"Essential viewing for all Martial Arts Fans!
Video Superstar Chuck Norris (Walker, Texas Ranger) stars as the tough, street fighting sheriff of a small town terrorised by a psychotic killer. Norris is faced with the dilemma of stopping a superhuman killing-machine, made virtually indestructible through a brilliant feat of genetic engineering.
Norris uses every karate kick in 'the book' as he routs, single-handed, a gang of brutal bikers. He also reveals a cool and sexy side as he turns on his old girlfriend, Alison Halman (Toni Kalem).
Excitement, action and lethal doses of chop socky prevail as Chuck Norris shows who's 'boss'!"
Justin: Woo-hoo! A martial arts slasher flick. Now who would have thought it?
And, not just any martial arts, slasher flick but one starring that hoary old early 80's video star, Chuck Norris - the Steven Segall of his day - up against a gurning, hideously insane unkillable monster! Think - and I know this is a hard one to swallow - ENTER THE DRAGON crossed with HALLOWEEN.
I must admit that, when I first came across the region 2 DVD (not literally you understand) I was hesitant to buy it. I mean - a Chuck Norris movie? I like my cheese, sure - but martial arts flicks had never been my bag; I had these visions of 'ol Chuck kickboxing some shape wannabe into submission. Actually, after I thought about it, this was the selling point - it sounded, on reflection, like cheese heaven - this and the fact it was made in 1982; let's face it, no early 80's slasher stone goes unturned at - no matter what kind of mess lies beneath.
SILENT RAGE starts off, curiously enough, with one foot in faux-reality: A man, lying in bed under a stained glass window, is awoken by the shrill sounds of the phone ringing, children squawking and their Mother screaming at them to get out from under her feet. The man, John Kirby - clearly agitated - phones his psychiatrist and tells him that he doesn't think he can hold it together much longer, before calmly putting the phone down, walking through the house into the garden and picking up an axe. After a brief bit of chicken worrying (why?) he finally flips and takes out the Mother and her husband with a choppity-chop of the axe (looking cut in the version I saw) - but not before the woman manages to alert a postman. The cops show up - spearheaded by Sheriff Dan Stevens (Chuck Norris) and his butterball deputy, Charlie (Stephen Furst) - and, after the inevitable chop-socky encounter, the killer is blasted with enough firepower to kill a horse ...
As luck would have it the dying man is transported to the nearest medical facility, for emergency surgery, which not only happens to be the work place of his psychiatrist, Dr. Tom Halman (Ron Silver), but also, according to an enthusiastic doctor, a place where " ... we do research on genetic engineering, or something like that." Despite the dying man's psychiatrist protesting that " ... you can't use the Modjon 35 on a human being!" his colleagues, with requisite 1930's mad scientist glasses, ignore his ethical ramblings and deign to play God. To nobody's surprise - certainly not mine - Kirby starts to make a remarkable recovery, displaying a " ... natural healing process accelerated - it's almost immediate!", which manifests itself when Kirby's body recovers in seconds from inflicted scalpel wounds.
Give a psychotic killer invincibility and it don't take a genius to guess what happens next. Let the stalking begin!
As far as coincidences go the scriptwriter of SILENT RAGE wallows in an abundance of riches - not only do we have to stomach a medical facility which houses a mental health unit and a genetics lab, but also the fact that, working there, is Norris' character's old girlfriend, who also happens to be Kirby's psychiatrist's sister, who is also the deputy's transsexual twin (OK, I made that last bit up.)
This being a Chuck Norris movie, and all, it sells itself as a martial arts film first and foremost. Norris gets to strut his stuff in, apart from the obligatory high kicking finale, when he takes on bar room full of bandanna wearing bikers - including one feisty lady, with jiggling tattooed breasts, who uses her assets to divert the droopy deputy (who, by-the-way played 'Junior' in the previous year's THE UNSEEN). Actually, talking about this character, his finest five minutes come during one of the most bizarre pieces of time padding I've ever seen - anybody who's been privy to the 'puppy in the freezer' story will surely be able to sympathise with me.
SILENT RAGE is nothing if not cheesy. Overall it's pretty good fun - especially with a few beers - but I suspect that it has its toes in too many genres to really satisfy any hard-core fans. It has the benefit of being a true exploitation film (lots of breasts, but curiously not a great deal of gore) from a major studio (Columbia), made by Michael Miller (who also made the slasher spoof NATIONAL LAMPOON'S CLASS REUNION the same year) so it's cheap, but has that certain sheen. The stalking action - whilst wildly aping both HALLOWEEN and HALLOWEEN II is obviously nowhere near as effective as that in those films, but does have its moments. The killer is suitably Myers-esque, robotically chasing his prey and getting up, stubbornly, time and time again. I must admit, though, I couldn't suppress a fit of giggles when, trying to be menacing, it looked like he was going to break out into a fit of impromptu mime theatre. A killer Marcell Marceau - now that would have been different!
Joseph: Goofy fun, as Justin so eloquently put it, I agree. SILENT RAGE may not succeed in becoming a true genre (or multiple genre) classic, but it does work, on that cheesy and silly level. My fondest memories of the movie were from childhood, getting a bit jumpy when John Kirby would stalk the halls of the research lab in that 'don't-go-there' silvery jumper he wore, acting like Michael Myers on some sort of half-arsed ecstasy. Brian Libby, who played Kirby, actually does a good job, as the script only calls for him to be a scary stalker. Now, I know it's hard to fathom the heebie-jeebies inside you when the killer, like Justin said, acts like a psychotic mime, but on that level it reaches an absurdism that makes it a little disturbing.
Chuck Norris is... Well, Chuck Norris. Let's face it, as far as career decisions and acting chops go, he's not one to win an Academy Award. Not now. Not never. As the hero of the picture, though, he does alright, with the screenwriter aware of his thespian abilities, leaving him without many lines and only kickboxing frenzy! There's a silly romantic subplot between him and his ex that could have been removed for more stalking action, but what're you gonna do? While Chuck ain't pounding em' at a local bar or wooing his fair damsel, he spends most of the movie in the sheriff's car with his deputy, the tubby but sympathetic Charlie, who has em' whimpering after he tells a tale of a little puppy he once had. Awww, a sugary sweet slasher movie? Could it be? And he gets the best moment in the entire movie when, told to go call for backup during a bar fight, he instead gets mooshy over the CB radio about a girly biker's bouncy breasts, where he prattles on about being in love until eventually someone comes flying out the bar window.
Like I said before, SILENT RAGE is silly at best, but on that level it's a load of fun. While at times, depending on what sub-genre you prefer (and if you're reading this at the one and only , chances are your preferred choice don't involve fists of fury!), you may be wishing for one over the other, and on that level, SILENT RAGE becomes a bit distracting, but not enough to make you want to turn the TV off, no, the rest of the movie is fun enough where you won't really care.
As far as it's HALLOWEEN antics are concerned, well, it's no secret which film is better. SILENT RAGE tries it's chop socky hand at mimicking what went down when ol' Myers returned to town, and it works, in a cheap jack way, what with Kirby's indestructible being putting a beating on anyone who dares get in his way, Chuck Norris frantically trying to keep people out of his way, Kirby returning to the lab to bitch slap the doctors who royally fucked him up, and a duel between Kirby and Norris that looks like it belongs in a Bruce Lee movie, with a big, big hole in the ground we know one of them might just end up falling into... I'll leave it to you to find out which one does. All this culminates in a silly final jolt that will leave you screaming "sequel", if not hurling your empties at the screen. But hey, it's all in good fun!
...now Justin, where are we on that Marcell Marceau slasher movie? Do we have
a script yet?
female:2 / male:8
1) Male hacked with axe
2) Femake hacked with axe
3) Male found killed (method unseen)
4) Female has neck snapped
5) Male injected with sulphuric acid into neck
6) Male has neck broken
7) Male bearhugged to death
8) Male banged against wall repeatedly
9) Male killed (method unseen)
10) Male found with cracked skull