The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Invasion USA (1985)

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We continue our celebration of Golan-Globus with Chuck Norris in Invasion USA. Perhaps a product of its time, it still has had an amazing impact on many of today's action films, especially the use of urban and suburban environments and taking everyday life and plunging it into a warzone. With the landscape in the US having changed drastically after 9/11, a film like this is both improbable now, yet at the same time would be kind of scary to imagine really happening, if it wasn't for Golan-Globus' trademark cartoonish violence (which is a good thing).

Invasion USA takes place primarily in Miami, but is about an Eastern European terrorist organization that seeks to destroy the US from the inside out by attacking its infrastructure and causing anarchy. They do everything from impersonate police officers and commit violent crimes, to blowing up houses in residential neighborhoods with RPGs. The CIA know only one man could be behind this, and they know only one man can take him down: Chuck Norris. First Norris declines, because he had a chance to kill the guy before and the government wouldn't let him; but when the bad guy's attempt to kill Norris leaves his grandfather dead, Norris changes his tune.

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This was the movie Red Dawn should have been. Sure, elements of it were ridiculous, like the nice suburban neighborhood with people trimming Christmas trees suddenly under siege by bad guys firing RPGs into their houses, but at least the overall concept was a little more believable than the Soviets invading high schools in small town Colorado. And regardless of whether it was believable or not, it was way more awesome. How Red Dawn has become this cult classic, while this is overlooked, is beyond me. And Invasion USA's ability to take malls, office buildings, what have you, and turn them into pitched battles in the blink of an eye, has been emulated in the genre ever since. This is one of my all time favorite action films.

Invasion USA also brought home the difference between pre-Walker Chuck Norris and now, because pre-Walker Norris was amazing. I had something of a self-imposed ban on Norris due to his rather extreme political views (in particular, Birtherism), but I understand now that that was a mistake, because this early to mid 80s Golan-Globus Chuck Norris really was part of the blueprint that built the one-man army action hero as we know it today. This may not be his best role, but it's one of my favorites.

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The bad guy is played by Richard Lynch, a DTV mainstay who's been in more things than I can list. Strangely enough, the only other movie I've reviewed of his is Cyborg 3. My goal will be to get ten more films up of his by next October, when he'll be up for induction into DTVC Hall of Fame. As far as this goes, he was an awesome baddie with an interesting twist: he was deathly afraid of Chuck Norris. I'm not sure I've ever seen that before. Maybe Tong Po fearing Sasha Mitchell in Kickboxer 4: The Aggressor.

This is pretty violent, but never in a brutal kind of way. If it wasn't for the language and the misleading images of policemen committing serious crimes, this would be good enough for my three-year-old nephew to watch. I'm not kidding. In the 90s, this level of violence was taken to the next level with films like Terminator 2, which showed some more vicious deaths, and even the Death Wish series, which was another Golan-Globus staple and a contemporary to this film, had a more brutal slant to it; but right here, this stuff could not be taken that seriously. I have a feeling Norris wanted to distance himself from this kind of entertainment, which was why he took the role of Walker, but that was all of our losses in the end. We needed Matt Hunter, Col. James Braddock, and Maj. Scott McCoy more than we needed Walker: Texas Ranger.

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There was an actor in this named Alex Colon. His real name is Colón, and since he's no longer with us, I don't want to make fun of him, I just wanted to point out how when his name popped up on the screen, it was during an action shot of Norris driving this swamp buggy, which made it look like it was a 70s TV show called Alex Colon. I don't know if he'd be like a proctologist solving cases, but it just seemed funny.

This might be one of the best action films of all time, so I'm glad my friend at Movies in the Attic gave me an opportunity to review it. If you haven't seen it, it's must watch material. Throw it on your queue immediately.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0089348/

6 comments:

  1. Ah, one of my all-time favorite 80's action movies. It really is just non-stop blowing up and shooting, well except for the really, really long setup they put into that Christmas scene you talked about.

    And the ending..."It's time," in slow-motion, shooting a guy out a window with a rocket launcher...ah, they just don't make them like this anymore!

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  2. Defenetly a keeper! Though I dont think this film is a "forgotten gem" or anything. Ive had more then one geek movie conversation where we end up talking about Invasion U.S.A.

    David Lynch is perfect for playing a villain on any movie, he just LOOKS freaking evil! He was also great in the 80s horror film Bad Dreams. On that one he plays a Freddy Kruger like villain who was the leader of a fanatical religious cult. Pretty decent 80s horror flick. Sucky ending though.

    I made a zombie movie, and in the blooper reel during the credits I had the main star of the movie say, "theres nothing better at the end of the day, after having killed many zombies, then smoking a cigarett and Chuck NOrris" then he shows the dvd cover of Invasion U.S.A. Everyone got a huge laugh over it.

    This one reminds me of that movie called "Stone Cold" remember that one? With the football player...Boz was it? I remember it had Lance Henriksen in it.

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  3. I just read your review for Stone Cold, it defenetly falls with the spirit of the blog, it may not have been a dtv, but it sure feels like it!

    Im having a double feature at my home over the weekend with these two movies, thanks for the reviews! Reminded me how cheesy and funny they were!

    By the way, I was reading a bit about the 1952 film called Invasion U.S.A., though similar in theme, they are not related whatsoever. Though Im sure Golam and Globus got the idea from that movie.

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  4. TFC -- being a Seatlle Seahawk fan, I can assure it was Brian Bosworth aka The Boz, who was in STONE COLD. That was a fun little mindless action movie.

    As for Richard Lynch, I remember him from his role in WEREWOLF (thanks to MST3k) and as the evil Nazi in PUPPET MASTER III. Plus, as his IMDB resume backs up, I'm sure I've seen him on just about every 70's and 80's cop and action show that ever existed. He has the perfect face to play a bad guy.

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  5. Also, Richard Lynch played a great immortal on Highlander the Series, where he was once a baddie, then saw the error of his ways, and became good, and Duncan had to decide whether or not he should die for his past transgressions. A great use of him as an actor.

    Troy, are you from Seattle? My sister lives out there, and I visited for my first time last April. Unfortunately my best memory of the Boz was being run over by Bo Jackson.

    One thing I forgot to mention in my review was that Live Free or Die Hard was a de facto remake of this, and you can see where the later version missed what made the original great because it relied too much on over the top special effects. It tried too hard to not be "cheesy", and ended up being something worse: pretentious and lame.

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  6. Ha -- everyone's best memory of the Boz is him getting run over by Bo! I actually live in Oregon (Salem, to be exact) and grew up as a fan of the Seahawks, since that was the team we saw every week on TV.

    And I actually remember Lynch on the Highlander TV show as well, which should go to show that regardless of how "good" an actor he is, he's nonetheless memorable.

    Also, I've seen the original INVASION USA (thanks again to Mystery Science Theater 3000) and in theory the Norris film is a takeoff on it (sleeper Commies invade America), but the original doesn't really show the good guys fighting back and winning. It's just another in the line of propaganda films of that era -- a "cautionary tale" of what will happen if we don't take the Communist threat seriously.

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