MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Chuck Norris as MATT HUNTER
Richard Lynch as MIKHAIL ROSTOV
Melissa Prophet as MCGUIRE
Alexander Zale as NIKKO
Alex Colon as THOMAS
Eddie Jones as CASSIDY
Jon DeVries as JOHNSTON
James O’Sullivan as HARPER
Billy Drago as MICKEY
Studio: Shout Factory
Directed by: Joesph Zito
BY KEVIN CARR
While I was fortunate enough to grow up in the 1980s and see some of the greatest movies of that decade in first-run theaters, I was just a little too young to see the classic action films of Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson in cinemas. I turned 17 in 1988, which put me behind many of the teenagers of the time, seeing only the tail end of the 80s action greatness. (Because, contrary to commonplace practice now, it was sometimes near impossible to sneak into R-rated movies in my town.)
More over, my parents never invested in an HBO account, so I never got the replay value of these films through the 90s.
The fortunate side to this unfortunate timing of my life is that I can rediscover the movies now and love them not just for the cheesy 80s action films that they are, but also as a nice piece of Americana nostalgia.
I never saw “Invasion U.S.A.” in the theaters, but I certainly remember its release, mainly because of how saturated the market was with advertising for the film. Now, as an adult, I can enjoy the absurd greatness of Chuck Norris and his contemporary movie stars safe from the overbearing politics of the day.
“Invasion U.S.A.” tells the story of a stealth invasion of the United States by terrorists. Being made in the middle of the Cold War, these terrorists were of course aligned with the Soviets. However, there’s a greater silliness about them, a S.P.E.C.T.R.E.- style of overall bad-guyism that supercedes national origin.
This group invades America’s streets, killing dozens of civilians in the suburbs, in shopping malls and many other safe havens around the country. Fortunately for the citizens of the United States, these terrorists did not count on Matt Hunter (Norris), a one-man army ready to risk his safety to protect freedom. He takes the war to the terrorists at street level, partly aided by an intrepid journalist (Melissa Prophet) who is following the story.
The story behind this movie is over-the-top in its absurdity, making the invasion of Colorado (not too far from the geographic center of the U.S., mind you) in “Red Dawn” look plausible. But that’s okay. It was the 80s, and Chuck Norris was an action god.
Even though films today can be criticized for being overly violent, there is a visceral nature to the groundswell of R-rated violence in this movie. The bad guys are unapologetic about how they kill and torture people. It’s not there for sensationalism, as we see today. It was just part of their Darth Vader approach to villainy.
Unlike Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger (the undisputed kings of 80s action), Chuck Norris works in this movie because he still looks like a regular guy. Sure, he’s fit, but he’s not bulky and full of body-builder muscles. You could almost believe that Chuck Norris is just an average human being – and that’s what the terrorists don’t count on.
Yes, the film is violent. Yes, it’s full of ridiculous action that doesn’t exist in any pragmatic reality. Yes, it’s as jingoistic and flag-wavey as modern films like “Olympus Has Fallen.” That’s all part of this film’s charm. It’s not great cinema, but “Invasion U.S.A.” is great popcorn cinema.
ShoutFactory!’s Blu-ray comes with a new commentary by director Joseph Zito, plus new interviews with writer James Bruner and special effects make-up artists Tom Savini, Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero. There’s also the theatrical trailer and low-res TV spot on the menu.