Short Attention Span Review: Forced Vengeance (1982)
Forced Vengeance is a typical American kung-fu flick for its era, and as such, it is both amateurish in many ways and entertaining enough to warrant a viewing. The chief asset here is Chuck Norris, of course, and he plays a surprisingly hard-edged character. Also atypical for his work is the sex and extreme violence depicted herein, to include some gore to go along with all of the star's blazing kicks. I think this works in the film's favor, as the role of a casino enforcer wouldn't have worked with one of the actor's trademark "really nice guy who can kick a lot of ass" performances. Unfortunately, it is a bit mean-spirited and (even worse) decidedly misogynistic. That certainly takes a lot of the pleasure out of an action flick that never aspires to be anything more than a guilty pleasure. Bummer, dude. Oh, and lest I forget, the narration (courtesy of Chuck) is both totally unnecessary and 100% lifeless. It's like he's reading this shit for the first time, and the content consists of needless exposition (this is not a difficult film to follow) and woeful attempts at some poor writer's idea of kung fu noir. Take this nugget that serves to wrap things up: "Hong Kong. A borrowed place that lives on borrowed time. The British run it now. But in seventeen years, the lease runs out. And the People's Republic is the landlord. But this is a city of survivors. And whatever happens, Hong King will always be the place." Cue credits. Seriously. On the plus side, the choreography is above average (maybe second only to The Octagon* where Chuck's filmography is concerned), and Norris squares off against some decent opposition along the way. Michael Cavanaugh's Stan Raimondi is a surprisingly difficult foe to dispatch, and he's one of many villains who put up a decent fight. There are also some nifty touches from director James Fargo, with one battle displayed as a vibrant war of silhouettes that shows more artistry than one would expect from such a picture. All in all, this is a bit of mindless fun that would rank much higher and serve up a better viewing experience with a little more respect for the ladies and an absence of clumsy narration. Even with those considerable blemishes to take into account, Forced Vengeance is one of Chuck's better movies. It's not Top 5 material, but do keep in mind that while I love Chuck and I enjoy his work, he didn't make a lot of good movies.
*I've said this before, and I'll say it again: the closing reel wherein Chuck Norris tackles the ninja compound at the center of The Octagon is his best work as a leading man*, and that setpiece is kung fu flick royalty. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is a real drag, and despite those awesome fireworks by way of fisticuffs, the picture as a whole is a stinker.
**His work as Bruce Lee's nemesis in Return of the Dragon is his greatest accomplishment in the movies, and his climactic showdown with Bruce therein is one of the best duels ever in the history of martial arts cinema.
Final Grade: C+
|See that guy with the rifle?|
1) He is obviously one hell of a sentry.
2) He is about to get the shit beat out of him.