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Awesome matchup! I'm afraid Iron Eagle will always play second fiddle to the iconic Top Gun.
Iron Eagle has a cheesy and condescending caricature of Islamic dictatorship, but this pales in comparison to the psuedo "perfume commerical" style-romance spewed out by Tony Scott. While Scott loves his lighting, Iron Eagle director Sidney J. Furie cuts the action to the music. Viscerality drives out realism, but it does not drive out logic, a logic which is absent in the overrated and insensible dogfights in Top Gun. Iron Eagle stands along with Rambo as one of the great action films of the decade, even if both can't be said to be great films in general.
Top Gun holds up extremely well. Some of the best quotable lines from a movie ever! Iron Eagle......cheesy!
Ever wondered why similar-themed films are released around the same period, like Full Metal Jacket (1986) and Platoon (1987), or Saving Private Ryan (1998) and The Thin Red Line (1998), or Dunkirk (2017) and Darkest Hour (2017), or Top Gun (1986) and Iron Eagle (1986), or United 93 (2006) and World Trade Center (2006), or Valkyrie (2008) and Inglourious Basterds (2009)? Surely Hollywood is smart enough to avoid a clash of similar projects... but the explanation for this is simple enough: It’s Hollywood following the propaganda plans of its master the CIA!
While Top Gun is iconic in it's own right, I think Iron Eagle (albeit cheesy with a problematic political premise) is a more coherent and entertaining. Louis Gossett Jr's performance dwarfs anything from TG and besides some cheesy one-liners, the dialogue is also heartfelt and well-performed by it's lead actors. Like consp77 said, the music was masterfully selected and edited to improve the action and the obligatory 80's montage seen here. Big disappointment on the official soundtrack though, as some of the best songs were not included.