Directed by: Eric Karson
Written by: Shimon Arama, Michael Gonzales and A.E. Peters
Cast: Sho Kusugi, Jean Claude Van Damme, Doran Clark, Bruce French, Vladimir Skomarovsky and William Bassett
Running Time: 100 Minutes
UK Certificate: 15
Format: Blu-ray (Available Now)
Studio: 101 Films
During the cold war a U.S. F111 fighter is shot down and now lies at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The jet is carrying a top secret laser tracking devise which the CIA are desperate to retrieve. However, the KGB have gotten a head start and the CIA must bring in their top man, code named ‘Black Eagle’, to stop the devise from falling into enemy hands.
Black Eagle advertises itself as a vehicle for Jean Claude Van Damme who was coming off from his success in Bloodsport. Audiences expecting something akin to The Delta Force or Commando, or any typical 80’s action movie will be disappointed.
The movie opens with several passenger planes landing at an airport, over the top of the images we hear the radio chatter between the US Navy and a pilot who is being shot down. The passenger plane doors open and out steps our villains Vladimir and Andrei. Vladimir is played by Vladimir Skomarovsky (Fatal Attraction, 2010) and Andrei by Van Damme. Skomarovsky is our main villain here and plays the role straight and at times a little stale. It becomes apparent from very early on that Van Damme is our secondary villain and hired to sell the movie. Skomarovsky and Van Damme are here to salvage the laser targeting system and set up their base of operations aboard a trawler.
The head of the CIA is Rickert, played by William Basset (House of 1000 Corpses, The Karate Kid). Rickert pulls in ‘Black Eagle’ played by Sho Kusugi (Enter the Ninja, Blind Fury). In order to convince ‘Black Eagle’ to come to Malta, the CIA bring his two sons with them, giving him little choice in the matter. The two boys are being looked after by agent Parker, played by Doran Clark (The Warriors) who is very much the female agent who has something to prove against her male superiors. Even though her character is a cliché, Clark plays it with as much conviction as she can muster. Sho Kusugi as ‘Black Eagle’ is given very little to work with here and as such his performance suffers from lack of direction and genuine plot.
Throughout the movie it is inferred that ‘Black Eagle’ is the best of the best, yet we are never given the chance to see what makes him so. Helping ‘Black Eagle’ on his mission is, wait for it, an ex-agent turned priest played by Bruce French (Mission Impossible III). French, aside from Doran Clark, is the only credible performer in the movie.The biggest issue with Black Eagle is its distinct lack of plot and character development. Somewhere there is an attempt to give characters back story but this comes so late in the running time that you have to ask why should you care?
Being a film with two martial arts stars you would be forgiven to think ‘at least the fight sequences will save it’. Unfortunately they are uninspired and seemed to be designed to favour Van Damme even though he’s the villain!
According to several other sites Black Eagle cost three million dollars and I’m not sure we are even seeing a third of that on screen. One of the few saving graces is that Malta looks wonderful and the medieval parts of the city are highlighted in a chase sequence and a daytime rescue.
By any standards ‘Black Eagle’ is not a great film and I would dare say that even the most hardcore Jean Claude Van Damme fans would have a hard time finding any joy here.
Although the review has been fairly negative so I would like to end on a positive. I would like to give praise to 101 Films for the transfer for Black Eagle as it is clean and bright. Malta stands out extremely well and the colours are vibrant. Noise and grain are left to a minimum and the underwater sequences are clear. Certain sequences are so clear you would be forgiven to think they were filmed recently. The sound and music is crisp and available in two tracks, 5.1 or Stereo. Although this is a vanilla disc, with no special features, 101 Films have done a commendable job and I look forward to seeing more from their coming catalogue.
Movie Rating: 4/10