Thursday, November 6, 2008

Film Review: LONE WOLF MCQUADE (1983, Steve Carver)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 107 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Chuck Norris, L.Q. Jones, David Carradine, William Sanderson, R.G. Armstrong, Robert Beltran
Tag-line: "When Norris meets Carradine all hell breaks loose!" AND "Chuck Norris is Lone Wolf McQuade. David Carradine is the man that got in his way." AND "The 'Mad Dog' Criminal...The 'Lone Wolf' Lawman...The Ultimate Showdown."
Best exchange: Too many to pick just one. We'll go with: "I've been real busy." "Oh boy, same old trouble, huh?" "...My kind of trouble doesn't take vacations."

A lot of what I have to say about LONE WOLF MCQUADE can be summed by the following:

"It may be a game to you, Falco, but if I find out you're playing, I'm gonna have your little ass!"

By the way, that line was delivered to a little person crime boss who's about to be taken down a notch...

Anyway. Outside of DELTA FORCE, it's very, very rarely that we see Chuck co-starring with anybody worth a damn. I don't know if it's because he's an egoist who doesn't want to play second-fiddle to anybody, if he refuses to play the villain, or if no A-lister will appear in a film with him, but I guess it doesn't matter. Cause here he costars with David Carradine. More on that in a minute. This movie succeeds because its action traditions draw on a whole lot more than just martial arts. The opening credits and first scene are classic Sergio Leone spaghetti western. They even use Leone's favorite font. And the music: to say it's a Morricone rip-off would be generous. It's Morricone carbon copy. The romantic theme is 'Jill's Theme' from ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST with one note changed. Well, it doesn't matter. This is a good thing. The middle of the movie is classic Peckinpah. Modern-day Western, with plenty of bullets flying. We even got Peckinpah regular L.Q. Jones. The end of the movie is an assault on a compound that is pure RAMBO. Norris even puts on a red bandana. But then we get to the meat of the movie. The Western Kung Fu. And who to give it greater legitimacy than the man who first embodied it, David Carradine? Carradine, as always, is amazing. And the final duel between him and Norris can't even be sullied by Carradine's bizarre choice to wear a blue-and-gold-diamond 80's sweater.

And then as if to cement the film's repute, both men refused to use stunt doubles! The film's edited by Abel Ferrara regular Anthony Redman, it's got Norris getting buried alive and pouring beer on his head and chugging it before escaping; and it's got a romantic scene with Norris, a hose, and a lot of mud.

What's not to like? One of the strongest Norris films. I know you don't like attachments, Chuck, but here's four stars.

-Sean Gill

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