Nighthawks (1981): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

nighthawksDirector Bruce Malmuth’s “Nighthawks” is easily one of the most eighties action thrillers ever made. It’s a teaming of various talents from the decade, and further paves Sylvester Stallone as an action hero. Stallone is quite convincing in his role as renegade street cop Deke DaSilva who goes to great lengths to stop criminals alongside his partner Matthew Fox, as played by Billy Dee Williams. Most of the concept for “Nighthawks” revolves around the uneasy pairing of Stallone’s more rough neck street cop going up against Rutger Hauer’s international villain. Hauer is excellent the villainous bomber Wulfgar who delights in terrorizing people with planting bombs and infiltrating the local populace.

He also has a particular taste for clubbing, which makes him a most unusual psychopath. When Wulfgar enters New York City and begins setting off his explosives, Deke and Matthew are pretty much strong armed in to working alongside an Anti-Terrorism unit. Deke begins to convey how American police simply aren’t ruthless enough to deal with such a merciless international terrorist and killer like Wulfgar. Much of “Nighthawks” relies on the chemistry between the powerful cast, and Stallone works well of off co-stars Dee Williams and Hauer. Hauer in particular manages to build a very unique and creepy villain who will murder just about anyone to ensure his own escape. Malmuth is very skilled at building tension and creating some of the more interesting moments of pure tension and terror, including a tense moment in a department store with Wulfgar, and the intense stand off in the train car.

“Nighthawks” and its simplistic premise works in its favor quite often as director Malmuth builds some great sequences, and seems almost obsessed with creating some iconic cinematic moments involving Stallone. There’s even the inadvertently silly final scene involving Deke outwitting Wulfgar in the most unusual method. In fact you’ll likely spend the entirety of the closing credits wondering why Deke DeSilva’s preferred method of busting criminals is by dressing in drag. “Nighthawks,” nevertheless, is not a masterpiece but is still a strong crime thriller. Co-stars Stallone and Dee Williams are memorable, while Hauer basically can play this role in his sleep. It was somewhat lost in the shuffle in the less plot oriented action films of the eighties, but it’s still slick, well made, and garners a banner cast of heavyweights of the decade.

The Blu-Ray release from Shout! Factory is a part of the new “Shout! Selects” sub-label and comes with a great series of extras. “Lights, Camera, Action!” is a sixteen minute audio interview with original Stallone manager Herb Nanas, who boasts about Stallone, brags about helping to find Hauer for the film, and the cuts made to the film. “We Gotta Shoot This” is a twenty four minute interview with director of photography James A. Contner who discusses the early production of the project, and a time during filming where Stallone was the director. Contner goes in to great detail about his work including color correcting, and working with the landscape of New York. “A Sign Of The Times” is a ten minute interview with Lindsay Wagner, who talks about her career, including her desire to go back to singing after filming this and “Bionic Woman.” She also discusses how much of her original footage was cut from “Nighthawks.”

There’s “Not The Other Girls” a four minute interview with actress Catherine Mary Stewart who talks about her experiences with the movie, including her audition, her surprise at how short Stallone was, how Hauer frightened her by how deep he got in to character, and how her voice was looped due to her British accent. “Nighthawks: The First Draft” is a nearly ten minute interview with original writer Paul Sylbert who talks about how some people think this is the best Stallone movie, his research in to real life terrorism, basing Hauer’s character of off Carlos the Jackal, butting heads with the studio, and how he swears his original script was much better than what we got in the movie. “It Was Hell” is a nearly eleven minute interview with technical supervisor Randy Jurgensen who talks about what it was like to meet and work with Stallone. As well he briefly discusses his relationship with Joe Spinell, and how “Nighthawks” was under Stallone’s full control during filming, despite his direction. Finally, there is the original trailer, radio spots, and still gallery.