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BluRay Review - The Delta Force (1986)

Notoriously cheesy eighties action flick gets the hi-def treatment.

Directed by: Menahem Golan
Starring: Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin, Robert Forster, Martin Balsam, Shelley Winters, George Kennedy


Many questions occur when watching this all new restoration of thick eared Chuck Norris actioner The Delta Force. Such as, how can a film this Jewish and pro Israel be so chock full of ham? Or, was the script divided up into three segments marked “a bit Airporty, a bit Raid on Entebbe-y and, finally, a bit Chuck Norrisy”?
A film this willfully sloppy and cheesy, with a cast full of actors with one eye on their bank balance and another for a taxi out of here the minute the cheque clears, should be, if nothing else, fun. However, with a creaking two hours plus run time it outstays the welcome of all but the most committed drunk. Saying the finished product looks like Argo, if it had undergone a rewrite by a ten year old locked in a room with only full fat cola and space dust for company, makes it sound like enjoyable tosh. The truth is that Menahem Golan’s direction is so plodding and pedestrian that a tortoise on prozac may have injected more energy into proceedings. The idea that we are meant to take these caricature baddies as a real threat is at once both laughable and borderline offensive.
It starts out like an anti Islamic Airport sequel, with an outmoded and politically iffy Robert Forster in brown face get up (Wardrobe by Borat, Styling by 1970s era Dickie Davies) as Lebanese terrorist Abdul, a character so one dimensional they can’t even be bothered to give him a surname. Placing him and his cohorts in a plane with so many scenery chewing old hacks, you would be forgiven for thinking that Jackie Mason might be the pilot chartering them to Vegas. George Kennedy even gets in on the act; he might not be Jewish but you are legally obliged to include him in any flight in jeopardy picture. It doesn’t take a genius to work out things are going to turn bad and before you know it the plane's hijacked and forced to Beirut. Demands are made, innocents are killed, and something has to be done.
For a Chuck Norris movie, it is extremely po-faced and serious in the first hour, even if that serious intent may amount to 'Jewish people are great, anyone else in the Middle East is either shady or murderous'. You do worry that the director is actually taking the meat of this story to heart, bless him. This approach is somewhat undermined by the Tom & Jerry sound effects during fights and cheapjack visuals (the plane never seems to be moving and the blinds are always drawn down, presumably to save on the budget).
Any attempt at gravitas is parked for good when the script realises that, being called The Delta Force, it better bloody well have a delta force in it. Led by a clearly ailing Lee Marvin as Colonel Nick Alexander and his mullet haired, muppet faced cohort Major Scott McCoy (Norris), these guys are gonna take down those filthy foreigners with little more than a host of cannon fodder, a couple of dune buggies and, inexplicably, a rocket launcher firing motor bike that looks like it has been stolen from a Glen A Larson TV show. All this is backed up by possibly the most insistent and annoying music score in cinema history, by Alan Silvestri, a poodle rock Harold Faltermeyer mix that sounds like it should be used in a game show rather than a feature. Drama, anguish, pain and violence - nothing escapes its power chords.
To call the film simplistic would be an insult to morons. Even during the 1980s I remained impervious to the charms of the Norris (OK Invasion USA gets a pass, but only because I haven’t seen it since 1985) and the passing of time and this re-release have done nothing to change this. There are some astonishingly laugh out loud moments of bad taste and, well, just bad in every department badness. Abdul’s escape to hide in a house, which is all of a hundred yards from where the climactic battle takes place, is a particular highlight. As an hour compilation it would be a hoot. Unfortunately, at over two hours, it is both politically dodgy, incredibly dull and spectacularly inept.
3/10
Extras:
Both visual and audio quality are up to Arrow’s usual high standards, although the scrubbing up does highlight the inherent cheap looking nature of the film. The extras are slightly sparse by this company's high standards. A look at Cannon films by Mark Hartley has some interesting snippets, although his praise for the works of the now defunct label is somewhat baffling. You also get an interview with writer James Bruner, which informs you how Chuck used to go into the office and pick out the ones that most suited his talents (presumably the ones written in crayon). A trailer rounds off the disc and you get the usual booklet and reversible sleeve.
5/10


Jason Abbey

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