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Blue Thunder
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Reviews & Ratings for
Blue Thunder More at IMDbPro »

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44 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Somebody is watching you, me, and them.

8/10
Author: scootwhoman from United States
23 February 2006

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?"

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26 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

An under-rated gem..

7/10
Author: Tom Hadley (whizzkid74) from Winchester, England
15 December 2001

I first saw Blue Thunder as a kid at the time of its release and enjoyed it purely as a slice of action/adventure typical of its time. I could name many films from the early 80s of a similar ilk, but this one stuck in my mind as a real favourite and it was only when I re-watched it recently that I understood why.

Unlike other films in the genre, Blue Thunder always strikes me as having been thought about and crafted in a very careful way. In fact I didn't remember there being as little action as there is. Instead we are given far more character development than we might be accustomed to, thereby enhancing the final aerial drama because we do care about the people involved.

Roy Scheider(who I must confess is my favourite actor of his era) gives a standout performance. His portrayal of Murphy with its wry humour & very human lapses shares more than a little with a certain Chief Brody, but the use of an aging rebel with little cause as the main character in a technological thriller is still refreshing now.

Malcolm McDowell gives the sort of OTT villainous performance that only he can (why has no-one ever cast him as a Bond villain?) and special mention must go to Warren Oates as Scheider's long-suffering boss.

The helicopter looks awesome with cool gadgets aplenty but it isn't the star here, Scheider is. Move over Top Gun, Airwolf, Wings of the Apache, et al; this is the number 1 fly-boy in town.

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29 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Solid Work All Around

9/10
Author: channel_3_tv from United States
7 January 2005

John Badham is a curious director and I think he gets it right in this one. After all Roy Scheider never stunk it up in his illustrious career and he hits all the right notes in this one as Frank Murphy the Vietnam Vet trying to escape the memories of his war experience. When Malcolm McDowell shows up (and honestly, who plays an a--hole better than McDowell in his heyday?) to become Murphy's nemesis. The very underrated Warren Oates as the crotchety commanding officer and Candy Clark as Murphy's girlfriend, who is the ultimate heroine of the plot, turn in solid performances. The helicopter clearly steals the show though as anyone between the ages of 7 and 21 had to just be glued to the screen watching that bird strut its stuff. Great action sequences and rather good photography during the climactic chase scene.

I still have fond memories of this film which I saw in the drive in as a kid and I think it's what films of this genre should be...a couple of hours of wild fun!..."Follow My Leader"

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26 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

FireFox Meet's AirWolf! Excellent Stuff!

10/10
Author: Kieran Green (greene515@hotmail.com) from Scotland
8 March 2006

'BLUE THUNDER' Is a cracking leave your brain behind entertainment that never let's up! 'Roy Scheider' Plays Frank Murphy,A former Vietnam Veteran,who is a helicopter pilot,for the Los Angeles police department,who becomes handpicked to pilot the eponymous 'blue thunder' which is a state of the art chopper designed for supreme law enforcement, Unfortunately for Murphy the test pilot behind this superb flying machine is Malcolm Mc Dowell,who also was on duty in Nam with Scheider, and serves as the film's all too English baddie! A young Daniel Stern, is a rookie who is assigned with Scheider, together the pair unravel a deadly conspiracy,involving said helicopter which climaxes with a superb aerial chase through the packed streets of Los Angeles,

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26 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Great 80's Action

Author: philshuh from Sheffield, England
12 December 2004

I was dying to see this when I was 13 but I was too young to get in at the pictures. I saw the trailer when I went to see Superman 3. I finally hired it on video and loved it. I think at the time, it was the look of the helicopter that I was drawn too. Big bulky and menacing. (The scene where we first see Blue Thunder with the sun rising behind it is sheer class.) I've got the DVD and always enjoy watching this film, I love Roy Scheider in most films he's in and he's excellent in this one. Also thought Daniel Stern was great as Murphy's observer. The series was quite cheezy but enjoyable in it's own way. Universal latched on to the super hi-tech helicopter theme as Airwolf followed soon afterwards. The helicopter in Airwolf was a Bell 222 whereas Blue Thunder was a converted Gazelle helicopter that was given a facelift to make it look bulky and menacing, a little bit like an Apache. Back to the movie. The plot is quite thin and there are a couple of scenes that are a bit far fetched but if you're looking for a film with good helicopter chase sequences in it, they don't come much better than this. Catch you later.

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18 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

The original film is much better than the TV show

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
21 July 2002

A helicopter is developed for police work using full surveillance technology, stealth modes etc. Officer Murphy and his partner are trained to fly it for street tests. However Murphy suspects that it has more sinister uses when he finds that the man in charge is Colonel Cochrane – who he has a history with in Vietnam. The battle between the two men heads for a showdown as Murphy gets evidence to back up his suspicions.

Made as a film but turned into an inferior tv show this film is entertaining but no more than that. The plot is interesting – with plenty of conspiracy stuff but the action is sometimes forced. Because most of the helicopter shenanigans are save for the climax we are given car chases etc to help fill the time. The helicopter itself is very cool and well used and the final battle above the city is exciting if formulaic. The morals of a `big brother' helicopter, able to pry everywhere isn't examined as well as could have been but it's still interesting.

Scheider is always good to watch and does well, as do Warren Oates and a young Daniel Stern. However the show is stolen and the film made by a great baddie from Malcolm McDowell (catch you later!) who is menace incarnate for me.

Overall an enjoyable thriller but it really only sticks in the memory due to the TV series that followed – worth watching for McDowell though.

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22 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Top Gun hold your hat!

10/10
Author: richardsphotography1 from United States
17 February 2006

Clearly, Blue Thunder's introduction shows the state of the art in computer technology at the time. Looked like a Wang computer at work.

I saw this movie for the first time at a drive-in. Those were the days!! .. before DVD's and when VHS recorders were manually tuned. Guess you might say that this was the end of an era and the beginning of video.

My girl and her two boys will remember this movie as long as they live. The movie that played right after this at the drive-in was Xtro. Remember when you could have the entire family see two full length movies for under $10.00? Now, popcorn alone costs $10.00 for one medium bucket.

I have the original Blue Thunder VHS tape in my library, played it last night. My favorite part of the movie is when a heat seeking-missile is launched into a B-B-Que chicken factory and chickens come raining down on the street and cars. The suspense that built up to this point made it funny however tragic for the factory workers.

25 years prior to this movie there was Whirly Birds in black and white on TV. It is interesting to see the advance in aeronautical technology from the early Korean War birds to stealth flight in choppers. I seriously doubt that any helicopter today can achieve or survive inverted flight as was depicted in the final scenes of Blue Thunder. As unbelievable as it seemed, it was exciting to watch.

We still have increased concerns of the privacy of citizens and terrorist activity. In the days of Blue Thunder it was only fantasy to think of wire tapping without a warrant .... today? This reader comment could be intercepted before it makes your review.

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13 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Harbinger Of Big Brother's Eyes

6/10
Author: ArchAngel Michael from Fights Over The Helpless
16 September 2015

Spoilers Ahead:

Let's get the problems out of the way. First, it was made for the big screen; when we saw this we were hanging on to the seat handles on that last helicopter battle. Yes, of course, the non casualty inflicting battles between the helicopter and the jets is pure Badham fantasy. Why should you own it? Mcdowell plays the nastiest creep you will ever see outside of Clockwork Orange. Scheider turns in a great performance; the movie never really takes itself that seriously except on one axis: Government surveillance of its citizens. I love when Murphy tells Lymengood to punch in his name and it says: File Under Repair. What is so frightening about the movie is that this technology is thirty two years old. Look, what they could do way back here? The movie moves well; it starts as the credits come on and never stops until the end. What a cast! Warren Oates is always a treat; here he plays an extremely grumpy head cop. The feud between Murphy and Mcdowell is the core that the story rotates around. Mcdowell tries to kill Murphy all through the movie even during a test flight where he sabotages his helicopter, loosening a crucial part. Every remark he makes is punctuated by the creep mimicking shooting you with his fingers while sneering,"Catch you later."

You will really love seeing this jerk finally get it. The story at the core: that the government is using the Olympics and the trouble it is stirring up in neighborhoods to get a armed surveillance chopper force over our cities, I found this quite realistic. Yes, the story has plenty of cringe-worthy I don't think so moments in the battles but the plans to control the population with armed helicopters that are equipped with incredible surveillance technology, you will not laugh at this. Balham moves the narrative quickly; unlike his Stakeout, that had slow parts, this movie really moves. The front cast Scheider, Oates and McDowell are excellent. The movie gets deadly serious in the middle to the end with the Feds killing Lymengood, Scheider's trainee, and framing Scheider for the killing. The last twenty minutes is an incredible helicopter battle. It may suffer in downsizing to the television set but it still is a great piece of work.

Even if the surveillance stuff doesn't float your boat, it is without a doubt the best movie John Badham ever made. I love Stakeout but it is way lower in quality than this one. He made the dreadful Saturday Night Fever which was his worst effort. The pacing, action and dialog are excellent with McDowell going down in this movie as one of the nastiest villains ever in a film. The bigger your set the better this looks. I recommend Zooming the bars off the screen it wrecks the air effects. The Blu Ray's 5.1 True Hd surround is excellent with you hearing it going behind you and swinging in front of you. The music is excellent. Parents it is quite violent, with some serious nudity at this woman's house they hover outside of. Yes, it has silly parts but the surveillance technology this old you will not find funny. Imagine what they have today? A Good Movie.

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11 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Great Action

Author: Aaron Woodin (purchagent@aol.com) from White Plains, NY
8 June 1999

Always liked this one. Well written and acted, with excellent aerial action sequences. It's a shame this was Warren Oate's last role - he was magnificent. Other reviewers made a valid point about this film presaging the use of military hardware against civilians. We already use airplanes to catch speeders on the ground - doesn't the aviation fuel cost more than the amount of revenue taken in through summonses?

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19 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

More Timely Now Than Ever

7/10
Author: Bob-45 from Savannah, GA
20 August 2001

Having now worked on an attack helicopter program, I was interested in

seeing "Blue Thunder." I skipped it on its first release. Good thing. "Blue Thunder" is more timely than ever, what with federal abuse of

power with massacres and attempted massacres in Philadelphia (MOVE incident, Ruby Ridge and Waco. Structurally, the film is a mess, taking a fair amount of time introducing us to "Blue Thunder" an "antiriot" (now call "antiterrorist") helicopter better equipped for mass murder than crowd control. Roy Scheider plays Murphy, a former Vietnam helicopter pilot haunted by his memories of 'Nam (this gimmick was getting tiring in 1983). Murphy finds himself the target of a "government conspiracy" when he "gets too close" for the REAL intentions of "Blue Thunder."

Reels of film must have been left on the cutting room floor. Certainly Candy Clark and Warren Oates shine in "nothing" roles, their "real" relationships to Scheider remaining pretty obscure. Malcolm McDowell makes an excellent villain, though his "real" relationship with Scheider doesn't pay off).

HOWEVER, when "Blue Thunder" works, it really rocks. See it.

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