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Star Wars: Special Edition
No synopsis necessary, I’ll presume. On the eve of commencing work on the new triumvirate that will make up the Star Wars trilogy’s prequels, wunderkind Lucas and 20th Century Fox...
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Film Review  January 31, 1997, by Marc Savlov
"...Most of the changes on this newly refurbished print are purely cosmetic (the film is now in THX, although not, for some reason, at the advance screening I took in), but Lucas’ vision still packs a mighty Saturday-afternoon wallop. I’d forgotten just how viscerally exhilarating the rebel forces’ final run on the death star is..."

SXSW Film Jury and Special Awards Announced
Texas filmmakers take top feature competition prizes
DAILY Screens  March 17, 2015, by Kimberley Jones
"...Winner: Manhattan (Dan Gregoras for Imaginary Forces) Special Jury Recognition: The Fitzroy (Chris Tozer, Marko Anstice) SXSW Gamechanger Award..."

Marshalling Forces and Strange Bedfellows
Will Tom Craddick be able to muster enough votes to hang on as speaker if there's a special session?
DAILY News  July 23, 2007, by Richard Whittaker
"...Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, has made it a point of principal to block Craddick at every turn. Then there's a whole bunch of Republicans, like El Paso's Pat Haggerty and Richardson's Fred Hill, who made no-turning-back style stands against the speaker before sine die. So here's the real question: If there is a special session, who can muster more forces and more votes?..."

Looking at the Lege After a Flaccid Special Session
Alpha males Abbott and Patrick can't get their red meat passed
News Story  August 17, 2017, by the News Staff
"...Giovanni Caprigli­one, R-Southlake. The bill forces abortion physicians to turn in detailed and personal reports to the state that include the patient's race and marital status within three days instead of the current 30 days..."

Special Session 2.0: Wendy Davis Responds
SB 5 filibuster senator fires back at Perry's renewed anti-health call
DAILY News  June 26, 2013, by Richard Whittaker
"...Late this afternoon, Perry declared that he will be calling the Legislature back for a second attempt to inflict a backdoor ban on abortions in Texas. That it also means a catastrophic impact on health care in Texas matters little to the 'pro-life' forces...."

New Law Forces End of Central Health's Abortion Services
Board says it can't risk jeopardizing its overall health care mission
News Story  August 19, 2011, by Jordan Smith


Dark Forces Gathering
ArmadilloCon 32
Books Story  August 27, 2010, by Richard Whittaker


This Week in Campaign Fail: Perry Special
GOP press event. Giant chicken. Awesome.
DAILY News  June 16, 2010, by Richard Whittaker
"...Y'see, about an hour before his event on their turf, the Dems got hold of word that he was turning up, did a massive Tweet-out, and got the forces out to yell "Debate Bill Now!"..."

Jade Helm and Tinfoil Hats
Abbott, Cruz, Jade Helm, and the death of the sane GOP
DAILY News  May 5, 2015, by Richard Whittaker
"...It can't be reasoned with. As shown by the GOP response to "Jade Helm 15," the federal special forces training operation taking place partially in Texas, logic has long been sacrificed...."

12 Strong
High-tech bombs and horseback soldiers fight together in the U.S. war in Afghanistan
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Film Review  January 19, 2018, by Richard Whittaker
"...In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, as the U.S. began the ramp-up to a full invasion, a special forces team was dropped into Afghanistan to help Northern Alliance general Dostum (Negahban) reach the vital stronghold of Mazar-e-Sharif..."

Black Panther
High drama and high action as Marvel gives Wakanda life.
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Film Review  February 16, 2018, by Richard Whittaker
"...Enter Erik "Killmonger" Stevens (Jordan, simmering with a righteous anger), a U.S. Special Forces soldier with a plan and a malevolent connection to Wakanda...."

Killer Elite
Action-film icon Jason Statham is stuck in an overlong, perfunctory thriller.
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Film Review  September 30, 2011, by Kimberley Jones
"...Frequent action hero Jason Statham – who is just bald enough to pass for an "everyman," at least in Hollywood-speak – plays a retired contract killer named Danny who is pulled back into the game when his former partner (a rumply De Niro) is kidnapped. The plot, based on a nonfiction book by Ranulph Fiennes, teases some political intrigue when Danny is forced into a cat-and-mouse game that begins in the Arab state of Oman and leads to an ex-British special-forces operative (played by Owen with a dirty little mustache)..."

The Losers
In this action movie, a U.S. Special Forces unit on a mission in the jungles of Bolivia becomes the target for assassination and must figure out who is double-crossing them.
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Film Review  April 30, 2010, by Marc Savlov
"...It may resemble, in the various plot points, contrivances, and assorted odd bits that make up its storyline, the pieces of a hundred other cartoonish, testosterone-fueled action films of the past two decades, but because it never falls into the trap of taking itself all that seriously, it manages to kick considerably more ass (and with less morbidity and minus the ethically sketchy tone) than even Kick-Ass. Morgan (Watchmen's The Comedian) is Colonel Clay, the hulking leader of a covert Special Forces team that is double-crossed by superiors when, on a "routine" mission to topple a Bolivian drug kingpin, they attempt to save the lives of some kids caught in the crossfire..."

28 Weeks Later
This continuing story of a populace that fears infection from a "rage virus," forges ahead with panic-paced sequences of graphic, random violence.
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Film Review  May 11, 2007, by Marc Savlov
"...military, who, as current events daily demonstrate, have had more than their fair share of government-sanctioned practice in getting the job done, meter by bloody meter. Enter Special Forces sniper Doyle (Renner), who, although he and his men have been assured the plague has died out, discovers, along with Don and his young son Andy (Muggleton), that viruses are hard to kill..."

The Condemned
Steve Austin stars in this WWE-produced movie about a death row convict who is brought to a remote island to fight nine other killers to the death for a televised bout.

Film Review  April 27, 2007, by Marrit Ingman
"...Millions tune in. Two others: a crazy Special Forces motherfucker (Jones) and the high-minded producer’s girlfriend (Mussett), who balks at the show..."

Walking Tall
Contemporary remake of the 1973 grassroots classic retains and updates the basic plot while losing much of the original’s heart and soul.
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Film Review  April 2, 2004, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...He fights them with his big four-by-four stick, having sworn off guns despite being a decorated former member of the U.S. Special Forces..."

Black Hawk Down
Ridley Scott's newest about the disastrous 1993 raid in Mogadishu, Somalia, that left 18 U.S. servicemen dead, many more wounded, and almost a thousand Somalians dead -- unspools like a...
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Film Review  January 18, 2002, by Marc Savlov
"...Bogged down in a slo-mo hell of bad vibes and worse luck, the characters, chipper raw recruits to a one, find themselves literally trapped in the kind of merciless and hyper-violent maelstrom of terror that for the rest of us, thank goodness, only visits us in our sweat-soaked overnights. For the American Special Forces and Rangers that entered Mogadishu on what was supposed to be a simple in-and-out misson to capture two of then-warlord Muhammad Farah Aidid's lieutenants, the nightmare just became worse and worse, moving from within clearly defined parameters to boundless anarchy, survival, and death..."

Step Into Liquid
Surf's up! It's The Endless Summer: The Next Generation.
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Film Review  September 5, 2003, by Marc Savlov
"...("Family should come first," he wryly notes, "but thankfully my family realizes that this is what I need.") All of this would constitute something of a retread of the first two Brown family movies, however, were it not for the technological leaps made in film over the past decade or so. Brown’s movie is a miraculous, jaw-dropping, and, frankly, inspiring collection of once-in-a-lifetime surfing sequences filmed from dangerously low-flying helicopters and with special camera gear that allowed him to actually be inside the curling lip of a titanic wave and deep below the surface of the water itself, buffeted but unbowed by the primal forces at work as tiny little legs skim the surface above..."

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
In the 12 years since Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released both the sci-fi/action genre and the art of computer-generated special effects (which that film’s director James Cameron helped revolutionize)...
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Film Review  July 4, 2003, by Marc Savlov
"...There’s also a decent attempt to rein in the CGI effects as well – this isn’t Matrix: Reloaded, thankfully, although both films share a Luddite’s paranoia of technology’s potential to run amok. (What Cameron might have done to prepare for Y2K is one of the great curiosities of the ages.) Nick Stahl, as 18-year-old John Connor – the future savior of humanity who joins forces with Schwarzenegger’s time-traveling cyborg against the stronger, faster robotic assassin (the model-perfect Loken) who has been sent to erase him from history – is appealingly haunted..."

Miss Congeniality
America's Sweetheart plays a detective who goes undercover to vie in a beauty pageant.
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Film Review  December 20, 2000, by Marc Savlov
"...I won't say that Miss Congeniality -- which was shot in Austin and San Antonio this summer and is the first film open to have utilized what was to become the new Austin Studios soundstage facilities -- is the funniest comedy of the year (Owen Wilson's performance in Shanghai Noon is tough comedy to beat) but it is a remarkably solid, streamlined, action-comedy in the ugly-duckling-to-gorgeous-swan genre that elicits more laughs and genuinely affecting moments than you might expect from its tepid ad campaign. Screenwriter Marc Lawrence, who also penned last year's underrated Bullock vehicle Forces of Nature, clearly knows his way around comedy of this sort and gives Bullock a chance to play to her comic strengths..."

Trial and Error
Questions raised about whether cards were stacked against Davidians in their civil suit against the federal government.
News Story  August 18, 2000, by Robert Bryce
"...The type and extent of training given to the ATF by Army Special Forces at Fort Hood...."

Dragonheart
Dragonheart tells the story of a burned-out 10th-century knight (Dennis Quaid) who joins forces with an 18-foot-high, 43-foot-long, fire-breathing dragon (a computer-generated creation voiced by Sean Connery) in order to...
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Film Review  June 7, 1996, by Joey O'Bryan
"...Starring: Dennis Quaid, David Thewlis, Pete Postlethwaite, Dina Meyer, Julie Christie and Sean Connery. Dragonheart tells the story of a burned-out 10th-century knight (Dennis Quaid) who joins forces with an 18-foot-high, 43-foot-long, fire-breathing dragon (a computer-generated creation voiced by Sean Connery) in order to put an end to the tyrannical rule of an evil king (Naked's David Thewlis, playing a villain so despicable you'll want to see him die almost as soon as he shows up on the screen), to whom they both happen to have former ties..."

Sirens
Sirens is a well-acted though prurient little tale set in 1930s Australia. The Archbishop of Sydney has asked the Reverend Anthony Campion to make a special trip to the mountain...
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Film Review  March 25, 1994, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Lindsay's retreat is home to his wife and daughter and three lush models who parade about in various states of undress. A train derailment forces the Campions to remain at Lindsay's place for several additional days and during that time Anthony Campion debates aesthetics and morality with the artist Lindsay while his wife Estella falls under the influence of the uninhibited models and becomes tempted by the presence of a blind, naked man..."

Warlock: The Armageddon
Young Druids in Love. Anthony Hickox, who seems to be making quite a name for himself in the bad sequels department (his Hellraiser III seriously missed the mark), returns to...

Film Review  October 1, 1993, by Marc Savlov
"...Reborn in modern New York (where else?), the black-clad Warlock (Sands) is on a mission to collect five magical runestones that will help free his Satanic dad and let loose the apocalypse. Massing against him are the forces of good, an aging band of Americanized Druids and their unwitting teenage offspring (Marshall, Young), the mystical Druidic Warriors who must destroy the Evil One, and....."

The Muppet Christmas Carol
The Muppets bring cheer to Ebenezer Scrooge.
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Film Review  December 11, 1992, by Pamela Bruce
"...Starring: Michael Caine. So many cinematic versions of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol have come and gone over the years, but the proverbial question still remains: do we really need yet another rendition of this overdone classic to officially promote holiday season cheeriness? Apparently Walt Disney and Jim Henson Productions thought that we needed one -- and or had visions of sugarplum dollar signs dancing in their heads -- when they joined forces to produce The Muppet Christmas Carol, a cute, and for the most part, imaginative take on Dickens' narrative that's sure to jumpstart the Muppets' commercial appeal, if achieving nothing else..."

Yogi Bear
This mixture of animated talking animals and live action is unbearable.
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Film Review  December 17, 2010, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...The talking bear makes life difficult for Ranger Smith (Cavanagh) but is one of the lures that brings documentary filmmaker Rachel (Faris) to the park to shoot a film. When the corrupt local mayor (Daly) decides to sell Jellystone’s logging rights, the bears and humans join forces to obstruct the sale..."

The Siege Continues
No matter who wins the election, Iraqis awaken to occupation, devastation, and slaughter
News Column  November 5, 2004, by Michael King
"...that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more, have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths."..."

Timeline
Time-traveling archeologists can't make the time pass quickly enough.

Film Review  November 28, 2003, by Marc Savlov
"...From the Castlegard sets, which make the heroic village look like a Renaissance festival minus the fun, to the perpetually limp line readings courtesy of Paul Walker, an actor so wooden in his talent that his only conceivable use in further films might be as some sort of planking, Timeline is a snooze. Even the battle scenes between the French and British forces do little but call to mind the far more entertaining sequences in Monty Python and the Holy Grail..."

SXSW 2012 Film Lineup Announced
'21 Jump Street' selected as Centerpiece Film
DAILY Screens  February 1, 2012, by Kimberley Jones
"...Phillips, Megan Griffiths, Story by: Richard B. Phillips & Chong Kim A young Korean-American girl, abducted and forced into prostitution by domestic human traffickers, joins forces with her captors in a desperate plea to survive..."

Letters at 3AM: Conditions on the Ground
This is no war on terror; we're taking sides in a civil war
Columns  December 18, 2009, by Michael Ventura
"..."These [30,000] additional American ... troops allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces," said our president on Dec..."

Ghost Rider
The movie adds little to Marvel's source material, but to be fair, there wasn't a surfeit of originality in the comic book to begin with.
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Film Review  February 23, 2007, by Marc Savlov
"...Even Ghost Rider's flaming head is a lift from the pages of Washington Irving. Johnson's version has Cage's Blaze up against Fonda's Mephistopheles, who's p.o.'ed at unholy offspring Blackheart (Bentley, of American Beauty) for making a power grab for mankind, thus forcing Blaze/Ghost Rider to battle the forces of darkness, save old flame Roxanne (Mendes), and look cool in the process..."

Blix In Austin:
The UN weapons inspector blasts Bush at the LBJ School
News Story  May 7, 2004, by Lee Nichols
"...counterterrorism chief and author of Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror]. He describes how an inspection took place under the authority of the IAEA, [of] which I was at the time director-general in 1991, how he, Richard Clarke, planned this inspection with special forces from the U.S..."

Enemy at the Gates
In the opening of Enemy at the Gates, as the boats land on the shores of the Volga River and the soldiers disembark in full assault mode, it's impossible not...
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Film Review  March 16, 2001, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...The gruesome battle for mastery of the city was a turning point of the war, but its arduous and costly campaign was one of the most brutal battles of modern times. During that bitter Russian winter, more than a million Soviet soldiers died defending the Allied city from Hitler's Axis troops (who also lost around 800,000 men), and even Stalingrad civilians were shot on sight by their own security forces if they attempted to flee the city..."

Short and Sweet With Other Worlds Austin
Three micro-stories at the SF film fest
DAILY Screens  December 3, 2016, by Richard Whittaker
"...Some heroes are born, some have heroism thrust upon them, and some just work menial office jobs, heating up coffee with their thermal powers. In "Special Forces," director Phil Bucci creates a world where it takes a lot more than amazing abilities to fight crime..."

Deadpool
This sassy superhero movie is not your child’s comic-book origin tale
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Film Review  February 12, 2016, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Deadpool earns every bit of its R rating, a quality that’s sure to appeal to fans weary of the macho, apple-pie-eating, altruistic superheroes who buck for attention in the comic-book stables. Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool is, in his own words, “super, but no hero.” He’s a chump-change mercenary and former Special Forces soldier (“a bad guy who fucks up worse guys”), who acquires self-regenerating powers and a horrific visage after succumbing to a purported treatment for late-stage cancer...."

TV Eye
Jack Bauer's back, and, boy, is TV Eye glad
Screens Column  November 28, 2008, by Belinda Acosta
"...The esteemed Broadway actress Cherry Jones joins the cast as the first woman president of the United States, Allison Taylor, while Powers Boothe returns as the lame-duck President Noah Daniels, so bitter and nefarious he makes Richard Nixon look like Richard Simmons. Jon Voight is another designated baddie, playing Jonas Hodges, a high-level muckety-muck who is secretly investing in the rebel forces that tear Sangala apart for personal gain..."

Don't Pack That Gavel Yet
Can the toll road conundrum be solved before the end of the session - or at all?
DAILY News  May 21, 2007, by Richard Whittaker
"...John Carona's monumental transport omnibus bill, SB 1929. The Senate Transportation Committee chair's bill is now officially DOA, having not even had its first Senate reading. The struggle over the road system, which has become inextricably bound up with the toll-road issue, has been an epic tale of compromise between irreconcilable forces..."

TV Eye
Testosterone on tap
Screens Column  March 31, 2006, by Belinda Acosta
"...But that's not what disturbs me. It's the wives on the home front, keeping house, keeping the peace, and, most importantly, keeping quiet about their husbands' real jobs as Special Forces operatives...."

Transporter 2
For all its gimmicky mayhem, Transporter 2 is an improvement over the original, completely setting aside such yawn-inducing cinematic standbys as a romantic interest and realism.
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Film Review  September 9, 2005, by Marc Savlov
"...Transporter 2 is vapid, lunatic fun: all action, all the time, with no pauses to catch your breath, or, more significantly, to figure out what’s going on. Having discarded entirely of even the closest semblance of reality, Statham’s ex-Special Forces driver-for-hire Frank Martin is twice daily ferrying the precocious offspring of Modine’s high-level DEA official to a Miami Beach Montessori school..."

Toys
It's been a while since a movie's come to us veiled in such a shroud of secrecy. Very little was known in advance about Toys other than that it was...
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Film Review  December 18, 1992, by Marjorie Baumgarten
"...Apart from all the mechanical weirdness, every last shred of reality in Toys-land is so skewed that it does not even seem weird that Robin Williams' cousin is black commando LL Cool J and his uncle (his father's brother and Cool J's father) speaks with a British accent. There are some great performances in Toys as well; Cool J as the mysterious special forces soldier shows he's got the talent to crossover from music to acting, Wright as the luminous love interest glues us to our seats, and Cusack as Williams' sister who dresses in doll's clothing (including corrugated plastic wigs and Velcro'd pinafores) is a rivetingly weird sight and memory..."

Holiday Viewing: Doctor Who at Christmas
Which are the best (and worst) of the BBC classic's Xmas specials?
DAILY Screens  December 11, 2017, by Richard Whittaker
"...This two-parter attempts to fuse together all the remaining plot strands from his run, plus throwbacks, and then attempted to completely rewrite the history of the Time Lords. Most disturbingly, it made the Master, the Doctor's great arch-nemesis, into a misunderstood victim of greater forces (who just happens to want to rewrite the genetic code of the entire human race so everyone looks like him)..."

'There To Tell the Truth'
Seymour Hersh on journalism, politics, presidents, and war
News Story  March 30, 2012, by Michael King
"...Some of you have read about the pressures in the Air Force Academy, people have been pressured to join Sunday groups, the pressure against minority groups, Jews and Muslims, a lot of pressure on them. I'm always fascinated by the Pat Tillman case – he's the football player from Arizona who went into the Special Forces with his brother Kevin..."

Written in Stone
UT's Jim Bob Moffett and Freeport-McMoRan ride a new wave of allegations of business as usual: exploitation, cronyism, and environmental devastation
News Story  September 23, 2005, by Robert Bryce
"...(Another American, Leon Burgon, and an Indonesian, Bambang Riwanto, were also killed with Spier.) In Eluay's murder, which occurred near the provincial capital of Jayapura, top officials in the Indonesian military are suspected of ordering his execution, yet only a handful of low-ranking soldiers were charged in the case, and all were given light sentences. The murders in the region are part of the decades-long repression of the native West Papuans by the Indonesian military and its special forces unit, KOPASSUS..."

Headlines
News highlights from the week of May 7th
News Story  May 7, 2015
"...After Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the multistate special forces training exercise, both former Gov..."

Realpolitik
Indonesia has ties to Austin through Jim Bob Moffett's Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold
News Story  May 19, 2000, by Robert Bryce
"...Meanwhile, in Irian Jaya, the site of Kissinger's particular gold mine, pro-independence forces are gaining strength. Over the past few months, Tom Beanal, a tribal leader who unsuccessfully sued Freeport in U.S..."

Energy Forward
Sofia Resnick gets her kee-op! on at Master Yi Martial Arts Academy
Screens Story  January 11, 2008, by Sofia Resnick
"...Keeper of a ninth-degree black belt, an 18th-generation sword warrior, and a former master instructor of the New Jersey Police Special Weapons and Tactics team, Yi entered the world of martial arts in 1964, at the age of 5, when he began his studies at the Dae Yeon Sa Temple. In 1979, Yi went into the South Korean special forces and then, like your average 19-year-old fresh out of school, competed in the World Martial Arts Tournament and became the world champion..."

Alejandro Escovedo’s Hurricane Honeymoon
Rocker’s Category 4 account: “I thought, We might not make this"
DAILY Music  September 23, 2014, by Tim Stegall
"...It turns out that Bobby, the neighbor, was an ex-Navy Seal, Special Forces guy. So, we were in good hands..."

Drying on the Vine
Water shortage forces family farms into survival mode
News Story  November 14, 2008, by Jacob Cottingham


Josh Rosenblatt Has Seen the Future, and It Isn't Pretty
Magic eight-balling 2008, month by month
DAILY Screens  January 3, 2008, by Josh Rosenblatt
"... It is morning in America. July Saw 5 is released in theatres to resounding commercial indifference. Though critics praise the film’s opening-title design and score, its storyline – in which a masked psychopath imprisons a group of illegal immigrants and forces them to put on a production of The Pirates of Penzance – is widely panned as derivative..."

TV Eye
In with old, in with the new
Screens Column  February 24, 2006, by Belinda Acosta
"...Dennis Haysbert may have lost his job as President David Palmer on 24, but he returns to life in a new action-adventure series on CBS, The Unit. Now, instead of being leader of the free world, he leads a pack of elite Special Forces operatives, working undercover, saving the world from evil while their patient wives keep the hearth fires burning..."

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