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HERO AND THE TERROR

This 1988 Chuck Norris vehicle, released at the nadir of his stardom, represents one of Chuck’s rare attempts at real acting. This makes for a dull affair with little in the way of suspense, and even less of the type of ass-kicking acrobatics that, as this film amply demonstrates, were the sole reason for Norris’s stardom.

The Package
     The basis of this film was a 1982 novel by the late actor-turned-writer Michael Blodgett. Although Blodgett is credited with co-writing the script, very little of the text made its way into the film.
     HERO AND THE TERROR was released by the late Cannon Group, whose downward spiral had already begun in 1988. This explains the cut-rate nature of the production--although in truth most all Cannon movies were cut-rate--and its extremely perfunctory theatrical release.

The Story
     Detective Danny O’Brien is a determined LA cop who dotes on his pregnant wife. Despite his contented existence, O’Brien is haunted by an encounter with a maniac named Simon Moon that occurred three years earlier. Moon, we learn, killed several women before O’Brien took him down. But then Moon escapes from the nuthouse where he’s been interred and takes up residence in the air ducts of the newly renovated Wiltern Theater. There Moon resumes his reign of terror, murdering the daughter of a prominent minister in the ladies’ room and then offing a famous actress during a movie premiere.
     LA’s mayor puts pressure on O’Brien to track down the killer. O’Brien responds by having an off-duty cop stay in the theater overnight, but the cop is killed by Moon--just as O’Brien’s wife is giving birth! Pissed, O’Brien becomes more determined than ever to catch Simon Moon, and turns up at the theater himself for a final showdown.

The Direction
     You can tell Chuck Norris took his acting seriously in this film by the relative dearth of fight scenes. What little action we get, furthermore, is short and perfunctory (a stationary Chuck knocking a guy over with an outstretched arm, a none-too-disguised dummy falling through the roof of a movie theater). As for shock or suspense, forget it: the film is a dull slog regardless of the urgent music with which director William Tannen fills the soundtrack. Not even the imposing Jack O’Halloran, a former heavyweight boxing contender who played “Non” in the first two SUPERMAN movies, makes much of an impression as the antagonist, seeing as how all he’s really called upon to do is stand around and glower.
     This leaves us with the film’s raison d’ętre, Chuck Norris’ “acting.” In truth Chuck’s emoting is about on par with that of other eighties action stars like Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger: minimal to the point of catatonia. Nor do the lame attempts at humor--Chuck collapsing in a maternity ward, etc.--work at all well. In short, this movie sucks, pure and simple.
 

Vital Statistics

HERO AND THE TERROR
Cannon Films

Director: William Tannen
Producer: Raymond Wagner
Screenplay: Michael Blodgett, Dennis Shryack
(Based on a novel by Michael Blodgett)
Cinematography: Eric Van Haren Noman
Editing: Christian Wagner
Cast: Chuck Norris, Bryyn Thayer, Steve James, Jack O’Halloran, Jeffrey Kramer, Ron O’Neal, Murphy Dunner, Heather Blodgett, Tony DiBenedetto, Billy Drago, Joe Guzaldo, Peter Miller
 

     

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