No fear. No rules. No equal. Meet the masters: An ex Navy SEAL whose temper is dynamite. An undercover expert who is always dressed to kill. A demolition ace who has a talent for destruction. These are the Shadow Warriors, the leaders of a special operations unit spear-headed by Mike McBride (Hulk Hogan – Suburban Commando). They are a crack team who do shit your average GI Joe has zero percentage chance of coming home from. Only their next mission is off the books. It’s personal. With a bit of business mixed in…and one dudes retirement plan too.
You’re immediately thrown on to the back foot with Assault on Devils Island. First you get get Hulk Hogan with a full head of hair and no iconic moustache. Second, he’s credited as Terry Hogan. No mention of Hulk. Maybe they’re trying to distance him from the wrestling persona. Perhaps they blamed the cancellation of his earlier TV action series, Thunder in Paradise, on the fact he pretty much played the same character as he does in the ring. Regardless, here’s Hulk as you’ve never seen him before.
He’s doing half-naked kata on a beach like William Sadler in Die Hard 2. However, I’m positive they reuse the same shots again and again of Hulk clumsily assuming various Kung Fu forms. Suddenly action – a slow motion roll and he’s flinging knifes at wooden figures which we never knew surrounded him. They’re all on target. Badass. He even pulls out a spear and starts impaling stuff. He’s clearly keeping in mad shape doing this old-school warrior shit.
Hulk/Mike McBridge is a Navy SEAL commander. He’s a soldier but somehow allowed to wear his hair long and be unshaven. Clearly the big wigs in charge of Navy dress standards have given him a pass for being such a fucking hero. I’ll admit it’s a cool look. Very 90s. Very Renegade.
Soon he’s off the beach and on a plane, ready to carry out Operation Longbow with the rest of his team. During the ride over he shoots the shit with his boys. 90% of them are nondescript guys in fatigues. We never know their names and they don’t have many lines. They do various army guy extra stuff – sharpening knives, load guns – generally trying to be cool.
One dude sits apart. He’s wound up tight and when Hogan wakes him up he pulls a gun on him. This is Fraker (Trevor Goddard – Mortal Kombat) a British attache who has recon’d the island where they’re heading. He’s here to make it an international deal. He and Hulk share a few words and despite them having a laugh he’s blatantly going to be a double agent. Oh, besides him we have Carl Weathers (Rocky) dozing in the background.
Cut to San Domingo, some tropical island I’d imagine in South America. Hunter Wiley (Shannon Tweed – Detroit Rock City) is masquerading as a Russian cocaine dealer. When I say masquerading, it’s clear because her accent is horrific. However, the bad guy Carlos Gallindo (Billy Drago – Invasion USA), doesn’t seem to notice. She wants to negotiate a coke deal in return for some diamonds, but she wants a money-back guarantee in case the shipment is rumbled by the authorities. Gallindo offers 25%. She starts stripping and his percentage starts going up.
Gallindo is clearly a clever sort as he manages to coincide his 100% deal with Hunter taking her top off in the obligatory Shannon Tweed topless shot. Approaching the island Hulk admits that he’s had a bad dream about the mission they’re on. One innocuous-looking SEAL called JJ whips out a deck of fucking tarot cards. Now I’d understand if he were a Creole guy that he may be into voodoo. But he isn’t. He doesn’t look like a gypo either. So no idea where these come from.
Naturally Hulk pulls the death card and everyone gives him the shifty eye. “That’s for my enemies. Put the deck away.” It’s time to go to work. Cue stock footage of marines dropping out the plane. This is a weird film, because loads happens in it. Yeah, it’s a TV movie and the budget is reflected on screen. But as you’ll see there’s crazy stuff like a mini-gun, helicopters, an army truck being blown up, sharks. But here they couldn’t even afford that shitty effect like in Point Break where one actor is filmed in a way to make it look like he’s sky diving. Disappointing.
The next moment they’re on the island. Fraker takes point. Carl and Hulk have a fist bump moment. They say some kind of phrase but you can’t really understand what as it’s obvious they probably first read the line minutes before. Despite that, there is lots of over dubbed dialogue/ADR work at play here. Not sure why they didn’t tidy this up in post. Any way, I digress.
Hulk, Fraker, JJ and one other dude stake out Gallindo’s villa, who appears “like clockwork”. They need to grab him quiet. Fraker wants to take out one of the guards with his silenced MP5. Hulk is all “allow me” as he pulls out a fucking blow pipe and darts the poor guy. Fraker (and we the audience) are incredulous.
Meanwhile Weathers and a few other SEAL have found a giant warehouse somewhere else on the island and are filling it with explosives. But things don’t seem right. Where is the cocaine?
Back at the villa, Hulk and Fraker break in and find Gallindo. Naturally he’s expecting them. Fraker, the traitorous bastard, knocks out Hulk from behind. Sadly, JJ and Hulk’s other backup are killed by the gardener who pulls an AK from a bag of compost.
Weathers suspects it’s all about to go south and gets his guys out of the warehouse before it explodes. He and his men are then pinned down in a trap outside by Gallindo’s goons who are waiting for them. Weathers pulls out a totally fake mini gun to lay down some suppressing fire and they manage to escape the ambush.
Hulk, annoyed Fraker has betrayed him (“For $2 million mate”) is about to be beheaded by Gallindo. He’s gonna stuff his head full of cocaine and mail it back to the US government. Good luck FedExing that, pal. Hunter, who has been watching in a bikini thankfully intervenes and saves him. She’s really an American(!) and also here for Gallindo. Clearly Hulk’s boys have walked into an on-going CIA operation. They manage to grab Gallindo and make their escape.
Fraker offers the body of one of the dead SEALs (as they don’t leave their dead behind) to trade for Gallindo. Hulk refuses, and instead promises to cut his heart out. He leaves all sad like. Suspecting Fraker has sold out the location of their boats, Hunter points them to some hidden scuba suits. They swim off but are attacked by sharks. Hulk manages to fight it off and another dude throws a grenade in its mouth. Considering the lack of special effects, the poor scripting, lame casting, sub-par dialogue and blatant voice recording, seeing a shark getting taken out by a grenade here is actually pretty impressive, if a bit nihilistic in the attention to detail it’s received. Don’t worry though, animal lovers. This isn’t the last time sharks will be involved in this film. It’s not even the second to last time we’ll see them.
Hulk escapes unconscious and they’re eventually extracted by a sub. Back on dry land and Hunter is all about the diamonds she’s now not gonna get thanks to Hulk and his men. She’s been undercover for 19 months and they just blew it. Clearly Hulk’s boss, Andy Powers (Martin Kove – Karate Kid) didn’t have the clearance to know about their op. Andy suspecting a CIA turn-coat, wants to arrest her, but Hulk vouches for her. She’s not a prisoner whilst he’s alive.
What’s more important to him is that two of his men are dead. If he’d only listened to his dream/that tarot card! His shark wound is cool though. He doesn’t need to go to the hospital for that. Instead they need to go back to the island to get JJ’s body (before it decomposes). He owes Fraker one too. Andy refuses. It’s not the right time. “Don’t go back there Mike! That’s an order”.
So Hulk resigns. Effectively immediately.
Hunter wants to go back with Hulk too. There’s $5 mil worth of diamonds there. If they go together, they’ll both get what they want. Plus she saved his ass from Gallindo, so he owes her one. They both drive off to his secluded house in a giant green hummer. “How did I know this belonged to you?!”. “I am what I am”.
His house is somewhere in he Florida keys. The only access is via the river, so he trades in the hummer for a river boat (sadly not Thunder). There they learn more about each other. He’s divorced and has a teenage son. She has an eight year old who lives with his Dad in Brussels. They’re both resigned to the fact they’re professional badasses, with no time for anything but ass kicking and maybe the occasional mutual fondling.
She notices that his shark wound is bleeding again. Thankfully she knows what to do. As she tends to it, he looks on impassively, bulging, impervious to the pain that would probably cripple us mere mortal men. She pulls out a shark tooth which is interesting as the EMT’s must have missed the fact it was still in side him, rolling around when they originally patched him up. “I hate sharks”. But it’s cool Hulk, as she makes the tooth into a cute little Etsy necklace.
He falls asleep due to the exertions of the day. Personally, after infiltrating a drug barons island, nearly having my head cut off, fighting my way free, then surviving a shark attack, I’d be pretty wired for a few hours. Hulk brushes that shit off though. Hunter uses the time to look around (wearing only a bra and panties, as you do). Typical army guy macho stuff. A big knife. Books about war. Pictures of guys in uniforms. Maori war masks (matching the tattoo on his back). She also finds a reinforced door that sealed behind a keypad. Curious. Porn dungeon?
Personally, I was never a connoisseur of Shannon Tweed erotic thrillers. However, I think she recognized her lot in life and readily signed herself up for such roles. I can’t imagine she would have even blinked when the director (Jon Cassar – 24) asked her to take her top off. She’s certainly not here for her acting talents. She and Hogan have minimal chemistry, and when she’s gunning down goons with twin sub-machine guns, she looks so impassively disinterested, she may as well be waiting in line at Starbucks.
Elsewhere (Miami) the All-American Gymnasts are getting an award for being so awesome by the mayor. Courtesy of some bogus company they’re also given a day trip to the Bahamas. Aboard the sea-plan Coach Van Holt (Marc MacCauley – Passenger 57) realizes that something’s wrong. They’re heading in the wrong direction. The obvious in-on-it stewardess tells him to stfu. But he wants to talk to the pilot. From the cockpit emerges Fraker and answers his question with a bullet to the shoulder.
He tells them to be quiet and they’ll be happy. Otherwise they’ll be dead. In so many words. (“We’ll be reaching our destination. Which is a derivative of destiny”).
They come down on an octagon shaped walled island patrolled by goons with machine guns and tight t-shirts. This is The Devils Island. Technically it’s the “dry tortuga islands” or Fort Jefferson as it’s known. Apparently it’s the largest brick structure in the Americas. There is no mention on either the Wikipedia or the National Park service website about it being the chief set for Shadow Warriors: Assault on Devils Island starring Hulk Hogan. A glaring omission on their part.
Also note, Shadow Warriors doesn’t even have it’s own page on Wikipedia. That there is a warning sign.
Any way, the gymnasts are offloaded by the mercs. The coach is forgotten about and never referenced again. Maybe he bled to death? Creagon (Billy Blanks – founder of Tae Bo), his number one guy tells him that everything is in place and looking good. Fraker takes the nicest looking (in his opinion) gymnast to go and shoot a terrorist demand video, whilst Creagon inters the rest in a cage in some cellar. It’s shin deep in water, so must be super lame. “How can you do this?!” one asks.
Back at Hulks house Shannon Tweed is still wandering around in her underwear. He’s never had a guest, and doesn’t drink coffee, so she’s crawling up the walls. “Did you try and get into my rape closest?”, he asks when she admits to creeping around. He shows her what’s inside. It’s literally another house filled with guns. He has three bazookas. “You must have friends in high places”.
Carl Weathers answers “He’s lucky he has any friends at all”.
“What took you so long?”
Carl isn’t going back into the jungle. Not this time. He’s here to stop Hulk doing something Hulk will regret. See, he has his retirement all planned out. 30 days is all he has left. He’s gonna do a security job, and sit in a chair for the rest of his life. Hunter pipes in that the government is offering 20% of the diamonds as a reward. Nice start up cash for a new business, no? Carl is convinced. But he’ll only do it because he doesn’t want Hulk getting killed.
By now the Pentagon have received Fraker’s video. He’ll trade Gallindo for the gymnasts. Some politician type agrees, but Andy ain’t happy. He lost two men bringing him in. “Make the trade” he’s commanded. Back at the house, Hulk is training for the mission by crushing coconuts in his hand. I’m not joking. He teaches Hunter how to do this too. “Just focus your energy into the coconuts”! Carl is having none of it. “No tradition”, responds Hulk.
Suddenly, “Look out!” a gunship! They survive the helicopter attack from some goons using some ninja weapons Hulk had lying around. They don’t know who it was though. A Fraker pre-emptive strike or Gallindo after Hunter? “Who cares, they missed. Now it’s our turn”. Fist bump. Andy Powers turns up and tells them the plan. Break into Devils Island via the water (shark city), get the gymnasts, kill Fraker, recover JJ’s body. He can even help Hulk’s team with recon and tactical back up but if it goes wrong, they’re on their own.
“Shadow Warriors all the way”.
I ain’t gonna spoil how the mission goes down, you’ll have to watch it yourself…SPOILERS – okay, they succeed, and Fraker is thrown to the sharks. We never see him eaten though. It’s just continuous cuts of Fraker thrashing about in the ocean, Hulk looking satisfied, and stock footage of a shark swimming under water. They don’t even put some red shit in the water.
If you’re a slave to social media, as I am, you’ve probably seen loads of videos like “5 Worst X-Factor auditions” or “10 Most Painful Skateboard Accidents”. I tend to ignore these. However, when I saw one espousing the 5 worst Hulk Hogan movies, I watched, daring it to challenge me. I’ve seen Suburban Commando. I’ve seen No Holds Barred. What fresh hell could this video show me? Well, it took my hubris, rolled it up into some terrible cudgel, and used it to smash my brains in.
Of all the films on the list, Shadow Warriors looked like it couldn’t be bad. Hulk Hogan and Carl Weathers could not make a bad team, I thought. I also wanted to watch this because I knew whichever clickbait-generating scumbag who put the video together probably didn’t bother to watch the films himself. He just saw the IMDB ratings and cut up the trailer. Motherfucker, do your research. To be fair, after struggling through the film myself, he’s probably the smarter guy.
This is not a good film. So much happens in it. But none of it is executed with any real quality. It looks rushed and shoddily put together. The script is as polished as a car that’s survived a nuclear blast. This does work to the advantage of some of the actors. Trevor Goddard as Fraker is just glorious. He hams this up so much, and is the real star of the movie. I even love how they’ve shaven the sides of his hair to match his camo face paint.
I loved Goddard so much in this that I went and did some research about him afterwards. I wanted to know why he hadn’t acted since 2003, only to find that he’d died in an apparent drug-suicide (later ruled accidental). So tragic. He could have been Jason Statham before Jason Statham.
Billy Drago is also deliciously sinister as Gallindo, and it’s also great to see Carl Weathers in another action film. It’s impressive to see him in such great shape. As he probably has the greatest action movie credentials here, it’s a bit sad to see him in such a movie (I kept thinking of him in Arrested Development, playing a version of himself desperate for money), but there’s no doubt that he elevates this piece of shit. Even with that hilarious mini-gun. Kove is also decent, and a nice recognizable face for any 80’s action fan.
With such a grounding of hardcore action folk, it’s a shame that the two leads, Hogan and Tweed, suck the life out of the movie. They are a void of emotion. But the characters they are playing just aren’t for them. Films which feature former models or sports stars only succeed when they’re paired with actual actors. Or if they are sort of out-of-this-world characters, like Milla Jovovich in Fifth Element or Daryl Hannah in Splash. Having them play it straight and real is a bad idea and just doesn’t work.
But of course these people sell tickets/DVDs. You can’t deny Hulk Hogan is a world renowned superstar. In the 80’s and 90’s, he was the face of professional wrestling across the world. Shit, when I was a kid I was Hulkamaniac. Yeah he faded into obscurity a bit when he bounced over to WCW and became a bad guy (or heel, as the wrasslin’ fans like to call them). The scandals involving steroids didn’t help either. Nor have the subsequent sex-tape leak, the dismal reality show, or his racist rants. However, his name and his image carries a lot of weight. You know who he is. That doesn’t make him ideal to play Mike McBride – Navy SEAL commander though.
And whose idea was it go give him hair? Why?! We know he’s bald. It’s not like you’d slap a wig on Patrick Stewart and think we wouldn’t notice, is it? And the fact he doesn’t tie it back. Even on operations. Even during the funeral ceremony for JJ. I have long hair, and that shit gets in the way. I tie that shit up to eat. I’d sure as hell tie it up were I going to do some covert black ops infiltration.
It’s not all Hulk’s fault though. The production values are terrible, despite the ambition of the script. There’s plenty of flubbed shots, mismatched dialogue and obvious stand-in work. It’s like a modern day Steven Seagal movie. You’d think the final battle would be worthwhile. But more time is spent showing Hulk (or rather his stunt double) fighting Fraker’s minion Creagan than himself.
There’s very few badass moments. Nothing is memorable (maybe the nude scene?). There’s no leg drops. No vest ripping. In fact, the only really cool action sequence features an unknown and unnamed SEAL, who single-handed fights off Fraker’s army while Hulk fights Creagan and Tweed/Weathers fuck about trying to rescue the hostages. This dude gets shot in the arm, then runs out of bullets, so switches to his pistol. He then shoots his load with that and decides to run. As he’s running he detonates planted explosives behind him. It looks really cool! So why not give it to Hulk to do?
I’m hard-pressed to recommend this film. I’d imagine this is a fun watch with a few like-minded action fans with a few beers. It will get some laughs. The coconut scene is just insane on it’s own. But watching alone felt akin to watching some despicable porn, with no payoff. You just feel dirty at the end of it. I have no idea how this spawned a sequel, Shadow Warriors 2: Assault on Death Mountain. Perversely, I do kinda want to see it though.
Maybe if you’re a Hulk or Tweed or Weathers fanatic, you might get something out of this. Trevor Goddard is brilliant, admittedly, so you may just want to skip all the scenes he’s not in. Get it watched brother!