Chuck Norris is so tough that he punched the last guy in the nose who tried to make a Top Five Chuck Norris Movies list...
It's become a bit of punch line today, you know: Chuck Norris is so tough that...." Hell, we here at TVSO even have shirts for sale with the slogan... But what people, especially, if you're under the age of 25, don't really understand today is that back in the late '70s and early 80's, Chuck Norris wasn't just this movie actor who normally played in martial arts and hero/bad guy movies, he was actually a great actor who was often times pitted against a total badass of similar magnitude. In the 80's, Norris was the king of the home video market, likely, just as popular as Bruce Willis, Arnold, or whomever you wanna suggest as being one of the very popular action movies stars of yesterday.
Yes, Norris, made a few mistakes, and make a few movies that almost, at times, lampooned his own mystique and badass-ery (We all remember Top Dog and Sidekicks), but at the end of the day, his legacy, because he is now over the age of 70--will always been cemented in with, what we here at TVSO think are his best movies.
Missing in Action 2: The Beginning (1985)
Produced and released by Cannon Films, and coming to theaters in the United States smack in the heat of Vietnam nostalgia, Missing in Action 2 is a sort of prequel for the film that came the year before, Missing In Action. A high-octane, action-ploitation tale of a group of American soldiers trapped as P.O.W.'s in a camp where they they are tortured, Norris, in the role of "Colonel Braddock" is a unbreakable bad-ass, who won't give us his military's secrets to the enemy. In the end, Braddock must lead his small band of troops into an uprising when the torture becomes too much. For our taste, we here at TVSO, find Missing in Action 2 a far superior film than the original Missing in Action, simply because it has some hearty campy aesthetics swirling around in it, such as actor Steven Williams (The X-Files, Twilight Zone: The Movie) character being tied up and burned because he has Malaria. The whole thing is very over-the-top, and Norris, plays Braddock as a sort of dwarfed John Wayne.
Hero and the Terror (1988)
Based on a novel written in 1982 by Michael Blodgett, Norris plays tough guy cop "Danny O'Brien" who's obsessed with the capturing of a killer named "Simon Moon." Moon, played in Terror by actor Jack O'Halloran (best known for Superman II), steals the show in some ways from Norris in Hero and the Terror. Hero and the Terror is a classic example of the Hollywood good guy/bad guy bad and white motif and while the film may be one of Norris's lest known efforts, we think it's one of his best. Made by Cannon, naturally.
Silent Rage (1982)
A real outside-the-box effort on behalf of Chuck Norris and director Michael Miller. Released by Columbia Pictures in the early 80's, Norris plays Texas Sheriff "Dan Stevens" who must stop a serial killer with special healing powers. A darker Norris film, perhaps, than any of the others he made in his career before or after, Silent Rage, is very creepy. The killer, played with glee by character actor Brian Libby, is creepy enough to traumatize the kids, who might have caught this Norris classic late-at-night on HBO or another pay cable channel back in the early 80s. This one still gives us here at TVSO chills when we think back about it.
Forced Vengeance (1982)
Another Norris film from the early 80s! Norris isn't a sheriff or a vigilante in Forced Vengeance. He's a bad-ass martial arts master who has been working as a security office for a Hong Kong casino. When the mob tries to kick down the doors and take a piece of the profits, Chuck springs into action, ala, his character on his 80's animated cartoon series, to exact some serious karate revenge. While, Norris, certainly raised the awareness of the martial arts in the United States in the 80s, and while, he is certainly one of the foremost martial artists of his time, ultimately, at the end of the day, his martial arts films didn't do as well at the box office, as his films were he played a cop or a vigilante, much in the same manner as Charles Bronson did in his Death Wish films.
Invasion USA (1985)
The masterpiece of the Chuck Norris filmography! Produced by Cannon Films, and directed by no-holds-barred action director Joseph Zito (Red Scorpion), Norris is in prime form in this good guy vs. bad guy big blow'em up 80s action classic. Shot around Atlanta, Georgia, and around Miami, Florida--the film is still talked about today by the those who witnessed it being made in those respective communities because of the destruction the production inflicted. They blew up actual houses as we seem them being hit with missiles in the film. Director Zito was a ultra realism master, often times enlisting the actual actors like Norris, Richard Lynch, and famously, on his follow-up to Invasion USA, Red Scorpion, Dolph Lundgren into risking life and limb to create some of the insane and over-the-top sequences in his work. Invasion USA is like anything John Wayne made, but, amped up on cocaine. Zito made a particular and risky brand of action film in the mid 80s, and today they're not making them like this any more. Basically, because no one wants to get sued if they blow an actors' arm off in the middle of a sequence.