Monday, December 8, 2014

Holidaze Review: Invasion U.S.A. (1985)

When some rotten Commie bastards charge onto American soil and threaten everything we hold dear, including Christmas itself, whom can we depend on to ride in and save the day?

One man: Chuck. Fucking. Norris.

Nothing screams “Happy Holidays” like a spin kick to the side of a terrorist’s head, and Chuck delivers plenty of them—along with punches, gunshots and squinty-eyed stares—in this hilariously awful action flick swimming in the yuletide years before Bruce Willis jumped in with the first two Die Hard movies.

Norris plays Matt Hunter, a retired CIA operative who…but why am I telling you his character name and backstory when he looks, sounds and acts like Chuck Norris? Anyway, he’s coaxed back to active duty when arch enemy, Rostoff (the ever-slimy Richard Lynch), sneaks into the U.S.A. and tries to kill him (but gets his best friend instead) ahead of a full-scale invasion. (Well, we’re told it’s a full-scale invasion, with attacks all over the country, but we only see action in Florida and around Atlanta.)

What’s the invasion plan? Seems to be no more complicated than to drive around and blow shit up—which, to be honest, is not a bad invasion plan. After all, instilling terror in the general population and ensuring that they feel unsafe wherever they are is kind of what terrorists do.

So Rostoff and his pals go here and there, shooting people at random, tossing bombs and basically attacking anything that indicative of the American Way.

And what could possibly be more American than Christmas?

The terrorists even go to a quiet suburban street all decked out for the season and use a rocket launcher on a Christmas tree. Seriously.

Think Chuck and his beard are gonna stand for that? Hell to the no.

He drives into battle in his 4x4, armed with his fists, feet, righteous indignation and an endless supply of bullets, all aimed squarely at Rostoff and his Communist cronies—nobody fucks with Christmas on Chuck Norris’s watch.

He seems to show up wherever the terrorists strike, as does an obnoxious reporter (Melissa Prophet). In a lesser action film, Chuck and the reporter would hate each other at first, but, by the end of the movie, fall hopelessly in love. But Chuck doesn’t have time for that—he has to kick, shoot and otherwise dismember the bad guys, all while growling his catch phrase over and over again: “It’s time to die.”

When the terrorists plan to blow up a mall full of holiday shoppers, Chuck plows through some glass doors, dodges rockets and machine guns, rides on the side of a stolen Nissan (product placement!) and chases a mad bomber in a white convertible, the reporter bitching in the back seat the whole time.

If you ask how either of them knew to show up at that exact mall at that exact time, you’re thinking a lot harder than anybody in this movie.

You could make the argument that Invasion U.S.A. is an allegory for the dangers of unchecked socialism and/or liberalism (in the minds of conservatives, often the same thing), weakening America’s moral backbone and resolve. Or maybe it’s a cautionary tale, transforming the “War on Christmas” that conservative commentators go on about year after year into a literal assault on tinsel, mistletoe and decorated evergreens.

That would be giving director Joseph Zito and Norris (who also co-wrote the screenplay) way too much credit. Invasion U.S.A. is about as simpleminded as an action film can get, using the trappings of the holiday season as lazy shorthand for everything this country holds dear.

Wait, though…if Chuck Norris is playing a man with an awe-inspiring beard who’s seemingly everywhere at once, punishing the naughty and protecting the nice? Does that make him…Santa Claus?

Best. Christmas. Movie. Ever.


JB said...

Confession: VB and I loved that movie back in the day. It was just such mindless, ridiculous fun! And VB rather liked her some Chuck Norris.

JB said...

Hurrah for taking me back to Shocktober!