This is currently available for view on Amazon Prime Video, in case you missed when it came out 11 years ago. And there is an interesting back story.
My first software job, and video tapes were coming in vogue. I told my boss at the time that there would come a time, I thought soon, when studios would forgo movie theaters and aim straight for the VHS market. He scoffed, but I prevailed. I’m seeing more and more stuff, not straight to VHS but straight to DVD. This is one of them. It’s Second in Command, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme in another of his kick-ass action roles. Details are from Wikipedia.
It all takes place in Moldavia, you can see that in the opening credits. The problem is, there is no country named Moldavia. There is a region in Eastern Europe called Moldavia, but it’s partitioned among a number of political entities, one of them being Moldova.
Never mind that. The fictional country of Moldavia is an a world of hurt, and Navy SEAL Commander Samuel Keenan is coming to straighten things out. He arrives at the capital to step in as second in command at the United States embassy, and we see him arriving at the airport in a special jet and in full uniform. But he is not in uniform for long. He first has to make a stop at the Hotel Continental, and here’s the reason. She’s news correspondent Michelle Whitman (Julie Cox), and she’s sex on a stick.
But while Commander Keenan and his sweetie are getting reacquainted, a miscreant communist terrorist attacks the hotel, gunning down news reporters, including a number of Michelle’s friends. Keenan puts on pants and a shirt and steps out to kick some ass and put a lid on the ruckus.
The ruckus is masterminded by communist leader Anton Tavrov (Velibor Topic). He sets the stage for an uprising by sending an agitator into a disgruntled street mob and then ordering a sniper to kill her, making it appear she was killed by government troops. You know that before the end of the movie Keenan is going to have to kick Tavrov’s ass.
Back at the presidential palace, newly elected Moldavian President Yuri Amirev (Serban Celea) is trying to figure out what to do about this communist uprising. Evacuation is not an option. He phones the American embassy. It’s going to be Commander Keenan to the rescue.
Much gunfire and many dead bodies later, and Keenan arrives back at the embassy with President Amirev. Now they need to figure out what to do. An RPG attack kills the ambassador, and Keenan has to deal with intelligence chief Frank Gaines (William Tapley), who thinks he has a better idea and wants to be in charge. Gaines wants to evacuate, Keenan wants to hold the fort and wait for reinforcements. A contingent of Marines is detached from an American base several hundred miles away.
Also, President Amirev has hopes that General Borgov, who is off in the hinterlands chasing after some terrorists, will arrive to save the day. Suspense is heightened by occasional views of a tactical display, showing where the Marine contingent (arriving by helicopter) and Borgov’s force are located with respect to the embassy and how long it will take for them to arrive. It’s going to be close.
To resolve the impasse at the American embassy, Tavrov takes some hostages, including a Moldavian general and two news correspondents, Michelle and her cameraman. A sniper stands ready to dispatch them if Tavrov’s demands are not met. He shows he’s serious by having the general killed.
Gaines asserts his authority and takes over, countermanding Keenan’s decision to hold firm. But Gaines’ master escape plan is anticipated by Tavrov, and many escapees are killed. With fewer troops on the line and dwindling ammunition, the Americans go full defensive, making the communists pay for every inch. More are to die.
General Borgov arrives with his armored column, but he has thrown in his lot with the rebels, and he kills Gaines, who had counted on his personal friendship. Also killed in the final battle is Michelle’s photographer.
Then the Marines arrive, and their attack helicopters turn the street in front of the embassy into a killing zone. Inside the embassy Keenan faces off with Tavrov and defeats him in hand-to-hand combat when Michelle scoots a knife his way. The battle over, the two lovers walk out into the sunlight of a new day. It is romantic as all get out.
Lots of action, intrigue, gunfire, and dead bodies with a storybook ending. Pure entertainment aimed straight at the gonads. Fairly standard plot of a combat veteran prevailing over bureaucratic rigidity and winning the day. That’s what these movies are all about.