Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #261
Number of Views: Two
Release Date: April 2, 1982
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 103 minutes
Director: Michael Miller
Producer: Anthony B Unger
Screenplay: Joseph Fraley
Special Effects: Jack Bennett
Cinematography: Robert Jessup, Neil Roach
Score: Peter Bernstein, Mark Goldenberg
Editing: Richard C Meyer
Studios: Columbia Pictures Corporation, Topkick Productions
Distributors: GoodTimes Home Video, Columbia TriStar Home Video
Stars: Chuck Norris, Ron Silver, Steven Keats, Toni Kalem, William Finley, Brian Libby, Stephen Furst, Stephanie Dunnam, Joyce Ingle, Jay De Plano, Lillette Zoe Raley, Mike Johnson, Linda Tatum, Kathleen Lee, Desmond Dhooge
Suggested Audio Candy
Peter Bernstein & Mark Goldenberg “Silent Rage”
“Science created him, now Chuck Norris must destroy him”
I may be about to ruffle a few feathers so apologies in advance for desecrating on your childhood hero. You see, I really don’t get what all the fuss is about with regards to Chuck Norris. I get that he can scrap and would have no desire to spend three minutes in a dojo with Chuck while he performs multiple chop suey on my ass. But he has all the charisma of a paralyzed mime artist, although admittedly that’s part of the reason folk took him to their hearts in the first place. He was utilized best to his strengths when playing the strong silent type with the least lines recited generally the better.
Norris shot to fame playing Colt in The Way of the Dragon in 1972. After trading blows with the master he found his niche and a slew of thrillers ensued. Good Guys Wear a Black, The Octagon, A Force of One and An Eye for An Eye all played to his strengths and Silent Rage was sandwiched between these and more mainstream theatrical outings. By the time Delta Force, Invasion USA and Missing in Action surfaced he had made his name and established himself as one of the eighties’ most prolific action heroes. He earned his stripes I suppose but it was all a little too kitsch for my liking. Silent Rage seems like a fitting title for his only foray into slasher.
In truth, Michael Miller’s film better fits the genre spearheaded by superior films such as Charles Bronson’s 10 To Midnight and Clint Eastwood’s Sudden Impact. The difference is that both the aforementioned got by on more than charm whereas Chuck relied solely on his ability to loosen gussets just by cocking an eyebrow or flexing his pectorals. He was a hit with the ladies for sure and his glossy well-maintained mane and finely groomed ‘tache drove them to the verge of cumming effortlessly. A mustache on the eighties was like a statement of intent, ask Tom Atkins, he bedded Jamie Lee Curtis after ten minutes of shuffling his wondrous facial badger.
Silent Rage tells the story of ordinary man turned psychopathic killer John Kirby (Brain Libby) who, shortly after slaughtering his wife in cold blood and being shot dead by police, becomes the test subject for a team of dastardly doctors on the verge of a medical breakthrough. They are on the cusp of granting immortality and have happened upon a reanimation agent which causes dead cells to regenerate. What better way in which to put their tonic to the acid test than to inject it into a relentless killing machine. Seems like a no-brainer right? You can’t expect to bake a cake without breaking a few rotten eggs after all.
While Frankenstein’s monster is being reawakened from his temporary slumber, Chuck is busy catching up with old flames. With a name like Dan Stevens, the Sheriff needs a way of standing out from the crowd and that’s where the ‘tache comes into play. A couple of twitches from his sub-nasal growler and Alison has forgotten all about being previously and unceremoniously jilted. She knows the deal; Chuck ’em, fuck ’em and then chuck ’em. He may be a man of few words but Dan is clearly packing a trumpet. No sooner has he removed his shirt than his prey is rendered powerless to his advances once more. They call it the power of Norris. I would hedge a bet that Rohypnol played a part.
Throw in a dimwitted deputy named Charlie and suddenly Chuck appears the great thespian. He does what Chuck Norris does best, masticate all surrounding scenery and break into sporadic kung fu just to serve as reminder that he could kick every last one of our sorry asses. Thankfully, the late Ron Silver (The Entity) is on hand to assist in moving the story on until which point as he is considered surplus to requirements and throttled by our nonchalant killer.
“He’s an indestructible man fused with powers beyond comprehension. An unstoppable terror who in one final showdown, will push Chuck Norris to his limits. And beyond”
The film starts with a flurry, ends with another and fills the gaps with as much slow-burning tension as it can muster. Kirby is actually rather ominous in appearance and lurks in the shadows with meaning. Unfortunately, for one in possession of superhuman ability, he is no Michael Myers. Ultimately he seems already aware that will succumb to being Chuck’s dummy bag in a woefully tame final showdown. Nevertheless, Libby definitely has his moments.
Silent Rage struggles with its identity. By no means a slasher, it still takes its cues from films such as Halloween but doesn’t really hold any great clue as to how to implement them. It is from another time and that alone guarantees fun to be had. Corny dialogue and stilted delivery only serve to heighten the enjoyment and, if Chuck Norris blows your whistle, then you won’t be complaining. You could try but the ‘tache is only ever one wiggle away from winning you over.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 6/10
Grue Factor: 1/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Kirby’s path of distraction is mostly hinted on and little discernible grue is on exhibit. It is an understandable decision as this is no place for hard-line gore and flaying intestines. Quick, roll out the mammaries. Thankfully, Toni Kalem is on hand to pop out her pink pretties to make the obligatory lurve-making montage slightly less teeth grittingly awful.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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