As the Cannon logo appears with Alan Silvestri's synthesizer score playing underneath, it signals viewers are about to watch an '80s B-movie. In this instance, the year is 1986, and the movie is The Delta Force, starring Chuck Norris as a Special Forces soldier Major Scott McCoy battling Middle Eastern terrorists.
The prologue is a re-enactment of Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue American hostages held in Tehran, Iran. The pre-dawn mission is aborted when a helicopter crashes. Disobeying orders, McCoy (Norris) is the only one willing to attempt a rescue of his buddy Pete (William Wallace), who is trapped inside the copter. McCoy is mad that poor planning cost eight men their lives and says he's gonna resign.
The story jumps ahead five years when Abdul (Robert Forester made-up with a bronzer and a mustache to look like an Arab) and his fellow member of the New World Revolutionary Organization, highjack a plane to Beirut. The U.S. President orders Delta Force into action, and naturally McCoy returns to the fold. Though the plot provides a few twists as the Delta Force and the terrorists battle, there's no doubt as to the final outcome.
What works for The Delta Force is the action scenes, which are fun and unintentionally funny. The low-budget stunts include a cliched car chase where a car door gets knocked off and a fruit stand gets destroyed. The stunt team stole a Raiders of the Lost Ark gag as McCoy jumps onto a moving truck. There is also a poorly executed stunt where a car goes up a ramp and hits a truck filled with water bottles that explodes before contact. On a positive note, they make good, though obvious, use of dummies, which always gives me a chuckle when I see them flopping about.
Unfortunately, Norris is a poor actor. Though the dialogue is bad and forgettable, his bland delivery rarely reveals a hint of emotion or personality. He's certainly not helped by co-screenwriters director Menahem Golan and James Bruner, who make odd choices for McCoy. I couldn't understand why he blew up a building before the bad guys got into it, scaring them off and giving them the chance to fight again as opposed to killing them. He also pops wheelies on a motorcycle at the weirdest times, but it does add to the laughs. But Norris was hired for his fighting skills, best seen when he beats the crap out of the Abdul. It's a satisfying sequence and offers a few laughs, especially the final blow when Abdul thinks he has the upper hand.
The Delta Force has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer displayed at 1.78:1 and is limited by the source in what it can deliver. The colors appear in moderate hues. The reds are very bright, so much that they almost distract. Blacks are substantial. Skin tones lean towards pinkish hues. The image reveals film grain, which increases in low light, and is soft in many places. Dirt and artifacts pop up throughout.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is underwhelming for an action picture, though not surprising for the film's low budget. Dialogue is mostly clear and discernible, and imaging occurs across the two channels. That's it for the track's positive aspects. The lack of a subwoofer causes the punches to sound flat. The flawed sound editing stands out as different types of punches can have the same sound effect while the same types of punches can sound different from each other. The gun battle through the streets isn't as powerful and immersive as would be hoped for. The electronic score has a has a tendency to over power the effects. It's unfortunate more work wasn't put into delivering a more satisfying soundtrack.
Drinking adult beverages with your buddies is the best way to watch The Delta Force. It's too bad the script is so poor, especially when you consider how many well-known actors appear, such as Lee Marvin (in his last role), Martin Balsam, Shelley Winters, Bo Svenson, Joey Bishop, Lanie Kazan, George Kennedy, and Robert Vaughn. But then, under utilizing the cast may have been to distract from Norris' performance. The quality of the Blu-ray A/V specs will likely lead some to just pick up the DVD.