Thursday, 5 November 2009

Hero and the Terror



HERO AND THE TERROR (1992)

Directed by: William Tannen
Written by: Dennis Shryack & Michael Bodgett
Starring: Chuck Norris, Brynn Thayer, Steve James & Jack O’Halloran

Before he became Walker: Texas Ranger, Mr Exercise Infomercial and the butt of a thousand facts, one time Bruce Lee opponent and walking mullet, Chuck Norris, made a couple of good action flicks here and there in the 1980s. While not as action heavy as the likes of the Delta Force and Missing in Action films, Hero and the Terror is a fun low key Norris effort, more of a spooky cop thriller about a deadly serial killer. Norris plays buff and bearded cop Danny O’Brien who we see in a pretty freaky dream sequence put away crazy serial killer Simon Moon (O’Halloran). But three years later, Moon escapes from a mental asylum and hides within the walls and ducts of a newly built movie house, stalking and killing the pretty female patrons. O’Brien, who is trying to lead the normal life for a change, knows its Moon murdering again and must once again confront an evil that almost cost him his life the first time around.

Produced by action specialists Cannon, Hero and the Terror gave Norris the rare opportunity to actually act. Now, he’s still Chuck Norris: cool suits; nice car; wisecracks; everybody loves him; he’s ace at kicking people in the face; mullet and obligatory weightlifting scene (which is an overdose of 80s cheese that almost derails the tense and spooky vibe the film is going for), but he’s not quite as gung-ho and as invincible as he is in his other films and there is even an attempt to give him some character. The narrative spends as much time on his relationship with his onscreen wife (maybe a little too much for Norris and action fans) as it does with the serial killer plot that adds a little more to the standard tough cop chasing after a crazy killer formula. Norris ain’t half bad (when he’s not working out) and there is good chemistry between him and his on screen missus, Brynn Thayer. There is also some good support from Cannon stalwart Steve James (American Ninja) who also gets more of a chance to act than just throw punches and kicks, as O’Brien’s best bud and fellow police officer.

The film isn’t heavy on action and while Norris has a few chases and throws a few kicks isn’t really a film that lets him cut loose in the fight department. However, tension is nicely built and sustained as Norris tries to work out where Moon is and bring him to justice. While it never fully crosses the realm into supernatural, there is a certain spooky quality to the film as at times Moon seems like an almost unstoppable and uncaptureable villain. The stalk sequences are handled fairly well and come the finale there is a great knockdown brawl between the hero and the “terror”. In addition the film is slickly shot, there’s an early appearance from a young Billy Drago (Delta Force 2, The Untouchables) and the running time is kept tight. Perhaps lacking a little too much in the action department, Hero and the Terror is still a neat little watch that gave Norris a somewhat different role and has lots of 80s charm to make up for the lack of car chases and roundhouse kicks.

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