Monday, April 20, 2015

FIREWALKER (1986)


FIREWALKER (1986) 

Label: Olive Films
Region Code: A
Rating: PG 
Duration: 104 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Cast: Chuck Norris, Lou Gossett, John Rhys-Davies, Melody Anderson, Ian Abercrombie, Will Sampson, Sonny Landham, Richard Lee-Sung

Get out your cracker of choice because Cannon Films is bringing the cheese tonight with this action-adventure knock-off from '86 starring '80s ass-kicker Chuck Norris (The Octagon) and Lou Gossett Jr (Enemy Mine) as a pair of soldiers of fortune with to little to show for their efforts. It all begins with a fun desert dunes chase sequence with buggies and a squadron of ATV pursuing our adventurers through desert, they're captured by a Chinese General (Richard Lee-Sung) and left to die in the heat of the sun with an ironic twist involving a bottle of Perrier. If course they escape and head straight to their favorite watering hole where they encounter a young woman named Patricia (Flash Gordon) who is seeking brave men who are not too smart to aid her on a quest for gold... Max and Leo certainly fit that description. Together the trio head to the mountains of Central America in search of an ancient Aztec-Mayan treasure, along the way enlist the aid of Native American shaman named Tall Eagle (Will Sampson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) and a mercenary named Corky (John Rhys-Davies, Raiders of the Lost Ark) in addition to a bar fly named Boggs (Ian Abercrombie, Army of Darkness). All the while they must fend off attacks orchestrated an evil shaman named El Coyote (Sonny Landham, Predator) who protects the treasure and hopes to use the trio's quest for the gold to help him obtain the sacred and supernatural powers of his own ancient ancestors.


Coming into this you had best prepare yourself for some super-dumb fun with an emphasis on dumb and only a smattering of the promised fun. Quite an obvious cash-in on the very popular action-adventure movies of the time this one wears its influence openly but also dumbs down the material to the point of absolute ridiculousness, with loads of cheap thrills and a lot of unintentional hilarity. Along the way I would forget how it came to be these characters came into each new harrowing situation or how they escaped from the previous one, the script has very little meat on the bone and the connective tissue is almost non-existent, they just go from one set piece to the next with very little rhyme or reason. 

There's a running joke of Norris' character being an awful marksman that is just beaten to death throughout the movie, but then we do get some enjoyable foot-to-face fight sequences with the requisite slow-motion camera work, the best being a sequence of Norris single-handedly decimating an bar room full of troublemakers that was particularly enjoyable. While Norris was undoubtedly a master with his hands and feet he never did quite master the art humor, comedy was the one foe he could never defeat, with that said I did enjoy the buddy aspect of the film between Norris and Gossett, even if the dialogue, puns and jokes were lame, but there's something enjoyable about it, trashy fun. On top that we have a few of the set-pieces including a temple (perhaps a Temple of Doom) in Central America offering some fun adventuring complete with an altar of sacrifice and a boiling underground lake.


Directed J. Lee Thompson who apparently fell on hard times in the '80s, the director helmed the original Cape Fear (1962) in addition to The White Buffalo (1977), before going onto direct the slasher classic Happy Birthday to Me (1981) and then onto a string of Golan-Globus produced trash cinema in his waning years, many starring Charles Bronson. While the man was no Orson Welles but he was certainly capable of more noted endeavors. That his career descended into adventurer clones like this and King Solomon's Mines (1985) probably was not a career choice, such is the life of a director for hire.  


Audio/Video: Firewalker arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films with a 1080p HD transfer framed in the (1.85:1) aspect ratio looking a little thick at times with heavy grain but also offering some nice depth and clarity from time to time with good color reproduction and accurate skin tones, black levels are pretty decent, too. The English language DTS-HD MA 2.0 is pretty solid with no snap, crackle or pops to distract. Dialogue, musical score and sound effects are nicely balanced and cleanly reproduced, there are no subtitles are provided and there are no extras to be found anywhere on the disc. 

As one of the more uninspired action-adventurer knock-offs of the '80s Firewalker makes Cannon Films' King Solomon's Mines (1985) and the sequel Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (1987) seems absolutely epic by comparison, but if you're a trash cinema connoisseur there's a lot to love about this cheese-fest, this is goofy '80s b-movie fun starring ass-kicker Chuck Norris. 

No comments:

Post a Comment