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Nighthawks (1981)

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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.


Bruce Malmuth, Gary Nelson (uncredited)


David Shaber (screenplay), David Shaber (story) | 1 more credit »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sylvester Stallone ... Deke DaSilva
Billy Dee Williams ... Sgt. Matthew Fox
Lindsay Wagner ... Irene
Persis Khambatta ... Shakka Holland
Nigel Davenport ... Peter Hartman
Rutger Hauer ... Heymar 'Wulfgar' Reinhardt
Hilarie Thompson ... Pam
Joe Spinell ... Lt. Munafo
Walter Mathews ... Commissioner
E. Brian Dean E. Brian Dean ... Sergeant
Caesar Cordova Caesar Cordova ... Puerto Rican Proprietor
Charles Duval Charles Duval ... Dr. Ghiselin
Tony Munafo Tony Munafo ... Big Mike
Howard Stein Howard Stein ... Disco Manager
Tawn Christian Tawn Christian ... Disco Hostess


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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A terrorist holds New York in a grip of fear - and only Stallone can take him on. See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | German | French | Swedish

Release Date:

10 April 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Night Hawks See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,525,360, 12 April 1981, Wide Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$19,900,000, 31 December 1981
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Prior to its theatrical release, Nighthawks (1981) was severely deleted for violence by both the MPAA and the Universal Pictures studio. Amongst the scenes that were deleted are the disco shootout which originally had Wulfgar shooting and killing more people, and Wufgar's death scene in the ending which was almost completely deleted. An original uncut scene showed Wulfgar getting shot five times (instead of twice) in slow-motion by DaSilva, and in the end, the final sixth shot hit him in the head blowing his brains out. An animatronic head of Rutger Hauer was made by special makeup artist Dick Smith and used in this scene. Although there never was an uncut version available, the soundtrack release for the movie included a track called "Face to Face" which was used in the uncut ending. See more »


The subway train accelerates slowly as Deke and Fox chase it down the platform. However, when they are putting their guns in their holsters, the train is accelerating much faster. See more »


Immigration Officer: Are you here for business or pleasure?
Heymar 'Wulfgar' Reinhardt: Pleasure, I hope.
Immigration Officer: Welcome to the United States.
See more »

Alternate Versions

SPOILER: The theatrical release as well as all video, laserdisc, television, and DVD versions contain the altered ending where DaSilva shoots Wulfgar only twice, despite the fact that Wulfgar has six bullet wounds on his body. See more »


Slow Ride
Written by 'Lonesome' Dave Peverett (uncredited)
Performed by Foghat
Courtesy of Bearsville Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Thrills , tension , intrigue with tough Stallone against nasty Hauer in a film narrated with great agility and fast movement
9 October 2014 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Exciting picture with plenty of action about two-fisted police detectives hunting a brutal , ruthless terrorist . The meaning and relevance of the title is that 'Nighthawks' refer to the men and women street cops of the New York City Crime Unit who patrol the city at night-time . Intriguing story of two N.Y.C. (Sylvester Stallone sports a beard throughout the whole of this picture and African-American Billy Dee Williams) street cops reassigned to chase Wulfgar (Dutchman Rutger Hauer's first American feature film) , an international terrorist holds the City of New York hostage, but Deke DaSilva (Stallone did all his stunts on this movie) , the most dangerous cop known to man, can take him down . But DaSilva's "at-home" tactics are very much put to the challenge , as he is assigned to special unit led by the British Peter Hartman (Nigel Davenport) that's tracking a psychopath as well as wily killer .

The film is combined of unstopped action ,shootouts , violence , fighting , adequate characterization and breathtakingly suspenseful denouement .It's a run-of-the-mill action movie because from start with its explosive first scene to finish the action packed is continued ,in fact ,the final confrontation is impressive and extremely violent , including plot twists . Prior to it's theatrical release, Nighthawks was severely cut for violence by both Universal studio and MPAA. Amongst the scenes that were cut are disco shootout which originally had Wufgar shooting and killing more people, and Wufgar's death scene in the ending which was almost completely cut out . Amongst the scenes which were deleted from original cut of the movie are almost all scenes between Sylvester Stallone and Lindsey Wagner, Rutger Hauer and Persis Khambatta, more scenes explaining the plot better, and many other scenes because Universal wanted fast paced action movie . They also cut most of the graphic and gory scenes due to the concern that movie will get X rating . In preparation for their roles as New York street cops, actors Billy Dee Williams and Sylvester Stallone spent a number of weeks working at night with the New York Street Crime Unit . Nice acting by Sylvester Stallone as conservative street cop DaSilva reluctantly agrees to terminate an international terrorist who has demanded media attention , but is Rutger Hauer who steals the show as a cruel terrorist . The film is from Sylvester's first period after his secondary interpretations in Mandingo , Bananas , Farewell my lovely , Capone, Death race 2000 , and during his successful Rocky I , II , Paradise alley and Fist acting.

This supercharged action motion picture was well directed by Bruce Malmuth , including hair-raising moments along the way . When the original director, Gary Nelson, left the project, Bruce Malmuth took over production. When he couldn't make it on his first day to shoot the train chase, Sylvester Stallone directed the chase himself to not miss a day of shooting. Malmuth made his film directorial debut with Sylvester Stallone in this classic thriller Nighthawks (1981), followed by Mary Higgins Clark's best seller, Where Are the Children? (1986) with Jill Clayburgh, and the popular action film dealing with political corruption, Hard to kill (1990) with Steven Seagal and Pentathlon (1994) with Dolph Lundgren, as well a number of other feature films and documentaries until his early death.

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