Today I thought it was time we had a look back at the Operation Delta Force (no relation to the Chuck Norris Delta Force series) movies as frankly it’s a disgrace that we haven’t already. There are five movies in the straight to video series that started in 1997 with the original (starring Jeff Fahey and Ernie Hudson) and ended in the year 2000. They’re the kinds of movies we rarely see anymore so it’s been a fun time going through them all again. So, without further ado let’s go back to the 90’s and explore the Operation Delta Force movies.
Operation Delta Force (1997)
Plot: A team of military experts and scientists go after a terrorist group that has seized a deadly virus and is threatening to release it.
The first movie in the series has an awesome cast that includes Jeff Fahey, Ernie Hudson, Frank Zagarino and Joe Lara (R.I.P.) but it’s also directed by American Ninja helmer Sam Firstenberg.
As you’d expect the action scenes are plentiful and well done with explosions and shoot-outs every few minutes; there are a few moments that are clearly using stock footage but it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment factor.
The characters all have their own little arcs to go through with Jeff Fahey’s Captain Lang leading a team to retrieve a vial which contains a virus; it’s been stolen by Johan Nash (Joe Lara) but to complicate matters Lang has to work with Major Tipton (Ernie Hudson) who he holds responsible for the death of his brother. This obviously creates a lot of animosity and at times clouds Lang’s thinking.
Frank Zagarino plays McKinney who is kind of a sexist asshole and gives Lt. Marie Junger (Natasha Sutherland) a hard time for being a woman in this line of work but he learns the error of his ways.
If you’re looking for hand to find fight scenes then you’ll be disappointed as this isn’t that kind of movie but it is still packed with action and makes for a rapidly paced 90 minutes with a satisfying finale.
Overall, Operation Delta Force is action packed with a great cast and an engaging story that will keep you engaged for the full runtime.
Operation Delta Force 2: Mayday (1997)
Plot: A ship captained by the father (Dale Dye) of the leader (Michael McGrady) of Delta Force is taken hostage by terrorists. As might be expected the force is sent in to stop them.
Operation Delta Force 2: Mayday may lack the star power of Jeff Fahey and Ernie Hudson but what it does have is a rather jar dropping opening 15 minutes which is action movie nirvana with real tanks, helicopters and explosions. The rest of the film has plenty of action too although admittedly it never quite lives up to that opening.
The only character given any semblance of depth in this movie is the lead Captain Skip Lang (Michael McGrady) who has daddy issues; he actually is well cast though as he has a military bearing and is believable as a soldier. Todd Jenson (Target of Opportunity) is one of the few original cast members to return but then he doesn’t show up again in the series until the 5th movie where bizarrely he plays a different character.
Kenneth Campbell chews the scenery as the villain Flint Lukash who quotes the likes of Poe and Shakespeare mostly to prove he’s smarter than everyone else and he’s enjoyably hateful. He has a satisfying final fight with Skip Lang but like most bad guys it takes about 5 times for him to actually die.
I find this one does go on a little longer than it needs to and although it’s never boring they could have trimmed a few minutes just to make it a bit tighter.
Overall, Operation Delta Force 2: Mayday has a truly fantastic opening 15 minutes with some awesome action scenes but I do miss the cast from the first film and I feel it goes on a little longer than necessary.
Operation Delta Force III: Clear Target (1998)
Plot: Delta Force leader Skip Lang (Jim Fitzpatrick) and his elite combat team of soldiers destroy a large shipment of cocaine, angering drug lord Umberto Salvatore (Danny Keogh). To take revenge, Umberto and his men hijack a nuclear submarine and set its deadly course for New York City — murdering one of Skip’s men in the process. With the help of computer hacker Ariana (Darcy LaPier), the vengeful Skip must figure out how to use a satellite to regain control of the ship and bring Umberto down.
This is where the franchise starts to get a little confusing because Danny Keogh played one of the main villains (Tuck) in the second movie but in this entry he is the main villain Umberto Salvatore. Basically none of these movies are connected so you can watch them as separate entries as they are sequels in name only. Clear Target is another entertaining entry with the obvious highlight being Brian Genesse who has taken over the role of Hutch.
At around 90 minutes this is well paced and has some decent action scenes with plenty of real explosions but also the most hand to hand combat scenes in the franchise so far.
Storywise it’s a little disappointing for it to be set around a submarine again as we just had that in part 2 so it does feel a little familiar and doesn’t really bring anything fresh to the series. I also thought the way Salvatore is disposed of at the end was a little underwhelming.
Overall, Operation Delta Force 3: Clear Target has plenty of impressive action scenes but it feels a little too similar to part 2 to be specially memorable with the biggest highlight being Brian Genesse.
Operation Delta Force 4: Deep Fault (1999)
Plot: Sent out on yet another dangerous mission, the Delta Force — including McKinney (Joe Lara), Hutch (Justin Williams) and Skip Lang (Greg Collins) — must rescue a group of abducted scientists. Traveling to Eastern Europe, the team uncovers a top-secret plot that places the safety of the world in jeopardy. In order to complete their assignment and halt the project, McKinney, Hutch and company must take out tanks, snipers and other deadly obstacles.
The fourth entry is arguably my least favourite in the franchise but it’s still entertaining; the late, great Joe Lara returns after playing the villain in the first film, this time he is one of the Delta Force… just to utterly confuse you. A young Johnny Messner is also one of the team (Vickers) and Martial Outlaw’s Gary Hudson joins the team as Sparks.
This time the crew are sent to rescue a group of scientists in Eastern Europe but quickly discover there is a greater threat facing the world.
There are some decent set-pieces with a skiing chase one of the highlights and of course several explosions and shoot-outs. Not everyone makes it out alive on this mission too so no one is guaranteed to see the end credits.
The music score is noticeably influenced by The Rock and why not? After all as it is one of the greatest action scores of all-time. This isn’t as memorable, but the Zimmer influence is clear.
The villain is hateful and quite crazed but I found the finale feels drawn out and just keeps going on even despite the film’s 90 minute runtime.
Overall, Operation Delta Force 4 has some impressive action scenes and I like how there are genuine stakes here where not everyone gets to make it home. The finale feels overly long but it’s still a fun time.
Operation Delta Force V: Random Fire (2000)
Plot: Terrorist Jaffar (Toni Caprari) is capturing American soldiers and turning them into brainwashed suicide bombers. The elite Delta Force is ambushed while trying to protect a U.S. ambassador from Jaffar, and soon the situation becomes a tense struggle between Jaffar and Delta Force leader Brad Kennedy (Trae Thomas). Kennedy and military cohorts Johnson (Todd Jensen) and Loomis (Anthony Bishop) track the terrorism network to a compound in Kenya and prepare to launch a full assault.
The fifth and final entry in the Operation Delta Force franchise goes out with several bangs; it has wall to wall action and has a rather interesting story where some of the team are left behind and are brainwashed into becoming Sleeper Cells for a terrorist called Jafari Bin Kasim (Tony Caprari).
Personally, I think Jafari my be one of my favourite villains of this series as the way he turns loyal American soldiers into his own pawns is wonderfully despicable. The opening scene has Jafari order one of his “pets” to crash a seaplane into a train carrying a senator and he does just that.
If you’ve watched all the films together, you’ll notice that this one uses some footage of the train from the first movie so they were obviously running out of budget by now.
Todd Jensen returns but this time he’s playing a character called Bob Johnson but we should be used to this by now.
Once again there are regular explosions, shoot-outs and a high bodycount making this a fitting finale to the franchise.
Overall, Operation Delta Force V is an entertaining and action packed end to the series and it’s a shame we don’t get movies like this anymore.
So that’s the Operation Delta Force franchise; if you like your military porn in action movies (like I do) then there’s plenty to enjoy and it’s nice to see real tanks, helicopters and explosions used in the action scenes as they never fail to entertain. It does get a little confusing with the cast changing with every movie but you can just enjoy them as standalone features as they are only really connected in name only.