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MegaForce movie poster
|Directed by||Hal Needham|
|Produced by||Andre Morgan
Albert S. Ruddy
|Screenplay by||James Whittaker
Albert S. Ruddy
|Story by||Robert S. Kachler|
|Music by||Jerrold Immel|
|Cinematography||Michael C. Butler|
|Edited by||Patrick Roark
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox (USA)
Megaforce (or MegaForce) is an action film made in 1982 directed by former stuntman Hal Needham. The film starred Barry Bostwick, Persis Khambatta, Michael Beck, Edward Mulhare, George Furth, Evan C. Kim, Ralph Wilcox, Robert Fuller (who, years later, admitted to being less than fond of the picture) and Henry Silva.
The film featured a "phantom Army of super elite fighting men whose weapons are the most powerful science can devise", including realistic 3-D holograms and combat vehicles such as a motorcycle called the "Delta MK 4 Megafighter" equipped with missile launchers. The movie included extreme scenarios, such as motorcycles and dune buggies launching missiles that proved lethal for main battle tanks. The dune buggies, "megadestroyers" or "megacruisers", also had lasers that could destroy a tank in a single shot. The vehicles were coated with a photo-sensitive paint that was a white, tan, and black lightning-bolt scheme during the day and darkened to a solid black camouflage at night. In the film finale, the main character's motorcycle activates small (~2 ft or 0.6 m) fold-out wings and flies.
A sequel titled Deeds Not Words was considered, but it was scrapped due to the poor performance of the original film. Delta Force, the 1986 Chuck Norris blockbuster, had a plot very similar to MegaForce, and in the movie, Norris rides a motorbike that fires missiles.
The story involves two fictional countries, the peaceful Republic of Sardun and their aggressive neighbor Gamibia. Unable to defend themselves from a Gamibian incursion, Sardun sends Major Zara (Persis Khambatta) and General Byrne-White (Edward Mulhare) to ask the help of MegaForce – a secret army composed of international soldiers from throughout the western world, equipped with advanced weapons and vehicles. The MegaForce leader, Commander Ace Hunter (Barry Bostwick), will lead a mission to destroy the Gamibian forces, which are ironically led by his rival, and former military academy friend, Duke Gurerra (Henry Silva).
While Hunter composes an elaborate battle plan to destroy Gurerra's forces, Zara tries out to become a member of MegaForce. As she executes the various tests, Hunter's feelings of affection toward her grow. And while she passes the tests, he is unable to allow her to participate in their raid, because her presence, as an outsider, would disrupt the trust and familiarity of his force.
Eventually, MegaForce successfully para-drops its attack vehicles into Gamibia and Hunter mounts his sneak attack against Gurerra's forces. Although they manage to destroy his base, Gurerra has set a trap for them at the team's only means of escape – a dry lake bed where the cargo planes will pick them up. Gurerra sends his tanks to secure the lake bed while Hunter comes up with a plan to attack Gurerra from behind by crossing over a mountain range the enemy tanks had turned their backs toward.
The plan succeeds, and MegaForce manages to break through Gurerra's tanks, but one of MegaForce's cargo planes is damaged in the process. Having to abandon their high-tech vehicles (which they program to self-destruct), the team successfully makes it on foot to the last plane, except for Hunter. The commander, instead, makes his own dramatic escape on his motorcycle after it deploys airfoils and a rocket motor and catches up with the cargo plane in midair. Although he has lost the battle, Gurerra shows admiration for Hunter's cunning, and he gives his old friend a thumbs up.
The film was part of a $50 million slate of film production from Golden Harvest studios aimed at breaking into the Western market. Other movies included High Road to China, Blade Runner and The Protector.
The director was Hal Needham who said:
It's like no other movie ever made before. And the machines we've built are extraordinary. There's one other thing. Although there's a lot of action, you don't see anyone get killed. I think people are beginning to get sick of that kind of thing. What we've tried to do here is make an entertaining film with some believable heroes the public can cheer for.
Barry Bostwick was cast in the lead after the producers saw him on stage in The Pirates of Penzance in Los Angeles. Producer Al Ruddy said he and the director had talked to one other actor earlier in the development stage, when the script was more serious. However, then Ruddy "decided I didn't want to do another Dogs of War type movie. I wanted this to be more camp, more of a spoof, but still believable. Once we'd seen Barry we knew right away he was just right for the part."
It was the first time Bostwick had received top billing in a film. He signed a three picture deal covering possible sequels. He kept the beard he wore for Penzance to "develop a particular look for this guy. That way if I want to do other pictures I can just shave it off to look different. Anyway it's dead right for this character."
"We use high technology weapons of the most advance design," said Bostwick. "They're still on the drawing board but they will be in use by the time the movie is out a year later."
Bostwick claimed the Pentagon "tried to stop the movie" by withholding 40 army tanks needed for the bigger battle sequences because the movie's strike force "was very close to covert CIA strike forces still in existence."
"You know what's good about this film?" Bostwick later reflected. "It's plausible. We need an international force like this to keep the peace. I wouldn't mind betting that one day there's a real Megaforce operating somewhere in the world."
The film was shot on location in Nevada. It pioneered the use of Introvision, a system that allows actors to walk in and out of photographs instead of sets. It was used to create the headquarters for the private army. "It's an absolutely phenomenal system," said the film's producer, Al Ruddy of Introvision. "There's no way you can get the quality and the speed of delivery at this cost."
The film was released during the summer of 1982 amid much competition. Early box office tracking was poor and it was felt the movie would be overshadowed by The Road Warrior. The movie is in the List of films with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Hal Needham later described it as:
Kind of a version of James Bond done with a helluva lot of less budget and no Roger Moore, but it was a high tech, good "right wing" film and I thought it was kinda interesting. Those buggies that we built, they were dune buggies and we revamped 'em a little bit, and put the weapons on 'em and all that, and the military sent people out there to look at my weapons and my vehicles and how they run, and how they handle...they were out there in the desert with me for a week watching. And, if you go back and take a look at Desert Storm, there's a pretty good resemblance to my vehicles. They were pretty slick, pretty tricked out, and they had a helluva job putting those together.
An album was released on Boardwalk Records, with the theme song done by the group 707, which was released as a single reaching the mid level of the charts in the United States and Canada. The soundtrack was released on Compact Disc in 2011 by BSX Records.
A video game based on the film was released in 1982 on the Atari 2600.
In popular culture
In the DVD introduction to the season two South Park episode, "The Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka", Trey Parker graphically describes MegaForce as if it were the plot for what the viewer is about to see. Matt Stone stops Parker mid-sentence and reminds him that he is describing the movie MegaForce and not their episode. A disappointed Parker remembers and says, "We should have done MegaForce, that was a sweet movie, we should have done that." Their film Team America: World Police includes a number of apparent references to the film, including similar scenes of a flying motorcycle and an underground base where the hero meets various specialists.
- Needham, Hal (Director) (1982). Megaforce (DVD). 2:39 minutes in.
- Megaforce at the Internet Movie Database
- Solomon, Aubrey (1989). Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History. Scarecrow Press. p. 259.
- MOVIES: Bruce Lee aura haunts Hong Kong Chan Hok-keung. Chicago Tribune (1963-Current file) [Chicago, Ill] 10 May 1981: d17.
- MOVIES: 'MEGAFORCE' SPENDS MEGABUCKS ON ARMS Mann, Roderick. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Nov 1981: n40.
- Notes on People: Glittering Attraction for Apartment Buyers Weaponry Plays Major Role in New Film Helen Hayes Honored Missing Wallet Albin Krebs Robert McG. Thomas Jr.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 22 Oct 1981: C25.
- A Magic Black Box Adds Wonderment to Movies: Not a Camera Foresees $4 Million Saving By ALJEAN HARMETZ. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 29 Oct 1981: C21.
- STUNT MAN'S BIG BREAK: DIRECTING: HAL NEEDHAM Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 24 June 1982: i1.
- listen the Fashion82 staff. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 07 May 1982: m3.
- MOVIE ANALYSTS BULLISH ON A SUMMERTIME SURGE: MOVIE ANALYSTS ARE PREDICTING A $UMMERTIME $URGE Pollock, Dale. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 20 May 1982: j1.
- "Hal Needham". The Cannonball Run. 2007.
- Mega Force at AllMusic. Retrieved 13 July 2014.