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Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD (1998)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: David Hasselhoff, Sandra Hess, Lisa Rinna, Neil Roberts, Tracy Waterhouse, Garry Chalk

Written By: David S. Goyer

Directed By: Rod Hardy

The Shot

David Hasselhoff is Nick Fury in a made for TV movie.  That’s really all you need to know here.

The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


The Hoff is the ham; and the rest of the movie’s got a ton of holes in it.

Pairs Well With...


It’s cheap.  It’s awful.  But it’s so easy to drink six or twenty in a row.  (Sorry, punsters; this flick is nowhere near good enough for Hofbrau.)

“I don’t know whether to congratulate you or drive a stake through its heart.”

Dateline: 2015.  The motion picture arm of Marvel Comics rules the Hollywood blockbuster season.  Every picture it touches gets a hundred million plus budget, and most of them rake in over a billion on the flip side.  Nick Fury – who appears in roughly a zillion movies – is a badass played with super cool swagger by Samuel L. Jackson.

Now let’s hop into the ol’ Way Back Machine, shall we?

Dateline: 1998.  Marvel is desperate to expand its markets, and is giving licensing deals to pretty much anyone willing to pony up some cash.  One of those arrangements leads to a made for television movie built around the character of Nick Fury, carrying with it the obvious hope that it’ll catch on well enough to spin off into a television series.  Nick Fury is an ornery cuss played through gritted teeth by David Hasselhoff.

Yup.  That really was a thing that happened back in the day.  Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD… starring David Hasselhoff.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, shall we?  The title and starring line are all anyone really needs to know in order to determine whether or not this movie is going to be a worthwhile experience.  After all, by my count, there are only three possible responses to the phrase “Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD… starring David Hasselhoff.”

1 – “That sounds like the biggest pile of garbage ever conceived by Man.  I must avoid this obvious crapfest like the plague.”

2 – “Herr Hasselhoff ist TEH HAWT!  Wo ist der nearest video establishment so I can buy this immediately?!”

3 – “What an incredible smell you’ve discovered!  Where is the nearest video establishment so I can check this crap out for myself?!”

Here’s a big shout out to all of my friends walking through Door Number Three.

Amazingly enough, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD is not the worst movie ever to come out of a Marvel licensing deal.  Given a choice between watching this twice or sitting through either Fantastic Four or Spider-Man 3 once, I’d rather take the double helping of Hoff and Cheese.  I’m not saying that this flick is good by any stretch of the imagination, mind – I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the obviously hoped for spin-off series (which would have, of course, followed the exploits of agents of SHIELD as they tried to foil the plans of Hydra) never happened – but it is awful enough to be entertaining to those of us who revel in the joys of what Blockbuster Video (may it rewind in peace) used to call “Le Bad Cinema.”

This is good, because otherwise, Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD would be close to unwatchable.

The story picks up with the forces of Hydra, led by Viper (Sandra Hess, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), breaking into a secret SHIELD installation to retrieve the frozen corpse of Hydra’s late leader (and Viper’s father), Baron von Strucker.  It turns out that that the dastardly terrorists have a way of extracting a particularly nasty virus from the late Baron, which they can then unleash against Manhattan, because that’s what bad guys do.

Needless to say, only the great Nick Fury (David Hasselhoff, Piranha 3DD) can stop this evil plan, but there’s just one problem.  See, back when the Cold War ended, SHIELD (here standing for Strategic Headquarters International Espionage Law Enforcement Division, by the way) decided that he was a relic whose services were no longer required, so he got mustered out and decided to become a mountain man in the Yukon.  But when he finds out that Hydra killed his best friend during their raid to get Von Strucker, Fury is all gung ho to re-up, get some payback, and oh yeah, maybe even save Manhattan…

And chain smoke.  And be as salty as possible without actually swearing because, y’know, network television and all.  And talk through an inexplicable grunt, because apparently, that’s how one acts tough when one is David Hasselhoff.  To suggest that Hasselhoff is utterly, woefully, hysterically miscast as Nick Fury is understatement… but that miscasting is what ends up making the entire debacle work.  Because sure, Hasselhoff is disastrously wrong for the part, but dammit, he tries, and that trying is hilarious.  No Emmys will be forthcoming here, but I give the man full points for not phoning it in and just having fun with the role.

Also hamming it up – but with perhaps a few more chops and definitely more respectable skills during the fight scenes – is Sandra Hess, who avoids the trap of having a horrible German accent by virtue of having been born in Switzerland, where she acquired a natural one.  She makes a pretty good go at playing a villain who can still be taken seriously while sporting a Roxette haircut just a few years too late, but eventually, one can tell that she saw the writing on the wall and decided to join Hasselhoff at camp.

Sadly, the rest of the cast doesn’t seem to have taken the hint, as they appear to be sincerely lobbying for future jobs as regulars on a television series where the flying vehicles are played by hilariously bad computer graphics.  But in the end, even that sincerity helps to make Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD succeed as an unintentional comedy.

Take that comedy away, and what’s left is a television mess with a half-baked script – penned by none other than current DC movie scribe David S. Goyer – full of holes and clichés that could have used a few more passes before being put in front of a camera.  What’s Hydra?  What’s SHIELD?  There’s just enough detail given to set them apart as “bad guys” and “good guys,” and that’s it.  But fear not!  There is plenty of space made available to throw in the cliché “ex girlfriend who wants to give the bad boy another shot” and “superior officer who hates the hero’s guts and wants him removed from duty” subplots!  Because those are way more important!  Except you’re not really watching this for the story anyway, are you?

Of course you’re not… unless you’re an established fan of the latter day Marvel Cinematic Universe, in which case the prototype plotlines that would later become the basis for the Captain America and SHIELD arcs of the overall story are fascinating to dissect, both for similarities and differences.  (Speaking of which, aren’t Fury’s hidey-hole in the Yukon and Hydra’s secret base awfully similar looking?  Come to think of it, doesn’t that entrance look a lot like the one to the Weapon X facility from X-Men Origins: Wolverine?  Hmm…)

I could go on, but like I said before, you already knew whether or not you wanted to watch this movie the moment you saw the words “Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD… starring David Hasselhoff.”  So if ham and cheese train wrecks are your thing, by all means, go for it!  The Hoff is The Hoff, and quickly paced direction will see you past the rough spots.  Otherwise… yeah, no.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, July, 2015

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


- copyright 2000-2016, Ziggy Berkeley and Cinema on the Rocks, all rights reserved.

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