Predator (1987): Get to the Chopper

Cover of "Predator [Blu-ray]"
Cover of Predator [Blu-ray]
What does Arnold Schwarzenegger, an ex 70’s porn star and Jean-Claude Van Damme have in common? Well if you read the title of my review you’ll know the answer already, the film Predator.

Way back in 1987 20th Century Fox gave the green light to a science fiction film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film was to centre around a group of elite special forces who go into Central America to rescue a cabinet minister who has been captured by guerilla forces. Heading up this elite group is Major ‘Dutch’ Schaefer (Schwarzenegger) who is not keen on the mission until his old pal Dillon (Carl Weathers) explains the urgency of the situation.

Dutch agrees and his team plus Dillon head for the country where the diplomat is being held hostage. Once they arrive, the team find evidence that someone else has been there before them and that this  ‘other’ team was murdered and hung like animals ready to be butchered. As they head out toward the rebel camp, Dutch’s men are becoming increasingly aware that something is not right.

Arriving at the rebel camp in time to see one of the hostages being executed, Dutch’s team over-run the camp and kill all the rebels but one. Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) is taken prisoner at Dillon’s insistence and Dutch calls for extraction from the camp only to be told the area is “too hot” and that they need to move to a safer area.

Dutch who has now realised that Dillon lied to him about the real purpose of the mission puts him in charge of the prisoner. The men re-group and head for the new extraction point, all while they are being observed from a distance via thermal imaging.

Sonny Landham as Billy.

Billy (Sonny Landham) takes point and he becomes increasingly aware that something is not right about the area and that they are not alone in the jungle. While Billy looks for this other inhabitant of the jungle Anna attempts to escape and two of Dutch’s men are killed by an invisible creature. This signifies the shift of focus of the film and it soon becomes a cat and mouse battle between Dutch’s men and the mysterious creature who is killing them off.

This film grossed over 98 million dollars on its theatrical release. It has continued to do well in the home entertainment market. It has spawned a franchise of sequels and prequels that have all done well at the box office.

The film was originally written for Sylvester Stallone, but after Fox got hold of the script and put Joel Silver in charge of production, the rest is history. This film was the first I’d ever seen that shifted genre a third of the way into the film. With Arnie fresh off of Commando and with an initial ‘special forces” set up, it looked to be a sort of Commando II.


Predator is a film that scored quite a few first’s and is well-known for a number of things. Firstly Jean-Claude Van Damme had originally been hired to portray the creature. Unfortunately the original predator suit (pre Stan Winston) was uncomfortable, clumsy and according to Van Damme, not safe to use. He quit after two days and in the interim, according to Van Damme, the guy the studio hired after he quit was injured in the ‘original suit.’

Kevin Peter Hall as the Predator
Kevin Peter Hall as the Predator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once Stan ‘the man’ Winstone redesigned the suit, the late Kevin Peter Hall (May 9, 1955 – April 10, 1991) donned it and despite the fact that he could not see during the one-to-one fights with Arnie did not experience any problems. Incidentally Hall played one of the helicopter pilots at the end of the film, effectively rescuing Arnie from the destruction that Hall himself, as the creature, had caused.

The film marked the screen debut of Jesse Ventura and Shane Black. Ventura would go on to become Governor of Minnesota and Black has just finished the screenplay for Iron Man 3 and is working on Lethal Weapon 5.

The minigun, which had been purposely purchased for use in the film, did not work. More commonly attached to helicopters, the gun was a remnant of the Vietnam war.  It had to be stripped, cleaned and a lot of the parts had to be remade from scratch. Of course further modifications were needed to make the weapon a ‘hand-held’ instead of a mounted gun. The weapon was also powered electrically by battery. The cable ran down Jesse Ventura’s (Blain) leg. It was also modified to use blank rounds and the firing rate had to be slowed down.

Actor Sonny Landham was a porn ‘star’ in the 1970’s and crossed over to mainstream films via a bit part as a cop in The Warriors. A bit of a ‘wild child’ Sonny was well-known for getting into bar fights and having a bit of a temper. The studio brass hired a bodyguard for the set of Predator to protect the cast from Sonny during filming.

It was this film that has Arnie shouting that oft-repeated and mimicked line, “Get to the Choppah!”  If you can’t sound like Arnie when you shout it, you might as well give up. Almost anybody can imitate Arnie when shouting this one.

Just a bit of ‘retro’ reviewing fun and another look at an old favorite film. One that has the distinction of having Jean-Claude Van Damme, a porn star and Arnold Schwarzenegger all together.


The main cast of Predator. Left to right: Vent...
The main cast of Predator. Left to right: Ventura, Black, Schwarzenegger, Duke, Weathers, Landham, and Chaves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, vlogger, blogger, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, YouTube shows, Books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

9 thoughts on “Predator (1987): Get to the Chopper

  1. Not sure if you are aware of this, Mike; but Kevin Peter Hall, the actor inside the Predator suit also played Harry in Harry and the Hendersons and was the monster in Monster in the Closet. He died of AIDS in 1991.

    1. Yes I did know that and forgot to put the ‘late’ in front of his name dammit. Thanks for reminding me, I’ll have to do a quick edit to include it. Cheers mate.

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