THE action movie of the 1980s was a truly wondrous beast. With both studio budgets and audience expectations lower, it was all about the explosions and the body count back then.
The more people killed on screen the better the movie, basically. Think an adult version of The A Team and you're getting there.
Few movies embody that slightly cheesy appeal of 80s action quite like director Menahem Golam's The Delta Force. Originally released in 1986 and out again now on Arrow Blur-ray and DVD, it's the perfect example of the kind of bloodthirsty blockbuster that Cannon Films served up on a regular basis throughout the decade that humanity forgot.
Based on the real-life hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985 when Lebanese terrorists commandeered a plane and took hostages to Beirut, this couldn't be a better period piece if it starred old Ronald Reagan himself. As it is, it stars two true giants of the action-movie genre, Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin.
As a martial arts guru and kind of poor-man's Sylvester Stallone, Norris usually carried this kind of film all by himself but here he shares centre stage with Marvin in the latter's final big-screen appearance. Here Norris is Major McCoy and Marvin, Colonel Alexander; together they lead the task force charged with getting the hostages back and seeing off the terrorists.
It's prime 80s jingoistic cheese from the start but with a film this basic in set-up, that's no bad thing. It's all about the action, big bangs and the ever-flying bullets that rain down on Norris like confetti but never seem to connect with him.
There's a lot of American flag waving, for sure, but while the trucks explode and Norris gets to ride around on a motorcycle that fires cannons from both ends, who really cares about such minor quibbles?
You can see the roots of franchises such as The Expendables in just about every frame. Like those films, this is peppered with endless cameo appearances from some truly heavyweight acting heroes. The Man From Uncle himself, Robert Vaughn, pops up, as does the great George Kennedy and the feeling that you're watching a kind of video re-run of the Airport movies is hard to shake. Best of all among this famous array of supporting faces is Robert Forster, blacked up to play the leader of the Lebanese terrorists.
Unsettling as it is to see a white actor slap on the fake tan like this, it remains a nervy and edgy performance from a hugely underrated character actor.
Norris is, as always, as wooden as a plank in the acting sense but as dynamic as Bruce Lee when it comes to the fisticuffs.
As you'd expect from Arrow, there are interesting extras including a look at the impact of the entire Cannon output in the era and some material following up on real-life aspect of the story's genesis.
* CULT MOVIE