REVIEW: THE DELTA FORCE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MENAHEM GOLAN / SCREENPLAY: MENAHEM GOLAN, JAMES BRUNER / STARRING: CHUCK NORRIS, LEE MARVIN, MARTIN BALSAM / RELEASE DATE: MAY 5TH
Lee Marvin and manly mean machine Chuck Norris star in Arrow Video’s latest B-movie release, The Delta Force, a loud, silly but very enjoyable '80s actioner. If it were made today, The Delta Force would literally be The Expendables, its men-on-a-mission action taking in hijackings, gunfights and Chuck Norris repeatedly smacking people in the face.
When a packed flight is hijacked by a pair of terrorists, the Delta Force is called to action. Led by Lee Marvin (in his last screen role), the elite squaddies must find a way to rescue the hostages before it’s too late. Here we see two very different styles of warfare at work – Marvin and his sneaky Metal Gear Solid skulking around versus Chuck Norris kicking people in the head and driving around in plain sight on a missile-launching motorbike. Both are effective, but it’s Norris in his heyday that everyone came to see.
The Delta Force is notable in that where most action films give their star a villain of similar physique to face up against, this one really doesn’t. A key action scene has Norris beating the snot out of a man who never stood a chance, slapping him around like a rag doll and generally punching the poor man to a pulp. You’d feel sorry for him, but he is, well, a terrorist. The film’s action sequences are accompanied by a bombastic, victorious soundtrack which makes it seem cheesy but no less enjoyable.
This Chuck Norris action film may seem like an odd release from cult cinema merchants Arrow, but its odd tone and over-the-top action set-pieces actually make it a perfect fit for their sensibilities. There’s even an unexpected sense of pathos, particularly during scenes in which the airline’s German stewardess is forced to pick out Jewish passengers for the terrorists to torment. In this day and age, films about aeroplane hijacking and terrorists will always leave a sour taste in the mouth, but Delta Force, in spite of its age, is well-handled and less inflammatory than it could have been. No, we never expected to use the word ‘pathos’ in a review of a Chuck Norris picture either.
The Blu-ray gives you the film in all-new high definition, in addition to the usual Arrow add-ons and finishing touches. There’s a refreshing lack of Chuck Norris jokes in the film’s featurettes, although screenwriter James Bruner does talk about working with Chuck in Chuck Norris Scribe. It’s well packaged and informative, if a little dry.
If The Delta Force doesn’t quite achieve ‘elite’ status, its sheer bombast helps to cover the gaps - mostly by having Chuck Norris punching terrorist scum right through them.
Extras: Featurette on Cannon Films / Interview with James Bruner / Interview with original Delta Force instructor