Delta Force 2 (1990)

delta-force-2-poster3Country: United States
Director: Aaron Norris
Starring: Chuck Norris, Billy Drago, Paul Perry, John P. Ryan, Richard Jaeckel, Begonya Plaza
Music: Frédéric Talgorn
AKA: Delta Force 2: The Columbian Connection

This follow up to Delta Force is in reality a loose reimagining of the James Bond film, Licence to Kill, which was released a year earlier.

As the film opens, the DEA is out to catch notorious South American drug baron, Ramon Cota (Billy Drago). Cota operates out of the fictitious country of San Carlos, which the US have no extradition treaty with. However, as luck would have it, Cota leave the safe haven of San Carlos for Rio, where he is to attend a masquerade ball. The DEA plan to catch him once and for all, and have a surveillance van is on hand to watch his every move. Cota arrives in a limousine, wearing a silver masking enters the ball and mingles with the guests. The DEA agents surround him and close in. They remove the mask and find that it is not Cota, but a decoy. The real Cota, and several of his heavily arms goons take up a position behind the surveillance van. As the goons open fire, the team inside the van are cut to ribbons. Cota sends a message, saying that was only a warning. It is pointless to trey and capture him.

It appears the DEA need a little help. They call in two members of Delta Force, Colonel Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris) and Major Bobby Chavez (Paul Perri). Their superior is General Taylor, played by Cannon Film regular John P. Ryan (Avenging Force / Runaway Train / Death Wish 4). Taylor has found out that Cota will be flying to Switzerland to deposit his money into a numbered account. The plane will fly over US air space for just a few minutes, near the Florida Keys.

McCoy and Chavez manage to smuggle themselves onto the plane, and when it passes over US airspace, they arrest him. Of course, they have to get him off the plane before it is out of their jurisdiction, so McCoy pushes Cota out of the plane. Anyone who has seen Moonraker, will recognise what follows. Later, Cota is brought before a judge, and his bail is set at ten million dollars – which is pocket change to a man like Cota. Chavez, frustrated by a system which will see Cota go free, loses his temper and punches Cota as he leaves the court room. As I mentioned at the top, this film borrows heavily from Licence to Kill, so if you haven’t worked it out yet, Chavez is the sacrificial Felix Leiter character. Cota gets his revenge – and McCoy vows to go in and bring the drug lord down.

While being entertaining in a low brow way, the derivative story content detracts from what may have been a serviceable action flick. Instead the viewer is constantly reminded of better films. Apart from the aforementioned Bond films (Licence to Kill / Moonraker), as Billy Drago is the villain – and he came to prominence as Frank Nitti in The Untouchables, the film also borrows some elements from that film as well. The courtroom scene at the start is reminiscent of the closing of The Untouchables – but here the villain gets away. There is also a replay of the round table scene – sans baseball bat – but non-the-less, you’d have to be blind not to miss the connection.

I have a soft spot for Chuck Norris’ action flicks – but this one doesn’t cut it.

Delta Force 2 (1990)

Code of Silence (1985)

Director: Andrew Davis
Starring: Chuck Norris, Henry Silva, Bert Remsen, Molly Hagen, Dennis Farina
Music: David Michael Frank

If you pick up a copy of Leonard Maltin’s Film Guide, and look up Code of Silence, you’ll see a picture of me staring back at you! No, not really – I have always just wanted to say that. Maltin’s Guide describes Code Of Silence as ‘Dirty Chuckie’. It’s an obvious comparison to make, but I have a theory – not a very solid one, but none-the-less – that director Andrew Davis drew his inspiration from the Italian poliziotteschi films, rather than Eastwood’s magnum toting maverick cop.

Firstly, and most overtly, Henry Silva is cast as the villain. I realise Silva was an international actor who plied his stock in trade all over the world, but next to Maurizo Merli and Tomas Milian, he surely has to be considered one of Italian Crime Cinemas most recognisable faces.

Secondly, we have Chuck’s appearance. Sure he has a beard in this movie, but he looks like Merli, or Franco Nero – blonde hair, blue eyes, carrying a badge and a gun. I know that’s pretty thin, but go with me on this.

My third, and most damning piece of evidence is that Chuck gets into a fight in a billiard parlour. A fight in a billiard parlour is almost a prerequisite in a poliziotteschi. Hollywood had given them up after Coogan’s Bluff in 1968.

Another European touch – although French this time, rather than Italian, is that Chuck chases a villain along the roof of a moving train. I am sure that every police thriller starring Jean Paul Belmondo has a scene with him riding on top of a train. In fact, I believe that’s how Belmondo goes to work each day. He doesn’t buy a train ticket, he simply leaps onto the roof of a moving trains as it passes by. Then as he reaches his destination, he jumps off again. Amazing man, but I have digressed.

In this film Chuck Norris plays Eddie Cusack, who is a straight down the line Chicago cop. The film opens with Chuck undercover as a garbage collector. His team of men are planning to bust some of the members of the Comacho family, who are dealing drugs.

Before Cusack and his team can move in, a rival mob gang headed by Crazy Tony Luna (Mike Genovese) hit the Comachos. This is a pretty silly thing to do, because the head of the Comacho mob, Luis, in played by Henry Silva. Luis vows revenge and kills the entire Luna family, except one, Diana (Molly Hagen). Of course, she is next on the hit list, and Cusack steps in to save and protect her. Sounds similar to Forced Vengeance doesn’t it?

There’s a nice subplot that involves a drunken old police officer named Craigie (Ralph Foody). During the opening attempted police raid on the Comachos, in a darkened hallway, Craigie shoots down an innocent boy. Rather rather go through legal proceedings, Craigie then plants a gun on the boy cover it up.

Code Of Silence is Chuck’s second great film. I think he only has two good ones. The success of this film probably comes down to the direction by Andrew Davis. Davis knows his way around an action movie and seemed to have a knack for getting decent performances from wooden leading men. Davis performed the same feat with Steven Seagal, directing his best two films, Above The Law (once again with Menacing Henry Silva) and Under Siege.

Code of Silence really was the pinnacle of Chuck Norris’ career. From here on in, each film seemed to get a little bit worse – dropping from cinema release to direct to video, and then finally TV movies. But to give Chuck his due, he was a pioneer in this sort of thing. He was doing his violent martial arts films long before Seagal, Van Damme or any of their ilk. And his impact was such that even non martial artists had to have martial art fight sequences in their films. Look at Lethal Weapon? Mel Gibson is one of the most unconvincing Martial Artists depicted on screen – aided considerably with some rapid fire editing. But nowadays, every hero has to know a modicum of Kung-fu, Karate, Jujitsu or some other ancient form of violence. No longer is throwing a good punch enough.

Code of Silence (1985)

Forced Vengeance (1982)

Director: James Fargo
Starring: Chuck Norris, Mary Louise Weller, Camila Griggs, Michael Cavanaugh, David Opatoshu, Frank Michael Liu, LeRoy Nicely
Music: William Goldstein

Yesterday I enthused about my fondness for Lone Wolf McQuade which may cause you to think I enjoy all Chuck Norris films. Guess again. Forced Vengeance has to feature one of the most wooden performances ever by a lead actor. Not only does Chuck give a crap performance, his lack of emotion and poor dialogue delivery are amplified by a voice-over which runs throughout the length of the film.

I suppose some of the blame should go to director James Fargo. I have a lot of time for Fargo. He may not be a ‘name’ director, but he came up through the ranks, working as assistant director on Joe Kidd, High Plains Drifter, The Eiger Sanction and The Outlaw Josey Wales. You will have noticed that these are all Clint Eastwood movies. And Clint was happy to have Fargo sit in the big boy’s chair too, allowing him to direct The Enforcer and Every Which Way But Loose. So Fargo knows his way around an action scene and in Forced Vengeance he stages a few good ones. And the script is okay too – for this kind of picture – co written by Fargo. And I can’t complain about the location shooting in Hong Kong. Some great images are presented on screen. But the acting is absolutely appalling, which is such a shame, because Fargo has gone to a lot of trouble to get everything else right. Surely it’s the directors job to pull up an actor when his performance is sub-par?

Briefly the plot. Josh Randall (Norris) is like an adopted son to Sam Paschal (David Opatoshu). Paschal is the owner of the Lucky Dragon casino, which is run by his son, David (Frank Michael Liu). Randall acts as head of security for the casino – which means he gets to kick the shit out of any trouble makers. Unfortunately for the Paschal’s, the mob, represented by Stan Raimondi (Michael Cavanaugh) want to buy into the Lucky Dragon casino. The Paschal’s refuse to sell and they are subsequently killed. Now the ownership of the Casino falls to Sam Paschal’s daughter, Joy (Camila Griggs), and naturally the mob want her out of the way too. Randall rushes to her side and drags her from pillar to post as they are chased through the mean streets of Hong Kong.

Forced Vengeance had an opportunity to be a pretty good genre flick – that being a ‘violent martial arts revenge flick’ – but is rendered barely watchable due to a lazy central performance by Norris. Maybe my memory is fading, but I don’t remember Chuck being this bad in A Force Of One or The Octagon. Sure he was pretty raw as an actor, but seemed enthusiastic…but here, well I have already laboured the point. This is crap.

Forced Vengeance (1982)

Lone Wolf McQuade (1982)

Country: United States
Director: Steve Carver
Starring: Chuck Norris, David Carradine, Barbara Carrera, Robert Beltran, Leon Issac Kennedy,
Music: Francesco De Masi

Growing up in rural Australia in the seventies and eighties is such a long way from the lifestyle we all live today. With the massive improvements in communication, be it radio, television and the internet, even if you live in the sticks, you can still be up on what’s happening in the world. Not so back then. Popular culture was drip fed to us then. My icons were Clint Eastwood, Kris Kristofferson, and I hate to say it, but Chuck Norris. Today, it may seem strange to lump these three together. Eastwood has gone on to become a premier film maker – Kristofferson is still highly regarded for his song writing – and well, Chuck is almost a redneck joke verging on parody (Hey, Chuck Norris doesn’t have showers – he has ‘bloodbaths’!)

But if you go back to that golden time during the late seventies an early eighties, each of these men were anti-establishment heroes. They weren’t wild hippy outlaws, and they often worked for or within the establishment they were set against. But they knew there was something wrong with the system and went about changing it – their way. Eastwood was still identified with Dirty Harry – a cop who was always in strife with his superiors; Kristofferson was the Rubberduck – a man who drove a truck into a blockade of armed soldiers because he received a speeding ticket from a corrupt cop; and Chuck was Lone Wolf McQuade – the scruffiest, mud covered cop ever depicted on film.

Every film lover has their guilty pleasure movie – the film (usually bad) that for some reason or another stays with you even though in your head, you’ve out grown it. For me, it’s Lone Wolf McQuade. Point at me, laugh at me, call me names if you will. I know, I know, it’s pretty dumb, but for some reason, maybe it’s the quasi-spaghetti western feel, or the ‘one man against the system’ story, but I love this film. It’s a drunken old friend that comforts me in times of hardship.

The film opens with a group of dirty Mexican horse thieves, led by Murano, rounding up and corralling the horse they have stolen. On a cliff top above them watching is Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade (Chuck Norris). McQuade is sweaty, unshaven and covered in dust. As he watches the State Police arrive to arrest Murano and his men. But the State police are clumsy and they are caught. Murano doesn’t take prisoners. He is going to kill all the police. He raises a machete to cut off one of the officer’s head. At that moment McQuade stands up, and with his rifle shoots one of the banditos utility vehicles with an explosive tipped bullet. The vehicle explodes. McQuade has Murano’s attention, but Murano has the police as hostages and orders McQuade to come down from the cliff.

McQuade comes down off his cliff with the sun beaming behind him. He is a glorious western silhouette. Once at ground level, McQuade is disarmed and brought before Murano. Gloating at outsmarting and capturing a Texas Ranger, Marano says “Once a Texas Ranger kicked me Father’s teeth out. Would you do that to me?” Of course, Murano is being facetious, and taunting McQuade. But McQuade doesn’t shy away from a challenge. McQuade does a flip and kicks Murano’s teeth out. Then he flattens the two men who were holding him. After that he grabs a machine gun and mows down the rest of the bad guys. One man does what a squad of State Police could not do.

This should make McQuade a hero, but back in town he is chewed out by his superior for not cooperating with other law enforcement agencies. And for his trouble, he is assigned a new younger partner, Acadio Ramos (Robert Beltran). It almost a cop movie pre-requisite, that the hardened veteran gets coupled with a naïve rookie. And as in the form in these types of films, McQuade lets him know in no uncertain terms, that he doesn’t need a partner.

My favourite scene in the movie occurs when McQuade, Ramos and a swag of other cops and agents storm super villain Rawley Wilkes’ (David Carradine) compound. McQuade gets shot a couple of times and then captured. Wilkes and his goons beat seven shades of shit out of McQuade, then they throw him in his 4WD, which in turn is pushed into a giant hole in the ground. Then large earthmovers fill the hole, so McQuade is buried alive in his vehicle. McQuade slowly regains consciousness. He reaches across to a six pack of beer, and cracks open a can. He pours a small amount into his bloodied mouth. The golden nectar gives him strength. He then pours the rest of the can on his head. The beverage revitalises his battered and bruised body. He turns over the ignition in the 4WD, then puts it in gear. He mashes his foot down on the accelerator while clutching the steering wheel and growling. The 4WD starts to move. Even buried under all those tons of sand, the 4WD, aided by McQuade’s willpower, rises up out of it’s sandy grave. I almost have tears in my eyes when I watch this scene. It’s always reassuring to know that if your heart is pure, and you have a six pack of beer beside you, you can accomplish almost anything.

With most Chuck Norris films, there is martial arts showdown with the villain at the end. Most of them are crap. But to this film’s credit, and with David Carradine as Chuck’s adversary, Lone Wolf McQuade provides a sensational showdown at the end.

When reviewing a film like Lone Wolf McQuade it’s easy to get caught up in the macho, boozy histrionics and overlook the cinematography and music. Firstly, the cinematography by Jerry G. Callaway, Roger Shearman, Michael Sibley is crisp and golden. Nothing B-grade here. It’s like the work of Tonino Delli Colli in pristine print of a classic Spaghetti Western. Speaking of Spaghetti Western’s, Francesco De Masi’s score is brilliant – sure it imitates Morricone, but it suits this film right down to the ground.

That’s Lone Wolf McQuade. I don’t expect you to be as enthusiastic about it as I am. It’s a hard film to tell people who haven’t seen it, to go and watch, because times have changed. They just wont get it. But there was a time when Lone Wolf McQuade was a superior piece of entertainment, and I for one am pleased that I was there for it.

For a while there, in the early ’80s it looked like Barbara Carrera would go on to bigger and better things. Her appearances in Lone Wolf McQuade and the Mike Hammer flick I, The Jury were just appetizers for her show-stopping performance as Fatima Blush in Never Say Never Again. But soon after her star began to wane and she drifted onto the television show Dallas. She has continued to act (IMDb list her last gig was in 2002) but her days as a sexy maneater, alongside major action stars were over.

Lone Wolf McQuade (1982)