the-scenes fight footage, there are actually no supplemental features, save complementary red-band and all-ages trailers for the movie, along with a trio of other First Look previews. Big thumbs down on the bait-and-switch, First Look. Still, to purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C- (Movie) D- (Disc)