Phubbs -> Iron Eagle (1986 - 1995) (21/7/2012 5:26:39 AM)
Iron Eagle (1986)
Released in the same year as 'Top Gun' and virtually a fantastic unauthorised sequel! nah not really. This really is your typical 80's kiddie fare much like 'Space Camp' 'Flight of the Navigator' or 'Karate Kid'. A pop tune filled collection of montages which take you from one action sequence to another. You could almost include 'The A-Team' and 'Rocky' in here as influences also.
To use another example if you will, this could almost be 'The Goonies in the Air Force'. A young teens father (who is a fighter pilot) gets trapped behind enemy lines after being shot down. He is up for a darn good hanging so its up to the plucky cocky good looking young teen to fly in there and bail his own dad outta jail.
Sounds ridiculous? well it is, Louis Gossett Jr tags along and assists the young boy as he himself is a grizzled old fighter pilot. With the help of more plucky young kiddies Gossett and Gedrick plan how to fly into a fictional Arab country and nab his dad. They do this with lots of very daft tacky action plans involving the kids stealing highly delicate info, ammo supplies, maps and even two jet fighters into the bargain. The young Gedrick and his friends can do all this quite easily it seems just because they all live on the Air Force base (their folks are in the Air Force of course).
As I said before they do all this with constant musical montages lol! When we do see some dog fights its as expected, pretty terrible looking and with some rather obvious models being blown up...badly, clearly plastic and cardboard.
Kids version of 'Top Gun' and completely family friendly apart from the odd curse word hehe. Can't believe this actually made it to the cinema in the same year as that Tony Scott film, what a difference! its more of a TV movie really. Best thing here is probably the soundtrack and the rather cool poster.
Iron Eagle II (1988)
Gedrick returns at the start only to be blown out of the sky in an early dogfight but Gossett lives on to play in another mission.
This time Gossett must train a small group of ragtag US pilots and a small team of no nonsense Russian pilots. Together they will team up to take out a nuclear warhead base in a diplomatically unnamed Middle Eastern country.
The story is actually based very loosely on a real mission also in 1981, that's probably the most interesting part of the film as the rest is pretty dire stuff. Half the film is just the two teams of pilots training and fighting amongst themselves in an almost 'Police Academy' type situation. Gone are the montages accompanied by 80's pop music, this time its a bit more serious and not aimed at very young male kids.
We still have the same type of flight sequences which look suspiciously like the same sequences from the first film, or at least filmed at the same time and carried over to this sequel. Everything was shot for real in Israel using Israeli pilots and jets (just like the first film) so is it coincidence that they set the first two films in Israel? money saver seeing as they were there?.
Air destruction and ground action utilizes a lot of models again which unfortunately do stand out as models, more so when they are blown up, just like the first film again.
Still desperately trying to capitalize on the success of 'Top Gun' but obviously not coming close. This film fails to even better the original as its taken too seriously and is still only TV movie quality at best.
They still couldn't resist the rousing Kenny Loggins type music track for the end credits, they really try to make this ice cool.
Aces: Iron Eagle III (1992)
Louis Gossett Jr is back for a third mission in this made for TV looking movie franchise. This time he's up against some drug smuggling Peruvians, some crooked US Air Force officers and all lead by an ex-Nazi officer (dunno how a Nazi officer can look so young, pretty sure this is set in the present day of the time).
So yes the plot is a complete 'A-Team' load of tosh and quite frankly it looks like an episode of the 'A-Team' haha. The whole thing is so quaint and charming with no swearing and Action Man/G.I.Joe level violence that you do find yourself enjoying the camaraderie.
The major plus point here is easily the fact that Gossett's character is now flying an old WWII Lockheed P-38 Lightning which looks just the ticket old boy [:)]. Alongside him are a small group of retired aces/friends from Germany, Japan and the UK, each of them flying their own classic wartime fighters. The legendary Spitfire, German Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero, shame the Jap and GER fighters aren't genuine though.
The real treat of the film is seeing all four of these vintage planes fly together and maneuver though the skies against a group of basic modern jets (unsure what they were). Of course its all complete fantasy and hogwash as the classic planes have been upgraded with laser targeting missiles and manage to win but its easily much more fun to watch than high octane fighter jets zooming around.
To add another cheerful cult spice to the broth is the cast. Sure the four goodies are completely racial stereotypes like something out of a 'Pink Panther' movie but in a happy non offensive way I think. The Japanese pilot is none other than martial arts legend Sonny Chiba! a bit difficult to understand what he says at times but what a result for the production. The noble-like aristocratic Christopher Cazenove is pitch perfect for the 'chocks away' good sporting British pilot complete with a pencil tash and Horst Buchholz as the steely German ace.
Up against the good guys is the regularly cast foreign accent expert for baddies, Paul Freeman of 'Indiana Jones' fame ('Belloq'). Boxer Ray Mancini as a henchman and another regular bad guy Juan Fernández de Alarcon as the second in command henchman with his devious untrustworthy appearance. Overall quite a unique and interesting cast that really does help the film.
Its totally B-movie fodder and as I said, looks as if its been made for TV only. That said this film does actually look a bit better than the second film certainly, effects and pyrotechnics wise, there are some pretty impressive looking explosions dotted around. Unfortunately you also still have some dubious looking model work going on but I guess that adds to the charm.
Absolute nonsense from start to finish agreed but the combination of vintage war planes, early James Bond type action and the quirky enjoyable cast make this shine through the clouds.
Iron Eagle on the Attack (1995, aka Iron Eagle IV)
For some reason Louis Gossett Jr returns yet again for the fourth film in this very average franchise. This time he is now a retired flight instructor for delinquent youths, why do young criminals get to learn to fly for their crimes?.
Easily the worst film out of the four if you ask me. There is hardly any actual flight action other than a few sequences inside 'T-6 Texan' trainer aircraft. There is a bit of fighter action towards the end but its not much better than the previous film efforts in terms of effects or stunts.
The plot is terrible and involves more corrupt US Air Force officials trying to create deadly bio weapons on the sly. Yep you've guessed it, its up to Gossett and his criminal kids to save the day and stop them. The major issue I have with this film is the fact they decide to bring back 'Doug Masters' from the original film despite the fact he was killed off at the start of the second! how on earth?!. There is no explanation for this either, he's just there, good as new, errr continuity?
It doesn't matter anyway as the film is dreadful in every way, visuals, effects, plot, acting etc...A poor end for the franchise after a pretty good third film, Gossett must have had high hopes after part 3 why else would he agree to this?.