Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chuck Norris: The Cannon Years

After Lone Wolf McQuade, Chuck signed on with the guys at Cannon.  The results were...Well, see for yourself.

Note:  I've already covered Invasion U.S.A. elsewhere, hence it's not represented in this post.

Chuck's first film for Cannon is one of many "let's get P.O.W.s out of Vietnam" films that were out around the time.  Chuck plays Colonel James Braddock, a one man army type who escaped from a P.O.W. camp in the seventies and like Rambo the following year, goes back on a rescue mission.  This is a pretty darned great movie with good action and...Well, that's about it, really.  It's about as good as things will get here.

With his second Cannon outing, the wheels are already coming off.  This was shot back-to-back with the first one and was originally going to be released first but it was put out second after execs actually watched the movie.  It tells the tale of how Braddock escaped from his prison and apart from being a cheap, generally unpleasant and dull viewing experience for the first hour before it picks up a bit, it is also very repetitious.  I'd say this movie laps itself at least four times in the first half hour.

Still, it's worth seeing if you like bad movies.  Chuck also gets a nice, drawn out showdown with the head of the prison camp, played by Soon-Teck Oh.

Things pick up a bit with this decent actioner about an elite special forced unit that has to save hostages on a plane after it is taken over by Robert Forster as an evil Arab...Yeah.  Overlong with too much focus on the hostages (it's half of an action film and half one of those star-laden disaster movies from the 70's), when the action does kick in it kicks in hard.  It helps that backing Chuck up are two other great tough guys in Lee Marvin (sadly this would be his last role) and the late, great Steve James.

I have a grudging affection for this one in spite of its flaws.  It seems like it was on KTLA at least once a month when I was a kid and I'm pretty certain I watched it at least three or four times.  This is a flawed yet watchable good time movie.  Just be ready to fast forward through some of the filler.

Things really go downhill as we go from the passable, flawed Delta Force to this truly awful, dull Indiana Jones knock-off.  Loaded with bad humor, wretched acting and editing flaws, it is a generic adventure about fortune hunters in Mexico.  Really the only thing worth noting is that this is the last movie Chuck is in where he isn't rocking the full beard the entire film (he's seen in the beginning of Missing in Action 3 without it).

This may be Chuck's worst movie, a stunningly boring thriller about a hunt for a deranged killer.  Not even worth mentioning.

Chuck's first movie with his brother Aaron at the helm (from here on in this will be the norm) is a sappy, dull, laborious slug of a movie that occasionally remembers it's supposed to be an action film and picks things up a bit.  Here, Braddock is re-booted a bit as he goes back to save his family in Saigon he thought had been killed.  Aaron is as good a director as his brother is an actor and I have to say that getting through this thing is a true chore.  Just watch Rambo III instead.

Amazingly enough, this is better than the first one by sheer virtue that it has the balls to begin its third act fifty minutes in.  For the record, the total run time is about 111 minutes.  This time, Chuck is after slimy drug dealer Ramon Cota, Played by b-movie overacting great Billy Drago.  It's a bit dull in parts but it piles on the action and gives us another insanely over the top John P. Ryan performance as Chuck's commanding officer.  The action is pretty decent with some great stunts and lots of explosions.  Maybe the last Cannon production that was an acceptable piece of film making.

We're in the dark days for Cannon as by this point they weren't getting much into theaters.  Chuck plays an undercover cop and in a change of pace, Chuck is leaner and meaner in the way he does things...allegedly.  In truth, this is just your basic Chuck Norris movie only he has a really bad mullet.  The plot, what little there is of it, has Chuck going up against the mob, led by Michael Parks in a solid villain role.  It's got the usual action but the entertainment value is diminished by a few unfortunate bouts of racism which Cannon films tended to lapse into from time to time.  Decent film, though.

With Chuck's last Cannon film, we hit rock bottom.  Chuck plays Chicago cop Frank Shatter (no, I'm not joking) who ends up on the trail of a demon who has been killing people in an attempt to...Hell, I don't know.  All I know is that the guy is horribly played by actor Christopher Neame and the film is inexcusably dull for a supernatural thriller.  chuck should have just stayed on the set of Walker: Texas Ranger rather than do this movie.

Chuck did a few outside projects such as the Karate Kid knock-off Sidekicks, a short-lived animated series and the excrement known as Top Dog but for the most part, he stuck with the successful Walker: Texas Ranger as well as a few TV-movies.  Cannon certainly helped Chuck Norris, but you could say it also hampered him.  Happily, we will see him on the big screen again next year when The Expendables 2

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.