Operation Delta Force (1997)

ODF1 PosterI’m not really going to blame the Delta Force boys for the shoulder-shrugging inducing mission that kicks off the Operation Delta Force pentology. After all, they gave it their all, whether it was blowing up a village while cruising through it in their rocking dune buggies, dropping off a big ass bridge to ambush some boats, or even battling through a mild case of extremely virulent Ebola to retrieve some serum to stop all the flop sweat and bleeding orifices. That it was all in the service of battling against some uninspired South African separatists though was simply a function of them being in the area on training mission.

I know – wouldn’t a Delta Force training mission be a tougher assignment than taking on a bunch of Afrikaners whose plan is use a stolen virus to somehow force South Africa to give them a homeland or whatever?

Under normal circumstances, I would agree you could probably just hire some bored mercs who are no doubt still lounging around in the area wondering what to do with themselves since Rhodesia ceased to exist. Except that these terrorists are led by the American Cyborg Steel Warrior himself, Joe Lara! And his character, Nash, has a BA in Sociology from Duke! Please God, let Jeff Fahey’s Captain Lang have a doctorate in Ass Kick from Yale!

And of course he does! And he proves to be the valedictorian of special ops studliness whether its when he’s using a water canon to hose down some hoser, violating direct orders to not recover the serum, or being so focused on chasing Nash’s scurvy pony tail through the wilds of South Africa that he only grudgingly pauses for a moment of silence for a fallen comrade because the rest of Delta Force forces him to!

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You can’t blame Captain Lang though for not wanting to cry over spilt milk since the whole movie sees his team constantly one step behind Nash and his crew and having to play catch up all the time. If Operation Delta Force has one failing (and it doesn’t – it has about ten – from the jarring use of stock military footage, the cheesy helmets and headbands Delta Force wears and even the way everything explodes about three times),it is that the movie follows a pattern that quickly becomes grating in its familiarity – Delta Force tracks down Nash, engages him, he escapes, Delta Force gets updated intel on where Nash went from an Admiral played by Hal Holbrook, and then the cycle repeats at a new location. Beyond this making the movie tedious in its predictability, it also makes Delta Force look pretty stupid, outwitted by Nash until HQ can give them a new target to not defeat Nash at.

Delta Force doesn’t help its own cause any in the film as the members who make up the team are barely even names, let alone characters. I think there was a brown haired guy and a lighter brown haired guy. One of them babbled about having a baby (Lang provided him notice of the birth and a picture of the newborn to him while they were in the air on the mission – a great special forces movie moment this film desperately needed more of!), but I don’t even think he got killed which would have allowed Lang to swear vengeance or to raise the baby or pump his widow or whatever.

There were two members of the crew who did distinguish themselves. One was star Ernie Hudson. Let that roll around in your mouth and savor the flavor: star Ernie Hudson! You know, the fourth Ghostbuster!

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He’s a soldier who hung up his gun for a microscope and was supposed to retrieve the virus before the UN research center was raided by Nash. In what could have been awesome, but was as muted as a fart in a gunfight, back in his soldiering days, he was investigated for getting Lang’s brother killed in some friendly fire! He was cleared, but Lang still holds a grudge. Other than Lang glaring at him a few times and making a couple of catty remarks, nothing much comes of this though.

Low budget action icon Frank Zagarino has far too little to do in the role of the male chauvinist Delta Force member. The team has a female South African soldier tagging along and in the movie’s only funny moment, he refers to as her G.I. Jo Ann. Oh Zags, you are simply too much! But all’s well that ends well when she saves his life during a firefight and he acknowledges that she’s okay for an icky girl with cooties by giving her the slightest head nod in thanks!

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Lots of shooting, plenty of explosions and a variety of set pieces (research station raid, village raid, train, bridge/boat, dockside shootout) are ample evidence that director Sam Firstenberg didn’t become an unsung action legend with Revenge of the Ninja, American Ninja, Avenging Force, and Cyborg Cop by mere happenstance. But the lack of compelling villains (I was tapped out on evil South Africans after Lethal Weapon 2) and the lazy way the Delta Force is handled (where’s the dramatizing of the honor of sacrificing everything for this great freaking country we have?) serve only to make the audience take heavy casualties while watching.

But mostly, who cares if the globalists at the UN got a bunch plague stolen and are worried that it’s going to be used in South Africa by terrorists? Everyone who watches these sorts of movies knows who the real enemy to freedom is. (Hint: it’s New World Order types who spend our tax dollars developing killer viruses and being completely incompetent in guarding them.)

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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