Right, now, I have agonised over how to review this film because, well, quite frankly, questioning the Norris is not what someone like me should do without a decent argument but I am afraid boys and girls, thanks to the poster for the movie (see left) I think I have my argument.
Let me explain.
I have two very dear friends who are worshipers at the alter of Norris, I have heard film makers I like mention this film, Silent Rage and I have, like everyone else, read the Chuck Norris facts.
In these recent years, with geekdom and fanboy culture reaching it's zenith and with DVD and film streaming websites bringing the quirky, the strange and the B movie to more and more people, a certain cult has grown up about certain things, films and people.
For example, I have been a fan of Bruce Campbell and Army of Darkness since I first saw a VHS rental version of the film in 1993. I can remember searching through endless independent VHS stores, that dealt with rare or quirky films, finding bigger films in which Campbell had a cameo and the few Bs in which he starred. This was before IMDB and amazon allow you to search for some random si-fi flick shot in a warehouse in Michigan and buy it 2 minutes later on pristine DVD. Since then and due in part to the rise of conventions and the internet, Campbell now has a cult fan-base some A-listers can only dream about. No fickle, screaming teens here, these folks are lifers. The buy the merchandise and proudly wear the t-shirt.
Now action stars like Seagal and Norris don't have such a rabid fan-base but it is fun and popular to get some friends together, some alcohol and some munchies and kick back to films with ridiculous titles like Invasion U.S.A. and Marked for Death.
I used to like doing that too, with B movies, horror movies and whatever else I could pick up off a market for a quid. The only action stuff I was really into, though, was studio stuff, like the Die Hards and Leathal Weapons, or the odd B-action comedy, usually starring someone like Jim Belushi. For some reason the world of Van Damme, Seagal and Norris had sort of eluded me, I said this in an earlier blog and so I am, now remedying that.
What I am trying to say with that long winded intro is I can really appreciate a good B movie and I really WANT to like this stuff.
This is where the poster for Silent Rage comes in.
That tag-line is incredible: 'Science Created him. Now Chuck Norris must destroy him' not Sheriff Dan Stevens, the character he plays in the film but actually Chuck Norris himself. This is because, no doubt, the cunning marketing people know that that's what people want to see, some scientific mutant getting the beat down from Mr.Norris. It's like Army of Darkness really being called Bruce Campbell Vs. the Army of Darkness, it's the man not the character you care about. Sadly, I think, the real reason that's the tag-line is because Chuck Norris plays Chuck Norris and what Silent Rage teaches us is, Chuck Norris has all the acting ability and charisma of a pickled egg.
Now look, I know what you're probably saying "nobody tunes into a Norris picture looking for acting" and you're right, I wasn't expecting acting I was expecting, as the poster says, destruction. This begs the question why, if acting is not at the forefront of a Norris picture, is so much of the plodding 1hr 40 running time of this film devoted to just that, Norris acting!? or any of them acting for that matter because they are all awful. We know the premise, it's basically Halloween with Norris rather than Pleasance, so why does it take so long, at least an hour, for the super-fast-healing killer to get off his gurney in the spooky basement laboratory and start killing?!
Which also begs the question what small rinky-dink hick town in America with shabby biker bars and roach infested diners has a big laboratory testing facility? but anyway...
Before the main killing spree all we get, action wise, is a fairly crappy scene at the beginning, a bar fight which was so badly staged it would be put to shame by most semi-drunk slap-fests at a rowdy Bar Mitzphar and then nothing again until the laughable finale. Even the mad scientist and his tall drink of gormless partner weren't crazy, evil or funny enough. Once the killing does take place, each kill is either tediously predictable, unimaginative or down right dull.
Even Kent Dorfman can't provide enough comic relief to save this bilge.
Listen, I could go on and on about the bad direction, the terrible script, the shocking cinematography, the laughable montage, the ridiculous love scenes, the ludicrous premise and the constant, ill advised and incorrectly executed hand held Halloween rip offs but they would all be fine, expected even, if this movie either:
A) didn't take itself so seriously or B) at least did what it said on the tin and contained some genuinely thrilling, gloriously violent action.
My complaint with Silent Rage is that the poster is better than the film. The poster, is more exciting and all together funnier than the film. The poster claims that the film includes a show down in which Chuck Norris gets pushed to his limits and beyond, what it actually includes is one of the most ponderous and lumbering fights ever committed to celluloid with one greasy, wide eyed, stilted fella wrestling the shorter, blonde moustachioed Norris in the dirt. When he does attempt something remotely exciting like a run and jump kick, as if the fight wasn't boring and slow enough, the director slows it down to a near stop and then Norris falls over, a lot.
Even the supposedly, Carrie/Friday 13th, surprise ending isn't a surprise.
I have attempted to watch two other Norris movies in the past and didn't make it all the way through either of them, one was Lone Wolf McQuade which I felt, after about 10 minutes, the title was going to be better than the film (although I openly admit I didn't give that one a chance) and Delta Force which I got about an hour into before I gave up. Yes the acting and direction are a little better in that one but again, where was the action? Where did Norris get this image of the one man unstoppable army from? Why didn't he board the plane in the first 30 minutes of Delta Force and eat all the terrorists? At least someone like Stallone keeps the action coming thick and fast and in Rambo 3 does face an entire army wounded and single handed, where's his website full of hard man facts?
Look, if you're a Norris fan, I fully accept that I may not 'get it', that watching it with a bunch of blokes is a better time and that I haven't seen the best films of his yet, all I can do is watch something, form an opinion and state it, for what it's worth. I know a lot of the fandom of Norris is sort of tongue in cheek and I know that when you love something, even for fun, that you'll sit through anything to watch them do their stuff. I am like that with Bruce Campbell although I am serious, I think he is genuinely charismatic and a fantastic actor albeit admittedly goofy sometimes.
One more thing, I have seen the trailer for Invasion U.S.A. and read the back cover of the DVD and they both seem awesome, I would hate to watch it though and find the Russians don't invade until the end and the rest of the film is just Norris strutting about in cowboy boots looking vacant and hollow. Maybe, one day I might give him the benefit of the doubt again and watch it but, for now, I will leave Norris to his fans and go on my way.
1.5 out of 10 disappointingly weak hot chocolates
The Misses chucks disappointingly weak hot chocolates at Norris