Stars: 2.8 of 5.
Running Time: 107 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Directed by Joseph Zito (MISSING IN ACTION, THE PROWLER). Written by James Bruner (THE DELTA FORCE, MISSING IN ACTION), Chuck Norris, and Aaron Norris (HELLBOUND, DELTA FORCE 2). Produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus. Music by Jay Chattaway (VIGILANTE, MANIAC, SILVER BULLET). Cinematography by João Fernandez (DEEP THROAT, DEADLY WEAPONS, CHILDREN OF THE CORN, FRIDAY THE 13TH PART IV, WALKER TEXAS RANGER). Starring Chuck Norris, Richard Lynch (SCARECROW, THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER), Melissa Prophet (CASINO, GOODFELLAS), Eddie Jones (A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, C.H.U.D.), Billy Drago (THE UNTOUCHABLES, DELTA FORCE 2), and James Pax (BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS).
Tag-line: "No one thought it could happen here... America wasn't ready... but HE was!"
Is INVASION U.S.A. a good movie? No, no it is not. Today, I suppose it reads more like a post-election Tea Party fantasy, but back in the 80s I guess it was for the set who thought "I would have loved RED DAWN if it had been about one guy in tight denim with dual uzis instead of a teenaged guerrilla army."
Granted, "that guy" is Chuck Norris, but what I'm saying is: RED DAWN it ain't. There are a lot of things that go wrong here– it's generally bland and doesn't have the mind-blowing action movie moxie of a DEATH WISH 3 or a STONE COLD, Chuck Norris doesn't do much in the way of martial arts and is offscreen way too often, and the supporting cast is pretty weak (the two Cannon character actors I was all psyched to see, Billy Drago and James Pax, get about a combined 2 minutes of screentime). As far as Norris flicks go, I think I'd even have to put this one below THE HERO AND THE TERROR and SILENT RAGE. It's even three or four steps down from DELTA FORCE 2: THE COLUMBIAN CONNECTION.
Mind the mud!
But– before you go throwing yourselves off of balconies– this is still a Norris/Cannon picture, and as such there are a handful of things that should tickle the fancy of any conoisseur of 80s trash nonsense.
"Let the fancy-tickling commence: I'll bring the beard!"
Starring Richard Lynch as a communist-terrorist-mercenary
who wants to invade America because we don't value our freedom enough ("They are their own worst enemy, they don't realize how we can use their freedom against them!"), INVASION U.S.A. sees Lynch proceed to "Monsters on Maple Street" the country, sowing mistrust and violence. He expends a great deal of his resources on blowing up Chuck Norris' cabin and frightening his pet armadillo, shoots a drug-dealin' Billy Drago in the balls and tosses a hooker out the window, executes some kids making out on the beach, shoots up a Latino community center, and then heartily fucks up suburban Christmas with blasts from a rocket launcher during "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." Did I mention that this was sort of a Christmas movie?
"Daddy, can I put the star on top?"
I gotta say that the filmmakers do do a pretty good job of straight-up destroying Christmas. But then, in a most egregious mistake, Lynch & Co. blow up a mall in the midst of holiday rush.
Ya don't mess with Reagan-era consumerism when Chuck is around, that's for sure. And what did DEATH HUNT teach us about property rights? Don't fuck with a man's cabin. That's a big mistake.
And fuck with Norris' cabin they did. They also needlessly scared the daylights out of this cute little guy:
the aforementioned pet armadillo, who might actually be my favorite element of the film.
Although, perhaps the biggest mistake they really made was killing off Drago.
This may have marked the beginning of a beautiful friendship (Drago also appears with Norris in THE HERO AND THE TERROR, DELTA FORCE 2: THE COLUMBIAN CONNECTION, and the WALKER, TEXAS RANGER episode "Terror in the Night") but he really only gets about sixty seconds to slither in and creep everybody out and say "Impress me" like he's Tom "Thrill me" Atkins in NIGHT OF THE CREEPS
before this happens
and then Lynch crams the coke straw of Drago's number-one-lady up into her sinus cavity and then tosses her out the window for good measure.
I'm not really sure what the purpose of all this was except to add some sleaze to the picture and to associate communism with American drug culture/prostitution?
Well, if you have any questions, you'll just have to ask the writer:
Yeah, Chuck just broke a bottle of Coors with his fist because he was so angry at the thought of having his artistic acumen undermined. Well, that angry-bearded scribe brings us some rants against Social Security and the line "They're turning people against each other... even worse, they're turning them against authority!" And it's a major plot point that all of this is happening because Norris didn't execute Lynch back when he had the chance:
Though he did kick him in the face.
And he also brings us yet another in a series of Chuck Norris characters with first names for last names: Matt Hunter. Also see: Scott James, John Booker, Sean Kane, Josh Randall, etc., etc.
There's a weak plucky journalist character (Melissa Prophet- though supposedly Chuck's first choice was Whoopi Goldberg) who makes up for lack of character development by loudly calling everybody "Bozos!" and "Bastards!" James Pax shows up impersonating a cop as he guns down partygoers at a Hispanic community center:
this guy shows up, too, the sort of ridiculous tank-top body-builder who's always wandering around Cannon Films for some reason:
and then there's a fairly great scene where Norris is threatening/propositioning Lynch via live television:
"And when you open them..."
"I'm gonna be there..."
Anyway, it practically redeems itself with an abrupt finale involving bazookas which recalls another Cannon film abrupt finale involving bazookas from 1985, DEATH WISH 3. You see, Chuck and Richard Lynch are in a hallway with bazookas, sort of cruising each other
when this happens
in all of its UNNNNNNNNNNNNNN-YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH glory. Roll credits.
At least you knew how to go out with a bang, INVASION U.S.A.– I'll give ya that!