LONE WOLF MCQUADE
MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *(out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
As a child of the 80s, I have fierce love for the genre films of that time. I grew up on a steady diet of Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme. However, for some reason, the films of Chuck Norris never factored into this. I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t see any of Norris’s films – especially his more famous ones like “Delta Force” and “Missing In Action” – but I’ve always felt bad about it.
Now, with the release of “The Expendables 2” looming, 20th Century Fox has released some of his films on Blu-ray for the summer. One of them is “Lone Wolf McQuade,” which was partly the inspiration for his popular television series “Walker Texas Ranger.”
“Lone Wolf McQuade” tells the story of Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade (Norris) whose daughter accidentally witnesses a military arms hijack as well as the murder of a close friend. When her life is threatened by the crime kingpin Rawley Wilkes (David Carradine), McQuade goes on the offensive to take him down.
Not only is this one of the more notable films in Norris’s career, it also is a bit of a landmark movie because it features an on-screen battle between him and “Kung Fu” star David Carradine. (I also confess, rather sheepishly, that I never watched either incarnation of this show on television.) For the martial arts action fan – or at least the fan of white guys doing martial arts – this is a pretty big deal.
Like many of the tough guy action films of the 80s, the plot is thin and quite formulaic. However, with a screen legend like Chuck Norris, this is to be expected. Norris plays the stoic cop pushed to the limit well, and this role has served him as an action icon for decades. The big difference between Norris and many of his contemporaries (at least until Van Damme and Steven Seagal came on the scene) was that he was as good with his fists and legs as he was with a gun. This adds something more to the character than just the simple tough guy cop.
“Lone Wolf McQuade” is an enjoyable ride for the modern western that it is. Like many films from this era, the first two acts drag a big, and ironically feel like a television pilot. However, it’s that final act, which includes plenty of gunfire, explosions and the aforementioned mano-y-mano with Norris and Carradine that really sell the movie. Who cares if Carradine is wearing a Cosby sweater in the process.
The Blu-ray transfer isn’t great, featuring some incredibly grainy shots and a somewhat muted color palate. It also doesn’t include any special features beyond the theatrical trailer. However, it’s still fun to watch the movie in the high definition format.