Friday, 9 May 2014

The Delta Force (1986)

      Who are you going to call when a planeload of American tourists is hijacked by Arabian terrorist Robert Forster (?) and his hirsute sidekick? Why, Chuck Norris’ DELTA FORCE of course! Not that Chuck’s in charge - that honour belongs to Lee Marvin in his final film role. In fact at the beginning, after a sequence presumably filmed to reassure us that the film is going to have some action in it (it takes a while to get going after that) Chuck resigns from his post. But it only takes the power of network television and ten minutes of missing his old buddies for him to come back. I suspect the lure of his motorcycle with rockets on that he gets to use in the climax has something to do with it as well.

In many ways, THE DELTA FORCE reminds me of Euan Lloyd’s production of WHO DARES WINS - the British movie about the SAS that starred Lewis Collins. Both are based on real-life events, both give the terrorists a fair old bit of screen time, and both take a little bit too long to get going. While it’s commendable to spend a while on the plane establishing the hostages as real people (and getting your money’s worth out of Martin Balsam, George Kennedy, Susan Strasberg, Shelley Winters and the like) there’s a lack of balance here that made me feel I knew and understood the terrorists better than I did the good guys, who have absolutely no character development at all. 

THE DELTA FORCE is a Cannon production, and is actually directed by co-producer Menahem Golan - he of THE APPLE infamy. Apart from the pacing issues he actually manages a pretty good job, with some well-staged action sequences, getting the most out of his stellar cast (most of whom I imagine were available for a day) and making very good use of the aeroplane he must have borrowed. Sadly, once the action kicks in, the movie is rather hampered by one of the most repetitive and inappropriate music scores I have ever heard in an action film. While many scenes in THE DELTA FORCE are crying out for the suspenseful strings of a Jerry Goldsmith, or even a James Horner, what we get is Alan Silvestri’s electro-disco pop tune that sounds like the theme to some awful cartoon super-hero TV series. Sorry Alan, but at the end of the day, you are the reason THE DELTA FORCE isn’t quite as good as it could be.

Arrow Films presents THE DELTA FORCE on Blu-ray in a transfer that has a few speckles here and there but looks very fine overall. Extras include Mark Hartley talking about Cannon Films and their lasting influence on popular cinema (I’m not sure if we should be thanking Cannon for movies like THE EXPENDABLES, though). There’s an interview with screenwriter James Bruner, and in May the Delta Force Be With You! Commandant Christian Prouteau talks about the formation of the first Delta Force.
There’s also a trailer, a reversible sleeve, and cover artwork by Graham Humphreys. 

Arrow Films brought out THE DELTA FORCE on Blu-ray on 5th May 2014


  1. That's a shame about the score. Alan Silvestri must have taken awhile to come into his own. His work on the likes of "Forrest Gump" was fantastic!

    - jesse

  2. Thank you John, you've watched this film so I don't have to, and I am truly grateful.