Iron Eagle (1986): Breakdown by RANTBO
Driven by love, patriotism and Freddy Mercury’s pipes; an inter-racial jet flying couple stage a rescue mission into the heart of the Axis of Evil.
[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]
Jason Gedrick is Doug Masters
Gedrick was the definition of an iconic 80s heartthrob. Big smile, perfectly quaffed hair, glistening muscles rippling out of tight shirts and bulging genitals through even tighter jeans. Doug establishes himself early on as a take-no-shit teenie-bopper, by racing the local shit-head motorcycle “gang” leader through a dangerous canyon with his bi-plane. And despite the shit-head’s friends fucking with his plane, Doug defies a fiery death and wins the race. All in a young beefcake’s day’s work. Then of course, Doug assembles his tweenager buddies and together they completely infiltrate the U.S. military system and not only score themselves two jets, but all the ammunition and clearance needed to invade the middle-east. Which he does, and defeats an army, practically single-handedly. It’s pretty clear, and not just by looking at his sprayed-on wranglers, Doug’s got some massive cojones—wait, I mean balls. Balls are American, just like Doug.
Louis Gossett Jr. is Charles ‘Chappy’ Sinclair
Calling himself “Chappy”, as Colonel Chuck wasn’t gay enough, Sinclair is the ass-shakin’, chocolate thunder. He lives in a run down juke-joint, and dances accordingly like a run down actor. Chappy is kind of like a mix between Dennis the Menace’s Mr. Wilson and a black man. Whilst he complains non-stop about the silly group of children he’s involved himself with (for no real good reason), deep down you know he loves being the one they come to for help—amongst other things. He expresses as much later in the film by “shaking all their hands” (footage missing, seriously) and making a heart-felt tape expressing his feelings to and for Doug and his stunning—willpower. But, badass? Not really. Thankfully (well, depending on how you look at it), Chappy will have a second chance—actually, three more second chances to impress us. Something we can all look forward to.
Everyone Below And To The East Of The Mediterranean Sea
Taking a safe (read: pussy-ass) approach to the circumstances of young Master’s plight, the film never actually states in what country his father was taken prisoner in. Though Wikipedia informs me that “this scenario closely mirrors real-world disputes with the state of Libya over the Gulf of Sidra, which resulted in skirmishes in 1981 and March, 1986.” But wherever they reside, it doesn’t seem to matter as the villains reflect this ambiguity. Known as the Il Kharem, these evil bastards are a deluxe sample platter of everything un-American. You know, commies, terrorists and brown people. While they do have a leader, he is as ill-defined as his faceless automatons and Doug wipes the air with him just like all the rest. In short, this motley crew of 80s bad-guy stereotypes are all out-smarted, out-matched and blown to shit by a single sexually confused American Teenager. So, no. They’re certainly not bad-ass.
[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]
DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO:
Doug: Do you think he knows how much I really love ‘im? I mean—sometimes he can be really tough on me, like you are. I know it’s only for my own good, but—I never really told him I understood all that.
Chappy: He knows. BELIEVE me. He’s just tryin’ to make a man outta you.
Doug: Is that why you’re treating me the same way?—You tryin’ to make a man outta me too?
Chappy: Naw, your dad already took care of that. I’m just tryin’ to get us outta this alive.
Doug: Chap—what if I screw up? What if everything goes wrong?
Chappy: THEN I’M GONNA GET REAL MAD! You haven’t seen me really mad, have you!?
Doug: No—I wouldn’t want to either.
While Iron Eagle wasn’t nearly as overtly gay as it’s theatrical competition, Top Gun, it’s still remarkably homoerotic in undertones and awkward situations. And it even one-ups Gun with controversy by having the main couple be inter-racial with a thirty-year age difference.
While most of the factors that contribute are subtle gestures and hilarious dialogue (see above and much more below), there are two scenes worth mentioning that seal the deal. The first happens when Chappy and Doug are going over the written plan and for some reason, this involves Doug reading to Chappy while Chappy goes for a jog and then showers afterward, without Doug leaving his side. The second happens the night before the big op. Chappy confides in young Doug his dreams and fears, ending his pep-talk by giving his young padowan his first set of wings. Which is the male-to-male equivalent of an engagement ring.
In Doug’s Words:
“You got snake on the brain!”
“I’ll wait here ‘till you come out—then you’re mine!”
“Marty, I was wondering if you could—slip me in?”
“You know, this would be A LOT easier with my shorts on!”
In Chappy’s Words:
“All the fancy maneuvering will do you no good if you don’t watch what those two guys flying up your behind are gonna do to ya.”
“I said get cho butt in that trailer—now!”
“Why don’t you see what my pillow and bed is doing!?”
“You’re lucky I’m not in that cock-pit with you—I’d show ya touchy!”
“Funny how it tastes good goin’ down, but about 13 hours later it makes you feel scared shitless!”
“I’m gonna tell you something’, Doug baby—God doesn’t give people things he doesn’t want them to use and he gave you—the touch. It’s a power you have inside of you—down there where you keep your guts, boy. And it’s ALL you need to blast your way in and get back what they took from ya.”
“Just pretend I’m in that cock-pit with ya and we’re going in to knock the shit outta them together!”
On a side, but equally gay note, Chappy’s dialogue about “touching”, is what actually inspired epic song writer Stan Bush to create his magnum opus, The Touch. True, awesome fact.
EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY:
Nothing much really, but this is due to the fact that the film’s females are barely in the movie. There’s Doug’s mother, his girlfriend and two teenage girls that help aid in the planning of the mission (one of which is Shawnee Smith from the Saw franchise fame, and Who’s Harry Crumb), but combined I think they have a total of 5 lines of dialogue and are almost always sidelined to make room for more male-on-male embracing.
MURDER BY NUMBERS: [ 32 + UNTOLD DOZENS ]
Waiting Confirmation via Body Count Breakdown
Like a live-action G.I. Joe cartoon, this film features a shitload of explosions but nary an actual corpse. Doug’s pappy takes out three MiGs before being shot down. Chappy takes out another three during the rescue mission—before being shot down. And at least 6 inept and foolish Arabs(?) manage to accidentally perform a Jihad on themselves by driving into a wall of flame, torching themselves alive for Allah. But the top score, of course, goes to Dougie, who takes out 20+ evil commies with his Iron Eagle of righteousness. Not to mention the no doubt dozens killed in all the crazy-ass explosions Doug unleashed while spreading the good word of freedom to the pitiful army of sand people.
MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING AND/OR DEATH:
General Il Kharem Leader Guy
Doug shoots him down in a dogfight with a stock model explosion. Nothing really special to say on this one. The General hated Doug, his dad and America, and by proxy: cheeseburgers, baseball, videogames, rock music and scantily clad women—so, naturally he had to die. That’s about it.
[THE BEST OF THE REST]
EPIC MOMENT & BEST LINE:
Masters vs. Knotcher
After wining the “Snake” race, Doug politely points out to Knotcher (Michael Bowen), that having his crony fuck with his plane engine could have gotten him killed. To which the alpha douche replies…
Doug: I said, YOU COULD HAVE KILLED ME!
Knotcher [smiling]: Couldn’t hear you?
When young, hot-shot, wanna-be pilot Doug Masters finds out that his jet-flying father violated some stupid towelhead’s “territorial air-space” laws, was shot down behind enemy lines and sentenced to death—Doug gets pro-active. Using his on-base connections and the aid of his air-force brat buddies, Masters and his new found love interest, retired jet-pilot Col. Chappy, plot to bring Pop back home to the land of freedom and apple-pie.
Best I can think to describe it, Iron Eagle is like The Last Starfighter, but with Choplifter or Sega’s Afterburner as the basis for skill testing. Ergo, it’s a live-action video game. So much so, I’m actually quite amazed that this film didn’t feature an all Rush soundtrack and have Doug swilling Pepsi and munching Cheetos whilst shooting down the oppressors. As aside from that, he and his mission couldn’t be more straight-up 80s teen-geek fan-service.
And the message of the film also couldn’t be more clear. The enemies are vague middle-eastern brown people—some with vague Russian accents. Solidifying that any area located across a body of water from America is sure to be filled with nondescript, freedom hating, commie coloreds that hate your culture, your way of life and most importantly—you. And want you dead. But thankfully, when young strong-willed, sexy, hipster youths like Doug, are put behind a freedom-bringing death machine of war, we as a nation can and will succeed in spreading our liberty, our justice, and our Christian god-driven ideals to those most in need of an ass-fisting by Uncle Sam.
Eagle was released a full four months before the 80s jet-juggernaut, Top Gun, yet was overshadowed by it nonetheless. And despite its three sequels, I don’t think Eagle ever got the credit it deserved. And the sad thing is, it had everything Top Gun did and more…
Not only do they have all this in common, Eagle had the good sense to actually BE an Action film AND cut straight through the bullshit of the ‘will-he, won’t-he stay gay’ scenario, by not bothering to have a “Kelly McGillis” to any prominent degree (a decision, which in effect killed any grand success by eliminating most of the female audience). Iron Eagle was fucking sophisticated.
Now lets take a moment here and compare soundtracks, shall we?
Top Gun: Kenny Loggins, Berlin and Loverboy.
Iron Eagle: Dio, Twisted Sister and Queen.
No contest who wins there. And while Eagle doesn’t feature an A-List cast, it does have a who’s-who of classic 80s stock character actors, whom I would personally choose any day over the supporting cast of Gun:
Instead of Val Kilmer, Eagle has Lou Gossett Jr. Instead of Kelly McGillis and Meg Ryan, Eagle has the previously mentioned Shawnee Smith AND The Office’s Melora Hardin. Instead of Tim Robbins and Tom Skerritt, there’s Michael “Buck, and I like to fuck” Bowen and Jerry “Stiles” Levine. And for your Revenge Of The Nerds consideration, Eagle replaces Gun’s Anthony Edwards with Larry B. “Lamar” Scott.
Yeah, fuck the Gun. Eagle is superior in every way*.
Iron Eagle also marks the career high for director Sidney J. Furie. Before his aerial journey into pop-tune darkness, he had mostly done dramas and a couple of war films I’ve never seen, but seem respectable. Then after, well here’s a short list: Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Iron Eagle II, Iron Eagle IV, The Rage and Detention. To be fair, he also made Direct Action, an OK Dolph vehicle and a few other DTV pictures I have yet to see… But then again, you’ll notice that of all the Iron Eagle films he made, he DIDN’T make Aces: Iron Eagle III, the best. It’s sad, really. Though it kinda makes sense when you really take a good look at this film. While it is certainly entertaining and fun to watch, so much so I’ll go ahead and say it’s the best of the 80s action Flight Sub-genre, it’s still pretty crappy.
Though it’s not by fault of the silly story, cheesy acting or laughable premise (all things that actually redeemed the film for me), it’s the simple fact that jet dog-fights aren’t exciting to watch. At least not to me (Star Wars excluded). A jet zooms by into some clouds, another jet zooms by into some clouds, close-up cockpit shot of both pilots, repeat. And then a model on a string explodes. I understand that the cost of blowing up real jets would be fucking insane, but it’s precisely why I prefer ground-based vehicle action; they’re cheap, abundant and expendable. Though Iron Eagle does manage to blow the living shit out of a TON of buildings and light more than a fare share of fires, so I guess it all equals out. And like I said, it truly is a blast to watch.
Nonsensical, unbelievable, pro-military and anti-procedural/Miranda laws/national security/due process/liberalism and pretty much everything else that keeps vigilantism from running the country into right-wing, boner-inducing anarchy, Iron Eagle is a great 80s action entry. And the kids will love it. It’s pure fantasy for the neglected little young-republicans of middle-America the South. It proves to these disgruntled children that all you need to garner daddy’s acceptance, become a man and help keep the country moving in the right direction, is a fine knowledge of videogame flight simulators and a drive to break pussified liberal-laws in the name of God’s justice.
Yes sir, there are no repercussions for waging war, only rewards. So long as you have old glory on your sleeve and rock n’ roll in your ears, you can’t lose in the fight for freedom. With a little unwavering faith, you too can be an army of one. So march onward, young Christian soldiers and defeat those evil bastards. And inadvertently make some classic entertainment for us rationalist cynics that stay safe at home with the women folk. I salute you. And this movie. Check it out.
*I can’t dispute that Gun has Michael Ironside. For that, I got nothing. And Loggins is still awesome—I mean, the guy wrote Footloose. And if you don’t like Footloose, you’re a asshole, commie jack-off in my book.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
You can violate virtually every section of the National Security Act, but avoid prosecution by simply keeping one’s mouth shut.
[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[ ] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[ ] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[X] Unnecessary Sequel [Iron Eagle II (1988)]
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
[TOTAL: 16 outta 25]
Iron Eagle (1986) © TriStar Pictures and Columbia TriStar Home Video / Review © AllOuttaBubbleGum.com and Ty ‘RANTBO’ Hanson