It’s been a minute since B-Movie Enema did anything with Chuck Norris, hasn’t it?
Yeah, in fact, it’s kind of surprising that this blog hasn’t done even more with the kung fu, karate chopping, 80s superstar. In the six and a half years of this blog being kind of a constantly running thing, this week’s movie, Silent Rage, is only the fourth movie I’ve covered starring the man with the plan, Chuck motherfuckin’ Norris.
Before we get into the movie, let’s talk a little bit about the man, the legend, the omnipresence that is Carlos Ray Norris.
Chuck Norris was born in 1940… Yeah, the man is currently 82 years old. Not that I would say he necessarily looks it. I’m guessing, at some point, age started to creep up on him, and he heard it step on a twig and he gave aging a swift roundhouse that forced others, like me, to age a little faster. Where was I? Oh yeah, so Norris was born in Oklahoma and he would say that his childhood was fairly unremarkable as far as being shy and nonathletic and not a particularly good student… Same. However, Norris did have a father who was known for being a bit of a drinker. So much so, he would go on binges for months at a time. Eventually, his mother, Wilma, would divorce Chuck’s father and she packed up herself, Chuck, and his brothers and moved to California.
When he was 18, Chuck joined the US Air Force – as an Air Policeman. But he wasn’t a pilot. His powers were coming into their own even back then and he would simply crouch down, and then leap up into the air and fly around like Superman. When an airplane was caught speeding, he’d wrestle it down to the ground with his bare hands. There, he would issue the aircraft a speeding ticket. Then, he’d crouch down, and then leap back into the air, leaving the pilot and the airplane looking at each other and giving a half surprised, but mostly awed shrug to each other that they were captured by Chuck Norris.
Seeing that it might make the US Air Force look bad having a literal superhero on the role call, they discharged the mighty Chuck in 1962. Soon, he’d apply to become a police officer in Torrence, California. However, knowing of his exploits in the Air Force in South Korea, the police department wasn’t so sure about how they could justify having a man with THIS much power on the force and still give every other cop enough to do, so they put him on a waiting list. Chuck decided to open a martial arts studio to pass the time.
Yeah, I guess I failed to mention, he started learning Tang Soo Do in Korea. By the mid to late 60s, Chuck Norris was competing in martial arts tournaments where he would kick people so freaking hard, they would time travel back to the caveman times. No lie. Now, he would have to try to hide his superpowers by losing some, but what are you gonna do? You gotta maybe downplay those superpowers a bit or people might become scared of you.
In the early 70s, Norris would get a big break in movies… as a bad guy. No foolin’ he was the nemesis to the only man who might have had even more superpowers than Chuck Norris did – Bruce Lee. The movie was Way of the Dragon and it was a huge success. The following year, he got a small role in Jonathan Kaplan’s film The Student Teachers, produced by Corman, and one that I most definitely will be getting to sometime down the line.
Eventually, he took the advice of his friend Steve McQueen to go take some acting lessons. He walked into class, smiled uncomfortably, and the acting teachers all bowed down in utter praise and handed him a diploma and some acting roles in movies like Breaker! Breaker!, Good Guys Wear Black, and A Force of One.
Then the 80s happened.
With the rise of President Ronald Reagan in the United States, so too, for better or for worse, did we see a rise in patriotism (laced with a healthy bit of nationalism), and the action superstar in film. Conservative heroes like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, and Clint Eastwood were big now. They showed western might equaled right and kind of had all the right combinations of mild authoritarianism that seemed to punch back at the rise of more liberal ideology that started with the late 60s rise of New Hollywood.
Naturally, Chuck Norris would be a massive star. We’ve covered The Octagon, The Delta Force, and Firewalker on this blog. I have no problem saying that Firewalker is the least of those movies even though I do have a great deal of nostalgia for it… One moment. Someone is knocking at the door. Let me go check out who that is.
Okay, so Chuck Norris was just at my door and punched me in the face for saying Firewalker was the least of anything. So now allow me to say it is the greatest movie ever made. Fuck off, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I have a new “greatest movie ever made”.
Where was I? Oh yeah. So movies like Lone Wolf McQuade, Missing in Action, Code of Silence, and Invasion USA are all pretty significant cable and video store favorites while also having a pretty fair amount of box office success too. The success continued into the 90s too, but not before he was turned into a cartoon for Chuck Norris’ Karate Kommandos, but animation could not contain the sheer power that was Chuck Norris, so the Karate Kommandos (or Carate Commandos if you’re nasty) was only set up as a five-part mini-series. When the 90s came along, Norris continued to be a star of action, but by the mid 90s, Norris mixed in a couple lighter, kid-friendly films like Sidekicks where he literally played himself which the sheer magnetic power of that would cause projectors to explode as the film was fed through them, and why we have digital projectors today and why Chuck Norris would make Top Dog to try to cool that heat he was getting from making such a projector-destroying film such as Sidekicks.
Jesus… I think we need to actually talk about Silent Rage. Just know that Chuck Norris is still around, though I think it’s safe to say he’s semi-retired. His last film was The Expendables 2 where he played Booker “The Lone Wolf” in 2012. In the ten years since, he’s mostly either played himself or had a small cameo in a TV episode. So let’s take a look at the 1982 classic celebrating 40 years of life born simply from the molecule manipulation of Chuck Norris merely existing, Silent Rage.
I like that this movie opens almost like a movie starring the other “Chuck” from Cannon Films, Charles Bronson. It’s moody and kind of got a little creep factor with a stained glass window eventually fading into seeing the corner of a mad man’s room where he has a bunch of newspaper articles taped up on the wall. This guy sleeps during the day, he’s sweaty as all get out, and he’s just generally a weirdo. You know, because this is the 80s, this guy is a bad guy that will eventually need to be brought to justice at the heel of Chuck Norris’ boot.
This guy, John Kirby, gets a call from his doc. He tells him that he’s not feeling good and he’s losing it and begs his doc for help. He eventually tells his doctor that he can’t make it and then hangs up and walks off. He goes outside, picks up an axe, comes back into the house, and chases the woman he rents his home from to her room. As he cuts his way through the door of her room, he gets attacked by her husband (or another renter) and he axes him a question… in his face! Then he gets to the woman and he buries the hatchet if you will.
Before the woman died, she was able to get her mailman’s attention and he calls for help. Who shows up to deal with Kirby?
Cowboy Jesus! Er… I mean Chuck Norris! Norris is Sheriff Dan Stevens. He opts to enter the house by himself. In fact, he shows his manners by knocking first before entering the house. He begins looking around. The camera follows him in fairly long cuts as he investigates the scene of the trouble. As he works his way upstairs, he sees Kirby’s first victim. Sheriff Dan draws his Colt .45, but come on, Chuck, kick the shit out of him!
Kirby tries to sneak up on Sheriff Dan, but he’s able to block Kirby’s axe and the two men fight it out. Kirby takes off out the window and runs off. One of Dan’s deputies, Charlie (played by Stephen Furst), tries shooting Kirby but almost hits Dan. Dan chases Kirby to a patch of tall grass and Kirby arms himself with a 2×4 and gets the drop on Dan before the sheriff overpowers the crazy guy and cuffs him. Kirby, while in the back of the sheriff car, is able to break the cuffs. and get out of the car and fucks up a couple deputies. He’s gunned down in front of Sheriff Dan, despite Dan ordering people to not shoot, and Dr. Haltman (Ron Silver) who has come to try to help Kirby deal with whatever he was talking about on the phone earlier.
This opening sequence is fucking rad as hell. We get crazy guy going axe murderer crazy. We get some punchings and chasing and wrasslin’ with Chuck Norris. We see that the crazy guy has crazy strength to break the chain on his handcuffs and overpower a couple sheriff deputies before being gunned down in a hail of gunfire in a scene of intense confusion. It’s fantastic. It’s also extremely well shot and directed. Not only that, but we have our three main players in the actual action all appearing quickly in these first 15 minutes – Chuck Norris as Sheriff Dan, Ron Silver as Dr. Haltman, and Brian Libby as John Kirby. Well done indeed.
Sheriff Dan is checked over while John Kirby is put into surgery. He’s actually still alive. The surgeons are shocked at how he physically survived the gunshots. Dr. Haltman is surprised that his colleagues in the operating room want to inject Kirby with an experimental serum that’s never been used on a person before. Kirby’s body is alive, but he’s braindead so why not test it on him? At first, they think he died, but he revives. Kirby’s brainwaves are erratic and kind of crazy. Haltman is pissed now because Kirby was already unstable. They have no idea what the serum will do to him.
Haltman seems to convince the other two surgeons, who happen to be geneticists in this specialized medical center, to let Kirby die in peace. He leaves the operating room and the other guy, Dr. Spires tells the other guy, Dr. Vaughn, to turn everything back on and inject him with the serum. Haltman tells Dan that they couldn’t save Kirby. This is true as far as Haltman knows as well. Before he leaves, Dan notices that a former flame of his, Alison, works at this facility. She’s Dr. Haltman’s sister. She gives Dan a ride home, but swears they will not be sleeping together again.
Until they do sleep together again.
This is actually an interesting scene worth talking about in the greater context of the image of Chuck Norris to some of his fans. This is a fairly explicit scene. The actress playing Alison, Toni Kalem, is topless in this scene and they are messing around in bed like you’d expect from just about any leading man and his love interest in an R-rated movie of the era. However, the fact that Chuck Norris engaged in a sex scene like this one in this movie ruffled the feathers of his fans. Quite a bit, actually. You see, Norris is a very conservative guy. In fact, he’s also quite religious too – like, Intelligent Design religious. I don’t think he’s Evangelical, but he’s always had a deep relationship with his conservative politics and his deeply religious beliefs. I suspect most of his most fervent fans are the same. So when he’s rolling around in bed with a topless actress, it ruffles feathers.
Due to this feedback he received about people being displeased about his sex scenes, he has avoided them ever since. We all know that everything I just said is the cover to what really happened. This sex scene was so macho, so amazingly hetero, that men watching this scene were struck impotent by the sheer animal magnetism of Chuck Norris in bed with a woman. True story, I swear to god.
Speaking of totally masculine sex-having that involves Chuck Norris, the only way to follow that scene up is to have a trio of ne’er-do-wells mess with Dan and Charlie in the diner. Now, these guys are maybe able to mess about with Stephen Furst. He’s doughy. He’s a little too soft spoken. He’s kind of a doofus. But Chuck Norris? He just emptied his balls and probably impregnated Toni Kalem 27 times over. He’s ready to kick some ass.
He’s so fucking efficient with ass kicking that when the main guy giving him shit says something about messing up Dan, Dan throttles the guy and holds his hand down to prevent him from pulling his knife. He doesn’t punch the guy. He doesn’t kick them. He just tells him that if he pulled that knife, it would be the biggest mistake he ever made. The guys leave.
The next day, Charlie laments that maybe he’s in the wrong line of work. He’s not much for violence. However, Dan tells him that he’s doing much better than he did at that stage. You see? Chuck Norris isn’t just about punchin’ bad guys and kickin’ fools and blastin’ loads into ladies. He’s a coach. He’s a good, measured man full of good vibes and better advice.
Haltman is shown Kirby’s body. At first, he’s pissed off that Spires and Vaughn kept fucking with Kirby. But they show him that all the external injuries healed completely with no scarring within 18 hours. The internal damage was completely healed as well. They slice Kirby on the chest with a scalpel and watch it completely heal itself in seconds. Haltman orders more tests to be made before they make anything public.
While Haltman, Spires, and Vaughn run tests on Kirby, Dan and Alison talk about how he completely and totally wrecked her. She doesn’t want to start dating again. He says okay and plans to keep trying to pursue her. Spires comes out to tell Dan that he is not going to release the body to the authorities for the official autopsy. Haltman tries to find out what exactly Spires is doing. Haltman is very concerned about what they are doing. Haltman, being a brain doctor and knowing how fucked up Kirby was, says he was better off dead. Spires tells him that he’s the boss and what he says goes. He then tells Haltman to get the fuck out of there.
However, as the two doctors argue over Kirby, Kirby’s eyes open and he listens in.
I do want to make sure everyone understands what’s going on here. Dr. Spires runs this fancy, advanced experimental medical facility. He and Vaughn work in biological genetics. Dr. Haltman works in psychology. I don’t know what experimental stuff he would be doing with the mind, but he worked with the already barely-functioning John Kirby. He even refers to Kirby as a “social mutant” so now seeing what the serum did to his physicality, he’s really not too sure Kirby shouldn’t just be dead. So yeah, that facility is up to some stuff that may not necessarily be nefarious, but it is dangerous.
I wanted to make sure I better explained what is this place that Haltman, Spires, and Vaugh work at and what they do while Chuck Norris kicks the shit out of an entire biker gang.
So those guys who Sheriff Dan throttled and kicked out of town? They came back with their buddies and took over a bar in town and was messing stuff up all over the place. So Charlie and Dan show up and while Charlie went and got back up, we get several minutes of Chuck Norris karate as he completely lays waste to an entire gang of burly bikers.
This time, it’s after beating biker ass that Alison and Dan spend some time together. She tells him she would like to date him again and start all over again. He is going to completely and utterly destroy that puss of hers. And, yes, that’s exactly what happens! The camera pans over their clothes on the floor and shit seemingly getting tossed around the room.
I’m sensing a pattern here. Get laid. Beat up bikers. Beat up bikers. Get laid. Also, eventual evil mutant axe murderer.
There is a small problem with this movie. Generally, the movie is actually quite good. At the very least, it’s engaging and a fun watch. However, there are a couple times in which it feels like there is some filler. The scenes with the bikers are kind of unnecessary. There’s no real reason to have them except for two very minor things. The first, you need to have Chuck Norris do karate. After all, as the makers of the movie said, you don’t hire Chuck Norris to have him not do karate. The second thing was to have the flirtatious biker lady with the tattooed tits to hit on Stephen Furst for comedy. That’s nice for him to have something to do, but, you know, it’s a bit of a time waster. There’s also a whole scene in which Ron Silver’s Haltman character is kind of goofing around with his artist wife and trying to figure out when they are going to get pizza. Yeah, I guess it plays to the following scene where John Kirby comes to Haltman’s house to attack him, but the first scene isn’t necessary.
Still, that scene I just said about John Kirby now up and about and coming to attack Dr. Haltman? That’s a good scene. We don’t see Kirby leave the medical facility, but he does and he goes after his doctor. Haltman puts bullets into the killer’s body, only for him to heal quickly and get back up. This puts Haltman’s wife in direct danger when she comes back with the aforementioned pizza and finds his body with Kirby still somewhere to attack and kill her. Of course, that does lead to her being attacked by Kirby as well. Those are both very intense scenes.
That’s the one thing about Silent Rage that I greatly appreciate – it’s not the typical Chuck Norris beat ’em up action movie. It definitely is more of a thriller. In later Norris action movies, he’s basically a Rambo-like character taking out entire armies of terrorists and what have you. Here, it’s one guy. I mentioned this is kind of like a Charles Bronson movie. Specifically, it’s 10 to Midnight I am reminded of. There’s a raw intensity to this movie that puts you kind of on the edge of your seat. The killer is unnerving. There’s something of an emotional element to the lead character.
On the surface, it’s simply that Sheriff Dan is trying to have a relationship with Alison. But then, you believe for a second she might be in mortal danger when she discovers her brother and sister-in-law’s bodies and we know John Kirby is still in the house. There’s more than just bad guy going around and doing bad things and good guy coming to blow him up with a shotgun or bazooka.
Okay, so John returns to the facility where Spires and Vaughn cleans him up. Vaughn knows something bad is going on. Why else would Kirby have gunshot holes in his clothes and blood all over him. Spires won’t have any of it. He asks Vaughn about the possibility that someone tried to kill Kirby. After all, just because he has blood all over him and he has gunshot holes in his clothes, that doesn’t mean anything. Nothing to see here, assholes!
Dan goes to talk to Spires who says he’ll give over all of Haltman’s files on his patients. Dan asks if there’s any other patients like John Kirby. Spires is quick to defend the position that Kirby is dead. After he leaves, Vaughn says that he knows Kirby killed Haltman. Spires says he doesn’t care. Their work will save thousands of lives. They realize they probably should destroy John Kirby and give the corpse over to Sheriff Dan and just hope nobody ever finds out what happened.
So I guess Spires has to go take a shit or something and leaves. Vaughn preps a needle to inject some hydrochloric acid into John Kirby to do away with him. Of course, Kirby is basically an X-Man now, so, yeah, it does seem as though the acid works, and Vaughn terminates Kirby, but moments later, he’s up and moving around again. Kirby kills Dr. Vaughn by injecting him with acid.
I do have to wonder if it will take karate to put John Kirby down.
Spires discovers two things. The first is in a microscope. We don’t know exactly what that is at first. Second, he finds Vaughn’s body. He goes back to his office and starts downing whiskey like it’s about to go out of style. John Kirby arrives at his office… as Spires expected.
Kirby kills Spires quickly. He then starts making his way around the hospital where he kills another doctor. Hearing the commotion, Charlie and Alison go to check it out. Kirby bear hugs Charlie to death and pursues Alison movie serial killer style.
Sheriff Dan finds out that there are alarms going off at the institute so he heads back that way while Kirby chases Alison around the corridors. It just so happens if any other potential victims show up in Kirby’s way, he’ll do away with them too.
Dan finds Charlie and, unfortunately, the deputy dies in his arms. Elsewhere, Alison is still trying to find a way out of the institute and being very careful to not make too much noise or reveal where she might be to Kirby. Of course, she’s unsuccessful, but her screams reveals to Sheriff Dan where they might be so he goes in hot pursuit. Just as Kirby attacks Alison, Dan shows up and shoots him out the window.
It’s kind of Halloween-style, but, hold that thought. I’ll be coming back around to that in just a moment.
Dan goes down to the street where Kirby is lying and checks it out. Of course, he’s still alive. Alison uses Dan’s Sheriff’s trunk to run into him before he can kill Dan. As they drive off, Kirby grabs the bumper and climbs back aboard the truck. Alison and Dan jump out of the truck and it begins to flip over when Kirby can’t get control of it. Then it explodes because movie cars explode. Does that kill Kirby?
The chase continues and, yes, it does need some Chuck Norris karate to do away with this genetic monster. After kicking John Kirby around, Sheriff Dan drags him over to a big hole in the ground that might be bottomless or it might be a well. Either way, Sheriff Dan dumps him down the well to his supposed ultimate doom.
Of course, he’s not dead. The makers of the movie wanted there to be sequels, but it didn’t quite work out.
But I will say this… I really like this movie. Sure, I mentioned there are a couple things that could be better paced. I understand you don’t want people to wait until all the way to the end of the movie to see Chuck Norris using karate so you stick in that biker part. Okay, fine. Here’s the thing, though, this is about as good of a Michael Myers movie as you could get in the 80s. I would even go so far as to say that Silent Rage is a better explanation for how Michael Myers can do the things he does or whatever than Halloween 6 was. This is easily among the top tier Chuck Norris movies of the 80s for sure.
As of the time of writing this article, you can see Silent Rage for free on Tubi or Roku TV. Those are pan and scan versions that are also probably standard definition, but you can rent the movie in HD on several platforms. I watched it on Amazon and it looked pretty good for a 40 year old movie that nobody is planning on remastering anytime soon.
I think that pretty much wraps things up here at B-Movie Enema HQ. I do want you to do a couple things for me. Look over there on the right hand side of the screen at the top of the sidebar column. Yeah, up there… That’s where you will find ways to follow B-Movie Enema on Facebook and Twitter. You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel as well as the Vimeo channel. And, hey, if you’re in the US, get the Roku app for B-Movie Enema and watch the 46 episodes of B-Movie Enema: The Series that are available on-demand.
Next week, we begin the long-honored tradition of October spookiness here at the site. Every single one of the movies being covered in October are Halloween themed in some way and we’re kicking off with a first – Tyler Perry. Yup, I’ve never covered anything of his before and I will kind of explain why I don’t go too hard on him when I cover Boo! A Madea Halloween, so come back in one week’s time and let’s have a grand old time celebrating Halloween and my favorite month of the entire year, cool?
2 thoughts on “Silent Rage (1982)”
So it’s basically Chuck Norris vs. Psycho Wolverine? Plus that name? Obviously one of my all-time favorites!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Pretty much. Turned out to be a pretty good flick! I expected fair to middling but got much more.