• Delta Force (Arrow Video)

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: May 5th, 2014.
    Director: Menahem Golan
    Cast: Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin, Robert Forster, Steve James, Robert Vaugh, Bo Svenson, George Kennedy, Joey Bishop
    Year: 1986
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    The Movie:

    Who doesn’t love a good tough guy movie? It’s a well-known fact that sometimes the toughest guys of all hide their tough guyness underneath their beards. Enter Chuck Norris, the Karate Commando himself (remember that series?). Team him up with Lee Marvin, throw in Steve ‘American Ninja’ James, Robert Vaughn, Bo Svenson, George Kennedy, Robert Forster playing a middle eastern terrorist and some gratuitous Shelly Winters footage and you’ve got The Delta Force – arguably one of the finest tough guys movies to come out of the Cannon Films Tough Guy Movie Factory of the 1980s.

    Palestinian terrorists calling themselves the New World Revolutionary Organization, led by Abdul (Robert Forster), hijack a jetliner on its way from Europe to New York. Their demands include relocating the flights destination to Beirut, and as terrorists often do, they intend to kill off passengers one at a time until they get what they want. The Pentagon, once they get word of the situation in the skies, calls in their best – the Delta Force –a crack team of anti-terrorist commandos lead by Major Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris) and Colonel Nick Alexander (Lee Marvin). These guys are the best at what they do, and what they do is infiltrate, track down, and eliminate terrorist groups in situations like this. As the tagline on the poster says, ‘they don’t negotiate with terrorists… they blow them away!’ Thankfully, to help them blow the terrorists away, Chuck Norris has a motorcycle that launches rockets, while George Kennedy, as a Catholic priest named Father O’Malley, accompanies the Jewish passengers the terrorists plan to do away with all while holding out hope that someone will save them before that can happen.

    Loosely based on an actual terrorist hijacking (TWA Flight 847 which was taken over by Hizbullah terrorists in 1985 – though the plane in the movie is branded AWT – close enough, right?), The Delta Force is full of eighties action movie clichés and racial stereotypes sure to offend a lot of people who take offence to such things. If you can chalk it up to part of the era in which it was made, however, you can enjoy what would sadly be Lee Marvin’s last film for the slam bang brainless shoot’em up that it is. Cannon Films was and still is famous for churning out the modestly budgeted action movies that typify the '80s using their stable of action movie regulars (Norris, as well as Bronson being the big two, with honorable mention going to American Ninja's Michael Dudikoff), and The Delta Force is a prime example of just how mindlessly entertaining some of their catalogue is. It starts off seriously enough, but once Chuck Norris has posed as a Canadian news reporter to make his way into the country, all bets are off and before you know it Chuck is sliding down conveniently placed wires off the tops of buildings and shooting anyone who gets in his way.

    Faux patriotism crammed down our throats, a massive body count with minimal American casualties, gangs of dirty looking Arabic despots up to no good (handled in a way that was very similar to how Asians were handled in a lot of movies made in and around the era of the Second World War) and the coolest (albeit utterly ridiculous) assault motorbike ever made all make for a fast paced film that throws historical accuracy out the window. Menahem Golan’s direction is decent, Chuck Norris is as wooden as ever (taking on Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson levels of non-acting in a few scenes) and Lee Marvin is as grouchy and cantankerous as you could ever hope and the film is all the better for it. It isn’t Norris’ best film (that’d have to be The Octagon) nor does it feature any ninjas but it does blow a lot of stuff up really nicely and provide plenty of great one liners, lots of excellent action scenes and all manner of awesome flag waving lunacy. For that, we thank you Cannon Films.


    Arrow presents Delta Force on Blu-ray on Blu-ray in an impressive AVC encoded 1.85.1 widescreen 1080p high definition transfer that looks really, really good. Detail is excellent save for a couple of murky looking shots here and there and texture is also very impressive. Colors are reproduced very nicely and look nice and lifelike while contrast appears to be set properly as well. Black levels may not be reference quality but they’re pretty damn close and shadow detail is also generally quite strong. There are no issues with compression artifacts and there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of digital manipulation, meaning no obvious noise reduction and a nice, moderately grainy, film like appearance free of any serious print damage.

    Also strong is the English language LPCM 2.0 Stereo track (the brief passages spoken in Arabic feature burned in English subtitles). There are some nice moments where some left to right channel separation helps bring a bit more boom to the action scenes and there’s a strong low end anchoring the explosions and gun shots. Dialogue is clear, easily discernible and free of any noticeable hiss or distortion. The horribly dated but instantly recognizable score sounds about as good as it can and all in all the audio is also a marked improvement over previous DVD releases.

    While the audio and video presentation is pretty much the same as the barebones MGM release we got in North American in 2012, Arrow’s Blu-ray release ups the ante with its supplemental package beginning with a fifteen minute fetaurette entitled Genre Hijackers: Mark Hartley On Cannon Films. Here the man behind the Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films documentary offers up his expertise on Menahem Golan’s output both in Israel and in the United States as well as the way in which Cannon Films toyed with different genres and how they distributed their pictures around the world to great success. This piece also makes the point in that Cannon was, in some ways, ahead of their time meaning that their influence can be seen on a lot of current Hollywood productions, particularly action films.

    Also included is a twenty-two minute piece called Chuck Norris Scribe: An Interview With Writer James Bruner, the man who wrote Delta Force. He speaks in a good bit of detail about how he got into writing action movies beginning with An Eye For An Eye, then Force Of One, then Missing In Action before moving on to later projects like Invasion U.S.A. and Delta Force. Obviously Bruner worked with Norris on each and everyone one of these movies and he talks about what that was like in addition to offering up some interesting trivia about what influenced the story for Delta Force, how Charles Bronson was originally to be cast in a leading role and quite a bit more.

    The third and final featurette is a twenty-three minute piece called May The Delta Force Be With You! – An interview With Commandant Christian Prouteau, who just so happens to be the man who started the French GIGN and wound up acting as an instructor on Delta Force. He speaks about various real world anti-terrorist tactics and strategies and offers up some recollections from his work on the project. Rounding out the extras on the disc are an original theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. Arrow have also included an insert booklet with essays on the film by author John Kenneth Muir and some insight on the history of Cannon Films alongside a nice selection of archival poster art and behind the scenes/promotional photographs.

    The Final Word:

    Arrow’s release of Delta Force is pretty great. The audio and video are both solid and the inclusion of some interesting and informative extras really help to make this the one to get over previous editions. The movie itself holds up well, a great eighties action film with a fantastic cast and some really memorable performances. A really strong package overall.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!