Friday, February 23, 2018

Hero And The Terror

Chuck Norris attempted to stretch a bit in his seventh starring vehicle for Cannon, playing a sensitive Los Angeles cop who freaks out during his daughter’s birth and suffers from post-traumatic stress syndrome following his capture of a hulking serial killer nicknamed The Terror.

Don’t worry, fans: he’s no wimp. Chuck still ignores his partner’s suggestion to call for backup and beats the heck out of drug pushers at the docks. It was an admirable decision for Norris to play someone more vulnerable, and he bounces cleanly off Brynn Thayer (MATLOCK) as his pregnant girlfriend in their dramatic and romantic scenes together. It ain’t Ibsen, but Norris doesn’t embarrass himself either.

In case you’re getting the impression this is Norris’ BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, rest assured he is playing a cop and he is chasing a killer. His Danny O’Brien earned the nickname “Hero” after capturing the enormous sociopath Simon Moon (SUPERMAN II villain Jack O’Halloran). Several years later, Moon escapes from the mental hospital where he was sentenced and continues his killing of women, stashing the corpses in the attic of the historic Wiltern Theater (a real place on Wilshire Boulevard).

The action and procedural scenes are routinely scripted by Michael Blodgett (star of BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS!), who helped adapt his 1982 novel to the big screen, and Dennis Shryack (THE CAR). Norris and the supporting cast give the screenplay their all, though once again the charismatic Steve James (AVENGING FORCE) has much too little to do. Directing is William Tannen (FLASHPOINT), who gives the material his best shot. Like Norris’ SILENT RAGE, HERO plays at times like a horror film with Tannen milking the suspense.

HERO suffers from a lackluster Terror—Moon is a zero as a character—and a familiar story, but is worth a look-see for its domestic scenes and action sequences. Ron O’Neal (SUPERFLY), Jeffrey Kramer (JAWS), Joe Guzaldo (CODE OF SILENCE), and Billy Drago (DELTA FORCE 2), interestingly cast against type as a shrink, build up the supporting cast. HERO was a major flop, finishing 12th behind rot like STEALING HOME and HOT TO TROT its opening weekend. Chuck made a couple more Cannon flicks, but he was already done as a box office draw.

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