Eighties TV was a time of super vehicles. Knight Rider‘s KITT was a Trans-Am with artificial intelligence. Street Hawk‘s motorcycle could hit 300 mph on Los Angeles streets. It was only natural that TV viewers would get treated to a helicopter that went beyond whatever Sikorsky manufactured. Airwolf was the attack helicopter of the future. It could deafen the speed of sound. It had enough weapons to destroy the hopes of world dictators. It cost more to build than the new Yankee Stadium. Airwolf: The Movie explains how McHale and the World’s Greatest Athlete took the controls. This is the original cut of the film that aired in England. The CBS network censors in America had them snip away the more violent moments which aren’t that graphic.
Airwolf is created by Dr. Charles Henry Moffet (Barbarella‘s David Hemming). After blowing a billion dollars, he has to show it off to a Congressman under the watchful eye of Michael Coldsmith Biggs III (Alex Cord). Biggs is easy to spot since he wears white suits with his eyepatch. Turns out that after an intense demo, Moffet has bad news for everyone. He’s made a deal with Libya’s Col. Gaddafi! The Airwolf heads across the ocean to serve as a tool for terror. America will not stand for this. But what can they use against the ultimate weapon?
Biggs knows of only one man that truly understands Airwolf. Stringfellow Hawke (The World’s Greatest Athlete‘s Jan-Michael Vincent) was a test pilot in the program until he had a falling out with Moffet. Hawke doesn’t want the dangerous mission since he’s earning a good living doing helicopter movie stunts with Dominic (McHale’s Navy‘s Ernest Borgnine). He’s got a plush house in the country. He doesn’t need to risk his life to get back a helicopter from a man scientist and a mad tyrant. Biggs needs help from Gabrielle Ademaur (Belinda Bauer) to inspire Hawke to fly for them.
Airwolf: The Movie works for people who just want a movie featuring big toys from the ‘80s. The actions scenes resemble a good medium budget flick from that time. Since this is the pilot, a new viewer doesn’t have to worry about catching up on previous seasons. They merely have to bask in a time when people didn’t go nuts about spending a billion dollars on a single helicopter.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfer looks fine enough for an ‘80s TV show. You get the strange details of the lizards in the desert that get too close to Airwolf. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. Don’t worry about cranking up your speakers for the battle scenes to whiz around your head.
Revisiting Airwolf Documentary (15:21) is an interview with Ernest Borgnine. He got the role after working with Donald Bellisario on Magnum P.I. He’s got plenty of memories of his time in the air with Jan-Micheal Vincent. We should aim to be as youthful as Borgnine when we hit 94.
Gallery has around 100 stills from the production. Fans will be excited with the numerous glamor shots of Borgnine.
Airwolf: The Movie finally lets fans see all the action that CBS sliced away. The action packs plenty of bang. There’s enough air stunts to keep you never wondering where is the Airwolf. The Libyan angle does make this three decade old pilot sound contemporary. Even with three big movie actors, the star of the film is the helicopter.
Shout! Factory presents Airwolf: The Movie. Directed and Written by: Donald P. Bellisario. Starring: Jan-Michael Vincent, Ernest Borgnine and David Hemming. Running Time: 85 minutes. Released on DVD: September 6, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Ernest Borgnine