Iron Eagle II is a 1988 Israeli-Canadian-American action film directed by Sidney J. Furie. It is the first sequel to the 1986 film Iron Eagle, with Louis Gossett, Jr. reprising his role as Charles "Chappy" Sinclair. An uncredited Jason Gedrick also returns as ace pilot Doug Masters in the film's opening scene.
The film's story is loosely based on Operation Opera, a surprise airstrike performed by the Israeli Air Force on a nuclear reactor near Baghdad, Iraq, on June 7, 1981.
Like its predecessor, Iron Eagle II received negative reviews. It did not fare well at the box-office, with earnings of $10,497,324.
While on a routine patrol on United States airspace west of Alaska, pilots Doug "Thumper" Masters and Matt "Cobra" Cooper test the g-forces of their F-16C planes. Their antics get them carried away, as they stray over Soviet airspace. As they are being escorted back into U.S. airspace, one of the Soviet planes has Doug on missile-lock. This leads to a brief dogfight. In the ensuing battle, Matt loses control of his plane and is too late to save Doug, who is shot down by the Soviets. The next day, the U.S. Secretary of Defense publicly denies the incident, claiming a training accident caused by a fuel system malfunction killed Doug.
At the United States Air Force Museum in Arizona, Col. Charles "Chappy" Sinclair is taken out of reserve duty and promoted to Brigadier General to lead "Operation Dark Star", a top-secret military operation. He meets up with Matt and the rest of the operation's selected pilots and soldiers at an undisclosed military base in Israel. The ragtag group is shortly joined by a group of Soviet pilots that comprise the other half of the operation, much to their dismay. During their briefing, it is revealed that an unnamed Middle Eastern country has completed construction of a nuclear weapons compound capable of launching warheads towards both the United States and the Soviet Union. Their mission is to destroy the compound, as its nuclear arms will be ready within two weeks. Both the Americans and Soviets have difficulty cooperating with each other. The situation is further complicated when Matt realizes that ace pilot Yuri Lebanov is the one who shot down Doug. At the same time, he slowly develops a relationship with female pilot Valeri Zuyeniko.
After a mock dogfight followed by a fist fight that gets them grounded, Matt and Lebanov settle their differences. Then, tragedy strikes when Major Bush, the lead American pilot, is killed during a training exercise due to his claustrophobia. Chappy is later informed that the joint operation is canceled. He realizes that as both the American and Soviet teams consist of delinquent soldiers, the operation was doomed to fail from the beginning. Nevertheless, he is grateful that both factions have the courage to cooperate with each other. His pep talk encourages the entire operation to continue with the mission against General Stillmore's orders.
For the mission, the F-16 units are to fire their missiles at the compound through the ventilation shafts while the MiGs provide high-altitude cover against enemy aircraft. Ground units are also necessary to take out the anti-aircraft defenses. Upon entering enemy airspace, the transport plane carrying the APCs is shot down. Chappy orders the pilots to abort the mission, but Matt and his wingman Graves disobey and provide air cover to the ground units. Both pilots are outnumbered by the opposing fighters, but Valeri and Lebanov arrive to even the playing field. Meanwhile, the enemy prepares to launch a warhead while the U.S. and Soviet forces order bombers on standby in case the operation fails. Chappy and the ground forces manage to destroy the guidance tower controlling the SAM launchers, but Hickman is killed in the process. They reach the target point, but Graves is shot down by an anti-aircraft gun. Valeri takes over while Matt provides cover. She fires her two remaining missiles; one of which penetrates through the ventilation shaft, obliterating the compound completely.
After the joint operation is congratulated, Chappy is offered continued service under General Stillmore, but he adamantly declines the offer. Matt and Valeri bid each other farewell, but Chappy reveals to him that they are flying to Moscow on Tuesday as part of a pilot exchange program.Louis Gossett, Jr. as Colonel/Brigadier General Charles "Chappy" Sinclair
Mark Humphrey as Capt. Matt "Cobra" Cooper
Stuart Margolin as Gen. Stillmore
Alan Scarfe as Col. Vardovsky
Sharon Brandon as Valeri Zuyeniko
Maury Chaykin as Sgt. Neville Downs
Colm Feore as Yuri Lebanov
Clark Johnson as Graves
Jason Blicker as Technical Sergeant Hickman
Jesse Collins as Maj. Bush
Mark Ivanir as Balyonev
Uri Gavriel as Georgi Koshkin
Neil Munro as Edward Strappman
Douglas Sheldon as Sergei Demitriev
Azaria Rapaport as Stepanov
Nicolas Coucos as M.P. Connors
Gary Reineke as Bowers
Michael J. Reynolds as the U.S. Secretary of Defense
Jason Gedrick as Doug "Thumper" Masters (uncredited)
Iron Eagle II was filmed on location in Israel. Filming locations included the Israeli Air Force base near Haifa, the desert flatlands, the mountains, and the coast of the Dead Sea. Israeli Air Force pilots performed the aerial manoeuvres for the film, using General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II units - 69 Squadron's latter used to portray the Soviet MiG-29.
As with its predecessor, Iron Eagle II was met with mixed reviews. Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times found the film to be better than the first, saying it "hasn't the sleekness of Top Gun, which it clearly tries to emulate, but it delivers the goods in its elementary fashion." In his review, Richard Harrington of The Washington Post said the film "plays like a video game. The training sequence is long and tedious, the comrade-rie is short and tedious." Variety magazine wrote that the film "nervily tries to update the formula (of the 1986 original). Plot meanders and fails to really fire its engines until deep into the story."