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The Delta Force

This article is about the film. For U.S. military unit, see Delta Force. For other uses, see Delta Force (disambiguation).
The Delta Force
File:Delta force poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Menahem Golan
Produced by
Written by
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography David Gurfinkel
Edited by Alain Jakubowicz
Distributed by The Cannon Group
Release dates
  • February 14, 1986 (1986-02-14)
Running time
130 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Box office $17.76 million[1]

The Delta Force is a 1986 American action film starring Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin (in his final film) as leaders of an elite squad of Special Forces troops based on the real life U.S. Army Delta Force unit. It was directed by Menahem Golan and featured Martin Balsam, Joey Bishop, Robert Vaughn, Steve James, Robert Forster, Shelley Winters, and George Kennedy. The film was produced in Israel. Two sequels were produced entitled Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection and Delta Force 3: The Killing Game. The Delta Force is loosely based on the hijacking of TWA Flight 847.[2]


The film opens up on Operation Eagle Claw, the American operation to rescue American hostages being held at the U.S. embassy to Tehran. The operation is being aborted after a fatal helicopter crash, with the U.S. Delta Force evacuating to their C-130 transports. Among them is Captain Scott McCoy, who, against orders, rescues his wounded comrade Pete Peterson from the burning helicopter before the team finally evacuates. McCoy expresses his disgust for the politicians and military hierarchy that forced the mission to launch despite the risks, and announces he is resigning his commission.

Five years later, a group of Lebanese terrorists hijack American Travelways Flight 282, a Boeing 707 flying from Cairo, Egypt to New York City via Athens, Greece and Rome, Italy. Taking all 144 passengers and crew hostage on the Athens-Rome leg, the group, the pro-Khomeini New World Revolutionary Organization, led by two terrorists named Abdul Rafai and Mustafa, forces Captain Roger Campbell and his crew to fly the plane to Beirut, Lebanon, where they make demands to the United States government that, if not met, will result in the death of the hostages. During the crisis, they separate the Jewish passengers from the Americans by forcing the flight attendant to identify them, who is hesitant to do so because she is German. Unbeknownst to the authorities, the Jewish hostages are then taken off the plane and transported to a militant-controlled area of Beirut, while a dozen additional henchmen are brought on board.

The plane departs for Algiers, where the terrorists release the female hostages and children. Meanwhile, Delta Force, led by Colonel Nick Alexander and McCoy, recalled to duty and promoted to Major, are deployed to resolve the crisis. Once the female hostages are evacuated, they launch their assault, only to discover too late that there are additional hijackers and inadvertently alert the terrorists. Abdul kills one hostage, a US Navy diver named Tom, and forces the pilots to return to Beirut, taking the remaining male passengers with him. Delta Force gives chase to rescue the hostages.

Upon landing again in Beirut, the terrorists transport the passengers to a separate location, while the pilots remain in the aircraft. Using a sympathetic Greek Orthodox priest, Israeli Army Intelligence prepares an operation to free the hostages. In a prolonged campaign against the terrorists, Delta Force bides their time to identify the terrorist leaders and the locations of the hostages. Once their locations are discovered, Delta Force assaults the terrorist holdouts, freeing the hostages and evacuating them to the airport. During the battle, McCoy, Peterson and their team hunt down Abdul and his men, killing most of the militants before Abdul shoots Peterson, gravely injuring him. McCoy chases Abdul and tracks him down to an abandoned home. He then engages him into a vicious hand-to-hand fight, breaking Abdul's arm. As the terrorist leader prepares to shoot McCoy, he is killed after McCoy launches a rocket into his car.

With the hostages and rescue teams secured, the team seizes Flight 282 by secretly infiltrating the airfield through a cotton field. Using silenced weapons, Alexander and the Delta team assassinates the terrorist guards including the last hijacker and saves the crew, ordering them to fly to Israel. The team boards the plane with all of the hostages, taking off just as McCoy is the last one to board the plane after having destroyed several terrorist jeeps on the runway with his motorcycle armament. On board the team tends to the wounded passengers and Pete who is now dying. After having confirmed that the hostages are safe and en route home, Pete says his farewells to McCoy before succumbing to his wounds. In the main cabin the ex-hostages and Delta commandos join together in a rousing rendition of "America The Beautiful", not knowing about Pete's death, except for Alexander and Bobby. In Israel, the plane lands safely and the hostages are greeted by their families, while Delta Force disembarks with Pete's body in tow. The team concludes their operation and departs for the United States amidst celebrations by the people.


Delta Force

Lebanese terrorists

Crew and passengers


Alan Silvestri's electronic score gained a new life when ABC Sports used it to intro their Indianapolis 500 broadcasts from 19881998 and again in 2001. It was also used for the intro of the Brickyard 400 until ABC lost the race rights to NBC Sports in 2001. According to famous Indianapolis 500 anchor Paul Page, he does not want any ESPN/ABC anchor to use this music in intros for the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 unless he narrates the intros himself. It is now used on the XM Satellite broadcasts of IndyCar racing events, of which Paul Page is the announcer.[citation needed]

The soundtrack album was initially released by Enigma Records, and later by Milan Records (minus "The Rescue") on an album paired with Jerry Goldsmith's King Solomon's Mines; in 2008 Intrada Records issued a limited edition CD with the entire score. Quartet Records released a two-disc set in 2013 featuring the Intrada album programme on disc one and the Enigma album listing on disc two; all are now OOP.

Disc One:

  1. Main Title (5:16)
  2. Terrorists Board Jet (3:19)
  3. Three American Marines (4:09)
  4. First Class (3:59)
  5. Rescue (5:59)
  6. Hebrew Ring (3:48)
  7. Round Up and Collection (4:57)
  8. More Terrorists (3:00)
  9. Delta Force Theme (4:24)
  10. The Selections (5:26)
  11. The Takeover (5:34)
  12. Funeral (4:35)
  13. Algiers (10:57)
  14. Hostages Arrive Home and End Credits (9:59)

Disc Two:

  1. The Delta Force Theme (4:22)
  2. Three American Soldiers (4:05)
  3. The Selections (5:26)
  4. The Takeover (2:55)
  5. Saved (5:16)
  6. Undercover (3:26)
  7. The Landing (4:12)
  8. The Collection (2:11)
  9. The Rescue (5:40)


The Delta Force had opened in 1,720 theaters, and debuted as #3 in the box office losing to The Color Purple and Down and Out in Beverly Hills, but beat Nightmare on Elm Street 2 and Youngblood.[3] It earned $5,959,505 on its opening weekend and had a total gross of $17,768,900 in the United States.[4]

The Delta Force has been released on Blu-ray in the US, and more recently in the UK by video label Arrow Films.[5]


Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 20% of ten surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 3.9/10.[6] In a positive review for the Chicago Sun Times, Roger Ebert gave it three out of four stars and called it "a well-made action film that tantalizes us with its parallels to real life."[2] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that it "will be the 1986 film all others will have to beat for sheer, unashamed, hilariously vulgar vaingloriousness."[7] Variety described it as "an exercise in wish fulfilment for those who favor using force instead of diplomacy."[8]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p189
  2. ^ a b "The Delta Force". Chicago Sun Times. 1986-02-14. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 
  3. ^ "New Movies Make Inroads At Box Office". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  4. ^ "The Delta Force". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 
  5. ^ Harley, Joe (2014-05-01). "Blu-ray Review: THE DELTA FORCE (1986)". Starburst. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 
  6. ^ "The Delta Force (1986)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 
  7. ^ Canby, Vincent (1986-02-14). "SCREEN:DELTA FORCE". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  8. ^ "The Delta Force". Variety. 1986. Retrieved 2014-10-10. 

External links