Blue Tornado (1991)

Dirk Benedict and Patsy Kensit star in Antonio Bido's dismal Sci-Fi take on Top Gun. Hollywood DVD UK R0 DVD.

The Film

Two fighter pilots take a test flight to try out a new interception manoeuver. As they fly over a mountain range, a strange light appears and Phil loses control of his aircraft, apparently crashing. His friend Alex Long (Dirk Benedict) is accused of dangerous flying that caused the incident but while he clears his name, the Air Force seem uninterested in discovering what caused it. He starts looking into UFO reports and meets Isabella (Patsy Kensit) who is also researching the topic and has come across reported activity in the mountain range...

Co-written by the director and Gino Capone (Conquest (1984)), Blue Tornado is a late example of Italian genre cinema, coming well after the end of the great boom years of the 1960s though mid-80s and before the retrospective mini-resurgence of the 2000s. The film does not start too promisingly, with a complete cloning of the opening of Top Gun (1986) as the two pilots intercept and dogfight with an unknown aircraft, a scene that is pretty irrelevant to the storyline as a whole (although the idea of an Italian Top Gun rip-off would certanly be entertaining).

The plot eventually comes in as the pilots make their test flight and encounter the strange phenomenon with the resulting coverup and Alex's investigations building up some interest in the first third. Unfortunately it seems that the writers had no real idea of what to do with the story subsequently and so the film drags on for a while with very little actually going on, an underwritten romance and time wasting scenes with Philip's family just pass the time until the script finally tries to do something with Long heading to explore the mountain range on foot, but instead of any more action or even a proper denouement we get a completely nonsensical and utterly disappointing ending that makes no attempt to answer any of the questions it has created.

Direction is pretty tame, the film was produced for video release and Bido keeps the framing square and straight-forward. The aircraft shots are the real highlight, obviously specially filmed at Italian airbases with some great shots of F104s and Tornados and none of the unmatched stock footage that plagues many films that feature the military. The optical effects are not too bad for the most part, although in the main encounter sequence they do go on for perhaps too long and the use of model aircraft is just too obvious.

Dirk Benedict takes the lead role and gives a pretty decent showing as an Air Force Officer (despite his inexplicable American accent), generally maintaining his decorum and of a believable age and physique for the part. British actress Patsy Kensit is well cast as the love interest, although never really gets much to do. David Warner is always well cast and probably the best thing in this film as a senior officer.

Blue Tornado has some original ideas in the first third and builds up an interesting storyline but the remainder of the film is just endless padding, followed by an ending so laughably bad it would be embarrasing in a high school movie project. To further damage it, for some reason, although filmed on Italian Air Force bases (and in their uniforms) but obviously trying for a 'stiff upper lip' RAF feel in the scripting, the film tries to create a generic and unspecified location setting, making oblique references only to 'the mountain range' for instance, which makes the whole thing seem unnatural and stops it building up any good atmosphere. A waste of an interesting idea, there is nothing recommendable about this film.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Dirk Benedict - American actor best known for placing 'Face' in the A-Team TV series
Patsy Kensit - a British actress best known for appearing in Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
Directed by anyone interesting? Antonio Bido - a lesser known Italian director best remembered for helming Giallo entries Solamente nero (1978) and Il gatto dagli occhi di giada (1977)
Any gore or violence ? None
Any sex or nudity? None
Who is it for? Simply not an enjoyable film for anyone.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.33:1. Colour.
Picture quality is a little on the dark side, but good detail.
Audio English stereo - balance is sometimes slightly off, dialogue a little muffled.
Subtitles None
Extras None
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Other regions? No US DVD release.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Titles and credits are in English (although the title card is obviously newly created).



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 10th July 2014.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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