Sunday, August 21, 2016


Cannon planned a wide theatrical release for HELLBOUND, even sending one-sheets and trailers to theaters, but it ended up as Chuck Norris’ first direct-to-video film. It was Chuck’s last film for Cannon, which produced the first three episodes of WALKER, TEXAS RANGER before shuttering. HELLBOUND’s premise is silly but promising: Chuck Norris as a Chicago cop against an 800-year-old minion of Satan named Prosetanos and played — let’s be generous and say “in an arch manner” — by Christopher Neame (DRACULA A.D. 1972) sporting an insane skullet.

Prosetanos escapes the tomb in which King Richard the Lion-Hearted sentenced him 800 years earlier and seeks all nine pieces of a jeweled scepter he needs to rule the world. His murder of a rabbi in the Windy City attracts the attention of detective Frank Shatter (Norris) and his wisecracking partner Jackson (Calvin Levels), who journey to Jerusalem to continue their investigation. Although the film’s first act gives hope of a movie about Chuck Norris kicking the crap out of demons, HELLBOUND is instead a police procedural that, to be fair, culminates in Chuck Norris kicking the crap out of a demon. But it’s too little too late.

Weirdness abounds, above and beyond Chuck Norris fighting a minion of Satan. A bit about street urchins ripping off Jackson’s wallet serves no purpose except killing time, and a running gag about Shatter preventing his partner from eating is just bizarre. Both clash with the tone of an R-rated film with action and gore about Satan’s acolyte ruling the world. I don’t know what to make of the film’s vocal support for a Ross Perot presidency. Sheree J. Wilson, Chuck’s WALKER love interest, appears as an antiquities expert whose contribution is mainly preventing HELLBOUND from being a total sausagefest.

HELLBOUND’s depiction of Chicago on a Jerusalem soundstage is laughable, but once the film’s setting moves to Israel, production values aren’t half bad for a film at this budget level. Editing by Cannon regular Michael Duthie (AVENGING FORCE) and music by Cannon regular George S. Clinton (AMERICAN NINJA 2) are quite good. Director Aaron Norris (Chuck’s brother) and stunt coordinator Mike Norris (Chuck’s son) deliver plenty of karate-kicking, heart-ripping (literally) action. Weaknesses are the performances, particularly Levels’ “ugly American” jive and Neame’s histrionics, and the nonsense script credited to four writers, including Brent Friedman (AMERICAN CYBORG: STEEL WARRIOR) and Donald G. Thompson (THE EVIL).

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