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On April 15, 1983, Orion Pictures unleashed Chuck Norris’ PG-rated Lone Wolf McQuade in theaters nationwide. The Hollywood Reporter’s original review of the action thriller is below.
The last scene pits Chuck Norris, undefeated karate champ, versus David Carradine, kung fu king, in a side-kicking, double roundhouse, foot-sweeping duel.
What leads up to this classic confrontation ending is a simple, well-executed white hat vs. black hat story. McQuade is Dirty Harry in the Texas Rangers, with Norris playing a grizzled lawman who resists having a partner, fights with his superiors and naturally makes the most unassisted arrests in the Ranger ranks. (Perhaps an in-joke, one scene takes place in the Eastwood Hospital.)
Crisp and direct as a frontal thrust, Wolf should pack a colossal wallop at the box office, both here and abroad. Writer B.J. Nelson has skillfully combined plot elements and situations which draw from the best of Westerns and anti-Establishment cop films.
Expansive, exhilarating photography by Roger Shearman incorporates the rugged terrain around El Paso into the story in the same manner Monument Valley played such an essential, inspiring part in John Ford films. Director Steve Carver charges Wolf‘s story line forward with vigorous, tight economy. Full-triggered close-ups of Norris readying his weaponry further load this skillfully crafted film.
Indeed, action, violence and guns are Wolf‘s chief elements (the credits slyly list John Milius as spiritual advisor) as a gang of Mexican Mafiosos supervised by a diabolical American thug (Carradine) hijack an army truck loaded with high-powered ammo.
Norris steps into the fray and that means stepping between Carradine and his girl (Barbara Carrera). The dazzling Carrera is soon taken with Norris’ simple, direct ways, which serves as a softening subplot to Wolf‘s slam-bang story. Other castmembers add shaded particularities to their largely stereotypical roles, including Leon Isaac Kennedy as an individual-thinking FBI man and L.Q. Jones as a crusty retired Ranger. Robert Beltran and Sharon Farrell further add depth to this unabashedly action-oriented film.
Wolf is a film for the eye, not for the ear. Dialogue is at best flat. In perhaps the longest line, Norris growls, “Get me a beer, kid” — but the precise structure and quick-draw pacing should delight action fans everywhere. — Duane Byrge, originally published on April 15, 1983
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