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Aces: Iron Eagle III
John Glen, who directed give James Bond films in the eighties, is the man behind 1992's Aces: Iron Eagle III, a film that isn't very good but which does at least suffice as passable, brainless entertainment if you're in a less discerning mood and looking for something you don't have to think about much.
When the story begins, Charles 'Chappy' Sinclair (Louis Gossett Jr.) is flying an American plane alongside three other WWII reenactment pilots: a German named Leichman (Horst Bucholtz), a Japanese man named Korikoshi (Sonny Chiba) and a British pilot named Palmer (Chris Cazenove). Together they put on stunt-heavy airshows for a wild-eyed crowd. After their latest ‘battle' Chappy lands only to find out that his pal has been shot down and, not only that, a whole lot of cocaine was found in his plane.
Chappy knows that this has to be a setup of some sort and so, despite the protests of Simms (Mitchell Ryan), his commanding officer, he sets out to prove it. This starts when his dead pal's sister, Anna (Rachel McLish) shows up on base, having just escaped from a Peruvian compound run by the diabolical Kleiss (Paul Freeman), a former Nazi now involved in the narcotics trade . She fills him in on what's been happening in her village and he gets angry! Stockman won't let him use U.S. Airforce plans for his mission, however, and so he gets his three fellow stunt-flyers together to agree to a mission using those old WWII planes. Their owner, Stockman (Fred Dalton Thompson), isn't happy about this at first, but he relents. Meanwhile, an inner city tough named Tee Vee (Phill Lewis), who Chappy uses to protect Anna, decides he wants in on the action too…
If ever a movie screamed ‘1992,' this would be it. From the fashions to the quips and one-liners to the weird rap jokes to the dance scene where a team of B-girls perform ‘The Boogie Woogie Hip-Hop Boy Of Company B' to the effects to the score, this all feels insanely dated. Granted, that's part of the movie's charm, but wow, what a time capsule this one is. It's also ridiculously predictable and poorly written, with Kevin Alyn Elders' script piling on one cliché after the next, likely in an attempt to appeal to the widest audience possible. What was probably meant to be a crowd pleaser instead comes off as mindless and dumb, but if you can turn off your brain and go with the flow, the movie offers some okay action scenes, a few decent dog fights (meaning plane battles, not actual fights using actual dogs), a couple of mediocre fights and, well, some laughably bad dialogue.
Gossett is his typically charismatic self here and he carries the film. Chappy is a tough, no-nonsense guy, out to clear his dead friend's name, save his sister and her village and right the wrongs that have been perpetrated on them. He's likeable enough, even when spouting bad dialogue (including the requisite ‘I'm too old for this shit' quip at one point). Bucholtz and Cazenove are a few steps below him but fine in their respective roles. The bad man from Japan himself, Sonny Chiba, however, is a different story. Speaking his lines in English, which is not his native tongue, Chiba's acting in this picture can be charitably described as awkward. Sonny's put out dozens of fantastic films in his homeland but here he's just… not good. Also not good is leading lady Rachel McLish, a female body builder with an interesting screen presence and a noticeable void when it comes to acting skills. She's wooden enough here to make Chiba look good, and that's saying something.
Chock full of corny stereotypes, a couple of flight gags that are way too goofy for their own good and a whole lot of inane dialogue, this one is hard to take too seriously… but again, if brainless action sounds like a good idea (and let's face it, sometimes it does), then this will fit the bill.
Aces: Iron Eagle III comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Kino Lorber who use a transfer presumably supplied to them by Studio Canal (the SC logo plays before the movie starts) that is a big step up from DVD while never maximizing what a Blu-ray can offer in terms of picture quality. Colors look good but there's mild print damage visible throughout and maybe a tiny bit of noise reduction here. The image looks better than standard definition ever could but it still a bit on the soft side in terms of detail and texture.
The only audio option on the disc is an English language DTS-HD 2.0 track. The levels are a bit low here but if you don't mind turning up the volume a tad, it sounds fine. Dialogue is easy to understand and follow and the levels are balanced well enough. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion. Subtitles are provided in English only.
Extras are limited to a still gallery, a trailer for the feature, bonus trailers for other Kino Lorber properties, menus and chapter selection.
Aces: Iron Eagle III isn't good at all, but it's entertaining and often times quite unintentionally funny. There's a few okay action scenes where and Gossett's charisma helps. Still, the movie is rife with clichés and stereotypes, which doesn't do it any favors. Kino's Blu-ray release looks better than DVD could but leaves definite room for improvement. It's also light on extras. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.