Friday, September 16, 2011

Invasion U.S.A. (1985)

Title: Invasion U.S.A. (1985)

Director: Joseph Zito

Cast: Chuck Norris, Richard Lynch


Invasion USA is yet another dumb action film from the guys at Cannon Films; a production company that specialized in making B-films and over the top, violence filled action fare. These guys not only produced films that no other studio would produce, they took pride in it. And they thrived in this way for many years making films like The Delta Force (1986), Missing in Action (1984) and Missing in Action II: The Beginning (1985) which by the way were huge money makers back in those days when audiences where hungry for movies with muscle bound heroes that killed everyone in sight. Those where the days when the body count produced by the films hero would skyrocket! The more people the hero killed, the better the film. I’m talking about films like Commando (1985), Cobra (1986) and Above the Law (1988), films where it was almost obligatory for the protagonist to appear shooting or holding a gun in the films poster. Where did movies like these go? I know I don’t see them that often anymore. An occasional one appears, like The Expendables (2010) or The Mechanic (2011) but these days, films like these are an exception. During the 80s we had Stallone, Arnold, Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Dulph Longdren all fighting to be the number one action star. Today we only got one action star that is aiming to do what these guys did and that’s, Jason Statham; but more on that guy in the weeks ahead where I will be reviewing some of Statham’s action films. So yeah, the day and age of the blood drenched violence filled action flick is gone. Luckily we can revisit this era through dvd’s. How was Invasion U.S.A.?

Cannon, the ones responsible for all these goofy action movies

 Invasion U.S.A. was great for a laugh that’s what it was, but again, like many of these films, that’s exactly what makes it a fun watch. Story goes something like this: a terrorist organization lead by a guy named Mikhail Rostov is looking to invade the United States and destroy everything that represents the quintessential ‘American Way of Life’. This organization is composed of every nationality known for hating Americans at one point or another. So we see Russians, we see Latin Americans and Arabs amongst the members of the terrorist organization. But basically, they behave like a bunch of nazi bastards.  This organization commits random acts of violence all over town to try and destroy society as we know it. In this way, the villains in this film reminded me of the villains in Stallone’s Cobra, where all they cared about was destroying society so they could build a new one. While the bad guys in Cobra destroyed supermarkets and kidnapped famous models, the bad guys in Invasion U.S.A. blow up houses in a typical American suburb while the families are putting the star on their Christmas tree and singing Christmas carols! They destroy and attack a mall! They get people to fight amongst themselves! They attempt to blow up churches and school buses filled with children! It just so happens that the leader of this evil organization is an old arch-nemesis of Chuck Norris’s and so there is also a personal vendetta involved in this. Norris is called upon by the government to stop these guys, and while at first he refuses, when he sees it’s his old enemy Rostov who is behind the whole thing, well then Chuck makes it his business to stop him.

You mess with the best, you die like the rest!

 This movie is all sorts of idiotic and will no doubt have you laughing from beginning to end, so at least we have that. In this movie, Chuck Norris is similar to The Terminator, he kills and kills and kills and is damn near indestructible all through out the picture. Nobody messes with him! In fact, he messes with the bad guys! He’s the one that intimidates them!  Sadly, Norris’s character in this film is reduced to be an emotionless empty shell of a character who only appears to kill the bad guys. After a while the film goes on like this: bad guys try to commit an act of terrorism, Chuck appears to stop them. Repeat infinitum, till the end of the picture where Norris faces off with his Nemesis. He is an action hero with no soul and no persona. He is quite literally a stone cold killer, but he is protecting the American way of life and society so it’s okay? In Stallone’s Cobra, a news reporter asks Cobra why does he have the right to go around killing people? That even if they are bad guys, its up to the courts to decide their fate, then Cobra shows them a corpse and tells the reporter “Why don’t you tell that to his family?” So I guess, in this kind of film the mentality is the ends justifies the means. Society needs to be protected, and these guys are scumbags who deserve to die.

 In what other way will this film have you laughing? Well, take for example the titular invasion of the United States. The bad guys invade U.S.A. by waltzing in on their boats through Miami Beach! A totally incredulous feat to achieve, but on this movie it’s as easy as one two three. No one notices, no military satellite detects them, they simply arrive and continue with their evil schemes. Another laugh inducing characteristic of this film is the films female protagonist; a news reporter named McGuire. She is the equivalent of Kate Capshaw’s ‘Willie’ in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984). If you remember correctly, her job was being obnoxious through out the whole film by screaming and hollering and complaining every step of the way. Same thing happens with the reporter in this film. She does absolutely nothing to move the story forward, yet there she is, tagging along through out the whole film, nagging, nagging, nagging.  It doesn’t help that she’s not a good actress at all. Extra tidbit of info: Chuck Norris wanted Whoopi Goldberg to play the role of McGuire, this was during the time when Whoopi Goldberg’s career was just taking off and she was making action/comedies like Jumping Jack Flash (1985), but the films director said “no way Jose” and so he cast Melissa Prophet instead. That was a bad move in my book. I’m sure the role would have been infinitely more watchable had Goldberg played it, but alas, she was vetoed.

 Finally, what would a movie like this one be without some tough guy one liners? Some of the gems included on this film include lines like: “If you come back in here, I’m gonna hit you with so many rights you are going to beg for a left” and “It’s time to die! Invasion USA was directed by Joseph Zito, a director that was the go to guy for producers Golan and Globus. Albert Pyun served the same purpose to them; these were directors that would get the job done. These directors didn’t exactly stamp their films with their own style, they simply made the films they were given, workman style. These films didn’t have a special look or feel to them, they simply told their story and blew shit up real good.  And speaking of blowing shit up, the film does have a couple of cool chase sequences, one of which takes place inside of a mall, it’s a pretty decent chase sequence. And that’s one thing you could count on in a Cannon Film: a decent chase sequence to let you know your getting your moneys worth of action. Joseph Zito directed many films for Cannon and many of them starred Chuck Norris, I’m going to try and get my hands on a couple more of them to include in my Revenge/Action Month thing I got going on, so look forward to that.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Cover for the films novelization


Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

I love this movie, from the nice family whose Christmas is rudely interrupted by a rocket launcher blast, to baddie Robert Lynch taking his own rocket launcher blast at the end. For me, this is the movie Red Dawn should've been. Great stuff.

Shaun Anderson [The Celluloid Highway] said...

This is up there with ROCKY IV as one of the most absurd anti-communist American films of the 1980's. How exactly Norris is able to emerge from nowhere and accurately identify the terrorists time and again is never explained. Perhaps he has supernatural powers like Rutger Hauer in THE HITCHER?

Cinema Du Meep said...

I really like this movie. It really had BALLS. Big ones.

Manuel Marrero said...

Watch what you say about M.R Norris, remember that he doesnt sleep...he waits.

venoms5 said...

Good stuff this one. So brazenly OTT you can't help but laugh at it. Just about every American action movie at the time depicted heroes that were virtually indestructible as Fran pointed out. Rarely, if ever, did they get hurt by the bad guys and in some cases, the main bad guy never gets a good solid hit in on the lead protagonist. Interesting how the vitality and determination of those movie heroes parallel our once thriving economy and "invincible" military force during the Reagan Era. Since then, nobody has been able to become a viable action hero over here. Statham has done a few dozen movies and none of them have been huge. Dwayne Johnson tried his hand at it and his kiddie movies garnered more attention. The last RAMBO did well, though. THE EXPENDABLES was a nice retro excursion into that bygone era, too.

Franco Macabro said...

@Direct to Video Connoisseur: Yeah, that bit with the bad guys blowing up the family celebrating christmas was hilarious, its like the filmmakers said whats the most american thing we can blow up? I got it! Christmas! Red Dawn's another good one, I will be reviewing it this month on the blog for sure!

@Shaun: Yeah, one can definetly get a whiff of that "Russians are evil!" vibe, but again, this was the feeling that was going in in the US at the time, what with the whole cold war thing going on and everyone afraid the russians and the americans were going to blow each other away from the face of the earth.

I thought that was funny too, he always popped up IN THE NICK OF TIME as they say to stop them.

@Cinema: Yeah, its a film onm a testosterone high.

@Manuel Marrero: And he eats babies, dont forget that too!

@Venom: Agree, it seems Stallone is the only one carrying the flag for these types of heroes/films, but thats probably because he understands them so well since he was a part of this era himself. Well, at least somebody still has the guts to do it. I remember watching The Expendables and getting that feeling of watching an 80's action movie back again.

Thanks for commenting everyone, this movie, Chuck NOrris has lots of fans apparently!

Greg Stuart Smith said...

My first trip to and comment made over here at The Film Connoisseur's blog site. And my, my, a bang up collection of action classics to be sure! I can't wait to dive in. I had debated whether or not to recommend NIGHT HAWKS over to Shaun at The Celluloid Highway (since I know he's such a big Hauer fan), but no need, since you've done it here! I haven't had the time to read the write up on it or COBRA, but plan to as soon as I can, my man!

Great write up on INVASION U.S.A., a very ridiculous, though enjoyable movie from the guys over at Cannon circa the 1980's. The fact that everything is played soooo super straight is what makes it so much fun to watch! I mean, there is literally no "intended" comic relief, that I can remember -- none that worked anyway. Some of the best 80's action films were jammed packed with comic relief, but not this one. Good for Chuck for trying to lighten things up by going for Woopi Goldberg -- too bad they didn't get her, though; her presence would have made a huge difference.

Not to say that this film won't make you laugh, because it will certainly do that and more. Anyway, I'm a fan, and I like the write up.

Can't wait to read more!

Franco Macabro said...

Hey Greg, welcome to the blog and thanks for the kind words! Glad you are enjoying my action revenge month, it's not over yet, there's a couple of cool things lined up, starting with article on my top revenge flicks, which I will be posting later today, hope you enjoy that one!

Agree about Invasion USA, funny and entertaining, and action packed, just what the guys at Cannon Films were experts at producing.

Jesús said...

La verdad que estas películas eran malas pero mira que disfrutamos con los disparos de Chuck Norris. Tu reseña, por cierto muy buena, me ha llenado de nostalgia. Un saludo y felicitaciones por el blog.

Franco Macabro said...

Es cierto, estas peliculas seran malas, pero tambien son muy divertidas, me alegro que te haya gustado el blog! Este mes estoy revisitando peliculas de los ochenta, asi que pendiente!

Occo said...

Richard Lynch rocks as the deranged commie!


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