10 Essential Chuck Norris Films


Chuck Norris is 81 years old today!  Below are ten essential Chuck Norris films.  These are the movies to watch if you want to understand how and why Chuck Norris, despite being an actor with an admittedly limited range, became not only an action hero but an enduring pop cultural icon.

  1. The Delta Force (1986, directed by Menahem Golan) — The Delta Force, a.k.a. The Greatest Movie Ever Made, is the obvious pick for the top spot on our list of Chuck Norris essentials.  Not only does it feature, along with Chuck, Lee Marvin, Robert Vaughn, George Kennedy, Bo Svenson, and Robert Forster chewing up all the scenery but this is the film where Chuck rides a missile-equipped motorcycle.  Not only does this film feature Chuck Norris at his stoic-but-determined best but it also features one the greatest lines in film history when a recently released hostage is handed a Budweiser and responds by shouting, “Beer!  America!”
  2. Code of Silence (1985, directed by Andrew Davis) — For a film that features Chuck Norris and a crime-fighting robot called THE PROWLER, Code of Silence is actually a tough, gritty, and realistic Chicago-based crime drama.  Giving the best performance of his career, Chuck plays an honest cop who finds himself in the middle of a drug war.  Henry Silva plays the main bad guy.  Director Andrew Davis later went on to direct The Fugitive.
  3. Way of the Dragon (1972, directed by Bruce Lee) — Chuck plays a rare bad guy here.  He’s a mercenary named Colt and the film climaxes with a brutal fight between him and Bruce Lee.  The fight is a classic, with a good deal of emphasis put on the shared respect between not only the characters played by Norris and Lee but also between Lee and Norris themselves, two masters at the top of their game.
  4. Silent Rage (1982, directed by Michael Miller) — In this slasher/kung fu hybrid, Chuck is a sheriff who must stop a madman who, as the result of a poorly conceived medical experiment, is basically immortal.  For once, Chuck faces an opponent who is just as strong and relentless as he is.
  5. Invasion U.S.A. (1985, directed by Joseph Zito) — Chuck vs. Richard Lynch!  This is one of Chuck’s best Cannon films.  Chuck is as good a hero as ever but what makes the film work is the diabolically evil performance of Richard Lynch.  They are ideal opponents, with Norris stepping up to not only defeat the bad guys but also to save America itself!
  6. Lone Wolf McQuade (1983, directed by Steve Carver) — This is the first film to feature Chuck Norris as a Texas Ranger and, as we all know, it turned out to be the perfect role for him.  This was the first of Chuck’s neo-westerns.  Cast as the bad guy, David Carradine proved to be one of Chuck’s best opponents.
  7. A Force of One (1979, directed by Paul Aaron) — A serial killer is targeting cops.  Chuck essentially plays himself, a karate instructor who is brought in to teach the detective self-defense.  This serial killer plot is actually interesting and the film features some of Chuck’s best fight scenes.
  8. Missing In Action (1984, directed by Joseph Zito) — Chuck plays a vet and a former POW who returns to Vietnam in the 80s to rescue the men who were left behind.  This is hardly my favorite Norris film and it owes too much to Rambo: First Blood II to truly be successful but this is also one of Chuck Norris’s biggest hits and it’s an essential film is you want to understand the man’s film career.  It’s a cheap production but Chuck’s sincerity and his convincing skills as an action hero almost save the day.  It’s also hard to overlook that, as far as I know, this is the only Chuck Norris film that features Chuck watching an episode of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
  9. An Eye From An Eye (1981, directed by Steve Carver) — Chuck Norris plays an undercover cop who quits the force and tries to bring Christopher Lee to justice.  This one is worth seeing just because it brings together two pop culture icons, Chuck Norris and Christopher Lee.
  10. Breaker!  Breaker! (1977, directed by Don Hulette) — This was Chuck Norris’s first starring role.  He’s actually miscast as a trucker but this film is still worth seeing just for the final scene, in which Chuck and his friends use their trucks to destroy an entire town.

2 responses to “10 Essential Chuck Norris Films

  1. Pingback: 10 Bloody Essential if Lesser Known Michael Caine Films | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 3/8/21 — 3/14/21 | Through the Shattered Lens

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