'Lone Wolf McQuade' is every Chuck Norris fan's dream. It's full of ham-fisted acting, countless action movie clichés, and enough shirtless Chuck Norris to make anyone drool. This is one of those 80s action movies that you just can't help but laugh at, because it's just so damned silly. Although, it's tough to tell if the movie is playing around with its inherent silliness or if it's deadly serious. It feels a lot like 'Walker: Texas Ranger' a TV show that had more cheese than it knew what to do with, but still took itself far too seriously for its own good. Or maybe it's just Norris who takes himself too seriously.
Norris plays J.J. McQuade, a Texas Ranger who says things like "I work alone," like he's the first person that's ever said that phrase. I assume the reason why McQuade works alone is that he doesn't want anyone interrupting the shirtless target shooting practice he does at his house. Watching Norris roll around in the dirt sans shirt, shooting cardboard targets is just one of the many unintentionally hilarious aspects of this movie.
At the begging of the movie McQuade easily takes out a gang of horse thieves without blinking one of his very manly eyelids. This is a guy who doesn't mess with anyone. He kicks a whole lot of ass. It's a nice change from the dreadfully overlong, boring escapade Norris had in 'The Delta Force.'
Every action movie needs a villain, that's where David Carradine comes in. He plays the sneering Rawley Wilkes, a martial arts know-it-all who also happens to be an arms dealer on the side. After McQuade's innocent daughter is caught in the cross-fire of one of Wilkes' gun transport hijackings he goes on the offensive. Chuck Norris always pulls roughly the same grimaced expression, but it was pretty easy to figure out that he was more or less pissed when he found his daughter in the hospital.
Just as an action movie needs a villain it also needs a romantic interest. Lola Richardson (Barbara Carrera) catches McQuade's eye presumably because she walks around everywhere without a bra, wearing see-thru shirts (how this got a PG rating is a complete mystery). No one really seems to notice that this is a little weird, but we can tell that McQuade thinks it's just about the hottest thing ever. This inexorably leads to one of the most awkward make-out scenes that have ever been captured on film as McQuade and Lola roll around in ankle-deep mud with Lola holding onto a gushing hose in some sort of overly obvious "McQuade is going to get some tonight," sexually suggestive symbolism.
Chuck Norris fans eat this stuff up, and there's no doubt many people who are patiently awaiting the time they get to stick in 'Lone Wolf McQuade' and see it in all its HD glory, but boy is this some cheesy stuff. I've always thought Norris' was inherently cheesy with his helmet-hair and his permanent "I'm super pissed," facial expression. Here, nothing is different. It's Chuck Norris fighting his way through an endless number of bad guys who are dreadfully inaccurate with machine guns. The clichés mount up as McQuade searches for Wilkes. It all comes to a head when they both find each other and one of those "Let's put down our weapons and settle this like men," scenes comes up. Only movie characters settle scores like this.
This is a lazy Saturday morning movie if, by chance, you have absolutely nothing better to do. Hopefully, it's also raining outside so you have a better excuse to sit inside and watch something as silly as 'Lone Wolf McQuade.'
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a MGM release. It comes to Blu-ray on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. It comes in a standard eco-friendly Blu-ray keepcase. It has a Region A coding.
I was impressed with the up-close detail in 'McQuade's 1080p AVC-encoded transfer. The 1983 action movie isn't without its flaws, but it looks better than some of the haphazard releases that MGM has put out recently.
The best detail can be seen in close-ups, revealing Norris' well-groomed beard and hair, the dirt and grime on his face and even some of the manliest chest carpeting you've ever seen. The further the camera pans back the softer the scenes get. There are quite a few soft shots, in the mid-range area, offering little in the way of good detail.
The movie has an aged look to it, but there are some colors that really stand out. Carradine's bright red karate competition suit he has on looks really good on screen. The red really pops. Grain is consistent offering a filmic look, and it doesn't appear that a whole lot of DNR was used. The transfer is relatively clean, but flecks and white spots pop up now and then. I did notice some film judder during the opening sequences when McQuade is looking through his scope. Blacks are a little crushing here, but not all that bad. Shadows tend to be soft and cover up some detail, however it isn't anything you shouldn't expect from an early 80s movie anyway. Overall, I thought it looked pretty good considering its age and it being a mid-tier catalogue film at best.
MGM offers a crowded DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track. Everything comes out front and center, music, sound effects, explosions, and dialogue all fighting for their own space. Yes, the track is lossless, but the main problem is that with everything packed into the middle it's hard for any of it to breathe.
There's a lack of oomph in many of the action scenes. The sound effects seem hollow and the dialogue on many occasions lacks that natural feel. Instead it sounds more like a tinny echo. Music lacks engagement, explosions lack low-end treatment, and the whole thing comes off as a little wimpy. I think fans will be clamoring for something more here, and I wouldn't blame them. This track doesn't really seem to cut it.
If you're a huge Chuck Norris fan, then go for it. At least thismovie looks rather good on Blu-ray. It's corny as hell, and stomps every action movie cliché into oblivion, but it could be fun with a bunch of friends all sitting around making fun of it. I'd say this is for fans only.