I don’t usually go in for the memorial articles, but today’s death of the great and mighty Sir Christopher Lee hit me surprisingly hard. He had been a mainstay for GENERATIONS of filmgoers, and a standout in everything from a James Bond movie to Star Wars to The Lord Of The Rings. And while many will always remember him as Dracula, I first saw Mr. Lee in a small fantasy film called Mio In The Land Of Faraway.
The movie’s not much to talk about, being a trite and sometimes terrible little flick about a boy escaping to a fantasy land, but aside from the fact it can boast being Christian Bale’s first feature film it also has a rather enjoyable performance from Christopher Lee as the primary antagonist. Lee takes what is basically nothing on the page (a sword and sorcery-style Darth Vader type at best) and wrings out all the evil he can muster, while bringing in a sense of tragedy. In a movie with Timothy Bottoms as the great king of a far away land, invisibility cloaks, and bread that can satisfy all hunger, only Christopher Lee really seems to give a damn. He sold me on the whole stupid movie when I was a kid. I love him for this.
Lee also serves a very prominent role in my favorite horror film of all time, The Wicker Man. I know it’s a bit cliché to use such terms, but Lee was all these things: iconic, commanding, spellbinding, entrancing, charismatic, and powerful. His is a presence that will be greatly missed, but fortunately his work will live on forever. I leave you with the following, a rendition of Paul Anka ’s My Way, performed by Christopher Lee himself in a metal band he joined when he was only 84 years old:
Tonight’s feature is a very special one. Also confusingly known as Angel Of Fury (which is the title of another, inferior Rothrock picture) Triple Cross is one of the more insane Action pictures I’ve ever had the privilege of viewing and I present it here for you to do the same. It’s got a stupid plot, terrible acting, low to bad VHS quality, but tons of excellent B-action goodness. I personally think it’s the most complete Cynthia Rothrock experience out there. Terrible one-liners, furious kicking, and bowstaff action all included. Stay tuned for about 50 minutes in, when you’ll be blessed with one of the more preposterous scenes in B movie history hits. And the finale is genuinely great fun. Enjoy!
When an airline carrying United States citizens is hijacked, it’s up to Chuck Norris and friends to save them!
[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]
THE GOOD GUYS:
Chuck Norris as Major Scott McCoy
At this point, why are they even bothering to name Chuck Norris something else? Well, Scott McCoy (really, that’s his name?) is some kind of upstanding do-gooder type, but feels he’s been screwwed over too many times by the bureaucrats in the military. This seems to be a mild plot device, serving only to kind explain how the terrorists were able to take over the plane full of passengers in the first place. If McCoy had stayed in the Delta Force (by the way, is this a job you can just quit when ever feel like it?), this never would have happened.
Lee Marvin as Colonel Nicolas “Nick” Alexander
Let’s not beat around the bush here, Marvin is far too old and frail-looking to be doing this sort of thing. Even ten years prior, he would have been a worthy presence here, but the guy’s just collecting a paycheck in what would be his final role. That being said, his name was still apparently something of a draw, and there’s still a kind of thrill to seeing one of the previous generation’s bigger Action guys fighting the baddies alongside Chuck Norris.
Steve James as Bobby
Yes, cult legend Steve James is here as well, though probably not as much as we’d all like. But damn, James is cool as hell. Steve James and Chuck Norris. They have my money.
THE BAD GUYS:
Robert Forster and other questionably ethnic choices as Middle Eastern terrorists
[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]
EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY:
MURDER BY NUMBERS: [~90]
A lot of people die in this film. But hey, they’re mostly bad guys. While we could go on and on about the political correctness of seeing a mostly white American military force killing their way through the Middle East, it’s probably better to sit back and enjoy this dumb little movie.
[THE BEST OF THE REST]
Chuck Norris vs Middle Eastern Bad Guys
…On a missile bike.
I have seen thousands of Action films. It’s well-passed a point that could be considered impressive or even healthy. I see giant, fireball explosions whenever I close my eyes and the sound of automatic gunfire has officially become the most soothing sound in the world for me. So when I say something in an Action film is amazing, you’d better fucking believe me. And when Chuck Norris heads out straight on in front of a convoy of heavily-armed terrorists all by himself it’s one of the most amazing images I have ever seen. This actually happens.
After charging at them head-on, the enemy scatters like the scared sheep they are, in the face of the one-man image of American military might. But Chuck’s not done. After driving through the middle of them and causing chaos within their ranks, he circles behind them. Norris blasts the first of the would-be escaping terrorists with the missiles (!) on his dirt bike, preventing an easy escape for the rest.
Chuck Norris’s movies, intentional or not, created a persona that bordered on myth-making. From American spirit (Lone Wolf McQuade) to American hero (the Missing In Action films) to god amongst men (well, kind of all of them). What’s great is seeing this persona leak into his other films. When Chuck Norris finally catches up to the terrisists in The Delta Force, these brazen, bullying, bastards are literally reduced to hiding under their beds from Chuck.
But he finds them, kills them, and delivers this great line:
“Sleep tight, sucker.”
The Delta Force is, for the most part, the result of some surprisingly inept film making. Based on the real-life hijacking of TWA Flight 847 on Jun 14th 1985, Cannon producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus decided to capitalize on this tragic and horrific event by pumping out a feel-good version of the story to play to jingoistic American audiences. With nary a script, but a whole lot of promises, the two pushed to produce The Delta Force within a year. With their insane schedule and shady dealings, neither B-Action maestro Joseph Zito nor Charles Bronson would ultimately be involved. But that doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t work.
Half hijack horror movie and half insane Chuck Norris epic, The Delta Force is nearly the ultimate B-movie experience. Mixed in with some seriously well-regarded actors are some of the hammiest performances this side of Babe. The presence of one of the film’s producers working here as a director meant the budget was not only higher than usual for a Cannon product, but also every dollar of it ends up on the screen. The props are impressive, as are the stunts and the pyrotechnics. I even think there might be some behind-the-scenes commentary through the props used in the movie. A lot of the guns (in particular, the Uzi used prominently by Chuck Norris) and even the airplane escorting the titular Delta Force around are Israeli-made. Israeli weapons being used in the hunt for ostensibly Palestinian bad guys? Well then.
We have fights, large-scale gun battles, and men barely dodging aerial motorcycle whilst on fire! Yes, this is tragedy as entertainment. It’s exploitation, pure and simple. But damn if it isn’t fun. It’s Chuck Norris versus the terrorists! And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the movie’s score, which is completely and ridiculously dominated by an Alan Silvestri-written theme song that accomplishes more with its vocal-less fist-pumping synthesizer melody than anything Trey Parker and Matt Stone threw at us in Team America: World Police. Just listen to this thing and try not to imagine Chuck Norris riding across the the skyline in beautiful silhouette, on a rocket-shooting powercycle:
All that being said, the movie is largely a melodrama. Women being pulled from their husbands, American soldiers being beaten up while bound and helpless, fathers being separated from their daughters. It’s meant to be incendiary, and it’s surprisingly effective at times. They even throw in an interesting bit where a German stewardess is forced to go through the passengers’ passports to point out the Jews. All this to make us hate these terrorists and to make Chuck Norris’s catching up to them even more cathartic.
Unfortunately this also makes The Delta Force incredibly lopsided. Repeat viewings are difficult once you’ve seen the ending. The pacing is fairly terrible, and Chuck Norris’s one hand-to-hand fight scene is filmed with far too many close-ups (though it is also hilariously one-sided, which somehow works in its favor). And no matter how prestigious several members of the cast here might seem to the producers (George Kennedy? Martin Balsam!?), there is no universe where Shelly Winters belongs in an Action movie. Especially a Chuck Norris one.
And yet, if I were a less knowledgeable film buff and someone told me there existed a movie containing the combined talents of Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin, Steve James, and Liam Neeson I would never believe it even possible. And yet here it is.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
America! Chuck Norris! Fuck yeah!
[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation (Like, holy shit!)
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel (Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection)
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice