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Director: Menahem Golan

USA - 1986

    Hoff! Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!     


Americans hate terrorism.  Not really a bold statement, when considering recent eveMust be a Northwest stewardess.nts, but what I find surprising is how many people link this hatred solely to events in the not-so-distant past. The fact of the matter is, we’ve hated terrorists as far back as 1986.  A lot has changed in the “War Against Terrorism” since then.  Nowadays we utilize an intricate system of intelligence to track these nuts down.  Once found, we then utilize an intricate system of weaponry to blow their crazy asses up.  Back in 1986, however, we didn’t have the benefit of such advanced technology.  Back then folks relied on Chuck Norris.

I admit, today’s methods of destruction are fairly impressive.  It’s pretty darn cool watching from the point-of-view of a missile slamming into an underground bunker in Afghanistan.  But when was the last time you saw a fancy missile knock a bad guy off his motorcycle with a roundhouse kick?  Impractical, you say?  Well, trivialities like “practicality” go right out the window after witnessing the grace of a sTerrorism makes Chuck Norris too pissed to eat his pasta.weet axe kick to the back of someone’s head; especially when said axe kick is shown in slow motion. 

Sadly, The Delta Force lacks the same terrorists-having-their-collective-asses-kicked- by-Chuck-Norris scenario that I envisioned.  Basically it involves a group of bad guys with serious perspiration problems taking over a plane for no apparent reason other than their hatred of America.  They fly around some and wave their guns, all the while demanding that the passengers “Sit down!” and “Shut up!”  Occasionally they utter a complete sentence along the lines of “Sit down and shut up or I’ll shoot you!”  I have the same conversation with my dogs when trying to watch television.  I just don’t threaten to shoot them.  At least not seriously.

While the terrorists prance about various third world countries, Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin and the rest of the Delta Force sit in a cargo plane and polish their guns while awaiting orders.  Action?  Forget about it.  Perhaps I was mistaken when I assumed that The Delta Force would, at least, be chock-full of terrorist-ass-kicking goodness.  I mean, the picture on the cover shows both Lee Marvin and Chuck Norris sporting two of the biggest bazookas this side of Baywatch (I can’t believe I’m not paid for this stuff!).  There even appears to be some sort of an explosion behind them.  I mean, that’s action, right?!  Heck, the first car chase isn’t until a whole hour into the film!  An hour!  And by the time the action does pick up (in the last forty-five minutes), I was half-asleep.  I should be subjected to brainless action every ten minutes; every fifteen when factoring in gratuitous nudity.  But even with a healthy dose of martial arts hijinks, 128 minutes still constitutes a serious test of anyone’s Chuck Norris attention span.  The unusually-long running time might’ve been tolerable if the film provided something along the lines of interesting expositio"OK, so this here?  This is what we call a 'plane'."n or meaningful character development.  Empty threats against obnoxious hostages and meticulous firearm maintenance does not make gripping cinema.

Instead of a well-rounded script, The Delta Force tries to cheat by exploiting such shameless stereotypes as the disillusioned soldier (Norris) who returns to action out of his noble sense of duty; the persecution of the Jews by their Palestinian captors; the abuse of a kindly priest (George Kennedy!).  Don’t  forget about the pregnant hostage who could go into labor at any moment!  And what about the terrorists?  They have no legitimate motive (or objective, for that matter).  Should we assume that they’re evil simply based on the fact that they come from the Middle East?  This tragic fallacy is proliferated enough by the idiots in the media. 

And for a film that lacks anything resembling exposition or story, there sure is a lot of talking, which, considering this is a Chuck Norris film, can be a problem.  The man has a mean spinning heel-kick, but his Shakespeare needs work.  The same goes for the majority of the rest of the cast (though Shelley Winters’ spinning heel-kick is questionable).  And if mediocre The real terror is that suit.acting isn’t frustrating enough, when the dialogue isn’t bad, it’s in another language.  I have absolutely no problem with subtitles - that is, when subtitles are supplied.  I guess the filmmakers assumed that the typical Chuck Norris enthusiast can speak Arabic.  Here’s a newsflash: Most of us Americans have problems with the English language.  And I think it’s safe to say that applies double to Chuck Norris connoisseurs. 

If nothing else, The Delta Force can be admired for its star-studded cast; a definitive “Who’s Who” of b-movie star-power: Martin Balsam (“Mitchell!”), Robert Forster (as the head Palestinian terrorist!), Lainie Kazan (perhaps not typical b-movie fodder, but let’s not forget about The Big Hit), George Kennedy, Susan Strasberg (Bloody Birthday!  Mazes and Monsters!), Bo Svenson, Robert Vaughn (as a four-star general!), Shelley Winters, Steve James (unheralded hero from such classics as American Ninja 1, 2 and 3, Bloodfist V: Human Target and Weekend at Bernie’s).  It’s like if Terrence Malick made a b-movie!




How To Make Your Terrorist Compound Easy To Infiltrate

Supply a multitude of convenient manholes.  It makes sneak attacks for the infidels much easier.


  Supply a multitude of strategically-placed ramps from which the enemy can jump their motorcycles and/or jeeps.  It makes sneak attacks for the infidels much cooler.

Hire cronies that have no business shooting a gun.

Hire cronies that like to nap at the same time.

-         The Perils of Pete (Episode 1) - In the beginning of the film, Chuck Norris saves Pete (no rank or anything, just Pete) from a burning vehicle just before it explodes.  Despite being told that Pete can’t be reached from where he’s trapped within the wreckage, Chuck finds him conveniently right next to an open door.  I guess they meant Pete couldn’t be reached unless you used the obvious door, but where would be the challenge in that?

I was...2 weeks away...from retirement...

The Perils of Pete (Episode 2) – At the end of the film, Pete is shot (and ultimately killed) by Abdul (Robert Forster).  This, I assume, is meant to evoke anger from the audience being that we care so much for Pete after his dramatic rescue in the beginning of the film, regardless of the fact that Pete has hardly any screen-time in between the two incidents.

-         Two minutes after his return from voluntary resignation, Chuck Norris is promoted from Captain to Major.  First off, I didn’t realize it was so easy to simply quit the military on a whim.  Secondly, promotions in the military usually aren’t that easy to come by; especially for deserters. 

-         At one point, a terrorist explains to a six year old girl that he too has a daughter about her age.  I guess the filmmakers felt a trivial tidbit of useless information was needed to enhance the scene.  My favorite color is blue, in case you care.

"I just wanted to make sure you were comfortable.  Please disregard the Uzi."

The requisite pregnant hostage.

-         The perpetually-sweating terrorists.

-         The terrorists claim to be a part of the New World Revolution.  After trying their hand in terrorism, they went on to become Prince’s back-up band.

-         The tasteless sorting out of Jewish hostages by the reluctant German stewardess; yet another cheap tactic to evoke an emotional audience response.  Ooh, now those nasty terrorists are revisiting the Holocaust!  They sure are evil!

-         Doppelganger fun!  See if you can pick out the Chris Penn and Val Kilmer look-alikes!

That terrorist punched a priest!  How evil can you get?

-         Endless Arabic dialogue without subtitles.  Heck, we’re not given any exposition in English, why start now?

-         Requisite fruit cart smashing.

-         I’m not a Special Forces expert, but wouldn’t a covert operation be comprised by a line of jeeps sitting in plain view on the beach, awaiting our sneaky elite forces?

-         Once assembled on shore, Colonel Lee Marvin orders his men to slap on their “badges” - Velcro patches of the American flag that adhere to their shoulders.  Wouldn’t it be a lot less complicated just to sew (and leave) said patches permanently on their uniforms?  I guess you could argue that their trying to keep their ethnicity secret, but I’m pretty sure the jig would be up after one look at Chuck Norris’ mullet.

Despite trying to catch a plane to freedom while being shot at by several terrorists, Chuck Norris still finds ample time to pop a few wheelies with his motorcycle (which can also shoot missiles, but unfortunately, not fly.  Flight, I assume, is limited to real action heroes like Barry Bostwick).

-         Pete’s deathbed monologue and Chuck Norris’ stony (yet deeply saddened) countenance afterwards.

-         I’m proud to be your Bud!

-         Taking off and landing in the same city.  Hey!  How did we end up back in Beirut?  And on second thought, why does the Beirut skyline look like Denver?




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