Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sidney J. Furie|
|Produced by||Ron Samuels
|Written by||Kevin Elders
Sidney J. Furie
|Starring||Louis Gossett, Jr.
|Music by||Basil Poledouris|
|Editing by||George Grenville|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
|Running time||117 Minutes|
|Box office||$24,159,872 (U.S.)|
Iron Eagle is a 1986 action film directed by Sidney J. Furie and starring Jason Gedrick and Louis Gossett, Jr. While it received mixed reviews, the film earned US$24,159,872 at the U.S. box office. Iron Eagle was followed by three sequels: Iron Eagle II, Aces: Iron Eagle III and Iron Eagle on the Attack, with Gossett, Jr. being the only actor to have appeared in all four films.
The basis of the fictional story in the film relates to real life attacks by the United States against Libya over the Gulf of Sidra, which involved U.S. bombings in both 1981 (see Gulf of Sidra incident), and 1986 (see Action in the Gulf of Sidra).
Doug Masters (Jason Gedrick), son of veteran U.S. Air Force pilot Col. Ted Masters (Tim Thomerson), is a hotshot civilian pilot, hoping to follow in his father's footsteps. Then, his hopes are dashed when he receives a notice of rejection from the Air Force Academy. Making matters worse is the news of his father being shot down and captured by the fictional Arab state of Bilya while patrolling over the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the incident occurring over international waters, the Arab state's court finds Col. Masters guilty of trespassing over their territory and sentences him to hang in three days.
Seeing that the U.S. government will do nothing to save his father's life, Doug decides to take matters into his own hands and come up with his own rescue mission. He requests the help of Col. Charles "Chappy" Sinclair (Louis Gossett, Jr.), a Vietnam veteran pilot currently in the Air Force Reserve, who has known Col. Masters for only a couple of years. Chappy is skeptical at first, but Doug convinces him that with his friends, he has full access to the airbase's intelligence and resources and he can give him an F-16 fighter for the mission. To Doug's surprise, he learns that Chappy had already begun planning the rescue operation himself after he learned the outcome of Col. Masters' trial. The combined efforts of Chappy and Doug's team result in a meticulously planned mission and the procurement of two heavily armed F-16D planes, with Doug flying the second unit.
On the day of Col. Masters' execution, Doug and Chappy fly their planes to the Mediterranean Sea and cross into the enemy state's airspace. In the ensuing battle, they take out three MiG-23 fighters and destroy an airfield, but Chappy's plane is damaged by an anti-aircraft gun. He tells Doug to climb to a high altitude and play the tape he made him the night before, then his engine fails and Doug listens as Chappy's fighter goes down.
Chappy's recorded voice gives Doug encouragement and details that help him complete the mission and rescue his father. Making the enemy believe he is leading a squadron, Doug threatens the enemy state into releasing his father from prison and moving him to the base's northernmost runway for pickup. Before Doug lands his plane, Col. Masters is shot by an Arab sniper, causing Doug to destroy the airbase and engulf the runway with napalm to keep the army at bay while he lands and picks up his wounded father.
Just as they take off, Doug and his father encounter another group of MiGs led by Col. Akir Nakesh (David Suchet) - himself an ace pilot. The lone F-16 and Nakesh's MiG engage in a long dogfight until a missile from Doug finishes off Nakesh. Low on fuel and ammunition, the F-16 is being pursued by the other enemy MiGs when a squadron of U.S. Air Force F-16s appear, warding off the MiGs before escorting Doug and his father to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
While Col. Masters is being treated for his wounds, Doug is reunited with Chappy, who had ejected from his plane and was picked up by a fishing trawler. The two are summoned by an Air Force judiciary panel for their reckless actions. Seeing that any form of punishment for the duo would expose an embarrassing lapse in Air Force security, the panel forgoes prosecution as long as Doug and Chappy never speak of their operation to anyone. In addition, Chappy convinces the panel to grant Doug admission to the Air Force Academy.
A plane assigned by the President returns to the U.S., reuniting Doug, Chappy and Col. Masters with family and friends.
- Louis Gossett, Jr. as Col. Charles "Chappy" Sinclair
- Jason Gedrick as Doug Masters
- David Suchet as Ministry of Defense Col. Akir Nakesh
- Shawnee Smith as Joenie
- Melora Hardin as Katie
- Larry B. Scott as Reggie
- Lance LeGault as Gen. Edwards
- Tim Thomerson as Col. Ted Masters
- Caroline Lagerfelt as Elizabeth Masters
- Robert Jayne as Matthew "Matt" Masters
- Jerry Levine as Tony
- Robbie Rist as Milo Bazen
- Michael Bowen as Knotcher
- David Greenlee as Kingsley
- Tom Fridley as Brillo
- Rob Garrison as Packer
According to writer/director Sidney J. Furie, the film's working title was Junior Eagle. The script was turned down by every studio before it was picked up by Joe Wizan, former head of 20th Century Fox. Wizan then handed the script to producer Ron Samuels, who likened it to the old John Wayne westerns. The United States Air Force has a long-standing policy about not cooperating on any film involving the theft of an aircraft. Consequently, the filmmakers turned to the Israeli Air Force for the necessary aerial sequences. The filming in Israel took six weeks, with the flight sequences choreographed by Jim Gavin, whose earlier works include Blue Thunder.
The aircraft used for both the American and the Bilyan air force were Israeli aircraft. The F-16's received US Air Force symbols and the MiGs, which really were F-21/C-2 Kfirs, received fake symbols.
Box office and reception
The film has received mostly negative reviews, with a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called the film "a total waste of time", saying it "achieves a kind of perfection of awfulness that only earnest effort can produce." Variety magazine commented that the film has "breakneck action and some dandy dogfights", but the dialogue is simply laughable.
Iron Eagle was released on VHS by CBS/FOX Video in 1986. On October 1, 2002, it was released on DVD. On February 3, 2009, it was reissued on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in a double-feature set with the 1993 film Last Action Hero.
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- "Cassette Sales Help `Iron Eagle II` To Fly". New York Daily News (Sun Sentinel). 1987-01-16. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- "Iron Eagle". RottenTomatoes.com. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- Thomas, Kevin (1986-01-17). "'Iron Eagle': Middle-east Rescue Mission". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
- "Iron Eagle Review". Variety magazine. 1985-12-31. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
- "''Last Action Hero''/''Iron Eagle'' DVD". CDUniverse.com. 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- Iron Eagle at the Internet Movie Database
- Iron Eagle at AllMovie
- Iron Eagle at Box Office Mojo
- Iron Eagle at Rotten Tomatoes