What Not To Watch: Iron Eagle IV: On The Attack
Today marks the 29th Anniversary of the release of the original Iron Eagle starring Louis Gossett Jr., Jason Gedrick and Tim Thomerson. You can check out my review of this 80’s classic by clicking here.
In 1988, the first sequel to the film was released. And like most sequels, it didn’t quite match up to the original, but it was by no means unwatchable (although Maury Chaykin was doing his part to make it that way). In 1992, Aces: Iron Eagle III was released. They went in a totally different direction with this one, but keeping the heart of the franchise, Chappy Sinclair (Louis Gossett Jr.) at the forefront. I believe III is superior to II. But in 1995 they went to the well once too often and the franchise took a huge nose dive.
Which leads me to the subject of this installment of What Not To Watch… Iron Eagle IV aka Iron Eagle On The Attack.
- Troubled Youth: Decades from now film historians are going to believe that the 1990’s was the absolute worst time to be a teenager due to the numerous films about troubled teens being assisted by a strong role model. There was Only the Strong, where Mark Dacascos uses Capoeira to get troubled teens on the right path. Then there’s Tom Berenger and Treat Williams in The Substitute movies. And let’s not forget, Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds. Iron Eagle IV has Chappy Sinclair running a flight school for misfit kids, taking the old “straighten up and fly right” quite literally. But the troubled teen angle wasn’t enough of a gimmick for the third sequel in the series, it needed something else…
- The Return of Doug Masters: Despite the fact that they unceremoniously kill off the character of Doug Masters in the opening of Iron Eagle II, they rewrite history and we learn while Doug was shot down, he didn’t die. Instead he became a prisoner of war in Russia and was stuck there for years before he eventually got out and became an alcoholic and in general a negative person. As a youngster watching the original, I could look up to the character Doug Masters. Here was a kid that just graduated high school, having the guts and the intestinal fortitude to fly to the Middle East to rescue his dad. You have to be born with that kind of bravery. And the role of Doug Masters was played to perfection by Jason Gedrick. But while Iron Eagle IV does bring back Doug Masters, they did not bring back Jason Gedrick. Instead Doug is played by Canada’s own, Jason Cadieux, who I assume won some sort of Canadian Jason Gedrick Lookalike Contest. I understand they wanted to tear the Doug Masters character down so they could build him back up by the end of the movie, but I think they made the wrong choice. If I were writing the movie, I would have had somebody with some real acting chops, a man who actually won an Academy Award, namely Louis Gossett Jr., play a down on his luck Chappy, a Chappy who is at the end of his rope when walking back into his life, his protege and friend, Doug Masters! Masters helps get Chappy back on track and asks him to help him at his new Iron Eagle Flight Academy. Instead we get an actor with limited talent, playing an unappealing version of Doug Masters. In any form of entertainment, if the audience doesn’t care about the hero of the film, there’s a major problem. I had nothing but apathy for Doug Masters in Iron Eagle IV, unlike the original where I was rooting for Doug all the way. And the same could be said for all of Chappy’s students… whether they lived or died really didn’t matter.
If you are a fan of the original Iron Eagle and have not seen Iron Eagle IV, then please keep your love of the movie pure and don’t taint it by watching the sorry excuse for an Iron Eagle that Iron Eagle IV is. On The Attack is the perfect alternate title for this trash heap, as it literally attacks your fond memories of the original Iron Eagle.
If you were not a fan of the original Iron Eagle, you certainly aren’t going to enjoy this low rent version. So again, same advice… don’t watch this movie!
And if my reasons above were not enough, here are a few more reasons…
- Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: If memory serves me, Chappy and his team are betrayed by a general in Iron Eagle II… well they are betrayed by a MAJOR general in Iron Eagle IV. I can see rehashing that angle if this was Iron Eagle 7 or 8, but just two movies later?
- Conspicuous By His Absence: If Chappy needed help at his flight school, where in the world was his friend Slappy, played by the incomparable Chino “Fats” Williams. I’m sure everybody needed to eat at the school, Slappy could have been the chef who fixed the students some of his fine Italian cuisine. Maybe he didn’t have the proper paperwork to work in Canada.
- Soundtrack: The original Iron Eagle featured a great soundtrack covering multiple genres and eras. And while Chappy does get down while he’s repairing an airplane, instead of James Brown it is some generic music that you’d expect to find in a low budget action movie filmed in Canada.