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MGM Studios DVD presents
"Take off Nick. I'll delay the reinforcements."
DVD ReviewI felt the need to watch some good old-fashioned military butt-kicking. I turned to The Delta Force because a blurb on the cover promised me some "slam-bang action" and because Chuck Norris has a decent reputation in the butt-kicking department.
Norris stars as Captain Scot McCoy of the fictional version of the elite anti-terrorist group "Delta Force," which gained notoriety in the late 70s with the failed attempt to rescue hostages held in Islamic Iran. Indeed, this movie begins with that desert disaster as helicopter crashes doom the mission from the beginning. McCoy heroically rescues a comrade from a burning helicopter and as the team heads back to their bases, he discusses the planning failures of their command structure to his commanding officer, an ascerbic and aged Lee Marvin, and resigns from Delta Force.
International events intervene when Robert Forster, as Palestinian terrorist leader Abdul, hijacks an overseas flight out of Rome with over 100 Americans aboard. Characters on the plane, some snatched from familiar headlines, are played by a broad range of guest stars: Martin Balsam and Joey Bishop play Jewish travellers who are singled-out for special isolation by the terrorists; their wives are somewhat overplayed by Lainie Kazan and Shelly Winters. The captain of the airplane (based on the real hijacked pilot who gained worldwide recognition when he was interviewed by journalists from the window of his plane as it sat during negotiations in the airport), is played by Bo Svenson. Hanna Schygulla appears as the head stewardess, who is reminiscent of the heroic flight attendant from a different real-life hijacking. Another cameo is turned in by Robert Vaughn as General Woodbridge, but the most effective cameo is by George Kennedy as a Catholic priest who insists that the terrorist take him along with the singled-out Jews.
The President orders Delta Force into action and McCoy returns to duty just as Marvin and the commandos are taking off and finds that he is now promoted to Major. Delta Force flies to Algiers, where the terrorists have landed after a stop off in Beirut, and prepares to retake the plane. However, the stewardess informs them that, in the stopover, a dozen more terrorists have boarded the plane and the attack plan is aborted by Marvin. The terrorists order the plane into the air and fly back to Beirut.
It is at this point in the movie that one realizes that there has been precious little action and unfortunately there is a ways to go until we get to see any. The sequences on the airplane involving the passengers and the terrorists have a certain "movie of the week" quality, which seems finally to be the weakness of this film as an action picture. In fact there is almost no action until the final reel, when Delta Force is finally able to wreak havoc on the terrorist organization on their home turf.
The film is reasonably well-made for the genre and the ending, which is able to leave behind the baggage of the hijacking scenes, is very exciting with interesting choreography of the fighting sequences. Forceful editing of the dead weight of the first two thirds would have turned this into 90 minutes of suspenseful intensity instead of the more than two hour drag that had one wishing that someone would blow up something. Honed in the action style that personifies the Golan-Globus production, the action sequences are ultimately very good with some fine stuntwork, but it just takes too long to get there.
Norris is Norris and delivers solidly what he was paid to deliver. This movie came out at the peak of militaristic action hero craze of the 80s. In 1985 and 1986, Norris made 6 films and featuring the man-of-few-words-hold-my-hat karate hero that he ultimately took to television in Walker, Texas Ranger. Marvin, appearing in his final film, trades on past war movie greatness (The Dirty Dozen and the Big Red One) and is relatively irrelevant except as a foil for Norris. Forster turns in a very believable performance as the terrorist leader—he is certainly the best of the weak first part of the movie. He creates a character of great brutality that lays the foundation for the final confrontation with Major McCoy.
This movie is an uncomfortable mix of fact and fantasy and there is that certain jingoism of the period that turns the film into an odd kind of artifact. This is definitely one of the films that caused an outcry against the negative portrayal of Arabs in motion pictures.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: D+
Image Transfer Review: The image transfer features a standard screen format that contributes to the television-ish quality of the film. But the picture is very crisp and consistent with the quality of MGM DVDs I have viewed. I am sure that if a crack appeared in Chuck Norris' stone-face acting style, I would have seen it.
Image Transfer Grade: B
Audio Transfer Review: The sound transfer is a very serviceable Dolby Digital Stereo Surround with excellent separation in the action sequences. The mix was good and I had no trouble hearing the dialogue and the annoying theme that was played in the action scenes.
Audio Transfer Grade: B
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, French with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
Extras Review: No extras to mention for this DVD but heck I would be hard pressed to think of one that I might want. This is an excellent chance to leave off the extras and reduce the price for people who might want this movie in their collection.
Extras Grade: D
Final CommentsThis film is definitely for fans of Chuck Norris, probably for fans of the military action hero genre and perhaps for Lee Marvin completists. But, not much else here to recommend The Delta Force as a collectible motion picture.
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