Veteran Air Force pilot Charles "Chappy" Sinclair (Louis Gossett Jr.) is drawn into international intrigue when Anna Morales (Rachel McLish), the sister of a recently deceased friend, asks for his help. Anna reveals that her brother died at the hands of Gustav Kleiss (Paul Freeman), an ex-Nazi who runs a drug ring in Peru and is holding her father hostage. Sinclair enlists a number of his air-show buddies to join the mission, and they depart for Peru to take on the ruthless criminal.
Aces: Iron Eagle III is a 1992 American action film directed by John Glen and is the third installment of the Iron Eagle film series, with Louis Gossett, Jr. reprising his role as Col. Charles "Chappy" Sinclair. Also starring are Japanese actor Sonny Chiba and retired boxing champion Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini. The film was noteworthy as one of the first films to cast a woman (former bodybuilder Rachel McLish as Anna) as a physically strong character. Aces: Iron Eagle III was heavily panned by critics and grossed $2,517,600 at the box-office.
Chappy discovers a drug-smuggling scheme at his own air base. It turns out that the lives of some village people in Peru are at stake, and he decides to fly there with ancient airplanes and friends to free them.
U.S. Air Force Colonel Charles "Chappy" Sinclair and his friends Leichmann, Palmer and Horikoshi run a classic World War II aircraft exhibition at an air show, where they stage dogfights by shooting each other with paint pellets and are "shot down" by landing with smoke emissions. Then, upon hearing that an old friend named Ramon Morales was killed in a crash in the Gulf of Mexico, Chappy is summoned to Lethridge Air Force Base in Brownsville, Texas, where the remains of Ramons plane are being examined. Chappy mentions that among Ramons surviving family members are his sister Anna, who graduated from UCLA on an athletic scholarship, and his father, the mayor of a small Peruvian village. It is discovered that Ramon was shot down while carrying several kilograms of cocaine, which places this case under DEA jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, in Izquitos Village in Peru, Former Nazi captain Gustav Kleiss runs a drug cartel while holding the mayors daughter hostage. He is also being aided by USAF General Simms in delivering the drugs overseas. Simms has secretly sided with Kleiss after being informed that his airbase is to be closed down in a matter of months and his forces will be transferred to other bases, and that his command will be terminated and he desires to use his cut on a lavish retirement. As the cartel begins to smuggle their contraband in barrels disguised as U.S. Air Force property, Anna breaks free from her prison and sneaks into the cartels cargo plane, telling her father she will return with help. After the plane lands in Lethridge, she meets up with Chappy, who informs her that Ramon was killed. She then begs for his help, as Kleiss will kill her family and everyone in the village in four days. Chappy goes to DEA Agent Warren Crawford, who offers to help him if Anna can pinpoint the location of the cartel.
During an air exhibition, Chappys P-38 Lightning is damaged after Leichmans Me-109 is sabotaged with some live ammunition mixed with the paint rounds, nearly killing Chappy if not for his well-executed emergency landing. Seeing that someone in the Air Force wants him out of the equation, he and his flight team rush to Annas apartment, where she gives him the location of Kleiss cartel. The information is handed to Crawford, who finds nothing from surveillance cameras. Following Ramons funeral, Chappys friends decide to join him on his flight to Peru. Chappy also convinces air show promoter Stockman to loan him the four World War II planes, promising to return them without a scratch. For this mission, the planes are retrofitted with laser-guided missiles, with Anna providing the targeting from the ground.
Anna and Stockman land in Peru, only to discover that Tee Vee, her landlord, has stowed away during the flight. The mission is compromised when Tee Vee is caught and he and the laser targeting equipment are taken back into the hideout, prompting Kleiss to order his fighter planes to scramble and shoot down the four veteran aces. As the aces fend off the enemy jets, Anna sneaks into the prison compound, frees Tee Vee and recovers the equipment, while at the same time rallies the villagers to revolt against the cartel. Palmers Spitfire is shot down during a dogfight, but Chappy manages to destroy the cocaine factory. As Simms takes off with a shipment in his cargo plane, DEA helicopters led by Warren arrive to assist the aces. Meanwhile, Anna has the villagers safe in the church, only to find out that it has been rigged with explosives. The villagers escape before the church is blown up.
Chappy and Horikoshi pursue the cargo plane. After sustaining heavy damage, Horikoshis Mitsubishi Zero does a kamikaze run that destroys the cargo plane, killing himself and Simms. Kleiss arrives at the scene with a prototype Messerschmitt 263, shooting down Leichmanns plane. Chappy, however, outsmarts Kleiss with an inverted roll aided by booster rockets before destroying the prototype jet. Kleiss ejects from his jet and lands in the jungle, where he attempts to bribe Anna into taking the jeep behind her, only to be impaled by a spring-loaded Punji stick trap.
Back in Texas, Chappy, Anna and the surviving aces celebrate with a barbecue. Stockman informs Chappy that the Air Force has given him a fleet of mothballed F-86 Sabers to replace the destroyed planes, and for him to shut up about the cartel incident. Chappy is also told that the P-38 Lightning is now his; he decides to name it "Shadow Warrior" in honor of Horikoshi.Louis Gossett, Jr. as Col. Charles "Chappy" Sinclair
Rachel McLish as Anna Morales
Paul Freeman as Gustav Kleiss
Horst Buchholz as Leichmann
Christopher Cazenove as Palmer
Sonny Chiba as Horikoshi
Fred Dalton Thompson as Stockman
Mitchell Ryan as General Simms
Rob Estes as Doyle
J. E. Freeman as Ames
Tom Bower as DEA Agent Warren Crawford
Phill Lewis as Tee Vee
Juan Fernandez de Alarcon as Escovez
Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini as Chico
Bob Minor as Bigman
Branscombe Richmond as Rapist
The aerial filming involved real aircraft mixed with replica aircraft. Replicas included a North American T-6 Texan once used for the film Tora! Tora! Tora! and modified to resemble a Mitsubishi A6M Zero, and four Soko G-2 Galeb aircraft painted to resemble "Peruvian Air Force" fighters. The prototype Scaled Composites ARES was used to resemble the semi-fictional Messerschmitt Me 263 (the model was designed and tested but never flew on its own power). An authentic North American P-51 Mustang was painted to resemble a Messerschmitt Bf 109. Many aerial scenes were filmed around southern Arizona, including Marana, Nogales, and Sahuarita. Patagonia Lake and the Patagonia and Santa Rita Mountains can bee seen in the aerial dogfights.
Critically, Aces: Iron Eagle III fared worse than its predecessors, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 0% In his review, Richard Harrington of The Washington Post called the film "an uncalled-for continuation of the Iron Eagle series" and mentioned that it is "chock-full of racial and ethnic stereotypes, none of them particularly objectionable, but all of them faintly ridiculous." James Berardinelli gave the film half a star out of 4, saying the plot "is at about a kindergarten level of intelligence, proving once again that low-budget action flicks shouldnt try to develop a storyline it only becomes a liability."