Hero and the Terror (1988)

Hero and the Terror (1988)- * * *

Directed by: William Tannen

Starring: Chuck Norris, Steve James, Billy Drago, Branscombe Richmond, Jack O'Halloran, Brynn Thayer, and Ron O'Neal

Danny O’Brien (Chuck) is an L.A. area cop who is still reeling from his encounter with a psychopathic, murderous maniac named Simon Moon (O’Halloran). O’Brien exorcises his demons pumping iron in the weight room. Moon is so scary, he’s been nicknamed “The Terror” by the press. However, O’Brien has also been nicknamed. To the residents of L.A., he’s “The Hero”. Starting to see where this is going? Anyway, Chuck hates his nickname, and  just wants to spend time with his lovely wife Kay (Thayer), who is pregnant. But the Mayor of L.A. (O’Neal) wants results on The Terror case. 

So O’Brien calls in his buddy Robinson (James) to help out. The two suspect that the baddie is hiding out in the bowels of the Wiltern Theater, which sets the stage for the final battle. Who will prevail: The Hero or The Terror? Find out today…

Simply speaking, The Hero and The Terror is classic 80’s Chuck. It might not be one of his more talked-about titles, but it’s well worth seeing. It’s kind of like a better version of Silent Rage (1982), insofar as it’s about a psycho killer and Chuck’s chasing him, while doing minimal Martial Arts. If you have to see one of those two movies, see this one. 

It’s a quality production: it’s excellently shot, with very nice cinematography, the cast is top-notch, and it all exudes an aura of professionalism. It’s not at all junky, and it would have been very cool to see this in the theater in ’88.

Chuck puts in a great performance, that of a troubled hero haunted by The Terror, while still striving to be a rock of stability and companionship for his wife. Fan favorite Steve James is as charismatic as ever, and is always a joy to watch. He even wears the same WrestleMania hat as he does in McBain (1991). That must make us truly hardcore Steve James fans to notice a detail like that. Ron O’Neal does a decent job as “The Mayor”, and Billy Drago has a glorified cameo as a doctor. Come to think of it, it’s not all that glorified.

We very much enjoyed the slower pace of this film. Slow pace doesn’t equal bad: bad equals bad. We’re against the notion that MTV-style fast cuts and ADD-afflicted editing should be the standard we all have to now live by. So by that logic if a movie isn’t moving at a breakneck pace, it’s no good? We reject that entirely. 

Bring us back to the days when a pace was meant to draw you in and you could get to know the characters. So we applaud director Tannen for that. He went on to be a co-director of Inside Edge (1992), which also featured Branscombe Richmond, as does HATT, as all the cool kids call it (i.e., this movie).

For straight down-the-line and above board Chuck, Hero and the Terror is a great choice. 

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Slaughter in San Francisco (1974)

Slaughter in San Francisco (1974)- * * *

Directed by: Wei Lo

Starring: Don Wong and Chuck Norris

“I only know two kinds of people. Those who obey me and those who die." - Chuck Slaughter

Officer Don Wong (Wong) is a San Francisco cop who is proficient in Martial Arts. Frustrated by the growing menace of gangs in the area, one day all his anger is unleashed and he gets into a big brawl. The brass back at the precinct aren’t happy about this, and he has to turn in his badge and gun, and is actually busted down to waiter, working in, what else, a Chinese restaurant. It’s there he comes into contact for the first time with crime lord Chuck Slaughter (Norris). After Wong’s former partner gets caught up in the crossfire, Wong really has a yen for revenge and goes after Slaughter and his minions. Will his next brawl put him back on the police force? Find out today!

Just so no one gets confused, Don Wong plays Don Wong and Chuck Norris plays Chuck Slaughter. Get it? Slaughter in San Francisco? Heh heh. Now that the formalities are out of the way, we can say what a silly - yet entertaining - movie this is. It’s filled to the brim with big, plaid-centered 70’s fashions, a nice, fuzzy, funky soundtrack with cool drums, and, seeing how it was a very mustachioed time back then, those are on just about every male face as well. 

Even though the film is ostensibly American, because it is a Golden Harvest production and everyone (including Chuck) is dubbed, somehow, things get lost in translation. And it’s not just the overdubbed, loud, “classic” 70’s Kung Fu-style dubbing, it’s also the sound effects, like fist and foot blows sounding like someone smacking a cardboard box with an aluminum baseball bat. If someone hits you and that sound comes out of your body, you are in serious trouble.

Speaking of things that are over-inflated, the role of Chuck Norris in this movie comes to mind. His role is pretty small, but packaging was retrofitted to make this a Chuck movie after his success. Meanwhile, Don Wong, who is a real Don Juan, gives the Chuckster a run for his money. Additionally, we believe one of the thugs towards the beginning of the film (the guy in the brown leather jacket, though that doesn’t narrow things down much) is none other than Ron Marchini. He’s not credited, but we strongly believe it’s him. Maybe someone out there can help confirm this for us. 

Nevertheless, Mr. Norris and his bizarre body hair situation Chucking it up to the soundtrack which sounds like a funky version of the music from NES’ Lode Runner makes this worthwhile, never mind all the other ridiculousness herein.

As for buying this movie, the options available are not great. There’s the version, under the title Karate Cop - not to be confused with the Ron Marchini-starring movie from 1991 - that was released on the low-budget label MNTEX, which is unfortunately in EP mode. Then there’s the version on Rhino, under the Slaughter in San Francisco moniker, but that’s a pan-and-scan barbarity. Nevertheless, we’d probably say go with the Rhino version, given the choices at hand.

For Chuck Norris fans and/or those who like their Martial Arts movies on the light and dippy side, only the most cruel among moviegoers would truly dislike Slaughter in San Francisco.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum! 


Delta Force 2 (1990)

Delta Force 2 (1990)- * *1\2

Directed by: Aaron Norris

Starring: Chuck Norris, Billy Drago, John P. Ryan, Mark Margolis, and Richard Jaeckel

The DEA is hot on the trail of Ramon Cota (Drago) - an extremely evil (and extremely rich) drug lord. He controls whole Colombian towns with threats, murder, and intimidation. DEA agent John Page (Jaeckel) is in over his head, so he calls in the best - Col. Scott McCoy (Norris) - to help take down Cota once and for all. When Cota attacks the wrong people - people close to McCoy - things become personal and McCoy brings all the force he has to bring down Cota and his organization.

Sure, Chuck Norris has no emotion but there is none needed. At least he can do martial arts, unlike other emotionless actors like Kip Pardue and Ryan O’Neal. They have no physical skills, range, OR screen presence. So if one of those three choices have to be sacrificed, at least for action cinema, you can lose the emotional range. On the other end of the spectrum, in a career of playing villains, this is one of Billy Drago’s best. He’s sinister and menacing, as he usually is, but his portrayal of Cota is scary and downright sadistic. Drago did a great job once again.

John P. Ryan gives an energetic (some might say over the top) performance as General Taylor, and he makes some priceless faces along the way. This role could have been played by Dennis Hopper or even Terence Stamp, but Ryan gives it some extra, A-Team-like wackiness. Also it should be noted that an evil General (isn’t there always an evil General?) that’s working with Cota, Gen. Olmedo (Margolis) looks exactly like nutty politician Ron Paul. It’s really funny every time he pops up on screen in his General’s uniform, because anyone’s first instinct would be to yell “That’s Ron Paul!”

It would have been nice to see more members of the Delta Force team from the first film, especially Steve James. He was probably busy working on a Dudikoff film at this time. (Actually, both men were slated to be in an early incarnation of this film). And once behind “enemy lines”, trying to attack Cota’s stronghold in “San Carlos”, the action becomes very dumb. Let’s not forget Aaron Norris directed this particular Cannon production.

While this movie was shot in large part in the Philippines, that great filming haven for action movies, the plot becomes dangerously close to an “El Presidente” movie. (Please see our review for Hour Of The Assassin  where we coin the term and explain what it is, if you don‘t already know). Perhaps needlessly taking a cue from the first Delta Force film, this sequel is unnecessarily long. There’s no reason for that. But the training sequence and Chuck-Fu are what make this movie worth seeing, when you get right down to it.

Featuring the song “Winds of Change” by Lee Greenwood, Delta Force 2 isn’t a life-changer, but it’s a good entry in Chuck’s canon.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


The Delta Force (1986)

The Delta Force (1986)- * * *

Directed by: Menahem Golan

Starring: Chuck Norris, Lee Marvin, Shelley Winters, Robert Forster, Martin Balsam, George Kennedy, Joey Bishop, Hanna Schygulla, and Bo Svenson 

When a group of evil terrorists (is there any other kind?) led by Abdul Rafai (the interestingly-cast Forster), hijack an airplane and start making demands, there’s only one group of men that can stop the madness...The Delta Force! And who is the elite of the elite, there is no question: American Superdude Major Scott McCoy (Norris) who will get the job done with his bare hands if necessary. He came out of retirement just to kill bad guys and rescue hostages. Those baddies better watch out.

This was a huge hit for Cannon and really put them on the map. The stellar cast is literally all-star, and the two hour-plus running time must accommodate that. But that gives the movie a big, Hollywood feel.  The first half of the movie is surprisingly powerful and intense. It tries to put a human face on the victims of terror, and the old guard of Hollywood actors such as Martin Balsam, Shelley Winters and Joey Bishop help to convey this, as do George Kennedy in another role as a priest, and an actress most people know from the films of Fassbinder, Hanna Schygulla. Bo Svenson shows up as the pilot, and he’s always nice to see.

Then the Delta Force shows up, led by Lee Marvin, and featuring not just Chuck, but the underrated Steve James, and Robert Vaughn as a General. The action begins in earnest about halfway through the movie and it doesn’t disappoint, especially Chuck’s motorcycle with missile launchers built in. This thing is possibly the most awesome thing ever. Chuck will stop at nothing to find and kill all the terrorists involved, and maybe a few who weren’t involved. Some of the Chuck stuff is amusing, and the fruit cart chases and shooting help that.

Luckily, the movie is written and directed in a way that all makes sense, even if it is a bit on the long side, and director Golan tried to do pretty much the same thing but on a smaller scale with Deadly Heroes. But that movie really ramps up the silliness factor.

For a drama (1st half) and action extravaganza (2nd half) that’s a bit more well-known, The Delta Force fits the bill very well, and the plot is still very relevant today.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up by our buddies at Ruthless Reviews! 


Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988)

Braddock: Missing in Action III (1988)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Aaron Norris

Starring: Chuck Norris, Aki Aleong, Yehuda Efroni, Miki Kim, Roland Harrah III, and Keith David

Braddock is back once again in this triumphant end to the trilogy. This time around, Braddock (Chuck, of course) is just trying to live life one day at a time after the end of the war. He’s informed by a kindly priest, Rev. Polanski (Efroni) that his wife Lin (Kim), who is Vietnamese, is still alive there. After all these years, he thought she was dead. So he travels back to ‘Nam to reunite with her. He also finally sees his 12 year old son Van (Harrah). Ruining the emotional moment, there’s yet another sadistic Vietnamese General, Gen. Quoc (Aleong). He hates Braddock - and also children - so Braddock has to not just get out of the country, but bring an entire orphanage along with him! Can Braddock do it?

To us, this third and final installment in the Braddock trilogy is clearly the best. It’s funnier, looser, weirder, and has a different vibe from the previous two films. Possibly due to the fact that it was made three years after the second movie and this time it’s directed by Aaron Norris. Because it, honestly, didn’t really have to be made, it has kind of an “Eh, screw it” kind of vibe and they just threw everything at the wall to see what sticks. Luckily, this approach is totally winning.

Everything, perhaps in spite of itself, seems to work here: Braddock showing his sensitive side, the especially dark Prerequisite Torture, the fact that Braddock’s son calls him “Braddock”, the fact that Gen. Quoc is constantly screaming “Braddock!!!!!”, the Patton (1970)-like musical stings, Braddock’s awesomely awesome “Supergun”, and many more excellent moments. 

All three movies had quality explosions, and this one doesn’t disappoint in the blow-ups department either. Matching that are some top-notch neck snaps as well. The whole movie is loaded with that classic 80’s violence/silliness/patriotism mix that’s the hallmark of the Golden Age of video-store action movies of the day. It’s incredibly addictive once you get into them (and since you’re reading this site, we assume you also have got the bug, and we thank you).

Besides all the onscreen action, some of the dialogue is priceless too. Most outstanding, of course, is the super-quotable “I don’t step on toes...I step on necks” line, which Braddock actually lives up to later in the movie. The music by Ron Bloom and Lenny McDonald adds a lot, and their Bruce Springsteen-meets-Warren Zevon songs add another layer of icing for the wedding cake of radness that is Braddock. 

Also adding to the list of Braddock firsts, this is the first of the three to be released on the Media label. You have to buy this movie on VHS for one very simple reason: there is an amazing commercial on the tape for Braddock merchandise. You can get Braddock hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts. This commercial alone makes the tape worth buying.

We love this movie for some very personal reasons. It’s the first Braddock movie we all saw, and we rented it from our local video store back in the 90’s. As a group of friends, we watched the movie, and two things of note happened: we misheard the song lyrics in the beginning, and we imagined the ultra-gruff vocalist sang: “In the streets of Saigon, when my ass was king”. So we continue to quote that (plus you can‘t deny it’s true in Chuck’s case - we just thought the singer was being a bit on the nose) to this day. And, somehow, another song was crafted. Sung to the tune of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” came: “Don’t cry for me Col. Braddock, I know that you’re missing in action.” (Thanks Ant).  So clearly we have a strong personal connection to this fine film that you might not have. But that’s the genius of Braddock. He inspires creativity. There may be a heavy metal CD in the works that’s a concept album all about Braddock. It truly never ends.

Nevertheless, this, the best of the Braddock movies, represents a fine end to the trilogy. It’s highly rare that sequels get BETTER as they go along, yet the Braddock movies get absolutely no credit for bucking that trend. It might be the only trilogy in movie history to improve as it goes along, but do you ever hear anyone say that? No, of course not. So take a trip to the Philippines and watch Braddock work his magic, one more time.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up by our friends at Ruthless Reviews!


Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985)

Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985)- * * *

Directed by: Lance Hool

Starring: Chuck Norris, Soon-Tek Oh, Dean Ferrandini, and Professor Toru Tanaka

We all know Braddock was Missing In Action (1984). But this sequel - actually a prequel - fills us in on just what went on in the brutal prison camp he was imprisoned in. Braddock and his fellow soldiers are routinely tortured and subjected to harsh, cruel, and sadistic practices, thanks to maniacal commander, Col. Yin (Oh) and his sidekick Lao (Tanaka). Will Braddock escape to see freedom? (Actually, you know he will, because this is a prequel, but just ignore that).

The fans clamored for more Braddock, and more Braddock is what they got with this sequel/prequel. Cannon provided more jungle action and Prerequisite Torture with that trademark Reagan-style patriotism that we’ve all come to know and love. 

There’s even stock footage of Reagan in the actual movie. It could definitely be argued that this sequel is superior to the original, because the plot is more streamlined, and the final fight between Chuck and Soon-Tek Oh absolutely delivers the goods. The movie primarily takes place in one location - the prison camp - and you see their travails, everything from Punchfighting to dealing with Professor Toru Tanaka. He’s a fan favorite and his presence improves the proceedings.

Like the first film, you kind of have to wait for any substantial action, but when it comes, it’s a true crowd pleaser. Adding to this, you get to see the origin of Chuck’s beard. When he was first captured in 1972, he did not have a beard. But he had to grow one in captivity because Col. Yin did not provide razors. Apparently, he liked the way he looked, so he kept it. Because of Chuck’s long hair and beard, and the way he’s treated, in Missing In Action 2: The Beginning there are certainly some parallels to the story of Jesus. Think about it.

Director Lance Hool, who was credited with writing and producing credits on the first film, here steps into the director’s chair with successful results. He obviously understands the Braddock character and that’s probably why he got the gig. Once again Aaron Norris is on board for stunt work, as is fan favorite John Barrett. Dean Ferrandini, usually part of the stunt team, here steps in front of the camera in the role of Kirtle. It appears everyone knew what they were doing and did their best to expand the story of Braddock, and it certainly worked.

It was released in one of those cool MGM/Cannon silver big boxes, so the collectability factor is high. But the movie is definitely worth seeing, as is the first one. But the highest heights of Braddock were yet to come: the final installment of the trilogy was still three years away.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Missing in Action (1984)

Missing in Action (1984)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Joseph Zito

Starring: Chuck Norris, M. Emmett Walsh, Willie Williams,  and James Hong

Col. James Braddock (Chuck) spent several years in a North Vietnamese POW camp. After escaping, he’s now home, but he’s a troubled man. He’s invited by the American government to go back to Vietnam to investigate/talk about the phenomenon of soldiers still Missing In Action. Tensions flare, thanks to the evil General Trau (Hong). Braddock, being the badass that he is, decides to go off on his own into the jungle (actually with Tuck (Walsh), an old army buddy), and rescue any remaining POW’s himself. While in the midst of their mission, they face an endless stream of baddies trying to stop them. It’ll take all the firepower and skill Braddock has to defeat the enemy and save the missing men. Can he do it?

This is classic Cannon all the way, and they really hit paydirt with this one. Thanks to the high-quality cinematography, the rousing, triumphant score, and the longer running time, Missing In Action has that big-screen feel. While the pace, at least for the first half of the movie, may seem a bit on the slow side to modern viewers, that’s just the way things worked back then. It’s a pre-ADD generation action movie. And we’re all the better for it. It’s ultimately a rewarding experience, and Cannon (as well as moviegoers) obviously thought so too, as this spawned two sequels to date (maybe we haven’t seen the last of Braddock...?). 

Surely this film was at the forefront of the exploding hut/guy falling out of a guard tower/mindless shooting jungle movie back in the golden age of the 80’s. Along with the Rambo series, not to mention countless Direct-To-Video items, these movies capitalized on the craze for patriotic movies with plenty of violence that were so in vogue in the Reagan 80’s. To hammer the point home even more, stock footage of Reagan is actually IN Missing In Action 2. If you even THINK about communism, Braddock, Rambo, or any number of other heroes will mow you down with a machine gun that’s taller than they are. So there. Take that you stupid commies.

As for the cast and crew, Chuck Norris here started to take tentative steps toward his Texas-based clothing style that would manifest itself most fully during the Walker: Texas Ranger years. His hair and beard are at their reddest and most impressive here, and when he wears his sunglasses, you really can’t even see his face. M. Emmet Walsh is always a welcome sight to see, and he plays a similar character in Red Scorpion (1988), which was also directed by Joseph Zito. As good as Walsh is, we also felt the role could have been played by Nick Nolte. 

Lenore Kasdorf of L.A. Bounty (1989) fame is onboard, as well as James Hong, who’s been in pretty much everything. For our purposes here, he was in the same year’s Cannon vehicle, the great Ninja III (1984), and much later was in Talons Of the Eagle (1992). Willie Williams, whose entire movie career seems to have been in Vietnam (or Nam-like) Jungle movies such as Final Mission (1984), Savage Justice (1988), Saigon Commandos (1988) and, not coincidentally,  P.O.W. The Escape (1986), continues his tradition with the movie at hand today.

Also it has been said that none other than Van Damme appears in an uncredited role as “Car Driver”, but we didn’t see him, so we can’t necessarily confirm that that’s actually true. But he’s also credited with stunts, along with Aaron Norris, who would go on to direct the second sequel, Braddock, as well as Dean Ferrandini, who would go on to direct Overkill (1996). The next year after this, Zito would direct the ultimate Chuck movie, Invasion U.S.A. (1985) This is a nice trial run for that masterpiece.

If there was going to be a movie version of the 80’s Nintendo game Jackal, this could be it. It’s a shoot-em-up where the hero must save the hostages. But here the hero is outspoken on the M.I.A. issue and is Chuck Norris. I guess those are the only two differences.

Missing In Action is undoubtedly a classic and is completely worth seeing. In our eyes, however, the series would improve even more in the subsequent two outings, so watch out for those as well.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out write-ups by our buddies, DTVC and Ruthless Reviews!


Firewalker (1986)

Firewalker (1986)- * *

Directed by: J. Lee Thompson

Starring: Chuck Norris, Louis Gossett Jr., Melody Anderson, John Rhys-Davies, Sonny Landham, Will Sampson, and Ian Abercrombie

Max Donigan (Chuck) and Leo Porter (Gossett) are two adventurers/world travelers/fortune seekers who haven’t been having much luck in the treasure hunting business of late. When Patricia Goodwin (Anderson) approaches them and invites them to find the ancient gold of the Mayans (or maybe Aztecs...or perhaps American Indians...we’re not really sure), Max and Leo agree, and off the three of them go into deserts, jungles, caves and other exotic locations, and encountering plenty of perils and pitfalls along the way. Will they get the gold...or will constantly-oiled-up baddie Tall Eagle (Sampson) prevent them from achieving their goal?

Firewalker is an old-fashioned, Saturday afternoon-style adventure film, not strictly an action movie. It’s a PG-rated tale, and Cannon probably figured they should break into a younger demographic. This way they could create new Chuck fans at a younger age. Like a drug dealer hooking them in while they’re young.  Chuck certainly took the opportunity and ran with it, showing off his goofier side. He’s a little less wooden here than he is elsewhere, as he chomps a cigar and generally has plenty of good-natured one-liners at the ready. 

His interplay with buddy Louis Gossett Jr. is a highlight of the movie, as they work well together, and Gossett’s charisma helps paper over some of Chuck’s deficiencies in that department. They’re backed up by some solid supporting players such as Ian Abercrombie of Mr. Pitt fame from Seinfeld, the always-great Sonny Landham, and John Rhys-Davies, who puts in a robust performance as a small-time dictator whose accent changes from Spanish to British to Southern throughout his appearance here. Additionally, fan-favorite Branscombe Richmond did stuntwork on the film and has a very brief cameo as well. And, they spell his name wrong in the credits.

As Leo and Max (aren’t they The Producers? Maybe Firewalker could become a hit Broadway musical) get into and out of their many scrapes, there’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek comedy, silly fight scenes, and supposed Indian mysticism. The enjoyable music by Gary Chang certainly helps this along. Many people have pointed out the similarities between this and the Indiana Jones movies, but another influence seems to be the big, sprawling work of Sergio Leone. But like Gold Raiders (1983) just making the movie lengthy doesn’t mean you’re automatically in Leone territory. Leone can justify longer films. Chuck Norris cannot. It’s not fair, but it’s an ironclad rule of filmmaking.

And while the movie is fairly fun and upbeat, it’s just too long and poorly paced. J. Lee Thompson is an old-school director whose career goes back to the 1950’s. We think that accounts for that. He’s known in action circles for his work with Charles Bronson, and he does have a grasp for classic Hollywood-style derring-do. On another behind-the-camera note, Aaron Norris was stunt coordinator here, and one of the stuntmen under his charge was Dean Ferrandini, who would later direct him in the unfortunate Overkill (1996).

Released on the great Media label on VHS in the U.S., Firewalker is harmless, reasonably entertaining, if bloated, and ideal for younger people who display an interest in action.

Also check out a write-up by our buddy, The Video Vacuum!

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)

Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)- * * * 

Directed by: Steve Carver

Starring: Chuck Norris, David Carradine, R.G. Armstrong, Aaron Norris, Leon Issac Kennedy, Robert Beltran, L.Q. Jones, and Barbara Carrera

Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade (Chuck) is notorious around his precinct, and his El Paso stomping grounds, for being a loner, a rebel, and a man with the dignity of a quiet badass. Despite the typical protestations from his Captain, Tyler (Armstrong), McQuade, nicknamed “Lone Wolf” for obvious reasons, always gets the job done. And when there’s trouble in Texas, he’s the man everyone calls to sort it out. His buddy Dakota (Jones) certainly knows that, as do his ex-wife and daughter. 

But shortly after he reluctantly accepts a young new partner, Kayo (Beltran), Lone Wolf faces his biggest challenge to date in the form of one Rawley Wilkes (Carradine), a malevolent Martial Arts master who also just happens to be a gun runner. There’s also a love triangle kind of thing involving a woman named Lola (Carrera) between the two alpha males. After Wilkes sends his goons after Lone Wolf’s people, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown: McQuade vs. Wilkes! Also Leon Isaac Kennedy plays an FBI agent named Jackson and William Sanderson plays a underworld character named Snow. Who will triumph in this big, Texas-sized battle? Find out today!

It’s easy to see, in retrospect, how the TV show Walker: Texas Ranger got started. The pitch to Chuck was probably “let’s turn Lone Wolf McQuade into a weekly show”. But the awesome title LONE WOLF MCQUADE (why aren’t there cool movie titles like that these days?) should be enough to signal to viewers what they’re getting into. 

Chuck displays his usual deadpan likability, and there’s something about the guy you just can’t help but love. If previous year’s movie Silent Rage (1982) is anything to go by, he was slowly becoming less wooden and was honing his acting skills, as well as his Martial Arts ability. As the laconic ex-Military man who only drinks Pearl brand beer (and has many other uses for it as well, including as balm for his wounds) - when he’s not drinking Coke, of course, you truly root for him. It was naive and typical for Lola to think she could change Lone Wolf. Change him? Don’t even try!

The movie is filled with fun stunts and fights (thanks in part to John Barrett and Kane Hodder who, among others, did stunts) and has a nice modern-day Western feel to it. A lot of that is helped by the excellent score by Francesco De Masi. There’s also some pleasant humor at just the right times. David Carradine is suitably evil as the Karate man who smokes, Armstrong is the WYC (White Yelling Chief), William Sanderson almost steals the movie as Snow, and Leon Isaac Kennedy and L.Q. Jones provide quality support. 

Director Steve Carver is known, at least to us, for later directing the movie that unleashed the word “Butthorn” on the world, Bulletproof (1988), as well as the lackluster Dudikoff vehicle River of Death (1989). H. Kaye Dyal got a writing credit here, and he would later go on to direct the Frank Zagarino opuses Trained to Kill (1989) and the great Project Eliminator (1991). And Aaron Norris plays “Punk”. So there’s plenty of talent to go around, much of which would continue to infiltrate the DTV and/or action movie world for years to come. Lone Wolf McQuade is an ideal starting point.

Lone Wolf McQuade is an enjoyable movie with a lot of nice moments. It’s competently directed and has a lot of great names in the cast. It’s hard to ask for more than that. We liked it.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out write ups by: Ed's Pop Culture Shack and  The Video Vacuum!


Forced Vengance (1982)

Forced Vengeance (1982)- * * *

Directed by: James Fargo

Starring: Chuck Norris, Richard Norton, Michael Cavanaugh, Bob Minor, and Jimmy Shaw

Josh Randall (Norris) is a soft-spoken tough guy who’s used to being an enforcer. But he really gets in over his head when he travels to Hong Kong. Working for the boss of a popular casino, Randall notices something dangerous is afoot when heavies want to buy the casino but the management refuses. People start dying all around him, so he and his old ‘Nam buddy LeRoy Nicely (Minor) try to fight off the baddies while protecting the casino owner’s daughter. Evil gangster boss Stan Raimondi (Cavanaugh) is greedy and wants not just the casino money, but Randall’s blood. Meanwhile, Inspector Keck (Shaw) is trying to use his side of the law to figure out what’s going on. Will Josh and LeRoy get answers? Will they get justice? Find out today!

Forced Vengeance is classic 80’s Chuck. It was still when he had blonde hair and a blonde mustache. It seems Chuck movies can be broken up into two eras: blonde Chuck and red-head Chuck. At some point in time his hair turned a rusty, russet color, thus dividing his career into two halves. Not that one is better than the other, necessarily, but it makes his movies easily identifiable. This particular outing takes a while with its setup, and the pacing isn’t necessarily break-neck, but is solid and reliable. It’s like an old tank that just keeps rollin’ along at its own pace. You get your rewards, but it’s not instant gratification like the kids are used to today with their MTV and their e-lectronic gizmos.

Even though Golan and Globus had nothing to do with it, this whole film has a look and feel that is very Cannon-esque. From the opening slow-motion, silhouetted fight in front of the neon (much like the opening of one of Sho’s classic Cannons) to the way the rest of the film is shot, it will certainly put you in that Cannon frame of mind. The movie uses its Hong Kong locations to very nice effect, and the music by William Goldstein is so sweeping and dramatic, it helps the film rise to heights it might not necessarily have reached otherwise. The main theme is especially cool. Another soundtrack observation:  there is an excellent disco/muzak theme of “Super Freak” which is a lot of fun as well.

Chuck, who gets some suave line readings and wears tuxedos in this one, gets to channel his inner James Bond. Can you imagine him as an official Bond? We can only dream. Fan favorite Richard Norton is here too, but in a “Where’s Waldo”-esque cameo that defies you to spot him. 

Here’s a hint: with his blonde bowl haircut and matching mustache, he looks like he just stepped off the set doing stunt work for Chuck. (Indeed he did do stunt work on the film, along with John Barrett and Aaron Norris, among others). And he appears almost naked, wearing only a pair of tiny red shorts. Still and all, this movie could have used more Norton. The massive red flower Raimondi wears on his lapel is almost the same size as Norton’s shorts. Coincidence? Or a visual motif? 

In other wardrobe news, Chuck’s wide array of cowboy hats not only is impressive, but they almost become secondary characters in the movie, as at one point Chuck woefully decries “Why do they always pick on my hat?” Truly the eternal question.

When Forced Vengeance was originally released on VHS, it came in one of those awesome MGM silver big-boxes. The kind with the cover on a hinge and the cassette in a plastic tray. We love those. Now the film is on DVD of course, but for the coolness factor, you have to love the original packaging. So for some classic kicking and punching Chuck style, Forced Vengeance is a prime example of why everyone finds him so endearing.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out write-ups by our buddies, Cool Target and The Video Vacuum! 


A Force Of One (1979)

A Force Of One (1979)- * *1\2

Directed by: Paul Aaron

Starring: Chuck Norris, Jennifer O'Neill, Ron O'Neal, Eric Laneuville, and Bill "Superfoot" Wallace

Matt Logan (Chuck) is a Martial Arts expert who runs a dojo, teaching children by day and fighting in the ring by night. His life is consumed by Karate, which is exactly why the San Diego police department seek out his expert counsel. It seems a drug epidemic is on the rise, and the narcotics officers who are trying to stem the tide, including Detectives Mandy Rust (O’Neill) and Rollins (O’Neal) (no relation, heh heh), are in great danger, because a ruthless assassin is out on the streets, ruthlessly killing cops who get too close to the center of the drug operation. 

Figuring that the mysterious killer only uses his bare hands, Matt Logan is called in to train the officers in the exotic use of Martial Arts. Soon Logan becomes personally involved and is searching for the killer himself. But what is the true motive of Sparks (Superfoot)? Find out today! Also Matt Logan has a Black son. (Charlie (Laneuville) was apparently adopted, but that explanation was not necessary. They should have left us wondering...)

A Force of One is pretty typical early Chuck: the pace is on the slow side and the man himself is wonderfully emotionless in the lead role. While this PG-rated outing does feel like a TV movie at times, it does provide plenty of Chuck fights and the movie as a whole isn’t bad. 

Chuck has some excellent backup in the cast department: Jennifer O’Neill is pleasant as the female cop/love interest, Ron O’Neal is always nice to see, as one of the narcotics cops, the great Bill “Superfoot” Wallace truly stands on his own two feet, and of course Aaron and Mike Norris serve various roles on the production, as is standard procedure for a Chuck venture. Director Paul Aaron later went on to make the Wings Hauser epic Deadly Force (1983), which, after having viewed both films, makes sense.

Matt Logan is introduced to his future students on the police force by the Captain saying “This is Matt Logan. He’s a Karate man.” This predating Out For Blood (1992) by many years. He certainly lives up to his standing as a Karate man, what with his impressive, large-scale black and white photos of himself glaring at you on the wall. 

He also has some stylish fight pants, as do all the fighters, including Superfoot. During the climactic night fight scene, it’s pretty much all you can see. They must have gotten them at the evil sporting goods store in the movie. It’s too bad we can’t go there now. Their selection of jackets and other items look really cool. It’s also nice to see the 1970’s tech, such as rotary-dial pay phones, and Jennifer O’Neill’s pager, which looks to be the exact size and dimension as a brick.

In all, A Force of One is a decent, harmless, and enjoyable-enough Chuck jaunt.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


The Octagon (1980)

The Octagon (1980)-* *1\2

Directed by: Eric Karson

Starring: Chuck Norris, Karen Carlson, Ernie Hudson, Richard Norton, Mike Norris, Gerald Okamura, Tadashi Yamashita,  John Barrett, John Fujioka, and Lee Van Cleef

Scott James (Chuck) is a man who looks spiffy on the outside (he wears a pretty sweet tuxedo) but seems to have a lot of turmoil on the inside. Not only is he constantly flashing back to his childhood and his initial Martial Arts training (the young Scott is played by Mike Norris), but the voices in his head are overpowering and seem to tell him important things. All this is going to come in handy when Scott James faces off against perhaps the ultimate foe: terrorist ninjas. Yes, terrorist ninjas. 

While protecting a woman named Justine (Carlson) from said TerNin’s - which he does with the help of mentor McCarn (Van Cleef) - he realizes the true depth of what he’s up against. The nefarious group trains in an octagon-shaped facility, and their organization is named...The Octagon. Will Scott James triumph over these squares? Find out today!

While The Octagon contains no cage fighting, or Punchfighting of any kind, it is in fact a reasonable Chuck movie. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. By today’s standards, the pace might be too slow for some viewers, and at 104 minutes it’s certainly on the long side. But what else would you expect from director Karson, who later was responsible for Van Damme dud Black Eagle (1988)? But the cast perhaps makes up for it. Besides the aforementioned Norrises, and of course the legendary Lee Van Cleef, we have Tadashi Yamashita of Sword of Heaven (1985) fame, whose hair steals his own performance out from under him. 

The great Gerald Okamura has a brief role as a member of The Octagon, as does John Fujioka, and John Barrett does stunts as well as a small role. There’s even a young Ernie Hudson on board as a fighter. As is usual for a Chuck movie, Aaron Norris was stunt coordinator, and besides doing stunts, Richard Norton has a nice appearance as a baddie who gets in a fight with Chuck.

Norton’s hair and mustache combo look awesome, and his blonde bowl haircut is so bright, it actually lights an entire dark scene all on its own. But back to Chuck, this movie definitely belongs to the era in his acting career where his performances were noticeably, obviously wooden. Or, WoodChuck for short. But beyond the fact that this is a WoodChuck movie, at least you can hear his thoughts, which is enlightening. There’s a passing mention that Scott James was a Vietnam vet, and the baddies’ training camp is seems like a dry run for the later American Ninja (1985) - which would also reunite Norton, Yamashita and Fujioka.

The Octagon is competently-made early-80’s Chuck, but better was yet to come.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


An Eye For an Eye (1981)

An Eye For an Eye (1981)-* *1\2

Directed by: Steve Carver

Starring: Chuck Norris, Richard Roundtree, Christopher Lee, Professor Toru Tanaka, and Mako

Sean Kane (Chuck) is the best undercover narcotics cop in the San Francisco police department. During what he initially believes to be a standard bust, his partner is killed. His classic BYC (Black Yelling Chief) Capt. Stevens (Roundtree) yells at him for a while about his rogue ways, and, without even being asked in the traditional fashion, Kane turns in his badge and gun. But the threat is far bigger than he originally believes, as a reporter, Linda Chan (Chao) is murdered. 

So Kane teams up with his buddy James Chan (Mako) and the two men work together to get justice, results, or some reasonable combination of the two. But it’s not going to be easy, as dapper baddie Morgan Canfield (Lee) is a powerful man with connections, and his right-hand man has some massive right hands, because it’s Professor Toru Tanaka playing, as if he could play anything else, The Professor. So Kane and Chan have their work cut out for them, but even in the face of insurmountable odds, Kane never loses his cool, or doubts the fact that “he’s a human weapon!” Will an eye be taken for an eye? Find out today...

An Eye for an Eye is generally what people think of when discussing early-80’s Chuck: it’s a little slow, a little dull, but it’s steady, solid, and gets the job done. Perhaps the filmmakers didn’t trust Chuck alone at this early period in his career, so they loaded the movie up with action fan favorites: Mako, Professor Toru Tanaka, Roundtree, and of course Christopher Lee. 

Unfortunately, the fight between Mako and Tanaka left a bit to be desired, and Lee doesn’t show up until 43 minutes in. He should have been more murderous and sinister. But he does his usual professional job, and his mustache and pipe make him seem so sophisticated. Amazingly, in the same year, 1981, Lee starred opposite none other than Eddie Deezen in another San Francisco-set movie, Desperate Moves (1981). We don’t know which was filmed first, but to go from Eddie Deezen to Chuck Norris, or vice versa, is enough to make your head spin.

This was the phase of Chuck’s career where he had a blonde mop-top and no facial hair. He might be the only man of action to make the sweater-with-a-collared-shirt look seem intimidating. An Eye for an Eye follows the formula of “Chuck chasing a hulking brute who’s going around murdering people” template later used for Silent Rage (1982) and Hero and the Terror (1988). 

While Mako makes a great sidekick, and there are some excellent moves displayed in the fight scenes, there’s no conceivable reason why this needed to be 104 minutes. It should have been 90 at most. But then again, this was before ADD had come along and ruined people’s attention spans.

That’s just the thing: as we talked about in our Hero and the Terror review, we’re not against slow paces necessarily, but take a comparable action star of the day like Arnie. His personality, accent and charisma can help viewers power through the boring parts. Chuck doesn’t have those tools at his disposal. 

His co-stars ended up falling into some similar ruts: Roundtree ended up playing BYC’s again, most notably in A Time to Die (1991). Director Carver apparently had no problem with Chuck’s shortcomings and went on to work with him again with Lone Wolf McQuade (1983). From there he did Bulletproof (1988) with Gary Busey and Danny Trejo, and River of Death (1989) with Dudikoff. So his resume of video-store action speaks for itself. Finally, it should be noted that fan favorite Richard Norton is listed as a stuntman, but doesn’t appear in the movie, unfortunately.

An Eye for an Eye certainly has its moments, but there’s some dullness surrounding them, which is a common problem for Chuck movies. Don’t hesitate to see it, just be prepared for that.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett


Good Guys Wear Black (1978)

Good Guys Wear Black (1978)-* *

Directed by: Ted Post

Starring: Chuck Norris and Anne Archer

John T. Booker (Chuck) is a former Vietnam commando who has blown up his fair share of huts and guard towers when in his prime. Five years after the end of the war, he’s living a peaceful life as a teacher and race car enthusiast in Riverside, California. There’s even a romance brewing with journalist Margaret (Archer), and all seems well. That is, until members of his former unit start being assassinated one by one. This sends John T. Booker on a quest to find out the truth behind the ruthless murders. He just may find that it’s a conspiracy that goes - you guessed it - all the way to the top. Will good guys wear black, or will good guys be DEAD? Find out today…

Good Guys Wear Black is a pretty early Chuck movie, and has an old-fashioned, staid vibe to it more suited to the TV movies of the day. We found it boring, talky, and it looks its age, and not in a good way. There isn’t even any Martial Arts until an HOUR into the movie. All that being said, there is a standout action setpiece around that point.

Chuck is a guy you can’t help but like, and, despite the annoyingly minimal character development (what else is new in the world of Chuck), his mustache is looking especially walrus-y this time around. Plus the opening credits sequence sets things up to be a lot cooler than what follows, with snazzy 70’s-era computer graphics and nice music. But then it goes into a ‘Nam sequence the viewer has trouble seeing, and interest starts to slip. From there it goes to some government yakety-yak, and interest slips even more. If not for Chuck’s superstache, this first half would have been a total waste.

Interestingly, though, Seagal ripped off Chuck once again - Chuck was first when playing the silent-but-intellectual professor, decades before “Professor Robert Burns”. Another thing going against the movie is the unusually fuzzy presentation from Vestron. This seems to be a rare lapse for the normally fine company. The visuals are dull and washed out. Maybe other presentations on other formats are better, we’re not sure. If you have another version, write in to let us know. But it all kind of cumulatively adds up against the viewer’s enjoyment. It made us aloof to most of the proceedings, and the slow, overlong nature of it all certainly didn’t help either.

We really wanted to like the movie more, and all it had to do was have Chuck fight more people, and have more scenes like the big action setpiece in the middle. That’s ALL it had to do to win us over. But no, there was too much mush clogging things up. So it’s all very middle-of-the-road, as way too many Chuck movies are, as things didn’t start to pick up for him until later in his career.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up by our buddy, The Video Vacuum!