Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: A Force of One

The idea of me commenting on a Chuck Norris film is something mind-boggling, but when I found a vintage Norris film A Force of One on VHS for 10 cents, I just couldn't resist buying it. But the fact remains: every time I've tried to watch a Norris film, I've found them to be boring as hell. But I noticed this was scripted by Ernest Tidyman, who wrote the original novel and the script for Shaft. Well, that may not be a recommendation to all - it's not necessarily to me, since I've never much cared for Shaft. (And the other films scripted by Tidyman - The French Connection and High Plains Drifter - have always been a bit overrated to me.)

Okay, beginning to sound like I shouldn't be writing this entry, but A Force of One actually is a somewhat interesting film, with themes of betrayal and parenthood (Norris is a father to a black kid!). It's more interesting during the first thirty minutes, when it resembles a realistic cop film, with the drug stake-outs, tough cop dialogue, relationships between cops and such, but then it gets only weird and pretty stupid, when the cops are being taught karate - to fight the bad guy, who kills cops with kung fu (or some such). I lost interest and started to leaf through some old magazines I'd gotten hold of and the film rolled on. I don't actually know what happened in the end. Someone died and Chuck Norris had a love affair with another cop.

I started to watch another old VHS cassette, Mel Brooks's 12 Chairs. I'm not sure if even that's an overlooked film being largely unfunny. (But probably the only US film made from a Soviet novel. Any other contenders? The original Twelve Chairs was written by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeni Petrov.)

More overlooked films over here.


C. Margery Kempe said...

"I don't actually know what happened in the end. Someone died and Chuck Norris had a love affair with another cop."

Best review ever!

LOL, I have never sat through a Norris film either. But it's where I finally figured out why women were swooning over Frank Langella on Broadway when he was doing Dracula. It's mildly funny and I like the theme song, which I sing under my breath often.

Todd Mason said...

Actually, one of my older "forgotten" films was IT'S IN THE BAG, a (very loose) 1940s adaptation of THE TWELVE CHAIRS starring radio comedy hero Fred Allen (with Jack Benny and Robert Benchley in the supporting cast). I like IN THE BAG better...

Todd Mason said...

Ha...I see the WIKIPEDIA entry mentions this, as well...

Juri said...

Langella is a player in the Mel Brooks film, too, but he sure doesn't look like a young Russian man living in the early twenties in the Soviet Union.

Yeah, Todd, I noticed too that there have been many other adaptations of the original novel. Wonder if the Soviet renderings ever reached your shores? I remember vaguely the late seventies TV series from the novel. (And I've read the book, too. Suffers from the old translation.)

And thanks, Kate, just when I was beginning to think I've got no future as a film critic.

Todd Mason said...

We sporadically got Russian/Soviet years during the CCCP's run...usually the artier end, or the footage pillaged for sf films and historical epics.

And, indeed, the fact that the film compelled your lack of interest is telling...WALKER, TEXAS RANGER, Norris's most iconic non-Bruce Lee-film role, compels attention through its punctuation of utter inanity with utter lunacy.

Todd Mason said...

I suspect one or another Russian THE TWELVE CHAIRS got a run here, to actually answer your question, however limited.

Juri said...

Must've been the canonical Leonid Gaidai version from 1971. I don't think there ever was an earlier one, since the original novel might've earlier been labeled subversive.

It's worthy of note that Andrei Tarkovsky's films got better distribution in the foreign countries than in the Soviet Union, where the officials tried to hide them in small cinemas outside big cities.

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