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Strike Back: Season 1 (Cinemax)

3,605 customer reviews

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(Aug 07, 2012)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A high-octane, globe-spanning thriller with storylines ripped from today’s headlines, Strike Back is a one-hour drama series that focuses on two members of a top-secret anti-terrorist organization known as Section 20: Michael Stonebridge, a British sergeant in the ultra secret Section 20 anti-terrorist team, and Damien Scott, a Delta Forces operative who was disgraced and discharged on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

When American cable viewers tuned in to the premiere Cinemax offering Strike Back in 2011, they were actually seeing the second series of a British TV show based on a popular novel by a former British military officer. Known in the United Kingdom as Strike Back: Project Dawn, the 10-part series follows the covert exploits of Section 20, a secret subgroup of Britain's MI6 intelligence agency. The series has a plot arc that extends across the entire season (carried over from the original six-episode first British series), but the hour-long installments are also divided into five two-part stories that stand alone in the larger storyline. The overlying plot concerns a brilliant Armageddon-obsessed terrorist named Latif (Jimi Mistry), who is the target of Section 20's global manhunt. The two field agents on Latif's tail are Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester), of the British Special Air Services, and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton), a disgraced American Special Forces alpha dog now working as a contract officer for Section 20. While they follow leads and stay one step behind Latif, Stonebridge and Scott buddy-buddy their way from New Delhi to South Africa, Darfur, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Budapest, leaving a trail of bullet-riddled corpses and sexually satisfied women strewn in their wake. Strike Back unabashedly revels in extreme bloody violence and gratuitous soft porn (they don't call it "Skinemax" for nothing), along with the jargon-heavy tradecraft of realistic counterterrorism dramas like 24, Homeland, and The Unit. The writing is often very good, with a ripped-from-the-headlines vibe that makes for taut narrative structure and plenty of suspenseful action. (The first two episodes portray the siege of a hotel based on the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.) Stonebridge and Scott trade a breathless stream of foul-mouthed one-liners and spy lingo between the prolific and often shockingly offhanded violence. Their standing orders seem to be shoot first, kill the people who have the information they need, and damn the innocent civilians who get between their automatic weapons and the terrorists, warlords, drug kingpins, and arms dealers in their sights. The duo have a knack for blundering into situations and blowing their covers for the sake of gun-blazing action rather than quiet intelligence gathering, which certainly packs the show with exciting fun. Despite the superfluous displays of flesh and absurdly high body count, Strike Back is a cracking serial thriller with high-level production standards that are consistently first-rate. The actors in Section 20's support staff make for a fine ensemble, and their crosscut operations maintain a credible level of detail in the multiple story threads that wind through the entire series. Including Jimi Mistry, there is an impressive cast of guest stars that add gravitas even as the mayhem threatens to devolve into the cartoonish. Liam Cunningham plays a psychopathic ex-IRA terrorist hungry for bio-weapons in one two-parter, and Iain Glen is a morally conflicted arms dealer in another. The show does sustain a high level of integrity; key characters are dispatched as the episodes count down to the ultimate face-off with Latif and the way is cleared for another season. While Cinemax continues the search for its golden show, Strike Back is a perfectly fine diversion. --Ted Fry

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Eva Birthistle, Philip Winchester, Richard Armitage, Sullivan Stapleton, Amanda Mealing
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Box set, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: August 7, 2012
  • Run Time: 600 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3,605 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005LAJ140
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,733 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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  • Learn more about "Strike Back: Season 1 (Cinemax)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
In a curious decision, Cinemax decided to import the British spy adventure "Strike Back" to its U.S. viewing schedule. In and of itself, that's certainly not a strange choice as this entertaining program is an expert blend of espionage, action, humor, and sex. What is odd is that they started with Season Two (must have to do with money, always has to do with money)! So the designation used in the DVD release stating that this is the Complete First Season is a tad misleading. It is simply the first season that was brought to a North American audience. For purists or completists, the first season is being sold on an All Region DVD/Blu-ray (with potential playback problems for some U.S. players) as "Chris Ryan's Strike Back." So check that out or hope for a Region 1 DVD version. It is six solid and self-contained episodes featuring a tremendously astute and multi-layered performance by Richard Armitage as the central hero John Porter. Armitage does show up to play a pivotal role in the first episode of this season, but the narrative is structured around a core of different actors and an entirely new international threat. You certainly don't have to have seen the Armitage arc to enjoy these episodes, though, this functions fully as a stand-alone adventure.

This season, classified as Project Dawn, consists of ten episodes and introduces two new leads. Square jawed Philip Winchester plays upright Sergeant Michael Stonebridge and he is teamed with ex-Delta Force operative Damien Scott, played by Sullivan Stapleton. In a complicated plot, the two are chasing villains and Weapons of Mass Destruction in a series of global escapades that have them not only on British soil, but in New Delhi, Cape Town, Sudan, and Kosovo.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By H. Bala TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 11, 2012
Format: DVD
Fancy a backstory? You're in for one now. Before Cinemax signed on as co-producer, STRIKE BACK was already one season in and flourishing in the UK under the auspices of Sky1 Network. When Cinemax, which had been looking for its own original primetime series, piggybacked and took the show across the pond, the big suits determined to skip Season 1 (comprised of six episodes) altogether and instead launch with Season 2. Season 1 featured Richard Armitage's crack commando John Porter. Except when the Americans tuned in, they only knew him as: one) the catalyst that gets one main character onboard and two) as sacrificial lamb. So be aware that our Season 1 - ten episodes long - is actually the UK's Season 2, with Armitage barely in it.

I dig the stylish opening credits, by the way, and especially the smoky theme song, "Short Change Hero" by the Heavy. The song right away sets you in the mood for globe-trotting skullduggery and blistering special forces-type combat. Every nation boasts its own covert elite unit of heart breakers and life takers, and the Brits have got their own. Section 20 doesn't exist, is the official stance, never mind that it's a branch of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). This nonexistent stealth military unit handles the sort of missions that would make Jack Bauer giddy; it specializes in "high risk priority targets," so cue that generous heap of nasty black ops and wholesale wetworks and enough impressive weaponry to make Charlton Heston's eyes grow big.

When Section 20 agent John Porter is abducted by the international terrorist Latif, and Latif proceeds to make Section 20 look dang silly in their rescue attempts, it's time to call for reinforcements.
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54 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Kohout Jr. on January 3, 2012
Format: DVD
24 off the air! The Border off the air! Spooks in the final season! Caught Strike Back on Cinemax and it is great to watch a series with a budget that is not hampered by US censors. Violence galore, nudity and a very interesting plot. Strike Back may not have the complexity of Spooks, though with much more in your face violence, it is like 24 on steroids with some of the witty dialogue reminiscent of the last 2 seasons of The Border. As this is done in a serial format, watching in a few sittings would be like a really long non stop action movie. Highly recommended.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By James Donnelly VINE VOICE on June 24, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
Ahh, Cinemax. Home to all of the same movies on HBO but also home to everyone's favorite late-night soft-core porn. So how does this channel look to distinguish itself from HBO other than the soft-core porn? Two words: Original Programming. But since it's Cinemax, it has to have a program that not too dissimilar in flavor to what Cinemax is so well-known for. So they imported a show from the UK originally called CHRIS RYAN'S STRIKE BACK, shortened the title, and according to information about that show, Cinemax splashed it with a super-sized helping of pretty graphic violence and lots of (mostly) unnecessary sex and lo and behold Cinemax gave us STRIKE BACK.

The show is, in essence, a volatile chemical mixture of the conspiracies and action of 24, the stand-alone episodic suspense and serious character work of SPOOKS (known here in the US on PBS as MI-5), the kind of tech and teamwork of THE UNIT, the kind of graphic violence Premium Cable allows for, and some of the gratuitous sex and nudity of Cinemax's late-night fare. The structure of the show is a buddy-action film with two mis-matched partners going after the bad guys and kicking (and showing) some serious buttocks, but intermingled with some more serious and shocking moments you wouldn't expect.

On the partner side you have the stiff British soldier Alex Stonebridge (the impossibly well-chiseled Philip Winchester) who is all about the orders and the mission, and then there's the sloppy and rugged American, the disgraced former Delta named Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton, suitably tough) who is all about the ladies and the action. Stonebrigde works for a secret unit of British Military Intelligence called Section 20, run by Colonel Eleanor Grant (a terrific Amanda Mealing).
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theme song
I'm sure you've figured it out by now, but in case you haven't....... the band is: The Heavy, song: Short Change Hero
Dec 20, 2011 by Rando |  See all 3 posts
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