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Firefox (1982)

We’re back. Yes the Four Horseman of the Video Store Apocalypse, better known to our followers as the Video Store Action Heroes are taking on the popular topic of Planes, Trains and Auto …. back the $%&^*  up. Just which one of my fellow heroes picked this topic? Planes, Trains and … Boats? I can just imagine Steve Martin breaking a banjo string and John Candy looking down on us with a raised eyebrow once word reaches them of our automobile snub.

For the record, alongside yours truly we have Todd at the Cinema Monolith, Greg at Destroy All Fanboys and Mikey the Wolfman joining in for this celebration of 70’s and 80’s “classics.”

Which brings us to my selection using the Planes theme of our choices that stars the legendary Clint Eastwood directing himself for the 7th time. No it’s not a Dirty Harry film that sees Callahan taking on a group of hijackers utilizing snakes to hold their hostages at bay. We’ll leave that for Samuel L. Jackson in the not too distant future. No this is more Concorde ’79 than it is the streets of San Francisco.

“We need you Major. You’re the best we got.”

No he isn’t a hitman coming out of retirement. Not this time at least. No sir, Clint is a retired Airforce pilot who was indeed one of their best. Following the Vietnam war that saw him captured after ejecting from his damaged plane, he saw first hand the horrors of war on the ground as opposed to the skies and has never been able to get past the images of war. Now he’s a recluse living in Alaska. His country is about to come calling when intel unveils that the Russians have a new state of the art fighter pilot called the Firefox.

What makes Clint the best man for the job of entering Russia as a civilian and connecting to the underground? Simple. He speaks Russian and with his flying skills, he’s the perfect patsy to infiltrate a Russian military compound and steal the Firefox from it’s hangar and fly it to England where Professor Freddie Jones will be eagerly awaiting it’s arrival. Of course if Clint were to be captured, he’s a lame duck who is acting purely on his own.

While we all know Clint is quite the tough guy on camera, this time out he’s closer to a pacifist thanks to his emotional wartime scars. He’s far from an espionage expert and though he agrees to the operation, he’s going to be coddled by Warren Clarke who is his Russian contact once entering the Soviet Union. One who thinks very little of Clint’s success rate early on. Clint may be a pacifist but when he’s cornered by a KGB officer at a train depot, he’ll become the Clint we are all familiar with as he uses deadly force to remain at large.

At a running time of two hours and sixteen minutes, there really isn’t much going on other than the straight goods. Clint gets recruited to go to Russia. Clint hangs with the underground and avoids all KGB officers with the blank expressions and the one line we expect to hear them say, “Your papers.” Clint gets his orders on just how the operation is to be successfully carried out with the help of Nigel Hawthorn and of course Clint steals the Firefox and now must evade it’s twin piloted by Colonel Voskov (Kai Wulff). While all of these plot points are circling, the Russians led by Stefan Schnabel and Klaus Lowitsch are doing their best to save face at the Kremlin, track Clint and return the Firefox to it’s hangar.

When all seems lost the order is given, “Obliterate it. Completely.” Yes Clint and the Firefox, much like the Concorde ’79 coupled with the lousy F/X to match are going to have to evade capture or worse still, destruction.

Yeah this one’s totally watchable but then that’s the Eastwood factor taking hold. Truthfully if one wanted to tear this one apart, it’s relatively easy to do but then that’s never been my style. I’d rather poke fun than intentionally cut up a film. Which brings us to the F/X that are employed here and if you’ve seen Airport : Concorde ’79 then you’ll understand why I’ve been tossing that one at you like a grenade. The effects of that film were pure camp and Clint’s nearly hitting the same mark. As a matter of fact for a minute or two I thought maybe he had hired Eiji Tsuburaya away from the Godzilla productions at Toho to take over some arctic sequences employed here. Then there is the Star Wars like fight between the two Firefox aircraft that uses mountain canyons like you’re in a tunnel of the Death Star. To top it off there’s just no excitement in the final battle for the skies accompanied by a Maurice Jarre score that sounds if it’s been lifted from an Indiana Jones adventure.

So now that I’ve got that paragraph out of the way let’s take a breather and remind one and all that this was another Eastwood hit at the box office. And no I don’t think it had anything to do with Ronald Lacey and Wolf Kahler reuniting on camera just one year after their world wide box office smash, Raiders of The Lost Ark. Seriously? You don’t know these guys? Well neither did I but I sure recognized their faces and why wouldn’t I. Lacey played Toht and Kahler played Dietrich. Both slated to melt alongside Paul Freeman’s Belloq after opening the Ark of the Covenant at the film’s fiery climax. Jeez, I hope I didn’t give anything away there.

No, I think this Firefox brought in viewers due to the legendary Mr. Eastwood. As a matter of fact, I was just telling Brando that Clint’s the reason I’ve kept this poor conditioned one sheet after all these years.

Now it’s time to follow those links to my action hero pals to see just what films they’ve dug up from the past to revisit and enjoy once again as we all turn the clock back to the days of the VHS rental.  See you next time.

20 Comments »

  1. As you’ve probably guessed, I HAVE seen this one, and of course own it, but it’s been long time since my last viewing. I also saw it at the theater, and had a great time with it then, but I remember also being a bit let down by what should’ve been an exciting and rousing conclusion. And it’s so interesting to me to see special effects in films from the early ’80s, and how cheap and outdated they seem; I try to recall my experiences seeing them in theaters back then, and if I’d thought the effects were state-of-the-art at the time, or merely…cheap and soon-to-be outdated. I own the DVD, and will probably give this a watch soon…but I’m wondering, how does it look on Blu-ray? Are the poor ’80s effects that much more pronounced, and noticeable?

    And guess what! I owned that poster, too, and had it framed on my wall for years. Nowadays, it’s ‘The Enforcer’ that has that privilege, though I’d have to think if any other poster has the power to replace it.

    • Not sure why I never saw this one at the theater when I was a kid, I was old enough to go and remember it’s release. I think the f/x are just bad in general when compared to the Star Wars type of stuff which this film clearly wants to be during the final battle. And yes I have an Enforcer as well along with all the Harry sequels but alas, not the original film.

      • A few years back I watched The Last Starfighter and Tron somewhat back-to-back, and was surprised to see the vast difference in SFX quality between two films released about the same time: Tron’s was quite good (for the time), while Starfighter’s wasn’t even close, and was almost embarrassing. Maybe it was budget, or the particular SFX company hired to do the effects. Either way, it’s funny to think that a small 1977 sci-fi film outdid them both.

  2. Great write up as expected buddy. Love you got the poster to go with it. I watched this twice in the 80s. Of course I was there like everyone for Dirty Harry flying a super spec jet plane during the Cold War. Though I admit the first time on VHS I got bored. That 2 plus hours with not much happening deflated me a bit from what I was expecting. However the next time I saw it would of been on the telly with my Dad and probably being a few years older I appreciated it more. Really enjoyed it.
    Well I never. I didn’t realise there was a fair few fellow Brits in the cast. Freddie, Warren and Nigel. If I had watched that now I would of been surprised to see them pop up in a Clint movie. If it wasn’t for the long runtime I’d very much like to see it again. Maybe over xmas.
    Good to see Brando getting in on the action. A VSAH mascot.

  3. Oh, I saw this waaaay back in ’82 and was a bit put off by the effects work which distracted from the film, I thought. There’s a case where a remastered version where new CGI would help, or at least better models, just to keep it old school. The funny thing is, yeah, for some reason, older folks I’ve sen this with later on cable liked the film despite the cheesy FX. I haven’t seen it in a while, but as usual, your post makes me want to check it out.

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