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  Silent Rage What The Chuck?
Year: 1982
Director: Michael Miller
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
Genre: Horror, ActionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: There's a telephone call for John Kirby (Brian Libby), it's from his doctor and he certainly needs to get some help as his psychological problems are getting on top of him. So much so that the call is no good to him, he wanders out into the yard and picks up the axe used for chopping firewood, then goes back inside to chase his landlady with it. She screams from an upstairs window to a passing postman for the police, but it's too late for her and her husband as they are both axed to death. When Sheriff Dan Stevens (Chuck Norris) arrives, Kirby is still at large...

But even though the killer ends up with a load of bullets in his chest, he doesn't die! Not because he's one of those supernatural serial murderers you got a lot of in eighties movies, but so that the mad scientists back at the hospital can revive him and implement their crazed brand of techonology on him, which has created a serum to heal the injured body of anyone in mere seconds. Wait, is this still a Chuck Norris movie? Apparently so, although he spends a surprising amount of the running time offscreen, but the karate champ does get to show off his fighting prowess a few times, rest assured.

Silent Rage was what could best be described as a muddle, unsure of whether it was a straight ahead Chuck beat 'em up, or one of those slasher movies that were so popular (and cheap to make) around the time. So not wishing to favour one over the other, the filmmakers plumped for both, with one scene of our hero applying his trademarked boot to the head in a bar full of belligerent bikers alternating with the boffins arguing over the ethics of rendering a man who has just murdered two people invincible. Ron Silver is Dr Tom, brother of Dan's ex Alison (Toni Kalem), who insists it's a bad idea, but his two colleagues are convinced of their breakthrough.

Those two, Dr Philip (Steven Keats) and Brian De Palma favourite William Finley, are so obviously off their rockers that they could have stepped straight out of a nineteen-thirties horror flick, but there were concessions to changing tastes here. Not simply the amount of Chuck combat, but also the violence which was more in line with the sort of thing you'd see in a Friday the 13th instalment, which made this a curious hybrid at best. Yet there was more, as they also threw sex into the mix when Alison decides she'd quite like to still be with Dan, leading to at least a couple of smoochy love scenes with Norris as quite the Mr Loverman (while Leela from Futurama trills a tune on the soundtrack).

Naturally, all this doesn't come off in the slightest, but it's interesting to see them try, even if it's not quite as interesting as you might hope. Whether Chuck was still finding his feet (so to speak) as what kind of movie he was meant to be making, or whether this was more an attempt to appeal to a wider audience by throwing every exploitation idea they could conceive of at the screen, isn't entirely clear. You do get comedy as well, or what's supposed to be comedy, but light relief deputy Stephen Furst offering us an anecdote of how he once put his dog in the freezer, thereby accidentally killing it frozen in mid-bark, is just as bizarre as you might expect. It all climaxes with Chuck going mano a mano against the rampaging killer, who has made quick work of just about everyone else in the cast, only not as exciting as that sounds. Norris did make other borderline movies, but this was the oddest. "Music" by Peter Bernstein and Mark Goldberg.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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