KINO LORBER BLU RAY RELEASE: A Force of One (1979)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Originally on the site on XXX, A Force of One has been rereleased by Kino Lorber with a new 2K scan, two commentaries (film historians Brandon Bentley and Mike Leeder, as well as director Paul Aaron), a making-of doc, four TV commercials, five radio ads and the trailer.

Gene Siskel said that it was “just a poor excuse for a lot of fighting.”

Writer Ernest Tidyman* (ShaftHigh Plains Drifter) claimed he only made it so he could buy his mother a house.

Chuck Norris said it was ten times better than his last movie Good Guys Wear Black.

The commercial for this movie was all my grade school class could talk about, breathlessly getting excited about Chuck kicking and spinning and beating on people.

Directed by Paul Aaron, whose stepson Keanu Reeves talked him into making the film, this film presents a world where cops are getting killed, so they turn to Matt Logan (Norris), a karate instructor. One of those narcotics officers, Amanda Rust (Jennifer O’Neill, The Psychic star who was present both when Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself on the set of Cover Up and when she shot herself in the stomach testing to see if a gun was loaded), believes that one of their own is behind it. She also falls hard for Chuck, who may not be the best actor, but gives an authentic charm as a normal guy who can kick people really hard.

This is a smart movie — no, really — as the cast surrounding Chuck is solid, like the late great Clu Gulager as detective Sam Dunne, who believes that the killer is a martial artist, and Ron O’Neal from Superfly.

A Force of One kicks into major action when Chuck’s adopted son Charlie (Eric Laneuville) is killed, making it personal. Plus, he’s headed into a karate tournament where he’ll get kicked repeatedly by Sparks, played by Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, who was the bodyguard who found the body of John Belushi. And trust me, he kicks really, really hard. You don’t get called Superfoot and half step.

Norris surrounded himself with family in this one, as brother Aaron was the fight coordinator and his son Mike was the skateboarding pizza delivery kid. It works — a movie made in the time when karate was the kind of dastardly heel move in Memphis wrestling, still mysterious in the West, but made approachable by the everyman charm of Chuck.

Called Der Bulldozer in Germany, this movie also has an appearance by Charles Cyphers, who played Sheriff Brackett just one year earlier in Halloween.

In closing, Siskel and Tidyman were both incorrect, while the kids in my class and Chuck were right.

*He co-wrote the movie with stuntman Pat E. Johnson, a 9th degree black belt in Tang Soo Do under Chuck Norris who only has this one writing credit, but did stunts for Jackie Chan (Battle Creek Brawl), Bruce Lee (Enter the Dragon), Norris (this movie), three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles films and both Mortal Kombat movies. He’s also the referee in The Karate Kid.

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