Case Number 22051


Shout! Factory // 1984 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 18th, 2011

The Charge

Eat me, Ghadaffi.

Opening Statement

For the fist time stateside, the uncut film that launched the Airwolf mythos. Now, with a few more swear words and bushier Ernest Borgnine eyebrows!

Facts of the Case

We all know the story. It is ingrained in our subconscious as Americans. A brilliant but, sadly, evil weapons designer named Moffet has created the ultimate weapon: a supersonic battle-copter that can control the balance of power in the world's theaters of conflicts.

Unfortunately, the shadowy U.S. government that tasked Moffet with designing Airwolf, The Firm, had no idea that Moffet was in fact crazy and evil and he blows everyone up and takes Airwolf to Libya. Desperate to regain the chopper, Firm big-shot Michael "Archangel" Coldsmith Briggs III (Alex Cord) seeks out the only other man to have flown Airwolf: ace test pilot and cello-playing recluse Stringfellow Hawke (Jan Michael Vincent). Hawke agrees to the mission and together with best buddy Dom Santini (Ernest Borgnine) he heads for the Middle East...

The Evidence

Let's get this out of the way: if you already own Season One of Airwolf, which contains the TV movie, then you have no need for this release. Unless of course, you're an Airwolf completist (which every red-blooded American should be, natch), then maybe there's some allure to adding this to your collection. But I'll tell you know, it's on par with purchasing that turd-burger Season Four; unnecessary and only added to fill out the collection.

There are some slight changes here, as originally this release was launched overseas as a stand-alone feature and not a kick-off to a television series. A handful of scenes have been tweaked and some grown-up potty language has been added and, really that's about it. Nothing new and ZOMG awesome enough to warrant a purchase, especially if you own the Season One set already.

As for the movie itself, it's a good time Libyan-punching affair. Love it that Ghadaffi is name-dropped and that Hawke and Dom use Airwolf to wipe out half the Libyan army and miraculously avoid an international incident. The set-up and character exposition is too front-loaded, with the Middle East exploding not transpiring until literally the last five minutes. I would have gladly traded out the extended cello-playing on the pier for more footage of helicopters turning into fireballs.

The biggest reason for skipping: the technical treatment is atrocious. It's a dated production, yes, but what a terrible visceral experience it is to watch and listen to this disc. The full frame video treatment is stunningly low-res, grainy and at times impenetrably dark. Sound is even worse, a shallow, tinny mono mix that is likely to blow your center channel's tweeter. Two extras: a new interview with Ernest Borgnine and a stills gallery.

Closing Statement

You won't find a bigger defender of the Soviet-nut-kicking wonders of Airwolf, but this release just doesn't cut it.

The Verdict

Guilty. It pains me to write that.

Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 55
Audio: 50
Extras: 70
Acting: 80
Story: 70
Judgment: 60

Perp Profile
Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)

* None

Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Interview
* Photo Gallery

* IMDb