A Force of One (1979, directed by Paul Aaron)


Someone is targeting a squad of undercover narcotics detectives, killing them by taking them by surprise and breaking their necks before they even have a chance fight back.  Lt. Dunne (Clu Gulager) doesn’t like seeing his best detectives getting murdered so he orders all of them — including Mandy Rust (Jennifer O’Niell) and Rollins (Superfly himself, Ron O’Neal) — to take martial arts training so that they can defend themselves.  And who better to train them than karate champ and dojo owner, Matt Logan (Chuck Norris)?  The no-nonsense Logan teaches the detectives a few moves and even starts a tentative romance with Mandy.  But when his adopted son (played by future director Eric Laneuville) is murdered by the drug dealers, Logan goes from being a teacher to being an avenger.

Since today is Chuck Norris’s 80th birthday, it only seems appropriate to review one of Chuck Norris’s better films.  A Force of One was made at a time when Chuck was still trying to make the transition from being the karate instructor to the star to being a star himself.  Norris had been disappointed by his previous few starring vehicles, all of which strangely played down Norris’s martial arts skills.  After his friend and student, Steve McQueen, told Chuck that he needed to specialize in playing strong, silent types, Norris followed his advise with A Force Of One, which features considerably less dialogue than Norris’s previous films but also a lot more fighting.

Though the character may be named Matt Logan, Chuck Norris is basically playing himself in A Force of One.  In the scenes where he’s training the detectives and talking about why he’s personally so opposed to drugs, Chuck comes across as so earnest that it doesn’t matter that he’s not much of an actor.  What he’s always lacked in range, Chuck makes up for in general badassery and A Force Of One features him at his most badass.  Chuck’s final fight with the ninja assassin is one of his best.

Jennifer O’Neill got top billing in A Force Of One and she and Chuck actually have decent romantic chemistry.  She seems to bring him a little bit out of his shell and she’s also actually believable as a tough cop.  Because this was early in Chuck’s career and the script was co-written by police procedural specialist Ernest Tidyman, A Force Of One spends as much time following round the other cops as it does with Chuck and the squad’s camaraderie is believable.  The cops are all played by good character actors like Ron O’Neal, Clu Gulager, Pepe Serna, and James Whitmore Jr. and they all give pretty good performance while, at the same time, not upstaging Chuck.

One final note: There’s a scene where Chuck and Jennifer O’Neill are in an evidence room.  Keep an eye out for a box that is labeled K. Reeves.  That’s a reference to director Paul Aaron’s stepson, Keanu Reeves, who worked as a production assistant on this film.

The German version of A Force Of One

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Chuck Norris Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today is the 80th birthday of the greatest living American, Chuck Norris!  For those who doubt that power of Chuck, consider this: Chuck Norris is a year older than Bernie Sanders and he could still beat him in a fight.

In honor of Chuck’s birthday, here are 4 shots from 4 of his best.

4 Shots From 4 Films

An Eye For An Eye (1981, directed by Steve Carver)

Silent Rage (1982, directed by Michael Miller)

Code of Silence (1985, directed by Andrew Davis)

The Delta Force (1986, directed by Menahem Golan)

Spring Breakdown: Jurassic Shark (dir by Brett Kelly)


When it comes to Spring Break, there’s nothing worse than having all of your plans ruined by a prehistoric shark.

I mean, let’s just ask the characters at the center of the 2012 film, Jurassic Shark.  Jill (Emannuelle Carriere), Tia (Christine Emes), Kristen (Celine Filion), and Mike (Kyle Martellacci) were planning to spend their Spring Break taking a boat across the least impressive lake in Canada.  They thought it would be a good time but then the giant shark showed up, ate Mike, and left Jill, Tia, and Kristen stranded on a tiny island….

“Wait?” you’re saying,  There’s a shark in a lake?”

Yes.

“Sharks can’t live in lakes.”

This one can.

“Why?”

Because it’s prehistoric and shit.  Hence, the name of the film.

“But if it’s prehistoric, what’s it doing alive in the 21st Century?”

Well, y’see, the shark was frozen in a glacier but than a big evil oil company did some big evil things and, as a result, the glacier either melted or it fell apart or maybe there was an earthquake or something and now, as a result, there’s a big prehistoric shark swimming around the lake.

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

It doesn’t have to make sense.  It’s a Spring Break shark movie.  Now, if I may continue my review….

Anyway, Jill, Tia, and Kristen are stranded on an island but it turns out that they’re not alone!  Not only is there a random oil company scientist guy but there’s also three suspicious-looking people who are dressed in all black and are carrying guns!  It turns out that the people dressed in all-black are art thieves.  They were attacked by the shark while trying to make a getaway with a stolen painting.  Now, the painting is at the bottom of the lake and no one can retrieve it because of the prehistoric shark.  However, once everyone gets together, surely they can figure out a way to escape with a minimal loss of life….

Nope!  Not going to happen!  Unfortunately, no one on the island is smart enough for the audience to really root for.  Instead of working together, they just point guns and debate who is going to distract the shark while someone else gets the painting.  This is a movie that will have you cheering for the shark all the way, which is probably the way it was meant to be.  Out of everyone in the film, the shark’s got the most personality and it’s always easy to understand his motivations.  He wants to eat.  It’s as simple as that.

The main reason I watched Jurassic Shark is because it’s got a 1.5 rating on the imdb and was, for a little while, the lowest rated film on the entire site.  Whenever I discover that a film is disliked by that many people, I simply have to watch.  As is often the case, I think the imdb voters are being a bit overly critical with Jurassic Shark.  Yes, the film is pretty bad and the shark spends way too much time offscreen.  There’s way too many scenes of people slowly walking from one end of the island to the other.  There are some major continuity errors and the CGI is really bad and there’s a scene that’s supposed to be set at night but the day for night lighting is so ineptly handled that it’s almost to follow what’s going on.

But — and here’s the thing — there’s absolutely nothing about this film that indicates that it was meant to be taken seriously.  I think for a film to be truly terrible, it has to lack self-awareness.  It has to be clueless as to how bad or silly or pretentious it is.  For better or worse, Jurassic Shark seems to realize that it’s a low-budget Z-grade horror film and that sets it apart from a serious relationship drama like The Room or an environmentalist statement like Birdemic.  I mean, as easy as it is to criticize almost every aspect of Jurassic Shark, this is a film that features a slow-motion shot of giant shark flying over someone’s head.  It’s a scene that is just ludicrous and silly enough to work.

Jurassic Shark may not be good but it’s not really pretentious enough to be terrible.  If nothing else, it teaches the viewers an important lesson about how easily Spring Break can go wrong, especially when you’re celebrating in Canada.  For the most part, it’s a forgettable film but it has just enough lunacy to occasionally be memorable.