STEEL SHARKS is a modestly entertaining, if predictable, direct-to-video potboiler. With a linear plot, TV-caliber acting, and static camera, it doesn't aim very high and so manages to hit its target.
After a military coup in Iran, revolutionary elements kidnap Dr. Van Tasset (Barry Livingston), an American expert in chemical weapons. The "Steel Sharks," an elite squad of Navy SEALs led by Lt. Zamborski (David Roberson), is assigned to rescue him. Joining the team at the last minute is neophyte
Bob Rogers (Billy Warlock), who wonders if he will be able to live up to the SEALs high standards. The team is taken to Iran on the submarine USS Oakland, commanded by Capt. McKay (Gary Busey).
The Sharks infiltrate the base where Van Tasset is being held, and find him being tortured by guards. They free him and attempt to flee, but are captured and held prisoner on an Iranian submarine commanded by Capt. Reza Lashgar (Shaun Toub). The Oakland is ordered to shadow the Iranian submarine.
Lashgar interrogates Zamborski, executing him when he refuses to cooperate. The other Sharks overpower their guards and take their weapons. The Oakland's sonar picks up the sound of gunfire, and radios for help, thus alerting the Iranians as to their position. Lashgar fires on the Oakland,
confident that the Americans won't return fire while hostages are on board. The Oakland avoids the torpedoes and runs, intending to lure the enemy sub into the teeth of the Fifth Fleet.
Dr. Van Tasset helps the Sharks concoct tear gas and napalm from supplies in the sub's galley. Rogers seizes the radio and sends a Morse code signal to the Oakland that they're escaping. The Oakland leads the Iranian submarine through the narrow Strait of Hormuz. Lashgar fires more torpedoes that
miss the Oakland and strike the undersea canyon wall, collapsing it on the Iranian sub. The Sharks reach the sub's hatch, and Rogers covers their escape. When the Sharks are clear, the Oakland radios for rescue helicopters who pluck them out of the sea. The Oakland leads the Iranian sub away
before destroying it with torpedoes.
STEEL SHARKS is a by-the-numbers military thriller with few surprises. Some feeble attempts are made at characterization, such as making Zamborski and McKay old friends, and having Rogers express doubts about his fitness, but these moments feel forced and out of place. Warlock, while appearing
earnest, suffers because he is a full head shorter than everyone else on the team, giving the impression of a child chasing after his big brothers. There is impressive stock footage of American military might at work, but the sets used are generic warehouses and unlighted submarine companionways.
And where is the crew of the Iranian sub? The escaping SEALs creep through pitch-dark passages without encountering anyone except a cook and a radio man. (Violence.)
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: STEEL SHARKS is a modestly entertaining, if predictable, direct-to-video potboiler. With a linear plot, TV-caliber acting, and static camera, it doesn't aim very high and so manages to hit its target. After a military coup in Iran, revolutionary elements… (more)