The infinite blackness punctuated by a billion stars. As we slowly descend through the varied shades of blue of the Earth's atmosphere, we hear the first strains of a swelling background of jungle sounds.
A military assault helicopter, its rotors strobing in the fading sunlight. Drawing closer, the sound of powerful turbines, throbbing in the heavy air, becomes dominant, overpowering. the chopper looms hard into view, pitching forward and settling to the ground, kicking up a maelstrom of dust and vegetation.
A man wearing a military uniform watches through the command post's large open windows the helicopter as it continues to approach. Before the skids have even touched down he sees the first of the men, dressed in civilian clothes but carrying full combat gear. The man turns away from the window, to a figure, hidden in the shadows.
On adjoining pads, two other helicopters are visible; in the b.g. can be seen several concrete and thatchwork buildings, a secret command post disguised as a coastal fishing village. The post in a flurry of activity, American advisors shouting directions to dozens of Latin American soldiers who stand by to assist the landing helicopter and to load equipment into the other choppers.
Inside the chopper, one man remains, stretched out against the bulkhead, as if asleep. He stirs, sits up, lighting up a cigar.
With fatigue showing in his motion, he leans forward, descending to the ground. A jeep pulls to stop, the man swinging casually into the front seat, tossing his gear into the rear. With a lurch the jeep heads out towards the command post.
In the doorway the man solemnly watches as the jeep approaches. Reaching the command post the man alights from the jeep, heading towards the man. Into the pool of light cast by the fixture above the door steps Major Alan Schaefer is greeted by the man, General H.L. Phillips.
Phillips: You're looking good, Dutch.
Dutch: It's been a long time, General.
Phillips: Come on inside.
Phillips and Schaefer enter the room. They cross to the center of the room to a folding table, covered with a large topographical map of the Central American highland jungle. Phillips tells Dutch that a high-ranking "cabinet minister" traveling by helicopter nearby has gone missing in the jungle, presumably shot down by a rebel guerrilla group operating in the area.
Phillips leans over the table, circling a set of coordinates and a mark on the open map. Schaefer studies the map. Schaefer looks up, puffing lightly on the cigar. Dutch's team has been charged with going over the border and into rebel territory to rescue the man.
Dutch: So why don't you use the regular army? What do you need us for?
Dillon: [off screen] 'Cause some damn fool accused you of being the best.
Dutch turns around and sees Dillon sitting in a chair in another room. Dillon, mid-thirties, black, walks into the room. Although as rugged looking as the others, his bearing and grooming indicate he's been away from the business of soldiering for sometime. His quick intelligent eyes reveal his current profession. A grin breaks out across Schaefer's face.
Dutch: Dillon! You son of a bitch!
The two men step forward and simultaneous swing from the hip as it to land a punch . . . but their hands slap together in a gesture of friendship, their forearms bulging, testing each other's strength. As they arm wrestle in mid-air during the handshake, Dillon is apparently losing the contest
Dutch: What's the matter? The CIA got you pushing too many pencils? Huh? Had enough?
Dillon: Make it easy on yourself, Dutch.
They continue the contest, Schaefer has the edge, forcing Dillon's arm slowly downward. They look into each other's faces, each remembering something from the past. A moment's hesitation and they quit the contest.
Dillon: OK, OK, OK!
Dutch: You never did know when to quit, huh?
They laugh, Dillon slapping Schaefer on the shoulder.
Dillon: Damned good to see ya, Dutch.
Dutch: What is this fucking tie business?
Dillon: Aw, come on, forget about my tie, man.
Dillon praises his mission in Berlin, but asks why he passed on Libya.
Dutch: We're a rescue team. Not assassins.
Phillips and Dillon explain to Schaefer the cabinet minister is very important to the scope of their operations.
Dutch: This cabinet minister: does he always travel on the wrong side of the border?
Major General Phillips: [pause] Apparently they strayed off course. And we're fairly certain they're in guerrilla hands.
Dillon: Dutch, the General's sayin' that a couple of our friends are about to get squeezed, and we can't let that happen. We need the best. That's why you're here.
Dutch: Go on.
Dillon: Simple setup. One-day operation. We pick up their trail at the chopper, run 'em down, grab those hostages and bounce back across the border before anybody knows we were there.
Dutch: Whaddya mean "we"?
Schaefer does not look pleased that Dillon will be joining them.
Dutch: My team works alone, you know that.
But Phillips reminds him they all have their orders. Schaefer looks from Philips to Dillon. He still doesn't like it.
The helicopters rise in perfect coordination over another ridge and bank sharply into the next valley, leveling out as they go. The compartment reverberates with the noise of the thumping motors and the roar of Blain's portable music box.
Illuminated by the eerie red glow of night lights, are seven men, dressed in jungle camouflage, soft hats and camouflage face-makeup. The men are checking their weapons, making last minute adjustments to their gear. Schaefer and Dillon, seated near the cockpit, communicate through headsets, also linked to the pilot. They consult a topographical map by red penlights.
Dutch: Who's our backup?
Dillon: No such thing, ol' buddy. This is a one-way ticket. Once we cross that border, we're on our own.
Dutch: This is getting better by the minute.
Blain removes from his shirtpocket a think plug of tobacco. He holds out the tobacco to Mac who refuses with a gentle shake of the head, a knowing smile, he knows what's coming. Seated by the open doorway is Ramirez. Adding a final piece of camouflage tape to his pack harness, he looks up and smiles, bulleting the tape to Hawkins, reading a rolled-up magazine, as if he were a rush hour commuter.
Hawkins snags the tape with an instinctual snap of the wrist, continuing to read for a moment before looking up, grinning at Ramirez. He turns his gaze to the man next to him, Billy, applying black paint to his face. Grinning, Blain proffers the plug to each man, each one refusing; they've done it a thousand times. It's an old gag but they obviously care for the man in a big way.
Blain: Bunch of slack-jawed faggots around here. This stuff will make you a god damned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me.
Poncho: [holds up his grenade launcher] Yeah, strap this on your "sore ass", Blain.
The Pilot and Co-Pilot are surrounded by an array of dimly lit gauges and switches. Before the Co-Pilot is a radar screen and an infra-red display terminal which the two helicopters appear as heat sources. The Pilot throws a switch on the panel before him.
Hawkins: Hey Billy. Billy! The other day, I went up to my girlfriend, I said, "Y'know I'd like a little pussy". She said, "Me too, mine's as big as a house!"
Billy stares blankly.
Hawkins: See, she, she wanted a little one 'cause hers was . . .
Hawkins pauses, then trails off.
Hawkins: . . . big as a house.
Dillon seems comfortable with the men, showing Ramirez a battered cigarette lighter from a famed commando unit from the past. But his ingratiating demeanor is not impressing Mac, who regards Dillon with the cold suspicion reserved for an outsider. Mac looks up at Blain, his eyes narrowing.
Blain's massive jaws roll as he masticates the chew. He pauses, eyes moving downward, spotting his target. He hocks a thick, vile stream of tobacco juice on the floor directly towards Dillon, a gelatinous skein lacing across the toe of one boot. Dillon looks up, his face goes cold and menacing.
Dillon: That's a real nasty habit you got there.