Film Review: Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990)

Also known as: America’s Red Army: Delta Force II, Delta Force II: Operation Crackdown, Spitfire: Delta Force II (working titles), Delta Force 2: Operation Stranglehold (Uruguay subtitled version), Comando Delta 2 (Brazil)
Release Date: May, 1990 (Cannes)
Directed by: Aaron Norris
Written by: Lee Reynolds
Based on: characters by James Bruner, Menahem Golan
Music by: Frederic Talgorn
Cast: Chuck Norris, Billy Drago, John P. Ryan, Paul Perri, Richard Jaeckel, Begona Plaza, Mateo Gomez, Hector Mercado, Mark Margolis

Golan-Globus Productions, Cannon Films, 111 Minutes

Review:

“Take her to my bedroom – first give her a beautiful bath – get rid of the baby.” – Ramon Cota

This didn’t really need to be Delta Force 2. I mean, it’s got Chuck Norris and he’s kicking the shit out of stuff but he didn’t need to be the same character, he could’ve been any random Chuck Norris character or a new one and it wouldn’t have mattered. I guess Delta Force had some branding and name recognition built into it but this just feels so different than the original film.

But hey, it’s still a damn fine action picture that was put out by the maestros of ’80s action, Cannon Films. It hits the right notes, it has a good level of senseless violence and not only does it star Chuck Norris but it stars the always stupendous Billy Drago.

In fact, this is one of my favorite roles Drago has ever played. He is absolute perfection as the evil and slithery villain, Ramon Cota. Hell, Drago’s performance here should be considered an acting lesson on how to play sadistic drug lords. The dude can just convey so much with so little. He speaks with his face and his eyes in a way that the best actors in the world can’t.

It’s pretty damn sad that we lost Drago and his talent a few weeks ago. In fact, that’s why I watched this movie. I wanted to be reminded as to why I became a lifelong fan of his in the first place, as this movie was my first experience seeing him haunt the minds of heroes.

Now apart from Norris and Drago, we also get John P. Ryan as an American general who doesn’t care whose toes he steps on, Mark Margolis as a Colombian general in league with Drago’s Cota, as well as Hector Mercado as an undercover agent.

The cast is stacked full of manly men who are very capable of giving this sort of film life. And despite not having Lee Marvin, Bo Svenson, George Kennedy, Robert Forster, Robert Vaughn and Steve James, I enjoy this movie a wee bit more than its predecessor.

This came out towards the end of Cannon’s dominance over the action film genre but it still measures up to their other kickass pictures.

I can see why people consider the first one to be a better movie (and it probably is) but I just love Drago, Norris and how well they play off of each other in this. Norris needed a true villain and Drago was exactly that. He was the Joker to Norris’ Batman.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: the first Delta Force, as well as the Missing In Action trilogy and other Chuck Norris films for Cannon.

Film Review: Pi (1998)

Also known as: π
Release Date: July 10th, 1998
Directed by: Darren Aronofsky
Written by: Darren Aronofsky, Sean Gullette, Eric Watson
Music by: Clint Mansell
Cast: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Samia Shoaib, Pamela Hart, Ajay Naidu, Joanne Gordon, Stephen Pearlman

Protozoa Pictures, Artisan Entertainment, 84 Minutes

Review:

Pi is the first feature film from Darren Aronofsky. As I am slowly re-working my way through his too small of a film catalog, I figured I would start with his first film.

This movie is probably my favorite Aronofsky film, I’ll wait to confirm that for sure until after I revisit his other work and I still haven’t seen Noah, his most recent effort.

For a film that was shot for $60,000, Aronofsky did a brilliant job of stretching that money and making this film work. It was grainy, dark and at times disorienting but that worked for the film and not against it and to be honest, it was intentional and gave this movie a depth and a darkness that it wouldn’t have otherwise had. While Aronofsky’s Requiem For a Dream is dark and unsettling, it has a clean and pristine look to it. This film accomplished more visually with the director forced to make the best out of his lack of equipment and tools.

The plot of this film is pretty straightforward but still feels disjointed at times. Granted, it is supposed to feel that way, as well as surreal and often times a few steps outside of reality. While you know what is happening, you are never sure of what is real and what isn’t and while that is a plot device that has been used more times than I care to remember, this film does it in a very effective way and ultimately, when the ride is over, you don’t care about what was a real experience and what wasn’t because either way, the main character has gone on an insane journey involving mathematical equations, the secret to cracking the universe, secret evil Wall Street societies and angry Jews who want the mystical numbers in an effort to talk to God.

The main character was played by Sean Gullette, who also co-wrote the film with Aronosfky and has gone on to be a pretty accomplished screenwriter after this film. He acted incredibly well in this film and while his character Max was hardly likable in any way, you still felt for him and cared about his well-being. It was hard not to respect a guy who had the level of intelligence he had and even though he was a prick, he was an interesting character that pulled you in.

One of my favorite actors, Mark Margolis (who is now probably most known as Uncle Tio from Breaking Bad a.k.a. the wheelchair dude with the bell), plays Max’s mentor who has a similar obsession with numbers as well as the board game Go. Margolis was tremendous in this picture and his performance was chilling, as he gave what I felt was something so organic and real that he was more than just some supporting character or mentor in this film. In a way, Margolis sort of became the voice of God warning Max away from his thirst to crack the universe with numbers.

Many films lose their effectiveness on repeat viewings. Pi does not. It is a masterpiece by Aronofsky and was one hell of a starting point for his career. He started with the bar really high. Luckily for us, for the most part, he has lived up to the hype and the standard that he created for himself back in 1998 with this great picture.