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Nighthawks (1981)

 -  Action | Crime | Thriller  -  4 April 1981 (USA)
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Conservative street cop DaSilva reluctantly agrees to terminate an international terrorist who has demanded media attention. But DaSilva's "at-home" tactics are very much put to the challenge.


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sgt. Matthew Fox
Peter Hartman
Heymar 'Wulfgar' Reinhardt
Hilary Thompson ...
Pam (as Hilarie Thompson)
Joe Spinell ...
Lt. Munafo
Walter Mathews ...
E. Brian Dean ...
Caesar Cordova ...
Puerto Rican Proprietor
Charles Duval ...
Dr. Ghiselin
Tony Munafo ...
Big Mike
Howard Stein ...
Disco Manager
Tawn Christian ...
Disco Hostess


Deke DaSilva and Matthew Fox are two New York cops who get transferred to an elite anti-terrorism squad. About this same time, an infamous international terrorist shows up in New York looking to cause some chaos. It's up to DaSilva and Fox to stop him, but will they be in time...? Written by Afterburner <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


One man can bring the world to its knees and only one man can stop him. See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| | |

Release Date:

4 April 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Attack  »

Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Rutger Hauer lost both his mother and his best friend during the production of the movie. He returned to his native Netherlands for both their respective funerals, but returned to the production each time within a few days. Despite all the personal drama and all the difficulties on the set, Hauer stated in his autobiography that he was happy he stayed aboard, as this movie caused him to be noticed in Hollywood, and started an impressive international career. See more »


When Deke is firing a revolver at the police target range, the paper target's holes face towards him as if a small explosion went off behind them (squibs). Also the wires that held and were used to detonate the squibs are seen hanging out of the holes. Real police bullets leave small holes in paper targets. See more »


Reinhardt Heymar Wulfgar: You know, I never asked you what you do for a living.
Pam: Well... besides dancing a lot, I fly Pan Am from coast to coast. I'm Pam, flying ace. That's actually a slight airline joke. I don't really fly the planes. I'm just a stewardess. I flying waitress as they call it. How about you?
Reinhardt Heymar Wulfgar: Me?
Pam: Yes. What do you do for a living?
Reinhardt Heymar Wulfgar: [sarcastic tone] I'm an international terrorist wanted by the police in half the countries in Europe. And I am currently laying low for the moment.
Pam: Oh, sure!
See more »


Referenced in Bad Movie Beatdown: Pentathlon (2011) See more »


Slow Ride
Written by 'Lonesome' Dave Peverett (uncredited)
Performed by Foghat
Courtesy of Bearsville Records
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User Reviews

"I do not enjoy killing...But it's my JOB !"
19 September 2005 | by (Orange County, CA) – See all my reviews

One of the most underrated movies of the eighties. I couldn't figure out why this was so dissed by the critics and the public in the early eighties. Was it because people were not ready to embrace the thought of international terrorism in their front yard? I think so.

This is one of Sylvester Stallone's forgotten movies where he reminds you of Al Pacino as Serpico at times with his benevolent nature and the facial hair. He doesn't slur his monosyllabic sentences, or act as if he has lost more IQ points. Until this film came out, I didn't think there was much more to Stallone. Sadly, I was too young to see this all by myself in the theatres and saw it a year later on cable. And when I saw Rutger Hauer, I was amazed at how creepy the man was! He was born for the role, but unfortunately, Hauer doesn't seem to play good guys as well. Whenever I see him, this is the first film I think of. "Blade Runner"'s the second. Billy Dee Williams's character was bland that I didn't find myself rooting for nor hating him. Lindsay Wagner is expendable and I wish the late Persis Khambatta was able to stretch her role a little more. She was Hauer's perfect, plausible counterpart (and spoke some wicked French and German). Nigel Davenport is the typical foreign expert on the subject that gives the film an interesting transatlantic angle.

I found myself bored by the end of the first forty-five minutes, until the montage of Stallone and Williams looking for clues to the dead flight attendant at the various discoteques. And then when this movie came on TV, they changed the two songs in the disco: "Brown Sugar" from the Stones and "I'm a Man" from Keith Emerson to seventies stock tunes. Must of been a lawsuit pending. Suffice the music, there is a brutal, ten-minute-long chase through subway tunnels, a station, and then on the train itself. Afterwards, there's some downtime, but Wulfgar (Hauer) is at the point of no return now that the po-po has a physical description of him. So much for the plastic surgery. You can now sense the desperation he has, and he already knows he's not going to get a happy ending so that's why he decides to air-out Stallone's ex-wife (played by Wagner in two or three brief snippets). So you know that he's gonna lose, it's just HOW he is going to lose makes you watch the rest of it. You can also see that Stallone's character struggles with himself on how he'd rather bring Wulfgar in than kill the terrorist (he's got those law-enforcing ideology and beliefs going on overtime).

But the problem about this film is that it is so dated and by-the-numbers judging from today's standards, that it's almost a flat-out documentary. The formula is typical seventies where the exposition is gradually set up until the middle of the film- and by then the viewer is bored- but the action and suspense takes place throughout the rest (you'll notice from the "Dirty Harry", "Rocky", and "Star Wars" movies, the later "Indiana Jones" flicks, along with "Serpico", "The French Connection", etc). However, "Nighthawks" was clearly ahead of its time, and I could see a remake or something like this being done down the road from now. See, NOW it might sell because we've seen it in our own front yard. Get Vin Diesel to play Stallone's role; Tyrese Gibson to play Billy Dee Williams; Lindsay Wagner's character's axed; Cillian Murphy will be Rutger Hauer; Clive Owen can play Nigel Davenport's role; Milla Jovovich can be Shakka, and Michael Clarke Duncan will play their Lieutenant.

But leave in the "I do not enjoy killing, but it's my job"-line.

Still good for its time !

8 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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