The Delta Force

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1, non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0)
Rating r.gif (1169 bytes)
Year Released 1986
Running Time
123:54 Minutes
(Not 130 Minutes as per packaging)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (65:01)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Selection then Menu
Region 2,4 Director Menahem Golan
Cannon Films
Fox Home Video
Starring Chuck Norris
Lee Marvin
Martin Balsam
Joey Bishop
Robert Forster
Lainie Kazan
George Kennedy
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $34.95 Music Alan Silvestri
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement Yes, mildly
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    As many of you well know, when I can write a plot synopsis that runs for less than a screen, said plot must be a pretty weak one, or one that defies description to a certain extent. The Delta Force is a good example of a weak plot stretched beyond the point where it transforms from brainless action to a particularly brainless form of comedy.

    Those who have already read my reviews of such DVDs as Tremors and Missing In Action may have the idea that I enjoy trashy, B-grade films. However, a strong caveat exists on this perverse pleasure: the film in question must be bad in an entertaining sort of way, not merely bad because the acting is terrible and the film is a total mess. Unfortunately, the extremely bad acting and bad story keep this particular film firmly in the "rent it only if you can't find anything that looks better" category. While it is true that this film paved the way for such other action classics as Under Siege, it has also been surpassed by them. While this isn't the single worst film that Chuck Norris has been in, it is one of those shockers that have set an unbelievably bad standard for comparison. Others who have talked about this film on the Internet Movie Database rate it as being one of Norris' best works, which is a real worry.

    The plot, or rather the convoluted excuse for Norris' character to shoot the crap out of anything that looks Middle Eastern, revolves around a planeful of tourists who are on their way back to America from Athens. Unfortunately, fate and a pair of Islamic terrorists have other plans for them, and a quick hijack takes place while Colonel Nick Alexander (Lee Marvin) and Major Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris) are called in to rescue the hostages. The story in this film is stretched about twenty minutes past its welcome, which is quite frail to begin with, but if you're after some brainless action, then The Delta Force is worth checking out, although a slow beginning leads me to recommend renting the title first.

Transfer Quality


    The packaging calls the transfer a "standard version", stating that it has been "modified to fit your screen". Unless the vertical distortion caused by trying to play a 16x9 image on a 4x3 television suddenly constitutes modifying the image to fit the screen, this is untrue.

    The transfer is presented in the proper theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, ruling out the possibility that it has even been modified to fit a 16x9 television, and it is 16x9 Enhanced. The transfer is quite sharp, having plenty of life and clarity for one to see the hokey acting in. The shadow detail is rather average, but the most important details to the course of the story can be made out, which is good enough where films of this quality are concerned. There is no low-level noise in the picture, and only the occasional small hint of grain.

    The colour saturation is bright and warm, although it does have a certain dated quality that one normally associates with midday television for the most part. There is no bleeding or misregistration apparent, so the colours look as natural and lifelike as the film stock allowed during the photography. Perhaps the dull look of the colours is partly a subjective observation, coming so quickly on the heels of viewing a reference quality transfer like Fight Club, but it still looks quite dated.

    MPEG artefacts are not a problem in this transfer, which appears to have been spread quite evenly over both layers. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor shimmer in car chrome and a slatted window at 44:55, which was the worst example to be found in the transfer. Telecine wobble is not a problem in this transfer, but camera wobble during the principal photography occasionally reared its ugly head. Film artefacts consisted of a couple of small white flecks every few minutes, which were not specifically distracting. Overall, this transfer makes me wonder why films like this one are afforded such a clean, sharp transfer, when films like Cyborg (which is actually more entertaining, oddly enough) are given transfers that look like something the cat brought up.

    This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 65:01. This layer change is well placed and does not disrupt the flow of the film.


    MGM definitely caught the packaging error bug when they were distributed by Warner Home Video, and their move to Fox Home Video doesn't appear to have fixed that situation as yet.

    The packaging claims that there is only one soundtrack on this DVD, an English Stereo soundtrack. In reality, there are three soundtracks on this DVD: the original English dialogue, which is actually presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding, with dubs in French and Spanish in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. I stuck with the English soundtrack through a lack of desire to watch this film again, even in another language.

    The dialogue, such as it is, was always clear and easy to understand within the minor limits posed by the accents of some actors. Audio sync is not a specific problem in this transfer, save for some sloppy sound effects and the occasional burst of marginal ADR.

    The score music in this film is credited to Alan Silvestri, who must have been working on this film in order to fulfil a contract. Like the film, the score is cheesy and banal to a point where it stops exciting the listener and begins to make them laugh instead. Much of this score reminds me of the second Rambo film, except without the occasional moments where the music stops being cheesy for a second and starts to become slightly moving. Still, the music is entirely appropriate for the style of the film: unabashed B-grade crap.

    The surround channels were used rather lightly to support the occasional dose of music and other ambient sounds, but they are not especially active at any time in the soundtrack. Indeed, even the sounds of crickets during the night-time sequences miss out on the chance to be directed around the surround channels in any sort of inspired manner. The result is a sound field that is front-heavy, and really sounded to me like a mono mix with the occasional stereo element. This is definitely not an ideal disc to demonstrate the surround sound performance of your home theatre with.

    The subwoofer was infrequently used to support the sounds of planes and explosions, and it is like the surround channels in that it is not especially active. Although the surround channels and the subwoofer are not conspicuous in any manner, their stop-start usage makes their integration into the soundtrack somewhat ordinary.



    The menu is static, themed around the film, and appears to be 16x9 Enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (1:51)

    This two-minute encapsulation of the plot is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is not 16x9 Enhanced. The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack sounds flat, but is otherwise perfectly fine.

R4 vs R1

    I had some trouble finding a reliable source of information for this title, and as such, was forced to consult some of the online retailers. Two of them list two compelling differences between our version and the Region 1 version.

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    Given that the local version of this disc is spread rather evenly over two layers, is in the proper aspect ratio, and is 16x9 Enhanced, those who absolutely must have this film are better off sticking with the local version.


    The Delta Force is a pile of unashamed B-grade crap that is approximately thirty minutes too long, presented on a nice DVD.

    The video quality is very good, let down only by ordinary shadow detail and television-like colour saturation.

    The audio quality is a disappointment, and a real waste of surround encoding.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)
Audio sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)
Extras sr.gif (100 bytes)
Plot sr.gif (100 bytes)sr.gif (100 bytes)
Overall sg.gif (100 bytes)sg.gif (100 bytes)sgh.gif (874 bytes)
© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
November 17, 2000. 
Review Equipment
DVD Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer