Tuesday 27 September 2011

Iron Eagle IV

Where does it go wrong for some actors? In 1982 Lou Gossett Jr won an Oscar for An Officer and a Gentlemen.  

After a career spent mainly in TV, the role and acclaim he received should have been the launching pad to silver screen success. Unfortunately, Lou chose to make Jaws 3 and the prospect of a glittering career quickly evaporated. 

By 1986 his unerring ability to involve himself in middling films took him to Iron Eagle. It was a ridiculous – although likeable - film about a teenager who steals a fighter jet so he can daringly rescue his father who’s being held hostage in the Middle East. (Gosset plays a retired air force colonel who assists the kid).  

Dismissed by critics as a jingoistic fairy tale, the film somehow spawned three sequels. And Gossett, ever the glutton for punishment, signed up for each and every one of them, including Iron Eagle IV (1995). 

The plot sees Gossett’s character running a flight school with a bunch of misfit teenagers for pupils. They stumble upon some corrupt air force pilots who are dealing in toxic waste. Naturally, there are no federal or state agencies interested in these murky shenanigans, so it falls to the teenagers to foil the conspiracy. 

Anyway, to the exploding helicopter. This occurs as the toxic waste plot unravels. The corrupt General decides it’s time for his men to make a retreat when the airfield he’s operating from is shot up by one of Gossett’s flight cadets in an F-16. 

One of the General’s men grabs a machine gun and jumps on board a waiting helicopter. As it takes off the F-16 comes in for another pass on the airfield. The soldier desperately tries to shoot down the F-16, but is hopelessly outgunned by the fighter jet which turns it into a chopper fireball. 

Artistic merit 

A nice juicy looking fireball. And we get to enjoy it again and again, as the editing allows us to see the same explosion repeated from different angles. However, the helicopter stays largely intact. It would’ve been nice to see it properly blown apart. 

Exploding helicopter innovation 

Director Sidney J Furie doesn’t advance the exploding helicopter genre. That’s disappointing as The Ipcress File is one my favourite films and he did such a good job on that. 

Number of exploding helicopters 



The helicopter is the corrupt General’s personal vehicle, and delightfully he’s taken the trouble to stencil his name on the side. A nice touch. 

The chopper in question is also pleasingly featured on the poster for the film. 


 You do have to wonder if any soldier would be stupid enough to try and escape in a helicopter with a F-16 buzzing around. Is this what they teach at West Point? 

Interesting fact 

Iron Eagle IV features the character Doug Masters who might be familiar to viewers as the guy who was shot and killed in Iron Eagle II. What makes it even more bizarre is that the revived Doug Master isn’t played by the same actor. As he isn’t integral to the plot why bother resurrecting him? 


  1. I gotta check this one out, or maybe go back and do all the Iron Eagles again. I remember when part 3 was in the theater-- or maybe that was part IV. Either way, it didn't last long.

  2. 3, IV, they're all pretty interchangeable. Let me know if you do them, be interested to see what you make of them.