BAMFs kick ass but no one expects them to actually … act. It is a little bizarre to me to see Chuck “My beard is death for you” Norris or Ah-nold thunder their way through a flick while their fellow thespians act circles around them like moons about Jupiter. It is a curious joy and a intriguing travesty, and I always wonder what the actors who can act think as they wait for their line amongst the HTH carnage.
Case in point: 1981’s revenge fest, Eye for an Eye, featuring classic Chuck. Every movie Steven Segal did in the 90s, Norris did in the 80s. Except Norris occasionally did it while rocking a red sweater. So, the plot that justifies the violence is standard fare: ex-cop Norris has to find a way to get revenge against a highly connected drug gang for killing his partner and his grilfriend. One wasn’t enough, see.
So, after a bevy of blockheads and mysteries, we get to the finale. At the end, he must beat the iconic tough guy, Professor Tanaka, who is the human equivalent of a concrete wall, so he can get to the boss, Dracula. No, not a vampire, but the much beloved Christopher Lee who is quite happy with his pay, and has been cashing checks from B movies since the 40s.
Just as Norris has stretched his action jeans enough to make mincemeat of Tanaka and Count Dooku, everybody else shows up.
We have the grumpy Police Chief played by none other than the original BAMF, the very originator of the term, Richard Roundtree. Who’s that? I’m just talkin’ about Shaft. Everything Norris did in the 80s, Shaft did in the 70s, but with super-fly style and black leather. Then there is the father of Norris’s girlfriend played by Mako, the versatile actor who can be the wizard-chronicler in Conan, voice a hundred cartoons, and cameo in your TV series with complete dignity and humor.
So Shaft and Mako show up for the finale just in time to remind Norris to be heroic and not kill Saruman.
With forty years, and their other roles tripping through my head, the film is a completely different experience for me as an adult, and it’s a B-YouTube-able thing too.