Bat*21 (1988)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  21 October 1988 (USA)
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Reviews: 39 user | 13 critic

During the Vietnam War, Colonel Hambleton's aircraft is shot down over enemy territory and a frantic rescue operation ensues.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Captain Bartholomew Clark
Colonel George Walker
Ross Carver
Sgt. Harley Rumbaugh
Major Jake Scott
Joe Dorsey ...
Colonel Douglass
Michael Ng ...
Vietnamese Man (as Rev. Michael Ng)
Theodore Chan Woei-Shyong ...
Boy on Bridge
Don Ruffin ...
Helicopter Crew
Scott Howell ...
Helicopter Crew
Michael Raden ...
Helicopter Crew
Timothy Fitzgerald ...
EB-66 Officer
Stuart B. Hagen ...
EB-66 Officer (as Stuart Hagen)
Jeffrey Baxter ...
Helicopter Gunner (as Jeff Baxter)


Lt. Col. Iceal "Ham" Hambleton is a weapons countermeasures expert and when his aircraft is shot over enemy territory the Air Force very much wants to get him back. Hambleton knows the area he's in is going to be carpet-bombed but a temporary shortage of helicopters causes a delay. Working with an Air Force reconnaissance pilot, Capt. Bartholomew Clark, he maps out an escape route based on golf courses he has played. Along the way however, he has to face enemy forces and the death of some of his fellow soldiers. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Trapped behind enemy lines. A whole army after him... And only one man can save him.


Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

21 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bat 21  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$3,966,256 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


In yet another ironic twist, Hackman would again come to the rescue (alá Uncommon Valor) when he goes above and beyond to save Owen Wilson from a similar perilous situation, as told in 'Behind Enemy Lines' (2001). See more »


The "Jolly Green Giant" helicopter is actually a Siskorsky S-61, a type built for the U.S. Navy. The Siskorsky HH3-F was used by the U.S. Air Force and featured a ramp at the rear of the fuselage. The S-61 did not have a ramp. See more »


Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton: Bird Dog, I killed a man today. He wasn't even a soldier; he just kept coming. I couldn't stop him. I didn't want to do it. I never had to do anything like that before in my life.
Capt. Bartholomew Clark: Listen here, Bat 21. I never met you, but you don't sound like a killer to me. I'm sure you couldn't stop it from happening.
See more »


Edited into Stealth Fighter (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Bird dog to the rescue
29 December 2004 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Never saw this film when it was released originally in 1988. Not knowing what to expect, we decided to take a chance watching it on cable when it was shown the other night; it was a complete surprise. Director Peter Markle, working with a magnificent cast, headed by Gene Hackman and Danny Glover, does wonders to recreate this story of valor under the worst possible circumstances.

The cinematography is excellent. The film relies on visual effects, that are not to be confused with the incredible special effects that we have seen in other movies. Yes, of course, we all know that they are special, but the movie relies in the interplay between the missing Col. Hambleton on the ground and Capt. "Bird Dog" Clark who had the courage to stay focused, first in his plane, and later in the helicopter as he searches for this man, who he didn't even know.

It's a tribute that these two military men in caring for one another in a difficult situation. Gene Hackman is an actor that always project convincing character. His take on the colonel is the real thing. Danny Glover, on the other hand, is on target. He demonstrates he has what it takes to hold it against big stars, like Mr. Hackman, or in his films with Mel Gibson. He is a joy to watch in his portrayal of a man who is an honest professional.

For fans of action war movies, this is a more real approach to the genre thanks to the vision of its director Peter Markle.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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