We all must have heard of Chuck Norris the famous American martial artist-turned-actor, film producer, and screenwriter. He had previously served in the US air force before returning home and establishing his own martial arts studio known for training the likes of Donny Osmond, Steve McQueen, and Priscilla Presley.
He also participated in numerous martial arts contests and claimed victory in several championships. In the late 60s, he started off as an actor in low-budget action flicks portraying the hyper masculine man similar to the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Chuck became an internet sensation in the early 2000s.
The ‘memes’ created around him generated great laughter amongst people. Chuck has taken them in his stride and responded positively saying he finds them hilarious as well.
Let’s dive into this legend’s awesome movies now shall we?
Invasion USA (1985)
This 1985 American action film featuring Chuck Norris and Richard Lynch as leads centres around Mikhail Rostov a terrorist, and Matt Hunter a former CIA agent. Rostov plots to unleash his brand of terror in the United States and it is up to Hunter to catch him before things get worst. The two are constantly engaged in a cat and mouse chase until only one man is left standing.
This movie has been deemed one of the finest examples of how to insert an action sequence into a plot with a vague premise. According to canon, it is also an epic, outrageous and over the top film represented well on a moderately low budget.
Although viewers think that it would look pretty ridiculous in today’s day and age, it’s still a 80s action flick with a semi-realistic plot. The only grievance some viewers expressed with this movie was the extreme violence, but that was balanced by Chuck Norris’ innate essence of comedy that is a pleasant extension of his personality, portrayed in his characters.
Chuck Norris’ one man army feature may seem odd to many but given they performed most of their action sequences themselves, Chuck must definitely be a tough guy to be up for the challenge.
Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)
With an ensemble of Chuck Norris, David Carradine, Barbara Carrera, and R. G. Armstrong this American western action film features an archetypical renegade Texas Ranger wages war against a drug lord who is in possession of automatic weapons.
After a long drawn battle of the brain and brawn leaves the former’s partner dead the two rivals meet for an ultimate martial arts showdown involving the woman they both love. Who will be the last man standing at the end?
This is a movie with a clichéd storyline, ambient music to complement the plot, an utter defiance of reason and logic, you name it. Yet, B-Movie veteran Steve Carver has succeeded in making every minute of it interesting to viewers. Both Norris’ and Carradine’s presence stirred significant uproar because two martial artists in one movie was more than they could handle.
Not only was this one of Chuck Norris’ best movies but it also created a transformation in his image as blonde California boy to the dark haired and bearded tough guy. Additionally, the camera work and the background score complement the western setting. Finally, solid direction and a well written script also contributed to this film being an absolute crowd pleaser and led to film critic Roger Ebert comparing Chuck Norris to famous spaghetti western actor, Clint Eastwood.
This Aaron Norris directed supernatural thriller stars Chuck Norris, Calvin Levels, and Christopher Neame. It is premised on two Chicago police officers Shatter and Jackson who are investigating a murder case, one of a rabbi.
When they are summoned to Israel for the questioning of the same they continue their investigation with some leads that they find. Soon enough they conclude that they might be investigating something well beyond their natural capacity.
Chuck Norris is known for the silent rage he portrays in this film. Besides a stunning performance, this film is backed with well-executed action sequences that feature perfectly in the storyline. Moreover, it isn’t exactly horror but rather an action movie with a mix of supernatural.
If one is seeking pure horror, this isn’t the movie for them; instead, they get to watch one with flawless martial arts work between Chuck Norris and Satan’s emissary. This movie also serves as a good example of fine black comedy with witty dialogues. Unfortunately, it the last film produced by The Cannon Group Inc. before they went bankrupt.
This 1992 adventure action comedy flick directed by Aaron Norris portrays an asthmatic child Barry who has a troubled life. He lives in Texas with his father who is a computer programmer.
Barry struggles with bullies at school and his ailments pulling him down. Barry resorts to his fantasies imagining he s Chuck Norris. Barry finally decides to learn to stand up to his bullies by learning karate and aspires to meet Chuck one day.
This is an inspirational movie for youth both physically and mentally. It brings out elements of magical realism via the protagonist Barry’s imagination. Although it is a tad sappy and predictable, it is a welcome change from the gore and violence which don’t usually focus on character depth.
While people say that this movie is a clichéd version of previous martial arts movies, the great sense of humour and decent performances by Jonathan Brandis and Chuck Norris make it a genre all by itself. Even Joe Piscopo gives an outstanding performance as the negative character. Additionally, like most Aaron Norris movies, it makes no attempts to hide its corniness. Ironically, Chuck Norris only acted in this movie as a favour to his brother Aaron. Little did he know then, that it would benefit him so much?
Firewalker features Chuck Norris in his first comic role where he satirizes himself. The film shows Max Donigan leaving on a treasure hunt with his friend Leo and new partner Patricia. On their way, they have to face a few bar fights and evil coyotes that they manage to overcome.
They are finally able to locate the treasure but must now fight against the final barrier, the Firewalker, and get him out of the way to get what they want.
This combination of action and humour portrays both Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett, Jr. in their best roles, having incredible chemistry. In fact, it is one of Norris’ most lively and natural performances. It is a good exploitation film made by the masters of the genre at The Cannon Group.
Although viewers often think that the story is nothing more than a vaguely connected series of events, if watched carefully, its self-awareness can be identified. It is a great escapist adventure film, created with a low budget and is well paced while illustrating good cinematography.
Besides its well-crafted sequences, the humour incorporated within it is just right. Director J. Lee Thompson never intended for this movie to be a masterpiece, just an unpretentious, slightly cheesy, 80s flick. Fun fact! Chuck Norris and Louis Gossett, Jr. Have their stars back to back on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Good Guys Wear Black (1978)
This Ted Post directed martial arts action film is the second film featuring Chuck Norris in a central role. This story is premised around a former leader who led a commando rescue operation during the Vietnam War. A few years later, he is en route to discovering why his team members are being killed one by one, even after the war has ended.
This film contains an intriguing plot from start to finish that witnesses Chuck Norris engaging in extreme stunts like snowmobiling and jumping through the windshield of a moving car.
Although Norris considers this film a breakthrough for his career, viewers are of the opinion that it is a slow burn with Norris trying to be convincingly serious in his role but failing. It received a few positive reviews only because Chuck Norris successfully deflected the attention from average dialogues and lack of logic and made it entertaining.
After the first decade of his career being primarily in Hong Kong action films, mainly Bruceploitation movies, this one was a breath of fresh air and felt like Chuck Norris’ own. This film also distinguished itself from earlier martial arts films in terms of its distinctly American setting, characters, themes and politics.
Delta Force 2 (1990)
Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection is a sequel of the 1986 film Delta Force also starring Chuck Norris. The antagonist of this film is Ramon Cota who after murdering an innocent man and his child in cold-blood is now smuggling drugs into the United States.
Chuck Norris as Major Scott McCoy leads his Delta team into San Carlos, a fictional South American country to rescue the hostages and stop the cocaine from entering the United States. Will he succeed in stopping Cota and his men?
This film was created during the peak of Norris’ career and represents him as the tough, bearded, action man who saves the day. Although the story is clichéd with the protagonist narrowly escaping huge explosions and bringing justice by beating up the bad guys without a second thought, it still appears unintentionally ironic.
If one compares this film to the larger realm of action films maybe it doesn’t come up as one of the best, but with Chuck Norris in the picture, it is one of the better simple action B-movies that aren’t made for theatrical release anymore.
Most viewers like the film and agree that it is good, light-headed entertainment but unfortunately one of the biggest shortcomings it is claimed to have is that it doesn’t compare to the first movie. Incidentally, the final script used for this movie was a mellowed down version of how the original was written.
Missing in Action (1984)
Missing in Action is set during the Vietnam War POW/MIA controversy which centers around missing American soldiers during the Vietnam War. Norris plays the role of Colonel James Braddock who had escaped one such camp facility 10 years ago and has returned yet again to find the other missing soldiers. The two subsequent sequels of this film also stars Chuck.
Missing in Action is an underrated action war flick where Norris is able to show off his martial arts skills despite it being a very ammunition oriented film. It received an R-rating due to the violence, weaponry and explosives that it portrays.
This is funny because the film also was also criticized for evoking a cheesy vibes with the violence and the dialogues supporting it. Most praises of this movie surround the character of James Braddock since viewers admit that the plot itself is slightly unrealistic and has a lot of inconsistencies.
Moreover, they also appreciate how unapologetic a film it is, despite being considered pseudo-patriotic and even slightly racist. Chuck Norris’ role in this film is a tribute to his younger brother Wieland who was a casualty during the Vietnam War.
Top Dog (1995)
This 1995 buddy cop action comedy is directed by Aaron Norris and stars Chuck Norris as Lt. Jake Wilder. Wilder partners with a police dog named Reno whose police companion has been shot and killed by some domestic terrorists. The duo follows up on their investigation on the terrorists and discovers they are up to no good as they plan on attacking a conference on unity.
After surviving several assassination attempts and hand-to-hand combat fights, they eventually get enough evidence to orchestrate a well-planned attack. This film received positive reviews for its strong underlying message and for the diversity in roles that he plays.
Besides this it received mostly negative reviews because even if Norris’ character makes it highly valuable, viewers find that the movie itself was overall poorly executed. This induced a downward spiral in Chuck’s career and happened to be his last film to be released theatrically. Moreover, viewers also noticed the lack of effort that was put into making the movie.
Besides a few explosion scenes here and there, it just seemed like a cheap tribute to all the other high action films that were made towards the beginning of Norris’ acting career. The villains have no character depth and the combination of a family-oriented film with sequences of violent action was not received well by everyone. Besides, the film didn’t turn out to be a box office success due to its release only nine days after the Oklahoma City bombing.