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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

East Side Story

Command Performance (2009) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Drummer Joe “Something” (Dolph Lundgren) rides his hog to the rock concert on Moscow Centennial Ave. where he's set to open the show with the CMF Band—its name has some­thing to do with a cheap manager. After a rousing, bare torso performance (“That guy Joe is one hell of a drum­mer”) dis­playing his biker gang tats, Joe retires to a deserted rest room to mellow out with a joint. Lo and behold, some dude attacks him with a knife, and Joe is forced to defend him­self … lethally. Returning to the amphi­theater he finds nothing but dead bodies on the floor, having been hosed down by terrorists before they took selected hostages to the rehearsal room.

Joe will connect up with Mikhail Kapista (Zahary Baharov) a green FSB red agent—it's his first day on protection detail—, Peter (Naum Shopov) a wounded fan with a phone, Venus (Melissa Smith) a star with a stiff upper lip, and Yana Petrov (Robin Dobson) a child VIP. Together they must try to rescue the remaining hostages or at least distract their captors until help arrives. On the loose is also a female reporter looking for a story or an exit, which­ever comes first. Joe soon discovers that partici­pating in a rumble is like riding a bike: once you learn you never forget.


The No Poverty Rock Concert was requested by Russian President Petrov (Hristo Shopov) who has a reputation as a good guy. Before he rose in the ranks, he was a prosecuting attorney whose trials were dignified. He has for years been friends with American Ambassador Bradley (Clement von Francken­stein) in an easy going relation­ship. Now he's sponsoring a concert to wage war on hunger.

He puts his money where his mouth is. The headliner is American techno dance idol Venus who started off as Angie a poor girl from Georgia, USA. She came to New York and through dint of ambition made a name for her­self, bringing her poor brother Enzo with her as her manager. She still remembers what it's like to have a hard time paying the rent.

One of the bopping boy dancers is a black dude wearing a baseball cap cocked at a rakish angle. He's sharing in her success. There's like­wise a black stage hand, and one of the tactical protection detail is black. Of course, none of them last long.

The drummer in the opening band has a history of playing in dive bars, not to mention prison. This is his big break and he is trying to negotiate the best deal he can.

The biggest tell for opportunity is that rather than sell tickets at exorbitant prices, they were all 5,000 of them awarded by lottery. Just look at all the happy faces of the fans. All the happy white faces, that is, not a black among them. Don't be shocked. We're not in Kansas any more, Toto. There just aren't any blacks in Russia. They don't have our American history of Negro slavery. Does that mean as a people they were free from slavery? Yeah, right! I quote a passage from Joseph Kanon:

“Another Istanbul layer,” Leon said. “She was in Abdul Hamid's harem.”

“His harem? How old is she?”

“It's not that long since they abandoned it. Forty years [from 1945], less. She was a child.”

“A child?”

“They were often sent early. For training,” he said, then saw her expression. “Not that kind of training. House­hold things. Manners.” …

“It's funny, though, she doesn't look Turkish. The light hair, I mean. You don't usually see—”

“Circassian. Originally.”

She cocked her head. “And now you're not going to tell me where that is and I'm not going to ask because I don't want you to know I don't know, so I'll never know.”

He smiled. “Part of Russia now. East of the Black Sea. Very popular with the sultans. For slaves.”

“Gentlemen prefer blondes,” she said.

“Even then.” (106–7)

plowingWhen the harems were abolished, word went out to the farmers who had sold their daughters to come take them back. Some of them actually did, but other girls were not so fortunate—although farm work could not have been easy. The farmers either didn't get the memo or didn't want them. That left the angels with not many market­able skills; you can imagine what happened to them. The fortunate ones found a sponsor.

It looks like President Petrov could have been one, because his two daughters Anna (Ida Lundgren) and Yana are both blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauties, one of them the “spitting image” of her (now deceased) mom. Likely there's an untold story of redemption from poverty in there some­where. And the Russian singer Irson who opens the concert is also blonde.

There's a difference of historical origin of slaves from the Black Sea region and from Africa. Quoting researcher Bodie Hodge:

The name Tanasi is very similar to Tanais, which was the old name for the Don River north of the Black Sea. Tanais was associated with the people of Tubal originally and may be a reflection of his name. (184)

Tubal was one of the sons of Japheth (Gen. 10:2) who in turn was a son of Noah. (Gen. 10:1) “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.” It was from another of Noah's sons Ham that came the black races settling in Africa.

After the Flood there was an incident, Gen. 9:20-22, where Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him so. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him in some way, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. Canaan in Ham's line was probably singled out for mention because of the Canaanites' later dealings with the Semitic Israelites. More germane to modern times is perhaps the lineage of Cush. Cush was also a son of Ham (Gen. 10:6), settling in Africa. Cush is Hebrew meaning black. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62.)

To relate this history to American values, we note concerning Thomas Jefferson's guarantee of the right to life, that coming right after the flood is God's instigation of capital punishment to restrain wickedness: (Gen. 9:6) “Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” The terrorist killing in the movie certainly should fall under this edict.

God also limited our pursuit of happiness when he confused our languages at the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:5-9) so we'd have a harder time defining our goals to each other. Petrov's kids idolized Venus but they had to sort out their language barrier to work together.

Our guarantee of liberty also had a limit set back in Noah's day. That's why under the best conditions of a war on poverty, the blacks ended up as grunts and the white girls as princesses.

Production Values

” (2009) was directed by Dolph Lundgren. It was co-written by Dolph Lundgren and Steve Latshaw. It stars Dolph Lundgren, Melissa Molinaro, and Hristo Shopov. Lundgren gives a good per­for­mance as cool Joe who's got a latent streak of violence in him. The rest of the actors were adequate with kudos going to the two children and to the CIA guy, who were in good form.

MPAA rated it R for strong bloody violence through­out, and language. The camera typically shot the bad guys looking up at an angle to make them seem big & imposing, with a shaky camera to enhance the violence. Actual physical contacts were slightly off camera but with strong audio effects and blood splatter. It was filmed on location in Sofia, Bulgaria and Moscow. It's a breath­less 1½ hours long. Parcels of humor ameliorate the intense violence. The dialogue is lacking in originality. Its pace holds up through­out the whole movie. With Lundgren as writer, director, and lead actor, and one of his children in the cast, this film takes on the gloss of a home movie.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

If you like smarmy home movies and violent video games, “Command Performance” should be right up your alley. It comes with two separate previews, one of them tame and one of them not.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Video Occasion: Better than watching TV. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

Kanon, Joseph. Istanbul Passage. Copyright © 2012 by Joseph Kanon. New York: Atria Books, 2012. Print.