The Delta Force

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This article is about the film. For U.S. military unit, see Delta Force. For other uses, see Delta Force (disambiguation).
The Delta Force
Delta force poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Menahem Golan
Produced by Menahem Golan
Yoram Globus
Rony Yakov
Written by Menahem Golan
James Bruner
Starring Chuck Norris
Lee Marvin
Martin Balsam
Joey Bishop
Kim Delaney
Robert Forster
Lainie Kazan
George Kennedy
Hanna Schygulla
Susan Strasberg
Bo Svenson
Robert Vaughn
Shelley Winters
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography David Gurfinkel
Edited by Alain Jakubowicz
Distributed by The Cannon Group
MGM (current)[1]
Release dates
  • February 14, 1986 (1986-02-14)
Running time 130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[2]
Box office $17.76 million[2]
Chuck Norris on the set of the film

The Delta Force is a 1986 American action film starring Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin as leaders of an elite squad of Special Forces troops based on the real life U.S. Army Delta Force unit. It was directed by Menahem Golan and featured Martin Balsam, Joey Bishop, Robert Vaughn, Steve James, Robert Forster, Shelley Winters, and George Kennedy. The film was produced in Israel. Two sequels were produced entitled Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection and Delta Force 3: The Killing Game. The Delta Force was Lee Marvin's last film.


The film opens up on Operation Eagle Claw, the American operation to rescue American hostages being held at the U.S. embassy to Tehran. The operation is being aborted after a fatal helicopter crash, with the U.S. Delta Force evacuating to their C-130 transports. Among them is Captain Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris), who, against orders, rescues his wounded comrade Pete Peterson (William Wallace) from the burning helicopter before the team finally evacuates. McCoy expresses his disgust for the politicians and military hierarchy that forced the mission to launch despite the risks, and announces he is resigning his commission.

Five years later, a group of Lebanese terrorists armed with a Colt M1911, PM-63 machine pistol and AK-47s hijack American Travelways Boeing 707 (ATW) Flight 282 that is on a flight from Cairo, Egypt to Athens, Greece to Rome, Italy and then to New York City.

Taking all 144 passengers and crew hostage, the group, the pro-Khomeini New World Revolutionary Organization, led by Abdul Rafai (Robert Forster) and Mustafa (David Menachem), forces Captain Roger Campbell (Bo Svenson) and his crew to fly the plane to Beirut, Lebanon, where they make demands to the United States government that, if not met, will result in the death of the hostages. During the crisis, they separate the Jewish passengers from the Americans by forcing the flight attendant to identify them, who is hesitant to do so because she is German. Unbeknownst to the authorities, the Jewish hostages are then taken off the plane and transported to a militant-controlled area of Beirut, while a dozen additional henchmen are brought on board. The plane departs for Algiers, where the terrorists release the female hostages and children. Meanwhile Delta Force, led by Colonel Nick Alexander (Lee Marvin) and McCoy, recalled to duty and promoted to Major, are deployed to resolve the crisis. Once the female hostages are evacuated, they launch their assault, only to discover too late that there are additional hijackers and inadvertently alert the terrorists. Abdul kills one hostage, a US Navy diver named Tom, and forces the pilots to return to Beirut, taking the remaining male passengers with him. Delta Force gives chase to rescue the hostages.

Upon landing again in Beirut, the terrorists transport the passengers to a separate location, while the pilots remain in the aircraft. Using a sympathetic Greek Orthodox priest, Israeli Army Intelligence prepares an operation to free the hostages. In a prolonged campaign against the terrorists, Delta Force bides their time to identify the terrorist leaders and the locations of the hostages. Once their locations are discovered, Delta Force assaults the terrorist holdouts, freeing the hostages and evacuating them to the airport. During the battle, McCoy, Peterson and their team hunt down Abdul and his men, killing most of the militants before Abdul shoots Peterson, gravely injuring him. McCoy chases Abdul and tracks him down to an abandoned home. He then engages him into a vicious hand-to-hand fight, breaking Abdul's arm. As the terrorist leader prepares to shoot McCoy, he is killed after McCoy launches a rocket into his car.

With the hostages and rescue teams secured, the team seizes Flight 282 by secretly infiltrating the airfield through a cotton field. Using silenced weapons, Alexander and the Delta team assassinates the terrorist guards including the last hijacker and saves the crew, ordering them to fly to Israel. The team boards the plane with all of the hostages, taking off just as McCoy is the last one to board the plane after having destroyed several terrorist jeeps on the runway with his motorcycle armament. On board the team tends to the wounded passengers and Pete who is now dying. After having confirmed that the hostages are safe and en route home, Pete says his farewells to McCoy before succumbing to his wounds. In the main cabin the ex-hostages and Delta commandos join together in a rousing rendition of "America The Beautiful", not knowing about Pete's death. In Israel, the plane lands safely and the hostages are greeted by their families, while Delta Force disembarks with Pete's body in tow. The team concludes their operation and departs for the United States amidst celebrations by the people.


Delta Force[edit]

Lebanese terrorists[edit]




Other Cast[edit]

Filming locations[edit]

The movie was filmed entirely in Israel, making use of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus's newly opened GG Israel Studios facility in Jerusalem. The Beirut, Tel Aviv and Athens airport sequences in the film were filmed at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, apart from the opening scene where one of the hijackers is seen getting off a taxi at Athens airport, which was indeed filmed at the Eastern terminal of the defunct Athens Ellinikon International Airport while the interior of Athens airport was filmed in Ben Gurion International itself. In some sequences, Hebrew lettering and Israeli Police emblems are visible on some of the supposed Lebanese airport barriers. Pentagon and midnight oceanic scenes were shot at a warehouse in Jaffa.


Numerous vehicles were used during filming. The army vehicles for the military and terrorists came from the U.S. Army and Israel Defense Forces. The Hercules C-130 used in the film was on loan from the Israeli Air Force. The lease arrangement was similar to that used for Iron Eagle.

The motorcycle used by Chuck Norris in the film was a 1985 Suzuki SP600. It was designed by Suzuki specifically for the film by adding armaments and rockets. After adding the weaponry, Suzuki America gave the bike to Golan-Globus Productions in Israel prior to filming.

The Boeing 707 (Registration N778PA) in the film was formerly operated by Israeli charter-operator Maof Air and was retired commercial service in December 1984. The aircraft was then leased to Golan-Globus Productions in late 1985 while in storage at Tel Aviv (just after the TWA-847 hijacking). Upon completion of the film, the aircraft was sold to Omega Air who in-turn sold it to the US Air Force to be parted out for use in the Boeing KC-135E. The aircraft was destroyed by a welding accident while in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in 1994.

Historical connections[edit]

  • The beginning of the film replicated Operation Eagle Claw, the aborted attempt to rescue American hostages held at the U.S. Embassy in Iran in 1980.
  • The hijacked flight in the movie bears many resemblances with the real-life hijack of TWA Flight 847 in 1985:
  • Instead, all the rescue part of the movie in Beirut is completely fictional. In his book Eric L. Haney claims that Delta Force was indeed dispatched to Algiers by President Ronald Reagan, but (in this similar to the movie) they never received the go-ahead to assault the plane. Delta was then to travel to Israel for a planned rescue of the hostages that had been removed from the plane, Operation Round Bottle, but this was cancelled while they were en route. Concerning the inspirations of the rescue part of the movie:
    • The hostage rescue operation was inspired by Operation Entebbe, which was conducted by Israeli commandos in 1976. It was the subject of another movie by Menahem Golan, Mivtsa Yonatan (released in English as Operation Thunderbolt), in 1977.


Alan Silvestri's electronic score gained a new life when ABC Sports used it to intro their Indianapolis 500 broadcasts from 19881998 and again in 2001. It was also used for the intro of the Brickyard 400 until ABC lost the race rights to NBC Sports in 2001. According to famous Indianapolis 500 anchor Paul Page, he does not want any ESPN/ABC anchor to use this music in intros for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 unless he narrates the intros himself.

It is now used on the XM Satellite broadcasts of IndyCar racing events, of which Paul Page is the announcer.

The soundtrack album was initially released by Enigma Records, and later by Milan Records (minus "The Rescue") on an album paired with Jerry Goldsmith's King Solomon's Mines; in 2008 Intrada Records issued a limited edition CD with the entire score. Quartet Records released a two-disc set in 2013 featuring the Intrada album programme on disc one and the Enigma album listing on disc two; all are now OOP.

Disc One:

  1. Main Title (5:16)
  2. Terrorists Board Jet (3:19)
  3. Three American Marines (4:09)
  4. First Class (3:59)
  5. Rescue (5:59)
  6. Hebrew Ring (3:48)
  7. Round Up and Collection (4:57)
  8. More Terrorists (3:00)
  9. Delta Force Theme (4:24)
  10. The Selections (5:26)
  11. The Takeover (5:34)
  12. Funeral (4:35)
  13. Algiers (10:57)
  14. Hostages Arrive Home and End Credits (9:59)

Disc Two:

  1. The Delta Force Theme (4:22)
  2. Three American Soldiers (4:05)
  3. The Selections (5:26)
  4. The Takeover (2:55)
  5. Saved (5:16)
  6. Undercover (3:26)
  7. The Landing (4:12)
  8. The Collection (2:11)
  9. The Rescue (5:40)


The movie had mostly mixed reviews from critics.[3][4] On the aggregated website Rotten Tomatoes it currently has a 20% with a 53% on the "Like It", giving it a 3.9 out of 10. Many reviewers gave it a rotten review, but Top Critic, Roger Ebert writing for the Chicago Sun Times gave it a positive review giving it a 3 out of 4 stars. Calling it a "a well paced, emotional, and great action movie," Ebert praised "That they were able to make it into an actual movie, rather than making it into an 'action comic book'."[5] On IMDb it has a 5.5 out of 10.

Box office[edit]

The Delta Force had opened in 1,720 theaters, and debuted as #3 in the box office losing to The Color Purple and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, but beat Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Youngblood.[6] It earned $5,959,505 on its opening weekend,[citation needed] with a total gross of $17,768,900 .[citation needed]

Home Release[edit]

The Delta Force has been released on Blu-ray in the US, and more recently in the UK by video label Arrow Films


  1. ^ The Delta Force at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ a b Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p189
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (1986-02-14). "SCREEN:DELTA FORCE". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  4. ^ "The Delta Force". Variety. 1985-12-31. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  5. ^ "The Delta Force". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  6. ^ "New Movies Make Inroads At Box Office". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 

External links[edit]