Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Film Review: THE DELTA FORCE (1986, Menahem Golan)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 129 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Lee Marvin, Chuck Norris, Martin Balsam (DEATH WISH 3, PSYCHO), Susan Strasberg (THE MANITOU), Shelly Winters, George Kennedy, Robert Forster, Bo Svenson (INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, HEARTBREAK RIDGE), Kim Delaney (BODY PARTS, HUNTER'S BLOOD), Hanna Schygulla (THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN), Joey Bishop (OCEAN'S ELEVEN, VALLEY OF THE DOLLS). Music by Alan Silvestri.
Tag-line: "They don't negotiate with terrorists... they blow them away!"
Best one-liner: "Sleep tight, sucker!"

As Paula Abdul and that cartoon cat so eloquently pontificated, 'opposites attract.' Here, we got Lee Marvin:

Anti-war. Voted for McGovern. Has a Purple Heart. Frequently drunk on set.

Then, Chuck Norris:

Further to the right than the Unabomber. Can spin-kick people in the mouth using techniques from 8 different disciplines. Openly secessionist.

Well, together, they're THE DELTA FORCE.

Well, them and about 40 other dudes, but none of them really matter, except for Steve James. They're coming together to put the hurt on some airliner-hijacking, eyeliner-wearing terrorists led by Robert "this is your new Captain speaking" Forster.

Forster (right) is a force of nature.

The whole thing is accompanied by music that can only be described as über-patriotic Bananarama, and is overseen by those Israeli gods of 80's genre filmmaking, Golan and Globus.

Clearly, they thought this was gonna be their AIRPORT, and it's filled to the brim with old Hollywood and international stars: priestly hardass George Kennedy (who, sadly, punches no one):

gruff pilot Bo Svenson, Holocaust survivor Martin Balsam and disaster movie staple Shelley Winters:

Fassbinder fave Hanna Schygulla:

How the hell did they get Hanna Schygulla in a Cannon Film?!

and Pentagon suit Robert Vaughn. The initial hijack is pretty brutal (women punched in the face, Jews rounded up, etc.),

and even the classic Cannon incompetence can't entirely diminish the horrific impact.
There's a lot of set-up, too- this movie runs over 2 hours at a time when the average Cannon actioner was 89 minutes. But when we get to the long-awaited asskicking, it's entirely worth it.

To protect America's honor, WATCH Lee shoot terrorists in their sleep! SEE Chuck shake his head in disappointment before blowing away extremist hordes! VIEW Chuck crumpling a Presidential decree, just because he can! GAZE upon the oddly homoerotic spectacle of Chuck shooting rockets of death from the rear end of his motorcycle!


(Chuck also reveals that he bought a belt for a buddy as a gift.)

It all ends with the delivery of some cold beers- "Hey, guys, Budweisers! There's more where that came from!" Amen.

Where'd they get those beers? Also see: NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA.

Four stars.

Side note: Pay attention to the 'official' dates and times listed for each location- you may just find some Golan/Globus whackiness (like a sunny day at 2 AM).

-Sean Gill


J.D. said...

Loved Forster rockin' the Pablo Escobar mustache. That was a nice touch.

I can't believe that a black hole didn't open up at the convergence of Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris' conflicting ideologies.

Sean Gill said...

Forster is beyond great in this movie. And seriously, I have to wonder what kind of stuff happened on set with Norris and Marvin. Maybe at one point Marvin was chugging a bottle of scotch from the front door of his trailer while Norris was talking to some buddies about how Reagan was too left wing, and then they both paused, silently turned to one another, and sneered? Or perhaps Norris and Marvin shared an odd level of mutual respect because both of their last names were also first names? Who knows.

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Anonymous said...

Why did God take Lee Marvin from us so soon?

How in the hell did Marvin avoid killing Norris during the making of this movie?

Custom writing said...

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Sean Gill said...


I'm not sure how he kept from throttling Norris– maybe he didn't want to mess with Golan & Globus' golden boy since he was supposed to work with them again, soon, on Tobe Hooper's never-made 'Sci-fi Pinocchio' where Marvin was to play Gepetto? Hard to say.