Director: J. Lee Thompson

Director: Wei Lo (as William Low)

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Firewalker With help from Silvia Gutierrez (intrepid Indian-maiden trail-guide) & a treasure map, Melody Anderson, Chuck Norris & Louis Gosset Jr find an Aztec/Mayan/Egyptian/ Apache/Conquistadore God-knows-what silly-ass treasure in Guatemala, in the action cheapie Firewalker (1986).

Racistly portrayed half-clad spear-tossing Mayans or maybe they're Aztecs try to keep their stuff from being swiped; plus there's some faux Apache hooey tossed in.

This movie is so bad even the villain's eyepatch changes sides, & the treasure horde (as Roger Ebert pointed out) included painted tupperware.

The film does have some intentional comedy in it, striving as it does to imitate Indiana Jones movies. But it's hard to know for sure how much of the ineptitude is because someone thought it'd at least be funny even if it wasn't any good, or if it was mainly because they had such a small budget & smaller talent.

This is as innocuous as most of Chuck Norris's safe-for-kiddies action films (as long as you consider moments of racism & general stupidity as great for children), but not otherwise up to his usual low standards.

Slaughter You'd think Chuck would want to disown a a film as bad as Firewalker, but the only film I ever heard him say out loud that he regretted was Slaughter in San Francisco; aka, Karate Cop (Huang mian lao hu, 1974). To Chuck's everlasting regret, the owners of this dog re-issued it after his rising star, with the new title Chuck Norris vs. Karate Cop.

Chuck takes seriously his "responsibility" to be a heroic figure that children can admire without being encouraged to play-act bad things while emulating him. He was new to "acting" if you can call it that & took what crumbs came his way in the beginning, afterward criticizing himself for stooping to play the cigar-chomping villain Chuck Slaughter aka "the boss" in the Hong Kong actioner filmed in San Francisco.

He doesn't even get to dub his own voice, so sounds a little bit like Mickey Mouse after picking up a bit of an accent during a vacation in Liverpool. That voice dubbing might be more embarrassing for Chuck than playing a psycho killer whose enormous roundhouse kicks look rather clunky next to Chinese stuntmen who may not be world champs like Chuck became but know a hell of a lot more about how to make it look good to the camera.

Karate CopDon Wong aka Wong Dao never starred in a good film during his fifteen years of trashy filmmaking. In this one he has the clever character name Officer Don Wong, fobbed off unbelievably as a San Francisco cop on the Chinatown beat. He's destined for karate combat with the Yellow Faced Tiger, Chuckles. Oh, & this is a version of San Francisco that exists in Magic Land, where everyone, Chinese, Black, or Caucasian, speak with phony British accents.

Fact is, this film is so damned inept & terrible that it's fun to watch, not least because it so thoroughly gives Chuck good cause for his embarrassment. As a villain he can't even successfully rape a Chinese girl (Sylvia Chang). Although, if you really watch it as a Norris fan, prepare for the disappointment that he's got very little real screentime.

One might wonder how even a B action film could be this awful, but fact is, it was made in the wake of a passing popularity for dubbed Chinese actioners shown in American drive-ins &mp inner city action-circuit grindhouse cinemas. With American small-time producers' money, Hong Kong studios pumped out a bunch of crud so bad it wasn't even shown in Hong Kong, insuring the 1973 fad for Hong Kong films wore out the welcome in a year.

Looking for anything praiseworthy in this awful film, it is faintly a surprise that Officer Wong's best friend & partner is a black cop, with another clever name, Blackie, whom Chuck kills so Wong has to avenge. The images of the occasional black action character in Asian films of the 1970s are among the most exaggeratedly racist ever committed to film, so it could be considered "advanced" to have even a tepid Black/Asian partnership. Of course, the scene where a cartoon black gang attacks Wong & he wastes the lot of them with ease is more in keeping what Chinese images of black men tended to be.

Yet to Chuck's chagrin, this is probably his most scene film, as the rights were sold cheap all around the globe, so that even in sundry foreign markets where no one could afford the rights to real Chuck Norris films, they could always get this one into distribution.
copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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