'....this briefing is from file A56-7W. Classified TOP SECRET.
Subject is AIRWOLF-a mach one plus attack helicopter with the most advanced weapons system in the air today.
It's been hidden somewhere in the western United States by it's test pilot Stringfellow Hawke (Jan-Michael Vincent).
Hawke has promised to return AIRWOLF only if we can find his brother St John, an MIA in Vietnam. We suspect that Archangel, Deputy Director of the agency, that built AIRWOLF is secretly helping Hawke in return for Hawke's flying AIRWOLF on missions of national concern.
Stringfellow Hawke is 34, a brilliant combat pilot and a recluse since his brother's disappearance. His only friend is Dominic Santini (Ernest Borgnine), whose air service is the cover for their government work. With Hawke and Santini flying as a team, at speeds rivalling the fastest jets, matched by unmatched firepower, AIRWOLF is too dangerous to be left in unenlightened hands. Finding it is your first priority.....'
Hip spy shows with covert agencies within agencies--like Alias
--are missing only one thing: A super-duper armor-plated helicopter with "nuclear-tipped shrike missiles." In the action series Airwolf,
a mysterious national security agency called the Firm constructs a "Mach-one-plus chopper that can kick butt," only to have it stolen by the nefarious scientist who designed it (David Hemmings, Blowup, Barbarella
). Desperate, the Firm turns to Stringfellow Hawke (Jan Michael Vincent), a soulful, cello-playing, art-loving, eagle-watching, guilt-ridden master pilot. Hawke refuses to help unless the Firm searches for his brother, who went MIA in 'Nam. Of course, he succeeds in his mission, but until the Firm fulfills its side of the bargain, he keeps the chopper--but also agrees to fly covert missions in exchange for tips about government efforts to retrieve Airwolf.
This elaborate setup proves surprisingly durable. The combat scenes in Airwolf are clumsily edited, but the scripts--though firmly in the cheesy techno-thriller vein of Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy--are pleasantly zippy. While Vincent may have gone on to a straight-to-video career (appearing in such sterling titles as Hidden Obsession, Indecent Behavior, and Animal Instincts), hes a persuasive and sexy pilot; he's got the same kind of rangy, athletic physicality that makes Kevin Costner convincing as an athlete. Add to this mix the ever-zesty Ernest Borgnine (Marty, The Wild Bunch) and it's clear why Airwolf outlived the similar series Blue Thunder. Most episodes feature international skullduggery with foreign agents trying to steal Airwolf and sell it to the Soviets or Libya, but there are enough clever details to keep you from objecting to the larger absurdity of the all-powerful helicopter. Guest stars include Shannen Doherty (Beverly Hills 90210) and David Carradine (Kill Bill). It's too bad Hemmings didn't become a regular; his sadistic, lecherous traitor gave the two-hour pilot some real juice. --Bret Fetzer
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