Posts Tagged ‘Steve Ditko’

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:


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.

At certain point in the 90’s Full Moon Entertainment (Demonic Toys, Dollman) had the rights to make Marvel’s Doctor Strange. Remember, those were the days when Marvel movies were made by people like  Corman or even better Pyun. Anyway they had the right for Dr. Strange, but NOT for long. Marvel’s license expired before the production officially began and instead of paying for extension producer  Charles Band decided to just go ahead with it. He cleverly removed mustaches and renamed his hero Doctor Mordrid leaving everything else virtually identical to the original script (and comicbook).

Movie starts with Mordrid (legendary Jeffrey Combs) talking with space eyes, we have no idea what the hell is happening. Then it jumps to Rio de Janeiro just in time for us to witness the evil Kabal (always fun Brian Thompson) in medieval regalia with hip 90’s sunglasses.He chants some complicate gibberish but his fantastic baritone (he sounds like Schwarzenegger who miraculously lost an accent and gain acting ability) makes it sound cool. His fledgling killed  a man transporting some sort of (mystical?) goods and the chant made it disappear into another dimension (with 90’s style drawn electricity- painfully  absent in today’s films)

Doctor Mordrid_2avo_[].avi_000154988Hello Space Eyes!

And we’re back to Dr.  ̶S̶t̶r̶a̶n̶g̶e̶  Mordrid’s lair full of arcane books, mystic artifacts and TV’s for some reason? He seems disturbed from his astral projection and  easy listening music and goes out to find what’s happening. It turns out some neighbors (he lives in an apartment building?) are having argument about a dog. Police woman with big hair (who also lives there) Sam seemingly resolves things and Mordrid exchangers couple of words with her and then flashes her with his amulet and she forgets everything. Watching Mordrid’s TV collection we learn that the shipment that was stolen was platinum and that rings a bell with Dr. We also learn that his raven is appropriately named Edgar.

Mordrid uncovered magic ball and uses it to summon a gateway that takes him to the another world and… the flying fortress (and that’s all we see of that mystic world). He almost gets killed by a keeper Gunner but it turns out they are old friends. It tuns out he was blinded while the others were killed during the Kabal’s escape. Gunner still stayed weak as he is to keep others locked and by others I mean demons from the other dimension. He returns to his apartment just to find out that his neighbor police woman called the firemen. She was snooping around and saw the smoke coming from his place. He finally gives up and invites her in.

Doctor Mordrid_2avo_[].avi_001244993

In the meantime we are presented with bloodsucking, terrible pair of satanist- one of them a lady satanist who enjoys singing disco hits and dancing appropriately. She hopes to score with  Kabal but he decides to sacrifice her instead.

It’s Satan’s Dance!

Feeling particularly powerful he uses astral projection (sorry- it’s called transportation of the soul here) to taunt Mordrid. They get into a  confrontation of sorts but without some terrible ramifications but soon enough police comes to arrest Mordrid,  it turns out the symbol from his amulet is found on some dead bodies and he becomes  prime suspect. During the interrogation he tries to explain that the evil alchemist is behind both the murders and also the stolen plutonium but they kinda don’t believe him.

Doctor Mordrid_2avo_[].avi_002434056“Kabal’s intentions are worse than evil!”

Sam, the police woman drops by to check on him and he shows her the visions of his childhood. He also uses the paper napkin to hypnotize her.We see the rivalry of the Kabal and Mordred since they  were kids, and gain all we see of the other world is the flying castle- they really should have filmed something else too (it gets really old, really fast). Sam accepts to steal his amulet and help him  escape but Satanist number two shows up (with the enchantment of indestructibility)and just when you expect a ruckus nothing happens. Yeah, Satanists are just that stupid. Sam freezes time and gets Mordrid out. Mordrid does the next logical thing, he decides to falls asleep aka project his soul in the middle of the park and Sara stays to watch over him. Kabal breaks into the Metropolitan Museum and steals the philosopher’s stone who’s sole purpose is in fact being the cauldron for cooking all the alchemical stuff.

Doctor Mordrid_2avo_[].avi_003628082Today in cooking with Kabal!

Just when you though he finished cooking Mordrid (aka his soul) appears and they start the spell- war that escalates into a dinosaur skeleton vs mastodon skeleton finale. Then when you expect something really impressive to happen mastodon impales Kabal, stops the demon invasion from another dimension and everything is fine again.

Yeah, also Satanist tries to kill defenseless Mordrid but being stupid but his powers stop working and he almost gets killed. The movie ends with melancholic Sam celebrating Christmas, getting drunk with Edgar the raven… when Mordrid mysteriously shows up from the another dimension and new adventures are ready to begin! Unfortunately we won’t see them.
Verdict: Like many other Full Moon features this one also suffers from the lack of the third act, and I don’t mean like in the John Rambo (purposely extended second act), I mean more like Bakshi’s Lord of  the Ring where you can just see that they run out of budget and abruptly ended the movie without real climax or resolution.

On the plus side Jeffrey Combs’s overacting fits perfectly with the theme of this movie and his literally chewing scenery. Too bad the movie is not up to par.  I would really love to see Combs more often as a leading man (outside of Re-Animator franchise).

Trivia: For a (very) short while this movie was called Doctor Mortalis and Band even managed to bring in the legendary Marvel artist Jack Kirby to do some concept drawings. Unfortunately that didn’t continue (wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he run out of money to pay him- wouldn’t be the first time).

DoctorMOriginal Kirby sketch for Dr. Mortalis