New Line // 2000 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Maurice Cobbs (Retired) // October 29th, 2004
Unofficial mission. Unconventional tactics. Unbelievable courage.
This third entry in the Iron Eagle series features Louis Gossett, Jr. (An Officer and a Gentleman) as Chappy Sinclair, a crackerjack fighter pilot and Air Force colonel battling evil super-intelligent shape-shifting Nazi terrorist chimpanzees from Uranus bent on destroying the universe for their own financial gain...okay, I made that up. Still, you gotta admit, that would have been one hell of a movie, huh?
However, there is a former Nazi turned cocaine baron named Gustav Kleiss (Paul Freeman, Raiders of the Lost Ark). Kleiss is bad news -- it seems that running a paramilitary drug empire in Peru is just his day job. For hobbies, he likes to bankroll hate groups; torture, enslave, and kill innocent Peruvian villagers; sell chemical weapons to the Middle East (everywhere except Iraq, I guess); deal illegal arms; and finance Michael Moore movies. What a scumbag. Kleiss is in league with embittered Air Force General Simms (Mitchell Ryan, Lethal Weapon), who is using his position as commander of Lethridge Air Force Base to move Kleiss's cocaine into the country, concealed in Air Force transport planes and fighters. While on one of these transport runs, Chappy's friend Morales gets shot down by his wingman, also as part of the conspiracy. It seems that Morales was losing his stomach for dirty work (which may be why he never actually appears in this movie) and was becoming a threat, so he had to be, as they say in the military, "rendered nonviable." Because, as we all know, the best way to cover up a governmental conspiracy is to shoot down a million-dollar U.S. fighter plane over friendly skies and leave a half a billion dollars' worth of cocaine in the wreckage, involving not only the Coast Guard but the DEA as well. Understand that? Me neither. Let's move on. Chappy has a hobby of his own: dogfighting in old World War II fighter planes in an air show with three WWII flying aces who don't look nearly old enough to have been fighter pilots in the '40s (unless they had their rank insignia attached to their diapers). There's dashing ex-RAF ace Palmer (Christopher Cazenove, Shadow Run), former Luftwaffe hotshot Leichmann (Horst Buchholz, The Magnificent Seven), and Japanese Zero pilot Horikoshi (Sonny Chiba, Kill Bill: Vol. I). They put on a show for the customers, shooting at each other with paint rounds and performing dangerous maneuvers and stunts, then afterwards partying at a bizarre club where the waitresses wear large propellers on their butts.
Back in Peru, the people of Morales's native village are abused, dead eyed, devoid of hope, beaten down, overworked, and generally oppressed -- much like hourly WalMart employees. Morales's beautiful and heavily muscled sister Anna (Rachel McLish, Pumping Iron II: The Women), who is being held prisoner by Kleiss, makes her move. Displaying acrobatic ability and pain tolerance that would put both Sarah Conner and Mary Lou Retton to shame, she manages to take out her guards and stow away on one of the drug-smuggling transports. She arrives in America and goes looking for her brother at his apartment. Finding Chappy instead, she tries to choke him to death -- I would have done the same thing if I could have gotten to him; he deserves some kind of punishment, he won an Oscar for cryin' out loud. After apologizing for starring in this movie, as well as The Punisher(1990) and Bram Stoker's The Legend of the Mummy, he gets free and breaks the news about Morales's death. Anna tells Chappy about the drug shipments, and also tells him that Kleiss plans to pack up his cocaine factory in four days and kill all of the enslaved villagers because...because...um...well, he just does. Chappy leaves Anna at Morales's apartment and goes to check out the plane, informing General Simms of the situation and telling him that Anna can expose the entire scheme. But when Chappy returns to Morales's apartment with the General, Anna is gone. Simms displays all the enthusiasm for Chappy's investigation that you might expect from a corrupt senior officer with too many people sniffing around his affairs, and he tells Chappy to lay off the giggle juice and butt out.
Incredible as it may seem, this is where the plot really gets convoluted.
Chappy tracks Anna down to her aunt's apartment in the ghetto, where hookers swarm like clouds of angry bees around her apartment house. Anna sees Chappy coming and ducks out the fire escape, desperately looking for a way to get off this picture. She instead runs into an apartment full of angry stoners with guns, or a Green Party meeting (I can't figure out which). Chappy arrives in time to save her, but he quickly finds himself out-gunned...until a random stranger off the street comes in with a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun and saves their bacon. And people say the city folk don't take care of each other anymore. The stranger, Tee Vee (Phill Lewis, I Spy), is Black, and the filmmakers don't let you forget it for a minute. Yo, yo, Tee Vee is da man, dog! Chappy gives $50 to Tee Vee, a strange person in a bad neighborhood that he's never met and knows nothing about, with no personal interest in the situation whatsoever, and asks him to risk his life protecting Anna, because Chappy has more important things to do -- like go and perform in his air show, which should certainly take precedence over protecting a refugee from an international drug cartel from lurking killers. Understand that? Me neither. Let's move on.
At the air show, one of General Simms's henchmen has replaced the paint rounds in Leichmann's plane with real ammo, hoping to cause, as they say in the military, an "accidental delivery of ordinance." Chappy manages to survive, and he returns to find that Anna and Tee Vee have, as they say, "neutralized" a hired killer. Coming to the rather belated realization that the situation is serious, Chappy seeks help from the DEA, d from General Simms, and possibly the DARE program. But there is no help to be found, and Chappy decides that there is only one logical thing to do: He and his pilot friends must outfit four antique fighters with modern missile delivery and targeting systems, fly them to Peru, and destroy Kleiss's entire cocaine empire and save all the villagers, all the while outflying much more modern jet fighters with advanced agility and weaponry. And with the help of air show owner Stockman (Fred Dalton Thompson, Curly Sue) and Chappy's friend in supply, Ames (J.E. Freeman, Miller's Crossing), they do exactly that. Many things blow up, as they "alter the terrain" left and right. Meanwhile, the villagers are revolting, and they are also rising up against their oppressors. Leichmann tries to settle an old family score with Kleiss. Horikoshi throws a sheet of aluminum foil out of his cockpit to thwart a guided missile. Tee Vee runs around sounding and acting very "urban." Palmer acts very British and gets shot down. Simms acts very French and runs away. Anna makes like Stallone and machine-guns her way through the rest of the picture. Kleiss's henchman blows up a church and gets instant karmic retribution when the church bell arcs through the air and lands on his head (but nobody says, "His face sure rings a bell!" or "That guy's a dead ringer!" or anything like that). A kid gets shot. Kleiss gets his comeuppance (to the very witty one-liner "Kiss my ass!") and then gets the point. Later, steaks are burned on a grill.
There are so many things in this movie that don't make sense, but I'm not going to make an issue out of any of them. I'm not going to wonder why nobody shows up at Morales's funeral except Chappy, Anna, and his aunt (who obviously knew him) and Horikoshi, Palmer, Leichmann, and Tee Vee (who obviously didn't). I'm not the least bit curious why Tee Vee is able to dismantle and hide walkie-talkie components while under guard, in plain view of his captors (maybe he used the Jedi mind trick). And I don't care how Kleiss was able to build an international drug empire with mercenaries who are worse shots than Imperial Stormtroopers. I don't even really want to know where the filmmakers managed to find a priest named Father Taco -- I'm not kidding, he's in the credits! And the song "The Boogie-Woogie Hip-Hop Boy of Company B"? What the heck is that supposed to mean? It just doesn't matter. What does matter is convincing New Line to go with the Nazi chimps from Uranus idea for the next Iron Eagle. That would be just too cool.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R