CANNON MONTH: Firewalker (1986)

Chuck Norris told the Chicago Tribune, “When I got crucified in my first film, Good Guys Wear Black, I went to Steve McQueen. He said the bottom line is if you get the best reviews in the world and the movie bombs, you’re not going to get work. But if it’s a huge success, whether the criticism is good or bad, you’ll work. The key thing is — does the public accept you?”

Chuck was ready to make the transition that Arnold did in 1988 when he made Twins. It was time to make a comedy.

In this movie, Chuck is Max Donigan, who teams with Leo Porter (Louis Gossett Jr.) as treasure hunters who haven’t ever found any treasure. Then they meet the psychic Patricia Goodwin (Melody Anderson, Flash Gordon), who has a treasure map that will lead them to gold that’s also being sought by a one-eyed cyclops called Firewalker.

The map leads them to a Native American Reservation and inside a cave they find hundreds of skeletons, Aztec and Mayan art and a dagger that frightens a man so much that he throws himself into a pit.

Sonny Landham — Billy from Predator — is El Coyote, the man who wants to be the Firewalker and can only achieve that by sacrificing Patricia. And hey — it can’t be an Indiana Jones movie without John Rhys-Davies, right? You also can’t make a Native American-themed movie in the 80s without Will Sampson, right?

Gene Siskel said that Firewalker was “one of the most derivative films in years, splicing elements of Raiders of the Lost Ark with Romancing the Stone,” while Roger Ebert would say, “In literature, it’s called plagiarism. In the movies, it’s homage.”

Even though Firewalker made almost $12 million at the box office, it wasn’t the success that other Chuck Norris movies had been for Cannon, which sadly was due for some big changes.

This was written by Robert Gosnell and directed by J. Lee Thompson, who Melody Anderson had some interesting words about: “J. Lee was a character. Some days the heat got to him worse than others. He would get tired and cranky, but we got along great. At the time, I had no idea the director in The Exorcist was based on him.”

You can watch this on Tubi.

You can listen to The Cannon Canon episode about this film here.

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