NORRIS PUMPS LIFE INTO ’WOLF’
NORRIS PUMPS LIFE INTO ’WOLF’
Miami Herald, The (FL) - May 5, 1983
Author: BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic
"In terms of unassisted felony arrests," the captain says to Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade, "I’ll admit, your record is unrivaled." Savvy moviegoers know what to expect in this situation, for the dynamics of labor-management relations among motion-picture lawmen are never quite so simple. The movies demand an adversary relationship not merely between crooks and cops, but between cops and their bosses. Besides, the name of the movie is Lone Wolf McQuade, and no bureaucracy worth its memos likes a loner.
Why do they call him Lone Wolf? Maybe it’s because he keeps a real wolf at his door. Maybe it’s because his methods, in the tradition of Dirty Harry Callahan and the others, are unorthodox. In any case, the captain puts Lone Wolf on notice early: "You’re gonna start cooperatin’ with the state and federal agencies, understand?"
My, how quick-and-dirty action films have changed. A couple of sentences such as that would have been enough to send the action-film audience to the exits a few years ago, but today they serve as essential bits of exposition. After all, if the boss isn’t trying to stifle the top cop, where’s the conflict?
In the case of Lone Wolf McQuade, in which chop-sock veteran Chuck Norris plays the title role, it’s those very "state and federal agencies" that provide the action, mostly by screwing up the case against an illegal-arms syndicate so badly that Lone Wolf is at one point buried alive inside his turbo-charged Bronco. Yes, he drives out of the grave -- and there’s more.
Norris has never made a good film, but he has never made an unsuccessful one, either, so it’s hard to blame him for recycling the bits that work. Thus Lone Wolf McQuade might have been a conventional cops-and-robbers picture, and might have made more sense than it does, had Norris not felt the responsibility to address fans of the martial arts. So it is that David Carradine, once of TV’s "Kung Fu," is cast as Lone Wolf’s nemesis. The parts of the picture not given over to the bungling feds are devoted to setting up the climactic confrontation between Norris and Carradine, who at one point have at each other in a half-track and a bulldozer but are quickly stripped of all weapons but hands, feet and grunts.
So it’s all pretty silly. But it does move along, and the range of weapons is formidable. Steve Carver, who did Norris’ An Eye for an Eye, knows how to handle action, though Lone Wolf might have been more convincing had he let any of the bad guys shoot straight.
As for Norris, he may be a loner, but he is also good and earnest, the type of man who is willing to say, "My kind of trouble doesn’t take vacations." Strong? At one point, Lone Wolf and his ex-wife watch as a chauffeured limousine pulls up at the house, and a midget in a wheelchair debarks. "I’ll take care of this," Lone Wolf says, and we know everything is going to be all right.
COMMERCIAL TIE-IN NOTE: The Reese’s Pieces windfall from E.T. is now legend, but rarely do we see a product endorsement as bald as that offered in Lone Wolf McQuade. After a couple of shots in which characters are seen chugging Pearl beer, this scene develops between Norris’ character and a fairgrounds bartender:
Lone Wolf: "You got any Pearl beer?"
Bartender: "No Pearl beer. Heineken, Michelob, Dos Equis."
Lone Wolf: "Forget it."
Lone Wolf McQuade (PG) **
Chuck Norris, David Carradine, Barbara Carrera, Leon Isaac Kennedy, L.Q. Jones, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell
Director: Steve Carver
Producer: Steve Carver, Yoram Ben-Ami
Screenwriter: B.J. Nelson
Music: Francesco de Masi
An Orion Pictures release
Vulgar language in two languages (English and Spanish), violence
At Omni, Palm Springs, Miracle, 163rd Street, Ambassador, Campbell Square, Dadeland, Miller Square, Movies at Pompano, Plaza, Lakes, Mercede, Lakeshore Drive-In, Thunderbird Drive-In.