Reviewed by
Colin Jacobson

Title: Delta Force 2 (1990)
Studio Line: MGM

Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger) is in peak form in this explosive action/adventure that brings back one of his most unforgettable characters, Delta Force Colonel Scott McCoy, for a daring mission to destroy a deadly South American drug cartel.

When notorious drug lord Ramon Cota (The Untouchables' Billy Drago) captures a team of American narcotics agents -- as well as a member of McCoy's elite Delta Force commando unit -- and imprisons them in his remote San Carlos compound, The Delta Force charges into action, waging war against Cota's powerful cocaine empire. Against all odds, McCoys and his squad must fight their way to a blistering final battle to free the hostages and destroy the ruthless criminal mastermind in this lightning-paced and "outrageously exciting" (Video Movie Guide) turbo-charged adventure!

Director: Aaron Norris
Cast: Chuck Norris, Billy Drago, John P. Ryan, Richard Jaeckel, Begonia Plaza
DVD: Standard 1.33:1; audio English Dolby Surround; subtitles Spanish, French; closed-captioned; single sided - single layered; 16 chapters; rated R; 111 min.; $19.98; street date 9/19/00.
Supplements: Original Theatrical Trailer.
Purchase: DVD

Picture/Sound/Extras: B/B/D-

The category of "unnecessary sequels" has become quite long. Whether they extended stories that were complete enough to start (Psycho II) or they continued a line of movies well past the point of credibility (any number of horror series), these pictures are why sequels have such a bad name.

Another strong entry: 1990's Delta Force 2, the extension to 1986's mildly successful Chuck Norris original. There's something odd about a movie that wasn't much of a hit getting a sequel, though I guess the video market has opened things up quite a bit so that these continuations make financial sense. Since the original The Delta Force had little artistic merit, I guess I can't criticize the second film for harming our memories of the first one. Nonetheless, DF2 offers a very lackluster and semi-pointless effort.

Although DF2 hit screens a mere four years after the initial film, we see a shift in the American enemies of choice. TDF used Arabs as the bad guys, but DF2 gives us a South American drug lord in this role. After evil Ramon Cota (Billy Drago) kills some DEA agents, the Delta Force rips into action. Colonel Scott McCoy (Norris) and his buddy Major Bobby Chavez (Paul Perri) quickly nab Cota but after a witless judge grants bail, Cota heads for the border. Not until he extracts a little payback, of course, which makes things. personal!

One difference between TDF and the sequel stems from how evil the producers are willing to make the villains. In the original, the Arabs were certainly bad guys, but - probably in an attempt to quell protests about negative portrayals - some of the captors showed modest kindness, such as when one of them gives comfort to a pregnant woman.

I guess no one worried about offending South Americans, because Cota is portrayed as absolutely horrible. He has less than no conscience - he kills babies and pregnant women, for God's sake! I'm surprised we don't see him eat a puppy. The role has no nuance or subtlety; Cota's just the worst of the bad.

Which coincidentally describes the acting in this clunker. In the original, Norris was surrounded by a misused but very capable cast, which made his lack of skill seem even more apparent. He must have learned his lesson, as DF2 of near-nobodies. I recognized Mark Margolis from Pi, End of Days and a couple of other movies, and I remembered John P. Ryan from The Right Stuff, but that's about it. Not exactly night of 1000 stars?

Well, at least the lack of supporting talent does its job; for once Norris doesn't offer the worst performance in the film. Drago and Perri vie for that honor, and I can't choose the winner. Probably Perri, since he seems like a complete dolt through the whole movie, but Drago offers such wild overacting and silliness that he makes it a tough call.

I suppose those two deserve some credit since they probably earned their jobs properly. Not so the film's director, Aaron "brother to Chuck" Norris. Nepotism, anyone? I'm not saying that Aaron's a terrible director or that he didn't earn the task through merit, but it sure looks suspicious. It seems even more questionable when you review his resume and find that he's helmed exceedingly few films that don't star one C. Norris.

In any case, Kubrick couldn't have saved this bomb. Delta Force 2 is a pointless and inane action flick that provides some mildly well-done battle segments but fails due to poor acting, lame characters and a pointless plot. There are far too many great action films in the world for anyone to waste their time with this one.

The DVD:

Delta Force 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. You'll note that I didn't mention that the movie used its "original" aspect ratio; that's because while I couldn't find a concrete listing of the film's theatrical dimensions, it's a good bet that it was 1.85:1. I have no idea why MGM failed to present it in those dimensions. This decision seems especially odd since there was enough room to include both fullscreen and letterboxed versions if they'd so desired.

I could not clearly decide if the movie used an open matte transfer or if it was panned and scanned, but I'm leaning toward the latter. Many scenes presented what seemed to be ample headroom, usually a sign of an open matter film. However, the sides of the frame often appeared awfully cramped, which led to me think the entire original frame was not being presented. In any case, I think the original framing should have been used.

Despite that odd choice, the overall quality of the image seemed fairly strong. Sharpness looked very positive, with a picture that almost always appeared crisp and concise. A few mild examples of softness occurred, but these were rare and minor. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no significant concerns, but print flaws were somewhat problematic. Grain appeared at times, and some grit and speckles also appeared. However, no serious defects like scratches, hairs, blotches or tears were discerned.

Colors looked clear and bright, with hues that consistently seemed bold and lively. Other than some mild heaviness during one red-light bathed scene, I detected no signs of bleeding or noise; the colors were solid. Also good were black levels, which came across as deep and dark without murkiness or gray-tones. Shadow detail could be somewhat excessively thick at times, though, and some low-light segments were difficult to discern. As a whole, however, the image seemed positive.

Also pretty good is the Dolby Surround soundtrack of Delta Force 2. The soundfield appeared fairly engaging, though I was surprised to discover that the mix actually seemed less aggressive than that of the 1986 original. The forward channels appeared somewhat restricted compared to the nicely broad and lively action heard in the first movie; the score displayed some very solid stereo separation, but effects seemed more monophonic than I'd expect. They're not truly isolated to the center channel, but they showed less depth than I would like.

The surround activity strongly resembled that of the original movie, though I had fewer reservations. The Delta Force used the rear speakers a little too actively; some sound that probably shouldn't have come from those channels did, and I found the effect distracting. Delta Force 2 seemed fairly active and the surrounds contributed nicely to the mix. I thought the track was involving and pretty robust.

Audio quality appeared very solid. Dialogue was natural and crisp, with no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Music sounded clear and lively, and it showed strong dynamic range; the score seemed bright and clear. Effects also were clean and powerful; they packed some serious punch at times, especially during the many action scenes. Explosions, gunfire, and aircraft all seemed accurate and realistic, and the louder segments displayed solid low end. As with the mix for the original film, the soundtrack to DF2 doesn't compare to that of newer movies, but it worked quite well for its age.

Less positive are the DVD's supplements. DF2 offers almost no extras. We find the film's original theatrical trailer but nothing else.

Even had Delta Force 2 been a packed special edition, I still doubt I 'd recommend it just because the movie is a dud. The film provides some mild action thrills but suffers from weak acting and a contrived script. Although it bizarrely fails to replicate the movie's original aspect ratio, the DVD provides solid picture and sound, but nearly no supplements can be found. Die-hard Chuck Norris fans may take some pleasure from Delta Force 2, but others should probably skip it.

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