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Review: Operation Delta Force 4 & 5 (Warning: Long)

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Review: Operation Delta Force 4 & 5 (Warning: Long)

Old 09-25-01, 11:43 PM
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Review: Operation Delta Force 4 & 5 (Warning: Long)

Operation Delta Force 4: Deep Fault
Operation Delta Force 5: Random Fire

These don't hit DVD in the USA until late October, but they've been out in Canada since August. Here are my thoughts on the discs and films.

Both Discs:

1.33:1 Full Frame
English & French in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Trailer

In each case, the picture is sharp and clear with fairly vivid colours. I'm pretty sure these were shot for direct-to-video, so you're not missing anything with the 1.33:1 image. Sound is very loud and active. No complaints here.

Movies:

(Skip to the bottom if you want a quick summary)

I'm always on the lookout for the next great direct-to-video action flick. Theoretically, a DTV flick can deliver more pure entertainment than a big studio picture because the filmmakers don't beat around the bush. They have no delusions about being classy. This lets them focus on the important things like wall-to-wall action, antisocial behaviour and T&A. Sadly, it generally doesn't work out this way because many of these filmmakers are making DTV work for a reason: They either don't care about or don't know what the hell they're doing! 95% of the DTV films I see are righteous ass-fire that aren't worth the shelf space at Blockbuster.

So when I come across a good DTV action movie, I cherish it. Films like Drive, Men of War, and Nemesis (the first one only!!). They may not be well written (okay, Men of War has quite a thoughtful script, but ignore that for now) or in the best taste, but they are thoroughly entertaining and/or interesting!

I'm happy to report that Operation Delta Force 4 & 5 are movies created from the same mold. There's one way to describe them: REALLY ENTHUSIASTIC! Delta Force 4, in particular, is practically constant action. It runs for 96 minutes and probably close to 60 minutes of that is action! There's a scene which starts off nonchalantly then builds and builds in intensity and doesn't stop until 25 minutes later. That's right: A 25 MINUTE action scene in a 96 minute movie! That one stretch of action goes from a chalet assault to a ski chase to a busy city street explosion and finally to a tank battle!

A lot of the enjoyment of Delta 4 can be attributed to the director, Mark Roper. You can tell he had a heck of a time making the movie. He effectively keeps the energy level high through fast editing and active camerawork. And that's another thing: It's obvious that these films are more expensive than the usual DTV crap. They actually use a large variety of shots, including tracking shots and a crane shot (IIRC). It's not the disinterested, "set the camera down and let's get this over with" approach many DTV directors seem to have. As the film goes on, I feel the action scenes steadily increase in quality and come within striking distance of lower-end studio pictures as far as the filmmaking is concerned.

Roper seems to have an unhealthy fixation with Michael Bay's The Rock though. It was especially apparent in his last Delta Film (Op'n Delta Force 3: Clear Target - Do not rent it) and it's still on show here. The synthetic music is obviously inspired by Hans Zimmer's popular score for that film, there are small scenes lifted, and it features at least two bit players from Bruckheimer movies ((John Laughlin, Greg Collins). Visually, it looks nothing like a Bay film. However, Roper does manage to recreate that relentless pace - But without ever having to slow down for stories about the hero's girlfriend's out-of-wedlock pregnancy and other half-baked attempts at "depth". See, I told you a lack of class had its advantages!

Okay, so it has better production values than the usual DTV movie, lots of action, and competent and enthusiastic filmmaking. So what's the downside? This is DTV, so of course there's a downside. First of all, Delta 4's actors are pretty uneven. I imagine they didn't have a lot of time for rehearsals. For example, the female lead has two big emotional outbursts. She is howlingly bad for the first one, but quite convincing during the second. What the? The other main problem is the weaponry. While the uniforms are fine and convincing enough, the Delta team uses AK47s for the duration of the film. Why would an extremely well-equipped group use such low-end rifles? I understand that Delta uses whatever gear they please and that "local" weapons can help them blend in (the film is set in Eastern Europe), but I doubt that's the case here. Even when the action shifts to other areas, they continue you to use the AKs. Very weird that they'd have money for all the vehicles, stunts and uniforms, but skimp on the weapons! Finally, there are the usual plot holes and logic problems found in most cheesy action movies.

But the bottomline is that Operation Delta Force 4 is a good time for action fiends. As long as you remember to compare it to the latest Rob Lowe DTV POS and not the latest James Cameron action blockbuster, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

WHAT ABOUT PART 5?

Operation Delta Force 5: Random Fire is good, but not as good as part 4. Three reasons for this: 1) All-new cast doesn't look the part. The cast of Delta 4 were mostly fit, ruddy-faced and rough-looking. I caught an interview with two real-life Delta operators in a recent documentary and they actually looked like that. The new guys in Delta 5 look too soft or too pretty. They ARE better actors though, whatever that's worth in a cheesy action film. 2) They tried to bring some class to the picture and it didn't work. There's a tad too much story and character development in the film and it isn't executed all that well. 3) Maybe this is due to (2) slowing it down, but the director, Yossi Wein, didn't seem to bring the same level of energy as Roper did for part 4.

On the positive side, part 5 showed tactics more clearly. The way they clear the room, cover each other, etc. It still suffers from "unlikely gun syndrome" though.


SUMMARY:

Operation Delta Force 4: Deep Fault
- Snowy, Eastern Europe locales
- AK47s everywhere
- Vehicles: Tanks, trains, SUV, helicopters, streetcar, snowmobiles
- Crazy plot to nuke into creation a 9.6 Richter scale earthquake
- High Production values for a direct-to-video (DTV) movie
- EXTREMELY ENTHUSIASTIC!
- Wall-to-wall action that's filmed and edited quite energetically
- Bad or uneven acting
- Not much story (though this allows for the wall-to-wall action)
- Improbable scenes
- Delta's choice of weapons is unlikely

Operation Delta Force 5: Random Fire
- Various African locales, though mainly dusty encampment type stuff
- Hilariously cheesy cult leader/bad guy type. Armed with hypnotic powers and a powerful singing voice.
- Vehicles: Trains, choppers, warships, zodiacs, etc
- High Production values for a DTV movie, though some interior sets reveal the cheapness.
- Tactics shown quite clearly. More of a special forces "feel" than part 4.
- Direction during the action scenes is solid and effective.
- Decent acting
- Too bad most of the actors don't look the part at all
- Too much story (gets in the way of action)
- Weapon choice is even worse here and you can't pretend it's to blend with the locals. Each guy uses a different weapon and they're not necessarily good ones either: AK47 with grenade launcher, a SIG, some M4 ancestor, and a couple of foreign weapons. Yeah, right.

OVERALL: If you're receptive to DTV action movies or are an action fiend, give these films a shot. Especially part 4. The picture on the DVDs is solid and the sound, while not 5.1, is very loud and lively.

EDIT TO ADD: I just realized that Richard Marcinko's fictional Rogue Warrior books aren't that much different from these movies. I'm not sure if that's good for the movies or bad for Marcinko.

Last edited by ipkevin; 09-25-01 at 11:47 PM.

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