A Force of One
Directed by: Paul Aaron
I love Chuck Norris. But when I try to put my finger on why exactly, for me I think it's more of the idea of Chuck Norris rather than his actual films. Let's face it, Chuck has made a ton of films, but how many of them are actually any good? Personally speaking, I can count 5. And if you want to dig a little deeper, the 3-year period beginning with 1983 and ending in 1986 is the cream of the crop as far as good Chuck Norris films go.
Which brings us to A Force of One, released in 1979. Notice this doesn't fall into that 3-year time frame? Yes, unfortunately as much as I wanted to enjoy this, it just didn't really do anything for me. Not a bad film in the least, it just doesn't offer anything in the way of substance. Director Paul Aaron handles the material well enough, and the film, taking place in the late 70's, oozes a cool Dirty Harry look and vibe made all the more striking by Dick Halligan's bomb awesome hard-hitting score, but not a lot actually happens, and if you go in expecting some action, or even some martial arts (as the poster and title imply), you'll be sorely disappointed.
One by one, members of an undercover police force are being killed by a martial artist. When they ask for the help of a local martial arts instructor (Chuck Norris) in teaching them self-defense techniques, he unwittingly becomes involved in a plot that's much bigger than he could have imagined.
You know, I'm not going to beat up on this film too much, because all in all, it's a well made film. It was just kind of dull and when you go in expecting to see a Chuck Norris film about a guy who's a "Force of One", pummeling baddies left and right and what you get instead is something that resembles more of a made-for-TV movie, well you just kind of end up being bummed out.
On the surface, there's a lot to admire about this film. Some of the fight editing notwithstanding, it's a good looking film with some solid camera work, a tough score backed up by some killer horns, and Chuck looking super fly to the max with some funky wardrobe, though I'm still not used to seeing him with only a mustache; I think the beard look works better for him. The supporting cast in here is actually rather impressive, with stars like Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead), Ron O'Neal (Superfly), Jennifer O'Neill (Scanners) providing strong support to an otherwise mediocre affair.
And that's the main problem with A Force of One. Everything is extremely tame and mediocre. For a film that makes you think you're going to see a lot of martial arts, there's really not much of that in here. And when there is, it's mainly Norris practicing in his dojo, or in the ring. Outside of that, there are a few small fights here and there, but nothing that gets you excited and it's all very colorless. I don't even recall any blood......ever. And as with any martial arts or action film, you come to expect some actual action, yet save for a car chase, and the aforementioned uninspired fights, there's not a whole lot of anything remotely considered an action sequence in here. Like I said before, it all has a made-for-TV feel. Actually, now that I think about it, I don't even recall any swearing! Shit, maybe this was intended as a movie-of-the-week after all?
If you're looking for a Chuck Norris fix, this one isn't going to do it for you. Until I somehow discover a lost gem that I haven't yet seen, your best bet is just to revisit Chuck at his best, which would be Lone Wolf McQuade or Invasion USA.