Invasion U.S.A. (Joseph Zito, 1985, USA)

Invasion U.S.A. arrived at arguably the peak of Cannon Films' influence and success in the American mainstream. Conceived as a vehicle for star Chuck Norris (though displaying quite little of Norris's martial arts skill), Invasion U.S.A. is a one-man-against-all action flick in the vein of Cannon's similar Cobra. While Invasion U.S.A. lacks the stylistic flourish of director George Cosmatos on Cobra, director Joseph Zito brings set pieces to the table that arguably reach the pinnacle of 80s action excess, including - among other examples - blowing up an entire suburban community in Atlanta.

Norris plays CIA agent Matt Hunter, who has to fight off a force of Soviet/Cuban guerillas invading Florida. Matt Hunter is a true all-American badass - we are introduced to him wrestling alligators at his home in the Everglades. The script, co-written by Chuck Norris himself, focuses on striking fear into the hearts of average Americans. Suburban towns under assault by terrorists. A busy shopping mall on Christmas. Nothing is sacred to the communists. Invasion U.S.A. almost equals Red Dawn in its Cold War hysteria.

In terms of performance, Norris is not the highlight of the film. That goes to veteran character actor Richard Lynch, with his distinctive scarred face, as the Russian Rostov. Lynch is quite brutal and menacing in the role. There is a half-baked attempted love interest for Norris in the Melissa Prophet character, but this is largely forgotten about. This is a Chuck Norris vehicle through-and-through, and no romance is necessary. Invasion U.S.A. opened at number 1 in the US, and was lambasted by critics including Roger Ebert who called it "idiotic." Nevertheless, the film has entered the pantheon of classic action films. While it is perhaps not the most artful action film, in many respects it has to be seen to be believed.



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