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