It is a lot like Baywatch, but there is more focus on rescues than bikinis (but it is not completely disinterested, mind you). It also happens to be a TV show, re-edited into feature-length form. Regardless, the men and women of the Malibu Fire Department’s special “sea-air-fire” rescue unit are admirably fit and dedicated in Gary Capo’s SAF3 2: Under Pressure, which releases today on DVD, from Mill Creek Entertainment.
SAF3 (pronounced “safe,” not “saf-three”) is an elite team but morale is low, due to a recent disaster that hit home hard. They are still mourning one team member and rooting for the rehabilitation of Alonzo Rivera, who suffered severe burns over much of his body. To add insult to injury, SAF3 might be shut down by shrinks and bureaucrats. Nevertheless, SAF3 continues to answer distress calls.
There is no question John Eriksson is their leader—and don’t you forget it—because he is played by the legendary action star and anti-human trafficking activist Dolph Lundgren. He still performs rescues, but he is a bit of a Baywatch Picard. Of course, he has his own demons to battle, but they are nothing compared to Rivera’s challenges, both physical and emotional.
The travails of SAF3 are definitely the stuff of middling episodic television, but there is at least one pretty interesting rescue. Led by Eriksson, SAF3 must shepherd five survivors trapped in a submerged air-pocket up to safety, with only four air tanks for them all. This might sound like a broken record, but Lundgren gives the show more credibility than it probably deserves, because he is still built like Ivan Drago and projects the right air of authority.
Iraq War veteran and Dancing with the Stars champion J.R. Martinez is also quite compelling as Rivera, revisiting experiences on-screen that would be all too familiar from his own service. You could probably say Texas Battle is pretty convincing playing cocky SAF3 member Texas Daly, who naturally learns lessons in team spirit. Jocelyn Osorio also makes a favorable impression as Dr. Graciela Vega (a decompression specialist), who frequently works with SAF3.
SAF3 2’s opening credits do not even try to hide its TV series origins. Still, it is modestly entertaining to watch Lundgren barking orders and performing underwater heroics. Lundgren is cool and Rivera brings an additional degree of respect to this “film,” but as cinema, it is mostly light-weight melodrama. Probably only of interest to Rivera’s fans and admirers, SAF3 2: Under Pressure is now available on DVD, from Mill Creek.