Silent Rage

Usually, when there’s a gruff sheriff in town, he’s doin’ battle against cattle rustlers, restless natives, or rounding up a posse to exact revenge on stagecoach bandits. In Silent Rage, Chuck Norris (Sheriff Dan) seems to have wandered off the set of a Rory Calhoun movie and into a world of Re-Animator/The Brain that Wouldn’t Die.

Mental patient John Kirby is in standoff with police after axe-murdering his landlady. He’s pumped full of head and taken to a hospital, where twisted attending physicians fill his veins with an experimental serum, bringing him back from death’s door. Unfortunately for all concerned, a revivified Kirby is back to his evil ways, a near-unstoppable killing machine terrorizing Texas townsfolk. When will these weird syringe experimental serum developers ever learn their lesson?

Sheriff Dan, alongside reluctant and doughy Deputy Charlie (Stephen Furst of Animal House) team up to track down the psycho and take him out more permanently.

To pad the run-time, a noticeably relaxed Norris, hot on the heels of playing a Frisco narcotics cop (An Eye for an Eye) has to fight off dirtnik bikers who assail him in the local diner for ordering “hot tea.” He makes quick work of the 1%ers, with a bar biker beat-down worthy of A Bronx Tale. All the while, he’s reconciling with an ex (that staple of action films), romancing the paramour with whom he’d parted ways six years earlier (such is the allure of Chuck Norris, especially in protracted and extremely odd lovemaking hammock montages).

If you hadn’t already guessed, Silent Rage is a movie that doesn’t know what the heck it wants to be: biker exploitation or stalk-n-slash horror, as a near-dead antagonist is depleting the population of this already-small Texas burg.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Chuck, the human meme-generator, is not one to be trifled with. And here, the fists and the feet fly, albeit not enough.

*** (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of Silent Rage on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]

Shotgun

A weird hybrid of Don’t Answer the Phone! and Lethal Weapon, Shotgun is an inept cop buddy pic which should be booked for employing every cop cliche there is.

The title character is Shotgun Jones, who should be bedecked in furs and running around Harlem, but who is instead, a towering freckled Caucasian who favors pea-coats even in the stifling heat of Los Angeles.

Jones and African-American partner Max (Murtaugh to his Riggs) are tailing a “basher,” a guy who’s been giving ladies of the evening a rough go. In fact, it’s worse than that. He’s beating some to death.

And he’s getting away with it by employing what should be said is a very weird gambit: paying a guy to bring the girls to a fleabag motel to get the police off his scent. This is a good idea in theory, but not when your accomplice looks like you! This is one of the more baffling aspects of the very bewildering Shotgun.

But this isn’t a straightforward procedural. You see, Internal Affairs has a bone to pick with a cop who PLAYS BY HIS OWN RULES (caps for the obvious cop cliche). They set him up in a sting, and an angry Jones beats the snot out of an IA colleague with a night stick. To get a sense of how seriously LAPD takes rogue policemen, look no further than Jones’ punishment: a six month suspension (or, roughly one day for every day the poor bastard was stuck in the hospital).

Lucky for Jones, there’s an avenue for hotheads who’ve run afoul of police procedures: bounty hunting. Just imagine you’ve jumped bail and you’ve got the Geico Caveman and Barry Gibb’s illegitimate Jesus son bearing down on you.

Shotgun is an absolute joy, an odd mix of weird sub-plots (Max’s wife has a thing for Jones and Max is way too easy-going about it) and marble-mouthed meathead banter. There’s also cochlea-piercing Van HalenĀ  guitar noodling that is so deafening it’ll have viewers diving for the remote.

And for action fans, you’ve got choppers, explosions, fisticuffs, ruthless drug dealers, and amazing montages.

Essential GED-level action fare.

****1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of Shotgun!]