The first Iron Eagle movie was fun, original (many forget it hit theaters several months before Top Gun did), and a total guilty pleasure to watch. Was it realistic? Of course not. But it was one enjoyable popcorn flick. It didn't do a lot of business at the box office, but it gained respectable earnings on the home video market, and spawned a sequel – which didn't last long in the theaters, and deservingly so.
Iron Eagle II began on a downer (killing off one of the main characters from the first movie) and its USA/USSR team-up of young pilots was more laughable than anything else. I guess there's only so far you can suspend your disbelief.
But Iron Eagle II also rented well (although not nearly as good as the first), and the result was this film: Aces: Iron Eagle III. Sadly, things don't get much better in this sequel, although I do think it's slightly better than Iron Eagle II.
I have to give the writers credit on this one – at least they tried to do something a little different. This time, instead of trying to train a bunch of youngsters to fly, Col. Chappy Sinclair (Louis Gossett, Jr.) teams up with some aerial veterans his own age – one from England (Christopher Cazenove), one from Germany (Horst Buchholz), and one from Japan (Sonny Chiba). A friend of Chappy has been shot down, and the military discovers drugs hidden inside his plane. The evidence leads to a Neo-Nazi warlord (Paul Freeman) in Peru who has taken over a small village there – and the climax of the film has the four men launching an air raid against him. Also along for the ride is the buff, but beautiful Rachel McLish – who does dual duty in this movie serving both as eye candy and "Ramboette" at the same time.
Aces possibly has the best acting talent of any Iron Eagle film (in addition to Gossett, Jr., Chiba and Freeman, look for supporting roles by Fred Dalton Thompson and Rob Estes), but the script here just isn't good enough, so the actors don't have much to work with. Believe it or not, there was one more Iron Eagle movie after this one – the direct-to-video Iron Eagle IV, which makes Aces look like Academy Award material in comparison.
On a side note, for some strange reason, Aces has been rated R, for what we are told is "War Violence". Seriously though, this is a very soft R and should have at least been rated PG-13, as all other films in the series were. Other than some very cartoonish violence and the plot involving drugs, there's nothing here that warrants the R rating.
Aces is presented in anamorphic widescreen at the film's original 1.85:1 ratio. Although the picture is just a tad too saturated and has slight hints of grain, I was actually impressed by the quality provided to viewers here. For a title that probably isn't going to drum up a ton of sales, New Line deserves credit for putting some effort into the transfer.
Also impressive is the audio – as the DVD offers viewers a selection between DTS, 5.1, and a 2.0 Dolby Track. In many cases, the difference between 5.1 and DTS isn't all that noticeable…but the difference is apparent here, with the DTS the superior track between the two – impressing with aggressiveness during both the air battles and the gun fights during the movie.
Aside from a Chapter Selection and a DVD-ROM link to the New Line website, the only extras on the DVD are the Original Theatrical Trailer for Aces, plus three additional Trailers – those for Live Wire, Excessive Force and A Man Apart. All four of the trailers are anamorphic.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It's a shame that the writers of these sequels couldn't find something better to put on film…the Sinclair character is an appealing one, and Louis Gossett, Jr. can be one hell of an actor with the right material (lest we forget, he was an Oscar winner for An Officer and a Gentleman). Sadly though, Aces pretty much goes into a nose dive early on, and never is able to recover.