Awfully Good: Megaforce

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

Megaforce (1982)

Director: Hal Needham
Stars: Barry Bostwick, Michael Beck, Persis Khambatta

When the world needs saving, there’s only one team that Planet Earth calls…and they’re not called NormalForce.

The early 1980s saw a number of Chinese production companies like Golden Harvest—responsible for a ton of classic Jackie Chan and Jet Li movies (and also RIKI-OH: THE STORY OF RICKY)—attempt to break in to the Western market. In 1982, this led to longstanding classics like BLADE RUNNER, as well as this epic movie, which is a memorable for completely different reasons.

Ace became suspicious when Dallas began telling everyone that “All MegaForces matter.”

MEGAFORCE may sound like the name a sugar-crazed child comes up with while rampaging with his toys, but that’s sort of the point. This was a property designed to be a crowdpleaser and sell action figures and video games. (Skip to the end for more on that.) Costumes were allegedly made by Mattell instead of actual Hollywood designers, which explains why the world’s greatest heroes where hideous gold spandex with blue bandanas. Though packed with explosions and warfare, the action is bloodless and inoffensive, perfect for younger viewers. Unfortunately, this franchise pre-planning was all for naught as the film bombed miserably at the box office. Truly one of humanity’s greatest mistakes.


And undeservedly so. Watching RISE OF COBRA and RETALIATION just reminded me how MEGAFORCE is probably the best G.I. Joe movie ever made. The producers made the brilliant choice of bringing on the great Hal Needham (SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, HOOPER) to direct and the filmmaker’s experience with stunts and car chases definitely paid off. Though there is the occasional questionable greenscreen moment, the vast majority of MEGAFORCE is gleefully practical when it comes to action and effects. The production built a ton of amazing cars and motorcycles (that fired real rockets), borrowed an entire army of tanks, planes and helicopters, and rigged the Nevada desert with an alarming amount of explosives. The whole thing achieves Michael Bay-levels of “awesome.” Just look at the first introduction to the MegaForce squad: the team rolls through a canyon on tricked-out motorcycles, popping wheelies and firing machine guns and missiles at brightly colored balls for target practice as everything explodes around them and techno music plays. There’s literally nothing about this I don’t automatically love.

Everyone on the island knew the Smoke Monster from LOST was having a midlife crisis when he bought a motorcycle.

Just the idea behind MEGAFORCE, while not wholly original, is great: all the major countries around the world give their best soldiers, scientists and funding to a secret organization that’s called in for clandestine peacekeeping missions. Besides stocking vehicles with mammoth firepower, MegaForce also employs a number of amazing high-tech scientific breakthroughs, like 100% realistic holograms, which seem to be solely used to project women in bikinis as a means of distracting the enemy. (It works!) There are some memorable members of the team, such as Dallas, the southern bad boy who flies the Confederate flag, and Zachary, a black guy who is so blatantly non-stereotypical that they continually mention that he listens to Vivaldi and reads Shakespeare. However,
Barry Bostwick is a true legend as MegaForce commander Ace Hunter. Bostwick, who’s still Awfully Great in movies like FDR: AMERICAN BADASS and HELEN KELLER VS NIGHTWOLVES, plays the role with the perfect amount of straightforward aloofness, truly reminiscent of Leslie Nielsen at his best. Trust me, you won’t find a better hero for your movie than Ace Hunter, with his ridiculous blue headband of justice and his skin-colored spandex suit that’s so tight there was more than one instance where I thought he was completely naked.

In addition to being one of the greatest soldiers to ever live, Ace Hunter also fancied himself a professional penis shadow puppeteer.

Bostwick’s hilariously friendly relationship with the villain of movie is one of the highlights, but the romantic subplot between Ace Hunter and STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE’s Persis Khambatta takes the cake. Khambatta’s Zara spends the first half of the film trying to prove that she has what it takes to join MegaForce. Hunter puts her through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, culminating in an incredible romantic skydiving scene where the pair hold hands and literally fall…in love. Zara passes every single one of these tests, but before MEGAFORCE can make any kind of statement about feminism or equality, Hunter still refuses to let her join the team for fear of her distracting the other men. And despite being adamant about her worth as a soldier for the entire film, Zara simply says she understands, calls Hunter a great leader, and agrees to meet him at a hotel later for sex. She then sits out the second half of the movie, only showing up to cheer on the men as they save the day and give Hunter bizarre thumbs-up kisses. It’s one of the most amazing about-faces I’ve ever seen in a movie.

Only a real man can take his fashion cues from Ralph Furley.

In addition to some groundbreaking romance, MEGAFORCE also has some solid action sequences, including an invasion battle that plays out in real time with a countdown clock on the screen. But nothing compares to the ending, which is a non-stop barrage of testosterone and explosions. In order to make it out alive, Ace Hunter orders his men to drive their fleet of supercars and motorcycles straight through an entire fleet of tanks. It’s an awesome sequence and Needham milks it for all its worth, punctuated by Barry Bostwick flying away on his rocket bike as the desert explodes behind him. It’s cheesy as all get out, but it never stops being fun.

I’m sure somewhere out there, some studio exec is toying with the idea of remaking MEGAFORCE as a gritty action movie. But I beg you, make a sequel instead. Barry Bostwick’s still got the goods. And I desperately need to see what Ace Hunter is up to in 2016.

Japanese people will follow anyone who looks like Mario.

And thanks to our very own Chris Bumbray for pointing out this commercial for the MEGAFORCE Atari game, starring none other than Bryan Cranston:

Do emotional “thumbs up” moments count as best lines? They sure do in this movie!

The most epic action and greenscreen moments featuring MegaForce. Also, some romantic skydiving to even things out.

All that Spandex leaves very little to the imagination.

Mega worth it! Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Barry Bostwick is just awesome
  • Someone looks naked due to Spandex
  • The scientist does something stupid or forgets something
  • Someone mentions a lighter
  • There’s a hologram on screen
  • Someone gives a thumbs-up

Double shot if:

  • Someone gives a kissing thumbs-up

Thanks to Craig, Nigel and Chris Bumbray for suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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