The Film: Invasion U.S.A.
The Principles: Chuck Norris, Richard Lynch, Melissa Prophet, Alexander Zale and Billy Drago. Produced by Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan. Directed by Joseph Zito.
The Premise: A Soviet agent named Rostov launches a full-scale attack on the unsuspecting streets of America with a ragtag army of multi-racial terrorists at his command. They blow up suburban neighborhoods, shopping malls, grocery stores and churches, but they didn’t count on two things: 1. It’s Christmas time. 2. CHUCK FUCKING NORRIS!!!
Is it any good?: Shit, yeah it is! I wish I could give you a karate kick to the chops right through this computer screen for even asking such a ridiculous question! This is classic Norris at his best during the amazing Cannon years when he released a new film for them almost every six months. This was one of their most epic collaborations together in my opinion. For me, there are three stages of Chuck Norris’ acting career that are all classified by his facial hair. They are: the clean-shaven early years, the mustache sporting Good Guys Wear Black years, and the brilliant full beard years, where the shit really went up a notch or two. Bearded Norris is my favorite Norris and this is some of his beard’s best work yet. Here you get yourself a denim-clad, double uzi-shootin’, face-kicking Norris like none other before!
The film begins with a boatload of Cuban refugees on their way to Florida and freedom, when their boat is boarded by what appears at first to be a friendly U.S. coast guard. Turns out they’re actually a group of terrorist scum led by a Russian madman named Rostov (Richard Lynch), who has a really nasty habit of shooting people in the genitals multiple times at point blank range. Needless to say, the unfortunate Cubans are slaughtered because there’s a cache of cocaine hidden under the floorboards of the boat’s deck, which is then sold off to drug dealers so they can fund their upcoming attack of the United States.
Rostov is pretty anxious to start the invasion, but first he must finish off his old nemesis and former CIA agent Matt Hunter (Chuck Norris), a man who plaques his nightmares because he once almost killed Rostov and vowed he would someday finish the job. He also kicked him in the face really hard once. Hunter is currently retired and living in an old swamp-shack in the middle of the Florida everglades, wrestling gators and chilling out with his friend Johnny Eaglefeathers and pet armadillo. He was offered a chance to come back as an operative in the beginning, but refuses for personal reasons. When Rostov and his goons kill his Indian buddy and blow the shit out of his house, Norris gets extremely pissed-off and starts a one-man war they’ll wish they never started!
There’s a late night Normandie-esque invasion of the beaches of Miami where an army of Cuban, Russian, South American, Asian and African terrorists trample a bikini and speedo-clad couple as they all board a fleet of trucks that ships them all out across our unsuspecting nation during the height of the holidays to cause mass chaos and destruction. See for yourself what Rostov and his comrades do to an innocent suburban neighborhood celebrating the season with a rocket launcher containing an endless supply of ammunition:
But that’s just for starters! Before long the nation is plunged into anarchy as the bad guys incite race wars and blow up a bunch of shit from coast to coast, while Norris searches for his arch-enemy through the streets of Miami. It all concludes gloriously with an epic showdown in an abandoned office building, featuring one of my all-time favorite over-the-top villain deaths, where Norris shoots Richard Lynch with a rocket launcher while standing about ten feet away. It’s magical!
The film was directed by one of the grittiest of B-movie mavericks during this time, Joseph Zito – the man who gave us The Prowler, Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, Red Scorpion and Norris’ other Cannon action juggernaut, Missing in Action. His penchant for ruthlessly cruel hyper-violence is unleashed full fury in this action-packed masterpiece. I must also credit Zito for his excellent choice of Richard Lynch as the villainous Rostov. He is truly one of the slimiest-looking character actors ever born. Extra points for casting genius must be awarded for the teaming of Lynch and ultra-creepy actor du jour Billy Drago as a greasy drug dealer who winds up getting a couple of slugs in his nuts at Lynch’s hands in one highly memorable scene, which ends with a woman being violently thrown out of a glass window in slow motion.
Is it worth a look?: See here, if you keep asking me these stupid questions you’re going to get a knuckle sandwich, so I hope you’re hungry! Of course, this movie is absolutely riveting in a post-modern way that causes it to illuminate like rays of sunshine across a meadow of sleaze and filth. It’s violent, crazy fun and definitely a cathartic watch for the man (or woman) who’s just spent way too much time standing in a post-Black Friday shopping line and needs a good, semi-holiday themed escape from the humdrum. If you don’t believe me, check out this clip and then call me a liar:
Random anecdotes: This film has the dubious distinction of being one of MGM’s second highest selling home videos, right after Gone with the Wind.
An unofficial sequel to Invasion U.S.A. was made in 1986 called Avenging Force. It was originally supposed to star Norris, who would return as Matt Stone fighting a group of paramilitary white supremists, but scheduling conflicts with other Cannon films forced a replacement with rising American Ninja star Michael Dudikoff, who played the character instead.
Cinematic soul mates: Nighthawks, Red Dawn, Terror Squad, Die Hard 1 & 2, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Delta Force and Avenging Force.