Time for some classic martial arts mayhem, with Chuck Norris on icy-cool James Bond form in Lone Wolf McQuade director Steve Carver’s outrageous, action-heavy revenge thriller. Chuck, clean-shaven in this one, is Sean Kane, a cop forced to resign from the San Francisco Police Department Narcotics Division when he goes berserk after his partner is murdered during an undercover op gone wrong. Turning vigilante to investigate the case, relentless Kane soon finds himself mixed up in a much larger drug-smuggling conspiracy where justice can only be served by beating the skulls of many, many bad guys to a pulp.
Interestingly, the Kane we see at the start of the flick is not the straight-faced, supercool Chuck Norris we have come to know so well. Smiling, laughing, joking with his partner Dave as they shoot the shit on a stakeout, it’s nice to see Chuck let his hair down and have a laugh, but of course this can’t last long. Sure as sin, Dave soon gets shot and hideously burned alive with Kane forced to look on, helpless, as the stakeout turns out to be one huge shitestorm of a double-cross. Though he can’t save his buddy, you can almost see a switch flip in Kane’s head, as he goes mental and keeps on after the crims, even though he has taken a beating himself. Showing no mercy, he takes out the baddies that are too slow and unfortunate enough not to escape, proving how hard he is by tossing his gun away, preferring to take the final hoodlum on hand-to-hand. When the goon pulls a blade, Kane chooses karate-kicking him out of a window over reading him his rights.
When the captain (Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree!) goes ballistic over his handling of the case, asking, ‘How do I defend a man like you?’ Kane just gives him a glassy stare and bellows, ‘I’ll save you the trouble,’ as he throws back his gun and badge. He marches straight out of the station, that cold look in his eye, and gets into his sweet sports car and speeds off, the captain looking on, worried. He knows this shit ain’t over, not by a long shot.
Next we see him, Kane is working out at his amazingly flash pad, a condo by the river that has so many locks and alarms it’s like the dude lives in Fort Knox. Intensely focused, a man on a mission, he works his tired body so hard that he eventually collapses in a heap, before getting up to take a whole heap of vitamin pills, all the while talking to his cute little dog. The guy is a wreckin’ machine, but this nice little touch reminds us that he is human, with a heart and soul.
Kane is soon contacted by Dave’s girlfriend Linda, who just happens to be an investigative TV reporter who may have a lead on the case, but informs Kane that she is in perilous danger. As it turns out, she’s being pursued by a monstrous, brick-shithouse-big, oriental assailant known only as The Professor (WWF’s Professor Tanaka!) and it says all we need to know about Kane’s badass-ability that this chick would rather call him than the cops when she’s in this kind of trouble. Determined to aid her, Kane runs out of the house and into a goddamn speedboat, as if his car and cool red leather jacket weren’t evidence enough of his unfeasible awesomeness. However, Kane is too late, with Linda turning up dead, firing his utter vehemence up to terrifying boiling point. As if he wasn’t angry enough, storming from the murder scene, he finds his car is about to be towed! ‘Try it!’ he spits at the tow-truck driver who wisely backs off once he catches a glimpse of those menacing, glassy, snake-like eyes. He is a man on the edge and it is on!
Teaming up with spunky journalist Heather (Maggie Cooper) and Linda’s father James, who just happens to be the sensei who blessed him with his martial arts skills, Kane tugs at the tail of the snake that turns out to be a massive Triad-run drug ring. Needless to say, the snake bites back, with Kane taking on and pulverising numerous karate-chopping, white jump-suited evil minions, while being relentlessly pursued by a machine gun-packin’ helicopter. The baddies send legions of goons to take him out, like they just know he’s a man that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and though his assailants come at him with various guns and knives, Kane bests them all using nothing more than his kung fu and his wits. Whether he’s leaping off the side of a huge ship, or high-kicking a light bulb so that the sparks set off a room full of fireworks to over his daring escape, Chuck is on slick, legendary form, showing off the set of skills that set him apart from mere mortals.
Not much is revealed about Kane’s past, other than he is one of the best cops on the force and it’s kind of neat the way that, as the film goes on, when people talk about him we come to an understanding that he has a stature as some king of supercop. When he meets Christopher Lee’s shady head of the TV station Canfield (who, spoiler alert!!!, turns out to be the mastermind behind the whole damn thing!), the magnate informs him that he doesn’t normally allow access to his files to anyone, not even the cops, but he will make an exception for Kane because he knows him by reputation. Later on, when Canfield remarks, ‘I hear you no longer carry a weapon,’ one of his goons butts in to say, ‘He is a weapon!’ That’s pretty damn cool.
When he’s not bitchslapping treacherous lowlifes, Kane can also be rather charming and sweet. Heather is instantly attracted to him, as though he is an unrepentantly cruel sonofabitch to the bad guys, he can be an absolute sorcerer with the ladies, with not once ounce of sleaze in his body. The perfect gent, he cooks for her and even dines using chopsticks, just to show how cultured he is. When it’s time for bed, he makes no attempt to seduce her, making sure she’s nice and settled in the spare room and says goodnight with a boyish look of naivete, as though intimacy couldn’t be farther from his mind. But, of course, during the night Heather can’t help herself, and she comes to him. Smooth.
Still, for all his sleekness and asskicking prowess, Kane is not completely infallible. He gets easily sucker-punched by Canfield’s bodyguards and has to rely on James’ assistance to escape, though he does manage to incapacitate a guy with his hands tied behind his back, so that’s got to be worth something.
Getting over that little hiccup, Kane and James assert their resolute bravery by taking on the entirety of Canfield’s tooled-up army, completely unarmed. This leads to a blistering assault on the tycoon’s hillside mansion that sees Kane groovily duel with one villain on a diving board, before facing off against the gargantuan Professor in a fight that’s so vicious, when the punches land, it’s as though cannons are going off. Things get even more volatile when the cops, led by the Captain who has been observing Kane’s quest all along, wade in to finish the job. The Captain reveals that he decided Kane’s vigilante shenanigans were causing the baddies more problems than they were causing him, so he left him to it. Right on!This results in an incendiary fire fight, the perfect backdrop for Kane’s final confrontation with the wretched Canfield.
Kane takes the villainous capitalist down with ease and starts to strangle the life out of him, just as the S.F.P.D. burst onto the scene. As the Captain implores Kane to ‘let the law have him,’ there follows a quite ridiculous and unintentionally humorous scene where the two men debate the implications of killing the criminal mastermind, all while Kane still continues to choke the hapless bugger who clings to life for an unfeasibly long time. Still, justice wins out in the end with Kane proving he’s a proper goodie by showing mercy to the man that had shown him none. Kane, James and Heather saunter off to celebrate a job well done and Kane finally allows himself to smile again. The Hard Bastard’s earned it.
INDESTRUCTIBILTY: 7/10 – Dodges many, many bullets, but still gets sucker-punched a bit too easily.
COMBAT SKILLS: 8/10 – Takes on a small army using, for the most part, nothing but his hands.
ATTITUDE: 7/10 – Pursues justice relentlessly and is a smoothie with the ladies. Shame his wisecracks aren’t up to much.
OUTRAGEOUSNESS: 7/10 When he’s not diving off the sides of bloody big boats, he’s chilling in his sport scar, speed boat or his fortress crib. All on a copper’s salary.
BODYCOUNT: 12 kills in 99 minutes – pretty tame for a revenge rampage. 2/10
CHUCK’S SCORE: 31/50
CHUCK’S AVERAGE: 35.5/50