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The Delta Force

tn_deltaforceI’ve never been much of a Chuck Norris fan, but maybe some day I could be if I fill in that gap in my badass cinema knowledge. I’ll always give a guy a shot. So I figured I couldn’t go wrong with THE DELTA FORCE. Not only is it about an elite counter-terrorist special ops team (same one as on THE UNIT), but with Lee Marvin as the man in charge. Even in his fuck-it-I’m-not-grooming-my-eyebrows-anymore later period Lee Marvin is a plus for any movie, so he could be my gateway drug to Chuck Norris.

Well, could’ve been, but this movie is not very good. It’s written and directed by Cannon head Menahem Golan (OVER THE TOP, ENTER THE NINJA) and seems to be his attempt at an all star ensemble movie with some kind of social message, like Irwin Allen used to make. Yeah, it seems like it’s mainly a Chuck Norris movie, but then you see Martin Balsam (Arbogast from PSYCHO), Joey Bishop, Susan Strasberg, Robert Vaughn, Kim Delaney…

mp_deltaforceMcCoy (Norris) is introduced in one of those Never Leave a Man Behind/We Gotta Get Outta Here It’s Gonna Blow war prologues. He stubbornly loops back and pulls an injured soldier out from under heavy objects, ignoring repeated pleas from Lee Marvin, Steve James and even the injured guy himself. After the rescue it skips forward to years later when the team is about to leave for Beirut, where a hijacked passenger jet is expected to land, and they’re all happy to see McCoy coming back into the fold for this mission. Barely any screen time passed between quitting and rejoining, and we don’t know why he quit or how they got him to come back, so there is no drama created whatsoever. I think they just have to do it because it’s a Norris theme. Instead of being the guy who quit the agency like Seagal he’s the guy who came back to the agency. It’s like he wants to be a rogue but not too much of a rogue. Yeah, he works for The Man, but only because The Man begged him to.

But after the brief Delta Force introduction the movie switches to the airport and the plane, where most of the first hour takes place completely absent Chuck or Lee. Bo Svenson (WALKING TALL sequels) is the pilot, George Kennedy is a priest who’s on board, and I’ll be damned if a ways into it I didn’t think “Man, without the mustache and dark skin that Arab terrorist would look just like– wait a minute, that is Robert Forster!”

This long section of the movie (“The Ordeal” according to the poster) mainly concerns the terrorists trying to figure out which hostages are Jewish, so they can separate them out as V.I.P. hostages or something. That leads to several ham-fisted comparisons between Israeli-Arab relations and Jew-Nazi relations. I guess I gotta give Golan credit for doing something from his heart instead of just phoning it in to get money like many Cannon films, but this shit is not subtle or smart. I got no problem lumping fictional hijackers in with Nazis, I mean, why not? But Golan really works hard to overdo it, having a holocaust survivor couple on the plane, the wife crying “Why is this happening again?

That’s the other thing – Golan seems to hate Jewish women, portraying them as stereotypical whiny shrews whose husbands have to shut them up and ignore what they say. I mean, one of them is Shelley Winters, who has an outburst on the plane shrieking “There are so many of us and so few of them – why doesn’t somebody do something?” It’s a dramatic United 93 type point except come on, man, she sounds exactly the same as when she’s the played-for-laughs villain in CLEOPATRA JONES.

At almost the hour mark Golan must’ve thought “Oh shit, didn’t I cast Chuck Norris in this thing? Where is he? Is he still here?” So about 40 minutes too late it switches back to being a movie about Delta Force. The plane has landed in Beirut and they let the passengers off, and the terrorists are still on board, and the Delta Force has snuck in and they’re about to pounce on those motherfuckers… until, whoops, Lee Marvin finds out they got more terrorists on board and took some hostages somewhere. So he has to drive a Jeep with a siren to call the attack off.

Oh, come on! We waited 50 minutes for this to turn into a Chuck Norris movie, and you’re already calling it off?

I guess it’s fine because they get to track down the hostages and drive around in different GI Joe type dune buggies and stuff. McCoy drives a super-powered motorcycle that has rocket launchers and machine guns built into the front, and if you’re worried that means it’s gonna be too front-heavy for wheelies well, put your worries away. There are definitely gonna be wheelies.

I don’t know that much about military tactics, but it seems to me like these guys get real lucky. In one scene McCoy acts as a distraction so the others can get away. He stands in a cool pose near a mob of maybe 50 or more angry militants, waits for them to see him and then drives off. And I’m not sure how he could’ve known that they would all try to run after the motorcycle while holding guns and not take any shots at him.

That’s a hell of a long bet he won there, and it’s not like he’s some genius or something. For example at one point he’s up on a roof with a rocket launcher and Lee tells him to throw that thing down and get down here. McCoy looks around like “How the fuck am I supposed to do that?” before thinking “Oh, I got one, I could slide down this wire that happens to be strung up right next to me on the roof and goes down to where Lee is on the ground and is clearly set up for this exact purpose and everybody watching the movie already saw it here before I did.” I’m sure he’s real proud and thinks only a highly trained Delta Force soldier knows these kinds of tricks.

The funniest thing about the movie is the music by Alan PREDATOR Silvestri. All throughout the action scenes they keep playing this theme that sounds like pure triumph. Normally there would be a long period of struggle and they’re almost defeated but then they just barely manage pull it out and only then would music like that play. In this case it plays the whole time as if to admit that the outcome is not in question. Most of the action half of the movie plays like one long victory lap. Even in the one part where a good guy gets hit the music is still going “Rah rah rah! America!”

At the end though it finally plays sad music because the guy who got shot died on the way back (SPOILER). They must’ve killed 200 or more fake Arabs, they got one casualty on their side, seems like a pretty incredible achievement by any scale, but there’s this whole “how dare you celebrate” somber tone. I don’t know, maybe McCoy’s just in a bad mood ’cause he knows he fucked up. He jumped off his motorcycle to get onto the jet (his trademark is not ever being on time for anything) and he knows that superbike technology has fallen into terrorist hands. They’d probly forget to ever use the guns and rockets, but they’d be able to chase him better. We’ll see if that factors into part 2.

DELTA FORCE was actually inspired by a couple real life hostage situations. According to this article the movie originally was gonna be made with the cooperation of Delta Force founder Charles Beckwith, based on Operation Eagle Claw, a failed rescue mission during the ’79 Iran hostage crisis. But Beckwith quit when he found out Cannon wanted to have Chuck actually saving the hostages. (I wonder if they would’ve had Carter get re-elected?) In the final movie the opening is based on Eagle Claw and the rest is based on the ’84 hijacking of TWA Flight 847, down to the German flight attendant who was asked to check the passports for Jewish names, and the Naval officer on board who was killed. In real life the Delta Force were sent in, but the operation was aborted. There were long negotiations, Israel had to release a bunch of prisoners and trade food for releasing hostages, and several of the terrorists got away. So the movie, where Chuck Norris with some help from the other guys saves everybody and personally tracks down, kills and insults the terrorists is, in my opinion, slightly exaggerated.

Also there’s no fuckin way they bought that kid a Cabbage Patch doll in the airport gift shop. I seem to remember you had to pretty much win a knife fighting tournament to get one of those bastards. So that fuckup sinks the movie.

But if you can get past the overlong “ordeal” sequence, the despicable tastelessness of the whole concept of the movie and the utter ridiculousness of pretty much all of the action sequences, then I would actually recommend watching the second half of this movie. It’s got alot of good mayhem and humorous Chuck Norris posturing. For a while I was wondering why they hired a karate champion just to run around with a gun, but he finally does some kicking when he gets alone in a room with terrorist Robert Forster.

McCoy is not so much a character as a prediction of what the parodies of ’80s action movies would be like. (Or maybe just a rehash of his character in the much more consistent INVASION USA). One part really threw me off because he shot a guy and I thought he said “Sleep tight, sinner.” That seemed kinda weird. But when I saw that part again in the trailer I realized it was “Sleep tight, sucker.” Anyway, he says it to a guy that’s hiding under a bed. I don’t know if you get it but it has to do with the idea that one sleeps in a bed, so then he tells him to sleep tight, because the guy is most likely dead due to the bullet wounds, so that’s sort of like offered as an equivalent to getting sleep, in a way. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain but I think if you watched it in context you would get it.

This is a pretty terrible movie, but a pretty funny one. I guess the second half is enough to give it a slight pass. Too bad it’s Lee Marvin’s last movie, though. I hope he at least got a chance to hang out with George Kennedy and reminisce about THE DIRTY DOZEN days.

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Here’s some of the music and some clips from the movie that prove that it’s actually kind of awesome despite what I say:

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, September 9th, 2010 at 1:13 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

74 Responses to “The Delta Force”

  1. that music is now gonna be stuck in my head

  2. I watched this over two Christmases on TV – first time I fell asleep about an hour in (I never thought I could be that bored by a film with Lee Marvin in it), next year I happened across it from the exact same point and the rest was highly enjoyable silliness.

  3. The original Paul

    September 9th, 2010 at 3:04 am

    For my sins, I watched this one years ago on TV also, and thought it was absolute dreck. I can’t remember any particular disconnect between the first half and the second, Vern, but then I can’t remember too much about it in any case. Like Caoimhin, I was bored stiff. I don’t remember the soundtrack particularly, which is odd if it was that bad, because I usually remember when a soundtrack spoils a movie. Maybe there was just too much else wrong with this.

    Long and short of it – if your tastes are similar to mine, avoid this one.

  4. Yes, that is one of the most annoying soundtracks ever, maybe more annoying that the music in Hausu, Keoma and Crimes of Passion.

  5. sorry to interrupt this, but I’ve got some big ass news, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series are finally gonna be made into movies
    http://www.seattlepi.com/tvguide/426375_tvgif8.html

    ALL HAIL THE CRIMSON KING

  6. I know you keep a pretty full dance card, friendo. But do yourself a favor and check out the rest of “The Unit”. Well worth your time.

  7. I remember watching this on holiday in Spain when I was very young. There was a lounge in the hotel that put movies on in the afternoons when it got to hot outside. I must have only been about five or six at the time. That was one of my first steps into bad ass cinema. Over the course of those two weeks I watched this, The Spaghetti Western trilogy, Mad Max two, Invasion USA and something with ninjas in it (the bad ninja was a white guy who wore a silver mask, I never found out the name of it).

  8. If you love weirdly affectionate movies about special forces with legendary soundtracks then watch Who Dares Wins.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUDe6saJFmM

    “Fuck me Steve it’s good to be recognised”

  9. It wasn’t Revenge of the Ninja?

  10. “Who Dares Wins” was released as “The Final Option” in the states. I watched it via Netflix a few years ago and would recommend it as another example of the right-wing message movie. The hero is like James Bond written by John Milius.

  11. As the local spec ops military expert and outlaw knife fighting champion here, I can indeed confirm the ridiculousness of the tactics seen in this movie in the acquisition of that Cabbage Patch doll.  Highly unrealistic.  Outrageous.  Fire the consultant.  

  12. No lie, I had the theme as my ringtone. Some over-30 guys were ROLLING when someone called me.

  13. Which movie is it where they hang him upside down and put the bag of rats over his head? I remember that one being enjoyable as a young lad.

  14. That was Missing in Action 2.

    Saw the Octagon during the week, didn’t think you could go so far wrong with Chuck Norris, Lee Van Cleef and ninjas, but apparently you can.

  15. Caoinhin.>Just checked it out on IMDB. Yes, it was Revenge of The Ninja! That has made my day. The great mystery of my life is over. Well one of them anyway.

    Many years later, I was holidaying in Switzerland. On the tv in my hotel room one night I watched a horror movie that featured Lurch from the Adams Family and had a scene in it where a guy faced off against a man in a gas mask with a huge chainsaw in the basement of a house. The problem was the film was dubbed from English to presumably Swiss. If anyone could help me out with an answer it would truly make my day!

  16. The written description for The Octagon sounds so truly awesome.  It’s awesomely sad, then, when one beholds the actual film on Netflix.  Norris is so wooden, so bizarrely nonromantically involved with the woman, so measured in his movement and his attire.  
    Same kind of disappointment with Surf Ninjas.  Disappointments, both, so hey at least The D Force was better than that garbage.  

  17. Lone Wolf McQuade Vern. Just skip to that one. You’ll love it and that’s a guarantee coming straight from Odo19 himself.

  18. I always find myself a bit bummed out when I realize people died while filming MIA 3.
    What an awful way to go.

  19. Seriously? People died for that shit?

  20. Hey Vern, if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d recommend checking out Lone Wolf Mcquade, I would say that’s possibly the best chuck norris movie.
    You’d probably enjoy that one. Also, if you’re looking for something that’s weird, and out there, and still really entertaining, check out Silent Rage.

  21. Vern – If you want a good movie from Lee Marvin’s last days, check out GORKY PARK where he’s the villain. And a good one at that.

  22. I think if Golan-Globus cut out about 25 minutes, Delta Force would’ve been a classic. I still like it though in a Saw-It-a-Dozen-Times-on-TBS-(Before they showed nothing but crap)-During-the-80’s kind of way.

  23. Jack – I got a better idea: What if they cut the entire movie?

  24. i dunno vern i think you are being way too hard on this movie. i dont know why i waited so long to watch it but when i finally did a few months ago i liked it a lot. i think your review might be scaring people off, but any action fan pretty much needs to see it just for posterity and also because it is amusing on many levels. also joey bishop.

  25. Gorky Park is really good. (comment of the year!)

  26. ron – no offense mate but Vern’s spot on. Actually I was kinda figuring he would like that one but he didn’t since he has an unpredictable streak. Hell he enjoyed JAWS: THE REVENGE.

    Then again most Chuck Norris movies are shoddy and quite frankly dull if you ask me. Mouth already dissected THE OCTAGON. Norris just can’t tell the difference between ridiculously awesome action and ridiculously stupid (and poorly made) action. Opening minutes of GOOD GUYS WEAR BLACK that whole operation bit was staler than 3 year old cookies, but rest of it became an OK revenge/stick it to the man adventure.

    I would recommend CODE OF SILENCE though, somehow Andrew Davis got two seperate very banal genre storyline elements (corrupt cops, kidnapping and Mafia) and make both mesh naturally together. And give a proper excuse why Chuck has to kick ass, take names, and drive the robot tank. Opening is hilarious is Norris undercover as a garbageman. Imagine that trailer: “This summer, Chuck Norris is taking out the trash!”

    As for the rest, haven’t seen LONEWOLF in maybe 15 years. Wouldn’t surprise me if its just as skippable as most Norris leading man filmography entries. INAVSION USA at least was a good cartoon. That bit with the hooker’s face getting smashed into her own coke straw was awesome.

  27. Ace:
    Yea I think it was like 3 stunt dudes in a heli accident. I wonder if they all cursed Norris as they went down.

  28. Added Final Option to my instant queue, is that Body or Doyle? Wow, Judy Davis shot through a door, that is just priceless. And Rene Belloq and the Equalizer, I can’t beleive I’ve never seen this one. Love Lone Wolf McQuade, it took Uma Thurman two movies to kill bill, Chuck was able to do it in one pg rated film in 83. Instead of being buried alive in a coffin like Uma, Chuck had the good sense to be buried alive in his truck, so he could just open a beer, turn on the supercharger and drive himself out of the ground.

  29. Nah man, Lone Wolf McQuade is still watchable today. It’s easily his best film. I’ll save my comments for that review, but I do like how someone says “motherfucker” and it’s still PG. Silent Rage is also a really good one, but other than that, yeah, Chuck Norris has some pretty bad movies on his resume. There’s a reason I was into Van Damme and Seagal and never got into Norris.

  30. Synergy must be everything. I just reviewed the Octagon, trying to catch up on the more Martial arts-intensive CN films. Can’t wait for your opinion on that one!

  31. And now I have that fucking theme song in my head.

  32. Griff: Until I hear news that Howard and Goldsman are off the project, I’m gonna pretend this isn’t happening. I’ll be over here with my fingers in my ears if you need me.

  33. RRA: I don’t know, I like the blending of the Dirty Dozen genre with the star-a-minute Disaster Movie genre. I’m not one of these people who are into whole the Chuck Norris is So Bad He Can Crap Sunshine or what the fuckever that shit is. To me, he was capable of making a good movie (like Missing in Action) but more often than not churned out dud after dud (Top Dog, Force of One, Good Guys Wear Black, Braddock, MIA 3, Top Dog, dozens of others).

    Ungodly running time aside, Delta Force is fun. Besides Robert Forster’s death is one of the great random hilarious moments of the 80’s. It never fails to crack me up.

  34. The original Paul

    September 9th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Dieselboy:

    “Which movie is it where they hang him upside down and put the bag of rats over his head? I remember that one being enjoyable as a young lad.”

    Oooooookay then. This is me, backing away slowly…

  35. The original Paul

    September 9th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Oh, and “Gorky Park” the film manages the fairly rare feat of being more enjoyable than the book.

  36. Is Walker, Texas Ranger worth a try? Just watched a clip on You Tube with him fighting Gary Busey. The thing is, both men don’t look like they can do martial arts. Did Chuck lose it?

  37. Ace – No I don’t think its worth it. Watch clips on Internet of Conan doing the Walker lever.

  38. Ok, so thats Chuck dead to me. So, don’t call me a Morlock or whatever, but what am I missing out on by not reading The Dark Tower (or any of Steven Kings nine million page long book).

  39. Not much to be honest. The only King novel where I think he completely pulls it off is The Shining. Every other one I’ve tried has been a meandering mess that either goes nowhere, or completely goes batshit insane.

  40. Well shit, thats the one I have got on the bookshelf. Someone insisted I read it, and there she remains.

  41. RE: The Shining – I thought the movie was better?

  42. Kubrick’s movie does improve on the book, in my opinion. Not in Stephen King’s opinion though. But he thought that horrible made for TV Mick Garris version nailed it so he’s obviously insane. I actually haven’t read a King book in years so my opinion is possibly out of date. I used to read his stuff voraciously as a kid/young teen. THE SHINING, CARRIE, PET SEMATARY, MISERY and CUJO stand out in my memory. But my favorite, by far, was IT. Although I don’t doubt that it’s a meandering mess that goes batshit insane by the end. As I recall the chick gets gang banged in a cave and then there’s some sort of cosmic race against a turtle demon, so yeah, WTF. The movie is a huge disappointment compared to that book, although Tim Curry is pretty iconic as Pennywise the clown. I never got around to the DARK TOWER books, which along with THE STAND were probably the only major works by the man I didn’t read. But I stopped reading after DESPERATION/THE REGULATORS, around when he got hit by that van, and I’m told his work has been in decline ever since. I’d be curious to pick up a King book again, I went through a long pretentious period where I kinda turned down my nose at him as the Danielle Steele of horror, but I find myself in the mood for beach read books from time to time now. Maybe it’s a good time to find a copy of THE STAND or the first few DARK TOWER books and give old King another shot…

  43. Speaking of Lee Marvin, I just watched DEATH HUNT last night and I coulda sworn Vern reviewed it at one point. I guess not. Twas quite good though, although I automatically give a Western brownie points if it’s set in Canada. Except GUNLESS. Fuck that movie.

  44. You know my house was always full of shitty b movies. I mean on top of A list stuff like RoboCop, Aliens and The Road Warrior we had a lot of fun junk for the old VCR. Everything from the Trancers series and 80’s Canon era Bronson like Assasination & Kinjite. To Toy Soldiers (non private school one) & Jeff Wincott movies.

    Hell the first 2 movies I was taken to see at the flicks as a kid were The Fly II and Kickboxer. This is why I’ve always found this site so endearing. So with that upbringing it’s easy for me to say that Chuck movies were a staple in my home. Though it’s been a long while since I revisted this one I do have to say it was never one of my faves.

    I actually enjoyed the sequel a lot better particularly because of glorious Billy Drago overacting. It may not have a veteran badass movie legend in it like Lee Marvin, but it’s far more charming if you ask me.

    I like that one so much I saw a Chuck 4 pack this past weekend at target and scooped it up ASAP. Simply because of Delta Force 2 being one of the DVD’s. Well it also had my favorite non Lonewolf McQuade or Invasion USA Chuck flick, Code of Silence. As well as Hero & The Terror & the original MIA both which I’ve always enjoyed. But DF2 was a big factor in it’s purchase, I’d recommend a peek if you want to see one of his better ones.

  45. I’ll defend the Dark Tower books to the death; that’s some absorbing storytelling that only goes off the rails a couple times (a certain unnecessary meta-fictional plot point comes to mind). Roland is a badass for the ages.

    I’ll…NOT defend Akiva Goldsman to the death, or even to, like, a paper cut, as having anything to do with it. I’ll tentatively accept Ron Howard only because he might have the cachet to get Clint (Eastwood, not Howard) on board. Roland was written with Clint (Eastwood, not Howard) in mind, but, honestly…not to blaspheme on this web sight or anything, but isn’t Clint too old at this point to give another turn as a gunslinger? If anyone can one-up UNFORGIVEN, it’s Clint, but still.

    That’s some dream casting we’re talking about, there…in slightly more realistic terms, I wouldn’t mind seeing Baby Clint, aka Hugh Jackman, try picking up some pistols with sandalwood grips. But, shit, for all I know, with that kind of pre-production team, it really will be Clint Howard as Roland.

  46. Chuck Norris’ acting is wooden and terrible. His fighting is wooden and terrible. He has a ginger beard and he hasn’t made any good movies except for the Bruce Lee one where he gets beaten to death.

    Seriously, I’ve never been able to comprehend how he manged to keep making shitty movie after shitty movie (well okay, I can comprehend it, they must have been making a return on their investment – but still, it’s amazes me that that’s the case).

    Though if anyone can point me in the direction of a competent Chuck Norris film where he isn’t terrible in the lead and which has some well-put-together action I’d be happy to check it out … but I did persevere a while back and watched 4 or 5, and I always sat there, stony faced, bored and wondering the how and why of one Mr Chuck Norris.

  47. Sadly, I remember Delta Force as being the best Chuck Norris movie. I don’t remember specifics enough to compare to Vern’s review, but of all the ones I watched it at least felt like a real movie. Couldn’t get past Invasion, MIA. I mean, Sidekicks has camp value but anyone ever sit through Top Dog? Ugh, that was playing when I worked at a movie theater. It’s shocking, they even forget to foley in some sound effects in some parts.

    I just never saw Norris having an energy or style that makes movies interesting. I’m sure he could kick my ass, but he doesn’t have a persona like Seagal, Van Damme or even the B/C/D list action guys. I did think The Octagon was good fun because at least it was silly. Missing in Action is just depressing, not in a “feel bad for Vietnam vets” kind of way, just “this is miserable and it’s going on for over 90 minutes.”

    re: Stephen King – Cell is pretty good. Again falls apart at the end, but I thought The Stand did too, so it’s at least 3/4 good. I’m curious about the Dome book.

  48. From the mid 70s to the late 90s I used to see EVERY action and horror movie (and some art house stuff) that I possibly could at the theater. I also used to go see bands play several times every week and yet I still saw on average 6 or 7 movies at the theater and caught up with more on TV. Back in those days I had the money and the time I guess. But even I have to question why I saw so many truly terrible boring Chuck Norris movies in the theater. I mean, he really released a shit stream there for a about a decade, this is not even his worst , so Vern if you’re going to try do a study of his works you have a hard road ahead of you. Only “Lone Wolf” and “Silent Rage” really stand out in my mind at all. I did like the silly cheap Kung Fu movies Chuck started out on, but I was seeing several grade-A martial arts films at the Chinese theaters every week and Chuck was never on that level (any bad-ass-ness Chuck displays in “Return of the Dragon” is thanks to working with Bruce.

    Also, taken out of context, clips from “Walker” make it look like it will be goofy and fun. It isn’t.

  49. I just noticed that the review ratings have been replaced by a “like” button. Good idea.

  50. Stephen King eats best is small doses where his imagination can’t get the better of him. All his short stories are dynamite. DIFFERENT SEASONS is *excellent*. DOLORES CLAIBORNE is shockingly good. The first 100 pages of ROSE MADDER. The first few chapters of INSOMNIA (“the death watch”). The Bachman books.

    I’ll admit that I think him best – really, really, really good – when he stays away from the supernatural. Compare the meandering shit of THE STAND (with an insultingly moronic climax) with the laser precision of THE BODY (a.k.a. STAND BY ME). King has a real ear for dialogue, an occasionally sparkling turn of phrase (best part of THE STAND: description of the flies on the bodies of inmates in the prison) and one of the better hands at descriptions of ordinary people faced with horrid decisions (the otherwise forgettable GERALD’S GAME).

  51. I enjoyed this film more when it was called Megabulge. Wait….. Megaforce.

  52. MattmanBegins: I’d watch Clint Howard in a badass western. I’d watch him in anything.

    Even better, cast Bob Einstein as this gunslinger character. That would rule.

  53. This movie is what they’d call “red meat” these days over in political blogs. Nazis confabulated with Arabs and everything. If none of the characters say anything about “appeasement,” they should’ve.

    Action-wise, it’s dull as dull. But that’s standard for Chuck Norris. I think that first hour is the more important part for Golan. Lets the movie become an amped-up, every-wish-fulfilled version of the made for t.v. movie RAID ON ENTEBBE (with Charles Bronson).

    By analogy, how about Simon West remake Paul Greengrass’ UNITED 93, with all the darned reality bits reworked? … But who to play the action lead…?

  54. Watched Who Dares Wins, or the Final Platitudes, the politics were so extreme it just came off as camp. It was amazing to see Judy Davis in such a role. It is really hard for a man to admit he has outgrown Steven King, but Hearts in Atlantis and Everything’s Eventual were the last good books.

  55. Gwai Lo – There are many things to bitch at King’s writing. Many times he believes cliches are the end, not the beginning, of the creative process. Alot of his plots depend upon people acting irrationally or stupid, and sometimes those people flip back from dumb to smart several times within a chapter. Some of those plots (like CUJO) are at best a terrific mean short story but then fucking padded with hundreds pages of bullshit into a stretched novel. And he’s notorious for ripping himself off, I mean how many times has an Indian burial mound played into his plots?

    That said, I would still consider him one of the great authors of the 20th century simply for his wonderful imagination. I mean look at all the good movies adapted from his writings, faithful or not, scrubbing away alot of his bullshit we get CARRIE, THE SHINING, SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE DEAD ZONE, CHRISTINE, and several others. Hell he even inspired the villain in the pretty solid Carpenter effort IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS.

    Also I think King doesn’t credit for his damn good CREEPSHOW screenplay.

  56. RRA,

    I’ve read and enjoyed a lot of King’s books, but thing that I really hate that he does sometimes is, to further the plot, characters will randomly gain psychic powers or act under the influence of some sort of higher power. And so, suddenly, they just KNOW important information or what task they need to complete next. It’s arbitrarily placed into the stories just to get characters from point A to point B, as opposed to carefully crafting a logical story and establishing characters with clear goals. It can really sink his books some times.

    Off the top of my head, I recall INSOMNIA and CELL both being major offenders in this category, although I’m sure there are more. The DARK TOWER books kind of had an amusing meta-textual spin on it, though.

  57. King is a weird author in that it really truly seems like he’s fine half-assing it a lot of the time, barely bothering to even write the stuff, let alone revise it and make it all work together. And yet, every now and then he seems to inexplicably focus and really show up all the imitators (BAG OF BONES is my favorite example — its a sharp, scary and original idea which is also dense with social commentary [none too subtle, but not quite his typical sledgehammer approach], metaphor, and literary allusions. Ok, at the end the dead wife fights an evil tree, but everything else leading up to it is good).

    I’d say King’s most underrated talent is his genuine love for his characters. Even if the story’s a clunker, the warmth he feels for his central characters usually comes through and makes it pretty readable. And even when his books are padded out with cliches and filler, there’s nearly always an idea or two in them that could only have come from King.

  58. Aside: how many times have you seen The Dirty Dozen? It’s one of those movies (to me) that, if I find playing on TV, I will stop and watch. At least through the wargames mission.

  59. I apologize. I shot my mouth off to quick. There is a third movie from Chuck that is worth seeing and it’s probably the best directed and has the best action of any of his films. It’s “Code of Silence” directed by Andrew Davis. I must think before I type next time. I actually like that one enough I’ve rented it a few times since seeing it in the theater twice. It’s just that after that film he made so many terrible terrible movies that I let that blind me to this, which is actually his best film!

    I’ll let someone with more time on his hands right the plot out, but believe me, until the anti-climatic last shoot-out, the movie is great goofy fun in line with the movies that Davis directed for a little none guy called Steven Seagal.

  60. Fredo – three or four times maybe.

    But I’ve seen “Sneakers”, “Juggernaut” and Carpenter’s “The Thing” at least a dozen times each. I guess they’re my equivalent.

  61. I add another recommendation for Lone Wolf McQuade as a good starting point for Chuck Norris. There are some classic moments in that one. It’s sadly true, though, that aside from that and Code of Silence, Chuck really hasn’t had much of a film career. I remember working at a movie theater when that movie Sidekicks came out and he held a signing at the theater to promote it. Almost no one showed up.

    I admit I really got into watching Walker, Texas Ranger last year because it always on tv right when I got home from work and didn’t have anything better to do. It’s not like it’s great television, and in fact many episodes are unbearably cheesy (the one with him protecting the telekinetic kid comes to mind…), but I found it a satisfying watch whenever they had a real rat bastard villain on it.

  62. The only time I ever saw WALKER, TEXAS RANGER was at a strip club. I ended up watching it more than the strippers. The sound was off so I had a real hard time following the plot of the episode, but I think he was in a coma or possibly being visited by his spirit bear or some shit. Naked ladies can’t compete with that.

  63. I dug Delta Force 2:The Colombian Connection when it came out DTV in the UK. Some fun Sky-diving action, and Billy Drago being Billy Drago. From the IMDB User Review: “If you do not worship this movie, you do not deserve to live.”

  64. Paul –

    For me the list would be “The Dirty Dozen”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “A Few Good Men”, “Escape from New York” and the latest one added is “Death Race”.

  65. I still like King as an author because he seems to stick to story, mostly, where many authors tell you chapters and chapters full of background information you really don’t need, just to show that they’re a book so you can know everything the characters are thinking. Gerald’s Game had to do that because of the situation, but even his longest books tend to really drive a plot and keep the characters developed.

    I agree the supernatural twists tend to be a copout. I actually like the ending of the movie Needful Things better than the book, and The Stand was way more interesting as post-apocalyptic rebuilding than when it was a battle against the devil. Still amazing how many all time great movies come from his work, everything from Shawshank, Stand By Me, Dolores Claiborne and Misery to Running Man and Carrie.

  66. SirVincealot I’ll agree that Different Seasons is one of his best books, Apt Pupil is one of the most disturbing things he has written

  67. I think I’ve got a soft spot for the Cannon Films ouvre. Vern, could you make it a tag so we can find your other reviews of their product, and would you be interested in exploring more of their ’80s work?

  68. Tag’s next to Bruce Lee & Charles Bronson, no? I’ll be commenting to bring people’s attention to Death Wish 3 soon.

  69. Indeed you’re right, Mouth. Thanks.

  70. Yeah, if you’re not into Chuck’s flicks, The Delta Force isn’t an ideal starting point. Although presented as an action film, it’s really more like Golan’s attempt to remake 1977’s Raid On Entebbe.

    The latter was basically a tv movie precursor to The Delta Force with Charles Bronson in the “underused action star” role. (It was based on Israel’s Operation Thunderbolt- a mission which, in turn, was the basis for the US’ failed Operation Eagle Claw.) The format is virtually identical: A painfully slow first act establising the terrorists and passengers, a slow second act where the plan is hatched, and a finale where the mission is carried out. (Afterwards, there’s even a scene where the team has to mourn a fallen member.)

    A better introduction to Chuck would be the films he made between 1983 and 1985, which was more or less his peak. Lone Wolf McQuade, Missing In Action, Code of Silence, and Invasion USA are all fun, entertaining, and a good example of the genre for the time period.

    And that’s probably what it really boils down to, in terms of being able to watch stuff like this. If you don’t have any real love/nostalgia for the period, it’s not exactly something you can get into by doing a websearch.

    I do still enjoy watching Chuck from time to time, since he takes me back to that era when studios like Cannon could churn low-budget films out on a routine basis. Today such a studio couldn’t survive without huge opening weekends, while kids would probably get more enjoyment out of panning the film online than actually going to the theater to watch it.

  71. Not so fond of the film, but the theme song is ingrained in my memory from a few childhood viewings, and mostly because ABC used it as their intro music for the Indy 500

  72. This year’s race was today and feeling a little nostalgic I went to YouTube to find some of those intros, the experts commented that the one from ’94 is the best, a tribute to Mario Andretti as it was his last go-around on the Brickyard.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5A6oLzKRwc

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