Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Norris’

Despite the fact that he doesn’t age like other human beings Chuck Norris just turned 82 (yeah, can’t believe it myself) and we felt the need to commemorate the occasion with an appropriate top list!

And as you can expect from the WM Crew we will concentrate on one for the most neglected, forgotten and outright ignored part of his illustrious career. That’s, you guessed it- Chuck Norris‘s very own animated cartoon series- Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos (1986)!

Produced during the height of Saturday morning cartoons and with Norris hitting his Cannon stride (with Invasion U.S.A. & The Delta Force) it was seemingly a perfect match. 5 episode mini-season was animated by the veterans Ruby- Spears ( Scooby-Do, Thundarr The Barbarian and my favorite Rambo: The Freedom Force ).

It stars Chuck Norris as (of course) Chuck Norris, a government agent who works with a team of operatives which consist of Pepper (tech support), Reed (her brother), Kimo ( a samurai), Tabe ( sumo wrestler) and (a tagalong kid) Too Much. Spoiler, he really is too much.

As you can see at least two members of the team are entirely disposable .

They fight the evil forces of VULTURE led by the genuinely cool bad guy- The Claw and his henchman , ruthless Super Ninja.

Now that you’re up to speed , without further ado we present you this ultimate list in the descending order:

05. TERROR TRAIN

Chuck and the Kommandos are tasked with protecting a robot laser while its being transported and naturally the Claw wants a peace of that. Super Ninja ends up planting an explosive device on the train and Chuck must act quickly to save both the laser and the unsuspecting civilians. Unfortunately the train proves surprisingly easy to get on and off from and the episode ends up loosing all the momentum because of it. It ends up being like a cartoon version of the Steven Seagal’s Under Seige 2: Dark Country just much, much worse. If you want to start watching Karate Kommandos don’t start with this one.

04. ISLAND OF THE WALKING DEAD

The Claw is (again) attempting to to gain control of the whole country by bringing down the US satelite (with the plan to reprogram it and use it to control military bases). Unexpectedly satellite ends up in a Voodoo Island (of all places) and Chuck and co. must faces and evil Witchdoctor and his army of the Walking Dead to get to it. Now the premise is kinda fun but of course the team gets easily captured and Chuck basically must do everything himself. The only thing stopping him is a Chuck Norris voodoo doll the Witchdoctor produces (they should have sold that as a toy too) but not even magic can defeat Karate and Chuck Norris manages to save the day, and blow up a volcano destroying all the evil creatures on the island. They were all dead anyway, at least most of them.

03. DEADLY DOLPHINS

Chuck Norris and his comrades are helping a scientist named Dr. Sanford test experimental equipment that would enable people to breathe underwater by (somehow) converting water into oxygen. The Claw sends Super-Ninja and also a female VULTURE operative named Angelfish (great design with a classic Femme Fatale hair across the eye) to kidnap Dr. Sanford and break into Sealab. It’s up to Norris’ team to defend them both.

02. TARGET: CHUCK NORRIS

Second best and coincidentally also the second episode in the order of release. Target: Chuck Norris has our favorite recurring villain- the Imposter! As the name states he is master of disguise yet he’s always recognizable by his thick New York accent! As you might imagine, that can pose a bit of a problem.

Hired by CLAW after unsuccessful bid to steal a computer chip that would gain him control over NATO’s defenses. Impostor sets up a couple of traps first, a ludicrous ambush on a gas station and then on a fancy dinner (I especially like his bartender disguise).

Greatest spin- kick of all time!

Things don’t quite work out and Chuck Norris survives but Super-Ninja gets away with Chuck’s irritating kid sidekick Too-Much. The only logical follow up is Chuck leading the pursuit in a plane that he just randomly took from some man (only thing he had to do was say- “I am Chuck Norris” and there was no resistance).

Of course the plan devolves into Super- Ninja kidnapping Too Much and Chuck Norris Of course it all ends with an Impostor almost getting away dressed as a Grandma. No, I’m not making
this up!

01. MENACE FROM SPACE

The ultimate episode because Chuck not only fights alligators (and defeats one of them by simply stashing him up in a closet) but he ends up fighting Super-Ninja on a Space Station in almost 0 gravity.

Unfortunately devious Ninja finds a way to escape but still, you’ll never find those elements together again (unless someone decides to make Alligators in Space film). I can watch this one over and over again.

Honorable mention: Chuck Norris’s sage (live-action) life advice. Often it has nothing to do with just happened in the episode, even though he does give it his all.

I mean you can’t help but be motivated.

Verdict: If you like 80s craziness (and I would say a lot of people do these days) than this is a show for you. It’s so ridiculous and over the top that Adult Swim would wish they thought of it first (and they did run reruns of it). Voice acting is perfect and the fact that Chuck Norris isn’t really capable of showing emotions is perfectly balanced with Keone Young as Super Ninja who’s at times so over the top he would make Nicolas Cage jealous.

The only things that’s a bit baffling to me is the fact that for a show that puts action first- Martial Art scenes are pretty clunky. And that could have been easily solved- if you look at even older productions like He-Man , they used rotoscoping for a few key action scenes and they would just re- use it over and over again. If you watched any of Chuck Norris’s films he basically uses couple of combination over and over again (like 1-2- backfist or 1-2 and a spin- kick) and that would be so easy to animate.

On the other hand the real selling point of any cartoon is Action Figures! And boy- we got some awesome ones:

Tell me you didn’t want these as kid, I dare you!

Trivia: Besides these super- awesome toys (any funds donated to the WM page may be appropriated to buy some off eBay) we also got Karate Kommandos in comics. Marvel’s kid label Star Comics produced a short 4 issue run of Karate Kommandos and shockingly they didn’t get some random no- name artist to do the job- nope, they got freaking co- creator of Spider-Man and Dr. StrangeSteve Ditko himself! How that happened I’ll never understand.

Then why did we never get more than 5? Here’s what Chuck had to say: “We only did 5 then the woman in CBS said these are too violent. I said what do you mean they are too violent, do you see what’s on TV now? This is good guys versus bad guys. She said yeah, but you’re a real person, so it’s too violent”.

I can’t believe we missed out on more Karate Kommandos just because Chuck Norris is a real person. This never happened to Santa!

Now with HBO Max in full swing and WB producing a lot more animation, maybe we could finally get that second season? We only waited 35 years for it.

Movie starts with a trio of (ethnically diverse) fighters that are demonstrating their deadly abilities. After an OK from a stern looking Madam Lee (Mari Honjo) they are taken to a darkened room where they are injected with some sort of a super- serum.

Ron Marchini, Michael Chong & Joshua Johnson

They get going right away, disposing off criminals left and right, first by ramming a tractor in a phone booth, then continuing with a car into the Italian restaurant and then big finale- attacking a Karate school (that’s a front for a drug dealing operation I believe).

Unfortunately they are all yellow belts.

’cause Death Machines are many things but Ninjas they aren’t. Silent and deadly approach just doesn’t work for them. They get in with as big BANG as they can. It would be a fair fight but I guess most of the Karate students are beginners so Machines start beating them like rented mules.

Madame uses their killing spree (and a basket with a decapitated head) to convince the main Mobster Mr. Gioretti (Chuck Katzakian) that they are only game in town if you need someone offed.

Things get complicated when it turns out that the blonde dude from the Karate Dojo Frank survived and they send the White Machine (Ron Marchini) to silence him. He ends up in the police custody but the concerned detective uncuffes him and whole hell gets loose!

Damn, there goes the police station!

After a hard days work Marchini goes to a restaurant to get a hamburger but ends up in the fight with some idiotic bikers. When we think that he finally has no more energy to keep fighting the rest of the Machines show up and clean up the place.

In the meantime Frank Thomas (John Lowe) goes back to the dojo where he got his hand cut off. Now if this was a Hong Kong flick he would dedicate himself to training and become stronger than ever. Hell, maybe he would be punching his opponents with a cool metal fist! No such luck here.

He is just super depressed and the only person who seems to care is his nurse who might be nice or just a stalker (jury still out on that). One of the most entertaining scenes is our hero Thomas taking his nurse to the seedy bar where he works. And I mean seedy enough that it has a stripper that dances next to the jukebox, every time the music plays.

An old drunk man punches out the owner, than the bartender and then demolishes the whole place (with a little help from a local biker dude) and then I guess goes somewhere else to continue his complete rampage. And no one can stop him!

I want a spin-off movie of this dude!

Beaten and even more depressed Thomas decides to leave town (with his nurse ofc) but they actually ran into Machine’s car- he writes down the license plate, sends the nurse to call the police and goes after them.

Madam Lee decides that Machines have become a liability and they need to die but that’s easier said than done. Thomas follows the car to her mansion and almost gets his head chopped off with a katana by Lee- but police arrives just in time to save him.

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And Death Machines- they just got away with everything- they a re last seen at the airport. Remember kids if you’re bad-ass enough police won’t ever catch you.

Verdict: This movie defies the norms by not actually having a main character. It’s actually very hard to classify Frank Thomas (John Lowe), as a protagonist. I mean he is a Karate yellow belt with a dead- end job and gets destroyed by everyone in every fight, from the titular “Death Machines” that’s to be expected, but by an old man an a woman too. That’s a bit too much. His only win was that he got and he successfully tipped off police.

Also we never find out what happened to the mysterious bearded figure that actually provided the super- serum for those killers. PS Jon T. Benn from The Way of the Dragon would have been a great choice.

The distributor bizarrely decided to present this as a SF movie (like Martial Arts weren’t a thing in the 70’s) which couldn’t be further from the truth-but hey I do like the poster with the evil tower buildings showing their teeth.


Trivia: Marchini was a well known name in the Karate circles in the 60’s and interestingly Chuck Norris earned his first martial arts tournament victory by defeating Marchini in the finals by a half a point. Marchini would go out to have a movie career for decades being lead in movies such as Karate Cop, Omega Cop and generally any movie that has Cop in it. Also some with Ninja in it too.