80's Action Attack!: Lone Wolf McQuade
Directed by: Steve Carver
I grew up on a serious dose of Chuck Norris as a kid in the 80's. He was always my favorite of the mid 80's action hero's, next to Schwarzenegger, and I had always considered this my favorite of his films. But then I revisited Invasion U.S.A. a while back and that immediately shot up to the top of that list, knocking this film off until a proper revisit to see which can hold that mantle. That time is now, so let's dig in.
One of the first things I noticed immediately that I hadn't before was that director Steve Carver shoots this like a spaghetti western, and no sequence is more representative of this than the opening. It's nearly mind blowing how much this looks and plays out like one, complete with an incredible score by Francesco De Masi, eerily reminiscent of Ennio Morricone. I'm telling you, you'll be humming it for days. And it's this fantastic opening that really grabbed me, easily making it one of the best openings to a film I've ever seen.
While the rest of the film doesn't stick to this clever and fantastic opening sequence, it does do a decent job of trying to, while also delivering a solid 80's action film. I don't think they could have made it look like an old Italian western for the whole thing, mainly because of the fact that it can't help that it's set in 1983. So for the most part, it looks and feels like a mid 80's action film set in Texas. Meaning, there's lots of dirt, cactus, sweat, sun, and beer. I should know, I live in Texas.
Lone Wolf McQuade is awesome, and easily one of Norris' best films ever. It also helps that it's practically tailor made to suite his very specific acting chops. McQuade is pretty stone cold for most of the film, delivering his lines without an air of character or depth, which suits the character to a "T". Unemotional, even when it comes to a high class woman who literally throws herself at him, and uncaring in the same breath. Norris doesn't even have to try here. He's playing the character as if it's his life.
Lone Wolf McQuade is about as entertaining as they come. The film never slows down to ponder anything, other than when is the next ass whooping going to take place. And it was really refreshing to see Norris use his martial arts skills quite frequently in here when I'm so used to seeing him rarely ever use it. It sounds strange but it's true. He may throw in a kick from time to time, but he hardly ever uses his martial arts skills in any of his films. So that was a bit refreshing. And it's also helpful that director Steve Carver does an excellent job behind the camera, giving the film every bit of grit and style it richly deserves, easily making it one of the better looking films from this genre and this time period.
Of course being that this was the 80's, the decade of excess, even a low-key film like this can't get by without offering at least one single moment of ridiculous cheesy awesome. And in Lone Wolf McQuade, even though the entire film plays it straight, that scene is hands down one of the best in the entire film. I'm talking about the "buried underground with his bronco" scene. If you've seen the film, then you know what I'm talking about. It's quite simply the best scene in the film, but also the most ridiculous, which makes it all the more awesome.
And then there's the one and only David Carradine as the villain. Carradine is such a badass in here, and what makes it interesting and amusing is the fact that he's a fairly normal looking guy. and about average size too, so he's not physically imposing or anything, which surprises you that he can come off as that simply from his attitude and charisma. Like, he acts like he can walk into a room and kick every ass in it, and that's what makes him so memorable, even in his older age. Also, kicking ass in a pastel colored sweater and slacks also works. Or maybe it's just Carradine who can pull that off?