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Black Eagle: MVD Rewind Collection (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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Black Eagle (1988) - Blu-ray Review

2 starsThis movie is proof that downed US F-111 bombers and curious little boys do not mix.

Make no mistake about it, the MVD Rewind Collection absolutely saves this film from its VHS dustbin obscurity.  The cover art – featuring a “Be Kind Rewind” sticker on the front – is all sorts of exciting that Black Eagle, aiming to be an international spy flick but failing on almost every level, is not. 

Jean-Claude Van Damme, before becoming HUGE in Bloodsport, appears (briefly) as a soviet KGB assassin on the hunt for the top-secret laser guidance system that, as it was attached to a downed USA aircraft, has crashed in the ocean.  Mr. Muscles from Brussels is in secondary mode here as henchman; he kicks, he spins, he kills, and then he disappears for huge chunks of time.  You soon realize that Black Eagle isn’t really his film.

"The cover art – featuring a “Be Kind Rewind” sticker on the front – is all sorts of exciting that Black Eagle, aiming to be an international spy flick but failing on almost every level, is not."


Even though Van Damme’s image is used to sell the flick, this is a movie designed around the involvement of Shô Kosugi (in Cannon Films cult classics Enter the Ninja and Ninja III: The Dominion) as vacationing special operative Ken Tani who finds himself as the CIA’s and the movie’s go-to guy.  Interesting.  While Kosugi does morph himself into a mouse-like role (thanks to big eyeglasses and high-waist pants)– a move that pays off in the finale – Kosugi’s acting is really not something to flex.  He can kick all sorts of ass, though.

Kosugi is much better (and exciting) as a fleet-footed ninja than he is at playing actor and, as he is essentially posing as a “Dad on vacation” with his two kids (and, yes, they are Kosugi’s own kids) in tow, the audience quickly understands this.  Hilarious, at times.  He helps out the CIA look for their missing equipment and, because he doesn’t want to risk his kids thinking that he is not there for them, he quietly sneaks away to destroy bad guys and then sneaks back in again. No one seems to notice at first. And then CIA agent Patricia Parker (Doran Clark) joins in on the family fun.

Colonel Vladimir Klimenko (Vladimir Skomarovsky), trying to beat the CIA to the lost merchandise, is about as threatening as a turtle on the highway in this flick.  He snaps his fingers and Van Damme, who maybe has a couple of sentences here, gets to kicking butt.  We know there is going to be a showdown between Van Damme and Kosugi but, after the script manages to tie itself up into an unsolvable knot you might just not care anymore.

Thankfully, we have a very beautiful location in Malta to keep us staring at the screen when the threats, the kidnapping, and all the escapes happen.  The seascape views are gorgeous and, while Tank and Parker and the kids, traverse the area, we get plenty of stunning views to gawk at.  Unfortunately, the movie is a bit of a bust.  Things truly don’t get exciting until the finale when we finally get to see Kosugi and Van Damme have at it.  The fun bits in between are just unintentionally amusing. 

Black Eagle (1988) - Blu-ray Review

It is interesting to see here, with Van Damme in the role of the villain (and our knowledge that Bloodsport (1988), Kickboxer (1989), Cyborg (1989) and Lionheart (1990) were on the way), he was very much aware of his growing public image. He looks good, shows off, and is dressed up throughout this flick. A sea change is about to occur. 

Black Eagle arrives on blu-ray with two versions of the movie (one adding 11-minutes of drama and character building to it) thanks to the MVD Rewind Collection.  This release, while the packaging is good but, unless you are Van Damme, it is nothing to do the splits over.

Watch as the Cold War gets chilled again thanks to this flightless Black Eagle.

Black Eagle (1988) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime:
93 mins
Director
: Eric Karson
Writer:
A.E. Peters, Michael Gonzales
Cast:
Shô Kosugi, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Doran Clark
Genre
: Action
Tagline:
There are no enemies. There is no glory. This fight is one on one.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Three of those planes were carrying highly secret laser guiding systems"
Theatrical Distributor:
Taurus Entertainment Company
Official Site:
Release Date:
May, 1988
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 27, 2018
Synopsis: After an F-11 gets shot down over the Mediterranean Sea, The U.S. government cannot afford to lose the top-secret laser tracking device that was on board. But unfortunately, the KGB team lead by the infamous Andrei (Jean-Claude Van Damme, The Expendables 2, Universal Soldier) are beating the CIA in the race to find it. The CIA has no choice but to call in their best man, master martial-artist Ken Tani (Sho Kosugi, Ninja Assassin, Revenge of the Ninja), code name… BLACK EAGLE. In response, the KGB resorts to an all-out war, with powerful Andrei matching Ken blow for blow.

Black Eagle (1988) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Special Collector's Edition

Home Video Distributor: MVD Visuals
Available on Blu-ray
- February 27, 2018
Screen Formats: 1.78:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: Dolby Digital 5.1; English: LPCM 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

The newly transferred High Definition Blu-ray (and Standard Definition DVD) presentation of Black Eagle is on point.  While it takes place mainly in and around the Mediterranean, this 1080p transfer captures crisp details in clothing and in locations that are textured and fine.  Loaded with juicy details, this is an atmospheric release that doesn’t shy away from the sunlight.  It has dark layers, yes, and those shadows are well-defined and crisp but the new transfer does not disappoint.  The brand new 1.85:1 HD master is detailed and looks better than ever. Some shots, due to the era of the day, are fuzzier than others but the image is reasonably well defined with crisp contrasts and solid textures. Colors are solid, with reds being a standout. Blacks are, too. Surprisingly, there's enough fine detail on display to make this seem revelatory. The era-ready color palette looks terrific, too. The disc comes with the original 2.0 Stereo Audio (Uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

Buyers of the release get TWO versions of the movie, a new interview with Kosugi, a new interview with the director of the movie, Eric Karson, a retrospective talking about memories from the shoot, a discussion of the screenplay (which is admittedly better than the resulting movie), and a collectable poster of the film.

  • Sho Kosugi: Martial Arts Legend (21 min)
  • The Making of Black Eagle (36 min)
  • Tales of Jean-Claude Van Damme (19 min)
  • The Script and the Screenwriters (27 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (11 min)

Black Eagle (1988) - Blu-ray Review

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