Blue Thunder (1983)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  13 May 1983 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 11,856 users  
Reviews: 70 user | 60 critic

The cop test pilot for an experimental police helicopter learns the sinister implications of the new vehicle.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paul Roebling ...
Ed Bernard ...
Sgt. Short
Jason Bernard ...
Mario Machado ...
Alf Hewitt
Pat McNamara ...
Jack Murdock ...
Clifford A. Pellow ...
Allen (as Clifford Pellow)


Blue Thunder is a specially modified helicopter. It is for police work, but is armed and designed to counter street insurgencies. Its makers want to show what it will do, but have to train Los Angeles Police pilot Frank Murphy to fly and use it in order to allow it to operate in the city. Murphy and the project pilot have differences going back to Vietnam. The conflict between them continues to heat up as Murphy begins to suspect that Blue Thunder is more than has been disclosed. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He's Out There... See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 May 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Relámpago azul  »

Box Office


$22,000,000 (estimated)


$42,300,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As LAPD did not want themselves mentioned, a fictional "Astro Division" designation is used. The real helicopter division of the LAPD is the "Air Support Division," however most of their missions are known as ASTRO, which stands for "Air Support to Regular Operations." See more »


During the first night flight of Blue Thunder, JAFO asks if they want Big Brother active. When they both decide no, JAFO says "I got the fuse right here." He is actually seen to remove a light bulb from the annunciator panel, not a fuse. See more »


Sgt. Short: This ship is equipped with a forward-mounted, twenty-millimeter electric cannon. Its six barrels are capable of firing four thousand rounds of ammunition per minute. And that, gentlemen, is one hell of a shit-storm in anybody's language!
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits after the title is shown. See more »


Referenced in Behind-The-Scenes: 'Blue Thunder' (1983) See more »


Theme From Blue Thunder (Murphy's Law)
Written by Arthur B. Rubinstein (as Arthur Rubinstein)
Performed by Arthur B. Rubinstein, Cynthia Morrow, Brian Banks and Anthony Marinelli (as the Beepers)
Produced by Evan Pace
Associate Produced by Reno Romano
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Somebody is watching you, me, and them.
23 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

One of the things that really caught my attention about this film was the brief blurb at the beginning which stated something to the effect of "All of the surveillance equipment depicted in this film exists and is in use in the United States." Knowing what I do of technology, I am not surprised that those capabilities existed back then. However, I received a powerful demonstration of the stealth technology called "whisper mode" in the film, a couple of years after seeing it. I live near a major U.S. Army firing range, and our local airport hosts a considerable amount of military traffic. At this particular time, I was renting a house about one kilometer from the airport. I went out for a walk late one Sunday night, and, shortly after leaving the house, I heard a noise I could not identify. It was a loud hissing sound, 'which seemed very close at hand, but I could not locate the source, until I looked up. Passing overhead at about 200 meters was a Chinook helicopter, the type with two rotors, and fuselage that looks kind of like a banana. Normally, the rotor noise on these cargo helicopters will rattle windows, but this baby was tip-toeing out of town very quietly. If I had been indoors, I never would have heard it. This made me completely rethink the sequence where the helicopter was hovering right outside of a building, and the people inside couldn't hear it! I took it for artistic license at the time, but the demonstration I witnessed of "whisper mode" made it seem entirely feasible.

This film appealed to me strongly, for several reasons. I am a techno freak, to begin with, and I love anything that flies. Also, the characters in the movie are amazingly human, kooky, (especially the lead characters wife,) and easy to identify with. And the kind of shenanigans the Feds were trying to pull seem all too realistic to me, in light of some of the things that they have been caught doing! And I loved the response of sending a couple of F-15's armed with missiles after the renegade, when he is stooging around in downtown Los Angeles. Missiles are not known for being highly selective when they are of the heat seeking type, and urban areas are rich with thermal signatures which can confuse the tiny brain packed into an air-to-air missile. The filmmakers actually downplayed the havoc that could result from launching such weapons in a downtown area.

I found the film to be an enjoyable, realistic, thought provoking experience, which I would recommend to most people. The hardware is not the star, thanks to the excellent work of Roy Scheider and his supporting cast, and the dialog is tight and realistic. When informed that one of the suspects in a liquor store robbery is wearing a Hawiian shirt and a cowboy hat, Scheider's character says, "What ever happened to being inconspicuous?"

40 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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