More David Carradine, this time as the bad guy. However, I am reliably informed by Dave's Long Box that it's awesome. As an aside, what I love about Dave's Long Box is that it's mostly about things he likes. I mean, I dig the entertainment value of bad reviews as much as anyone (check out the Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension review of Deathsport!), but I also like that there are some websites around that seem to get some enjoyment out of life.
Anyway. In this movie, Chuck Norris plays a Texas Ranger. It will come as no surprise that he is incredibly convincing as a badass. As he walks towards a bad guy in the opening sequence, dropping his weapons, he just looks more and more menacing. Even before he's done anything, he is obviously a killing machine. It quickly gets to the point where you just don't understand the thinking of these people. Just stop shooting at him! He's obviously going to destroy you.
Unfortunately, he's too tough for the Texas Rangers. He's a lone wolf, and the captain will not stand for it. Here's your new rookie partnet, McQuade! Unbelieveably, he'll actually survive the movie! Anyway, he gets put on probation halfway through the movie just like you expect, but surprisingly it's not because he's killed like thirty people already. It's just because the case is now a federal one and everyone thinks that an angry Chuck Norris on the job would cause problems. David Carradine doesn't know that when he kills Chuck's dog, after which... it is on.
David Carradine had three requests before he signed on to this movie: He didn't want his character to die, he didn't want to shoot the girl in cold blood, and he wasn't crazy about losing to Chuck Norris in hand-to-hand combat. By this point, Carradine sort of thought of himself as the godfather of all karate and kung fu movies, since Kung Fu had kicked off the western interest in martial arts.
Well, Chuck Norris pretty clearly wins the fight, although Carradine gets a few good shots in. And he shoots the girl by accident, because she jumps in the way. And you can't really tell if he dies, because he might have survived that incredibly huge explosion. So I guess Carradine got what he wanted.
There's a lot of fun stuff in this movie. Chuck rides on a truck's hood in a way that I believe is referred to as "The Captain's Mast", unless Tarantino was making that up. He beats up entire gangs single-handed, except for the times his rookie partner gets to take out one or two token guys. He drives his truck up out of the trench where he and the truck were buried alive. It's got Sam Elliott (as a wise old cowboy but with a smaller moustache than usual) torturing William Sanderson (as a shrieking hippie). If you thought Sanderson did some good cringing in Deadwood, you should see him grovel here.
It also features a slow-motion hose fight where Chuck ends up making love in a mud puddle, but I think it's okay to overlook that.