Thursday, December 15, 2011

Prime Chuck: Early Norris

I've covered Chuck Norris' first shot at an A-list movie, let's take a look at his early output.  I feel his early stuff (as in 1977-1983) represents his best period.  Much as I enjoy his Cannon output, I think any rational person has to admit it was pretty awful for the most part.

Chuck's first outing is an acceptable, slightly dull b-movie about a trucker who takes on  a corrupt town boss who threatens his brother.  There's some decent enough action sprinkled throughout but for the most part it just meanders along.

Slightly better (but still not that great) is his second movie where he plays a former CIA agent who ends up being targeted a few years after he leaves Vietnam.  It's actually a pretty blah movie with too much talk and not enough action, though there is a very nice stunt where Chuck kicks out the front windshield of a car to get a bad guy.

Here's another one that's just sort of there as Chuck plays a karate champion who gets caught up in the search for a killer who may or many not be his next opponent in the tournament he's set to appear in.  It benefits from a fantastic cast but apart from some good action there isn't really much worth recommending.

This is probably the biggest wasted opportunity in Chuck's career since you would think a movie featuring Chuck Norris and Lee van Cleef fighting ninjas would be pure awesomeness.  Sadly, the film, gets bogged down in it's own plot and doesn't really pick up until the last twenty minutes.  It's an okay movie that's worth seeing but be warned, it's a real slog at points. 
Great poster art though.

Chuck gets things pretty close to real good here as Josh Randall, head of security for a casino run by his adoptive Hong Kong family.  There's some good action, especially in the climax and some great cheesy bits of oddness.  For some reason, the adoptive family is also Jewish which makes me chuckle.  Come on, Chuck Norris at a Seder?  Jesus, that's almost too amazingly odd to contemplate!

Another film that's sort of a miss (though still quite cool) as chuck goes up against an unstoppable killer in what is essentially Chuck Norris vs. Michael Myers.  The problem with this movie is that there isn't enough horror stuff for the horror crowd and not enough martial arts action for Chuck's audience.  Still, it's a decent enough movie that you should really see at least once just so you can say you did.

We end with his best overall movie, a precursor to Walker: Texas Ranger that is truly a fantastic action movie.  Highlights include Chuck driving out of a grave in his truck and a final showdown with David Carradine.  I covered this pretty extensively over at The Agony Booth and I recommend you check it out over there.

Overall, Chuck never really hit the heights of this period again.  Invasion U.S.A. and Missing in Action are good enough, but the rest of his stuff from that period ranges from okay (Code of Silence, The Hitman) to horrifically bad (Hellbound, Hero and the Terror, Top Dog).

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About Me

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