There may be no greater example of the simpler, more triumphant, and naive cinematic times the 1980s truly were than Invasion USA, in which one single man (that man being Chuck Norris) could literally save the entire country from ground invasion by a foreign army, as told through the producing team of Golan and Globus’ Cannon Films’ filter and via director Joseph Zito’s terrifyingly amoral eye. Sure, Rambo III depicts John J. Rambo and Col. Trautman taking out an entire faction of the Russian army in Afghanistan, which is pretty gloriously far fetched. But Invasion USA allows Norris’ Matt Hunter to work alone, and brings the action to US soil, where paranoid homefront protectors could allow their fantasies to be realized in a thrilling and explosive way.
There may also be no better cinematic example of pure, unfiltered entertainment value trumping all logic, taste, and human decency to present an audience with an unqualified good time at the movies from start to finish whilst trodding some of the most tasteless and offensive content imaginable. Invasion USA is mean, presented without a trace of irony, and wholly committed to your entertainment at its most primal levels. Born-to-play-a-villain character actor Richard Lynch’s vaguely Russian America-invader Mikhail Rostov performs two brutal onscreen massacres involving women and children before he even meets up with Norris or his plans are revealed. And when I say “plans”, I do mean that in the loosest sense imaginable. Sure, Lynch’s plan is to invade America itself with a small army of disruptors and petty criminals. That much is made very clear. But exactly how to depict this invasion on screen in a budget friendly way? That’s a little trickier. Zito uses perpetually sour-pussed character actor Eddie Jones to walk around various crime scenes and exposit just how bad everything is on the streets all across America, whilst we as an audience only see Lynch and Co blow up a few suburban houses decorated for Christmas. To be honest, the imagery is effective, and may not need a whole lot of realistic plans to back it up. After all, for the film to be entirely satisfying, it needs to create an invasion that Chuck Norris CAN single-handedly dismantle, so in favor of our entertainment, the film bypasses all logic, reason, and good planning. I’m into that.
But enough about the villains’ questionable plans. I was talking about how mean this movie is. Lynch’s Rostov mows down children and pulls a “Heath Ledger’s Joker Pencil Trick” on a woman snorting cocaine through a straw before throwing her out of a window, and that’s all before the ten minute mark. People are getting shot in the dick and children are being blown up left and right in this movie. The paranoia and fear-mongering are dialed up to 11, with the threat of vague communism so around the corner we are all as good as bazooka fodder for terrorists while we decorate our Christmas trees. Even Norris is mean, dropping suitcase bombs on terrorists with a glib one-liner and a smile. Our villain is haunted by Norris throughout the film in nightmares and vision, with a black-clad Norris repeatedly whispering “It’s time to die”. Violence is a cleansing force in Invasion USA… the only way to stem the fear, and the greatest way to make us cheer.
And if being entertained by Invasion USA is to be complicit in its fear mongering, then I’m guilty. But I reckon everyone who’s ever seen the film is too. Filled with “simple kind of man” imagery like Norris chainsawing wood on the bayou and plowing his truck through the front of a mall to kill terrorists around the Santa display, it’s more or less impossible not to pump your fists a little as the action unfolds. And unfold it does, in spectacular fashion. Practical stunts abound, with stunt doubles flying through windows whilst jumping off of crashing cars. There are dozens of glorious, bazooka-induced explosions. Shootouts are wonderfully staged. And Matt Hunter’s preternatural (supernatural?) ability to be one step ahead of the villains, nay even knowing their exact locations on the other side of a wall through sheer force of awesomeness, is well established and repeatedly confirmed to the point where his “Norris Sense” tingling is simply expected. Matt Hunter is never a step behind. His ascendent victory is never in question. Rostov and the audience are firmly in the palm of Matt Hunter’s supernaturally superior hand from start to finish. It’s action entertainment at its most profoundly, explosively entertaining, and at its most troublingly offensive, simultaneously, and almost without even any cognitive dissonance. So enjoy yourself, and remember it’s only a movie.
And I’m Out.
Invasion USA is terribly good. In that it is both terrible and good. A bit like Red Dawn, but instead of a bunch of spotty frat-packers defending Western democracy you have round house king Chuck Norris. Because, seriously, Chuck Norris is all you need. Seemingly a distillation of everything that is simultaneously right and yet so wrong with 80s action cinema, Joseph Zito’s (off of other Chuck Norris ‘classic’ Missing in Action and Friday 13th Part V for Vivisection) hilarious ode to Republican paranoia sees denim-clad, ex-government agent Chuck Norris as Matt Hunter, living the quiet life in the Florida everglades wrangling with alligators in the mud, tending to his pet armadillo and chain-sawing the shit out of the surrounding wooded area.
BECAUSE I AM MAN! HEAR ME ROAR!
That is until the superbly psychotic Richard Lynch and his band of merry mercenaries kill his Native American best mate, blow up his house and declare war on the United States of America (although luckily his armadillo remains relatively unscathed. Plagued by nightmares and harbouring the beef of all beefs…
…as psycho Russian, scheme makes no sense but doesn’t have to – insanely ambitious to invade the most powerful nation on earth – Commie, capitalist hating – look at them all with their freedom and their hotdogs – bastards – has a beef with CN – nightmares that are at odds with the carefully prepared plan to invade – irrational, counter productive well he is insane and likes shooting motherfuckers in the dick
News stories purporting to show social unrest nationwide – US really big though
– Pet armadillo – survives unlike his native American friend
– Alligator rangling in mud – one man army – doesn’t really use his martial arts
– Denim-clad, twin-uzis, chainsaws
– Cold war post-McCarthy communist paranoia
– Surprisingly easy to destabilise American democracy
– Anarchy, social destabilisation, civil war, martial law
– America fuck yeah right wing rhetoric
– Cannon films
– Living meme
– Reactionary, republican, paranoid Reaganite, patriotism, jingoism
– Chuck Norris, taciturn, Matt Hunter, Guerilla, former govt agent, vigilante, one liners
– Sluggish pace starts slow
– Hair dos
– Unapologetic in its politics and violence (massacre of the innocents)
– Glorious, hilarious
– Wanton destruction, action set pieces no nonsense, shit blows up, everything sprayed with bullets regardless of accuracy –
– stunts (Aaron Norris – stunt coordinator) impressive – hanging off truck smashing though a mall – ludicrous one trying to get a female hostage during a car chase
– Bazooka showdown
– Same year as the lovely Back to the Future
– Joseph Zito (MIA, Fri 13th V), Aaron Norris (brothers) Billy Drago
– Obnoxious journalist thanks Chuck for saving her life innumerable times by throwing bin lids at his head
– Local atlantas – weapons checked out for driving licences, loads of extras, tanks, apcs
– Sequel – avenging force – charisma-phobe Michael dudikoff
– Chuck norris actually believes it could happen