Welcome to the Bad Movie of the Week. [See the Bad Movie Archive.] For this week, we chose one of the greatest bad movies of all time, a martial-arts western starring both David Carradine and Chuck Norris. While Carradine is the better actor and Norris the better fighter, these martial arts stars are two sides of the same cocky, self-important coin. This one-of-a-kind matchup between the future Walker, Texas Ranger and the former Kwai Chang Caine is exactly the absurd martial-arts cowboy fantasy you would expect:
Plot: Norris, searching for the character to embody his macho fantasies, plays Texas Ranger J.J. “Lone Wolf” McQuade. McQuade is a bearded, beer-drinking, antisocial hardass who lives with his pet wolf and lays down the law on hapless criminals. A fresh-faced new partner, Kayo, doesn’t improve McQuade’s bad attitude, but soon McQuade needs to enlist his help tracking down the arms smugglers who roughed up his daughter and killed her fiancé. The trail leads to Rawley Wilkes, a karate master fond of giving martial arts demonstrations until McQuade humiliates him and seduces his beautiful daughter-in-law, Lola, played by Barbara Carrera. McQuade is taken off the case, but with the aid of a helpful FBI agent, he infiltrates the arms smugglers’ lair and eventually confronts Wilkes in a climactic hand-to-hand battle. Read on for the final rating and more:
Best quote: [Lola’s first appearance] Dakota: “How would you like to bite that in the butt, develop lockjaw, and be dragged to death?”
Most implausible moment: Roger Ebert says it best: “He’s shot. They think he’s dead. They bury him in his supercharged, customized pickup truck. He comes to. Pours a beer over his head. Floors the accelerator, and drives that mother right out of the grave. You get the idea.”
‘Gratuitous Hotness’ bonus: 0 (out of 1 possible). I want to give credit for the scene where McQuade and Lola make out in a mud puddle, I really do, but they flirt like twelve-year-olds all movie long and I feel awkward watching it.
‘Gratuitous Violence’ bonus: ½ (out of 1 possible). According to Wikipedia, “David Carradine and Chuck Norris refused to use stunt doubles for their climactic fight scene, despite strong reservations from the producers.” The words “brimming with machismo” sum up this movie the way no others can.
Final score: 1 (6 is worst). This movie is awesome in so many ways, I even forgot to mention the completely unnecessary midget villain. Now, there are a lot of reasons why it probably shouldn’t get a perfect score. But, as the only movie ever to earn both the ‘David Carradine’ bonus and the ‘Chuck Norris’ bonus, Lone Wolf McQuade deserves a ‘1’ and a place among the greatest bad movies of all time.
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Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.