Artisan // 1999 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Rogers (Retired) // March 21st, 2000
"No, I'm crazy; at least, that's what the doctors say."
Stealth Fighter is one of those unabashedly "B" grade films. You know the type; made for pennies, shows up on weekends on cable, the whole nine yards. It's a film without any complexities; just very basic character sketches, the usual collection of minorly recognizable faces, and a degree of required suspension of disbelief that would threaten the abilities of even the most devoted Guy Movie Fans.
This isn't to say Stealth Fighter is a bad movie. Rather, to say Stealth Fighter is a rank and file example of an extremely low budget, very specialized target audience. It might be hard to believe an audience exists for such films, but just as wrestling has become a billion dollar industry, so too have films like the genre Stealth Fighter is a member of.
As always, the thumbnail synopsis. Owen Turner (Ice T, Johnny Mnemonic, Ricochet, New Jack City) plays a pseudo-psychotic former U.S. military pilot turned freelance mercenary. Faking his own death during a combat mission, he then steals a Stealth Fighter from the U.S., and goes to work for a Latin American arms merchant. The plot involves the takeover of a secret "Star Wars" satellite left over from the Reagan era, which is armed with the ever-present EMP weapon. This weapon is used to threaten and blackmail the President of the United States (Ernie Hudson, The Crow, The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Ghostbusters) into doing the usual things terrorists demand. The hero, Ryan Mitchell (Costas Mandylor, Virtuosity, Picket Fences, Soapdish), is called to save the day. Right down to the old-fashioned fist fight at the end. The film also features cameo performances from Erika Eleniak (Under Siege) and Tommy "Zeus" Lister (The Fifth Element, Jackie Brown, Barb Wire). The acting is pretty poor, but then again, so is the script.
The disc isn't half bad, however. The anamorphic video transfer is very clean. Crisp edges, strong colors, nicely done. Many better films have seen far worse transfer efforts than this second rate offering has, even without considering anamorphic. The sound, while only Dolby 2.0, makes surprisingly good use of the surrounds. Background music, encompassing effects, and a lot of explosions all seem to occur all around you. They don't track like a true Dolby 5.1 audio mix does, but they still do a great job with the limited Dolby 2.0 format. The always mentioned but hardly ever truly "interactive" menus take a tad longer to load than they should, but do load quickly enough, and thus aren't a negative. Rounding out the disc are some text biographies on the cast, and some additional text screens on the real F-117 Stealth Fighter.
The sound would have benefited from true Dolby 5.1, but one can only expect so much from source material such as Stealth Fighter.
The film is what it is. Stealth Fighter is the kind of film you put on in the background when you have the guys over for beer and pretzels, or when you're trying to run the wife out of the room so you can have some quiet time. It's not serious entertainment, but the disc is a serious effort.
Except for the low balled, but well done, Dolby 2.0 sound, this is a very solid disc; if only some really exceptional films could have received such disc treatments. Case dismissed.
Review content copyright © 2000 David Rogers; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Cast Biographies
* Text on F-117 Stealth Fighter