Lone Wolf McQuade

Director - Steve Carver

Cast - Chuck Norris, David Carradine

Country of Origin - USA

Discs - 1

MSRP - $19.99

Distributor - MGM/20th Century Fox

Reviewer - Scott MacDonald

The Film (4/5)

   When I saw Lone Wolf McQuade for the first time it was in the late 90's, and Walker, Texas Ranger was already airing on TV.  I grew up in the early 80's, so Chuck Norris films were always present on TV and home video, but some how, I had missed his most popular vehicle until that time.  When I saw it I had the feeling that Walker was meant to be Lone Wolf McQuade the TV series, they just couldn't get the rights to the name.

   Chuck Norris acted in a literal slew of crazy action films during the 80's that not only displayed his martial arts prowess, but also integrated the use of big guns made fashionable by the Rambo sequels of the era. Many of these were made by the cats over at the classic action/exploitation studio Cannon Films, and are classics in there own right. However, Lone Wolf McQuade even with it's PG rating is quite possibly the best Norris film of the 80's.

   Lone Wolf McQuade stars Chuck Norris as J.J. McQuade a renegade Texas Ranger who lives by the philosophy of shooting first, and asking questions later.  This predictably gets him into hot water with his superiors, but makes him a hero to his peers. The film opens with McQuade finding himself in the middle of a battle between some Texas Rangers and some Mexican drug smugglers in the desert. Before he gets involved things look bad for the Rangers, however, with his mix of Kung Fu prowess, and great aim, McQuade managers to handle the situation.

   Upon arrival back in El Paso McQuade is assigned a partner Ramos, a new young recruit who is meant to ground him and keep him from his rebellious ways.  McQuade feels he'll just get in the way, but takes him on regardless. The plot then takes a turn when McQuade finds himself trying to take on a group of weapons smugglers lead by Rawley Wilkes (David Carradine).  After a few run ins, Wilkes ends up kidnapping McQuades daughter. This is obviously a big mistake, as McQuade, Ramos, and an FBI special agent named Jackson who has gotten involved along the way end up hunting down Wilkes to his hide out to put a stop to the operation, rescue McQuades daughter, and take Wilkes out.

   The thing about Lone Wolf McQuade is that the characters are typical action movie caricatures. None of the characters is particular deep, neither is the situation, but that doesn't matter because if you're in on that Lone Wolf McQuade is an absolute blast. The film plays like an American 80's version of a Sergio Leone styled Spaghetti Western (obviously, the direction is nowhere near on par with Leone). In this case, McQuade takes on the Clint Eastwood, Man with No Name sort of role. 

   Chuck Norris has never been an acting tour-de-force, and most films starring him recognize that fact. This film plays to his strengths, limited dialogue, but loads of great action that starts early on.  The soundtrack from Italian composer Francesco De Masi, feels like a huge homage to the Leone collaborations with Ennio Morricone, and that helps bring out an almost mythic quality in the film.

   Overall, Lone Wolf McQuade in the right frame of mind, is a fine 80's actioner with one of the most memorable leading men in 80's action cinema.  The film is a total blast that blends mythic spaghetti western overtones, with a absolutely fun sensibility (try to watch McQuades resurrection sequence, and not have a smile on your face). Lone Wolf McQuade is the American action cinema equivalent to a fine sipping whiskey.

 

Audio/Video (3.5/5)

   I skipped over DVD with pretty much all Chuck Norris films, so admittedly I haven't seen these films since VHS.  The improvement in quality in my eyes is, therefore, pretty staggering.  MGM has brought Lone Wolf McQuade to Blu-ray in a simply brilliant 1:85:1 AVC encoded 1080p transfer preserving the films original aspect ratio.  The colors in this film look absolutely fantastic from the blue skies to the desert sands I never expected McQuade to ever look this good on home video.  The level of detail is significantly increased,  black levels are solid, and flesh tones are accurate.  I cannot say enough good about the work MGM is doing brining these Norris films to Blu-ray.  I will admit to not being a fan of the look of many 80's films which typically used more drab film stocks, but the improvements here are really impressive.

   MGM has included DTS-HD Master Audio Mono Tracks in English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian all with Optional English Subtitles in those languages.  This release also includes subtitles in Japanese, Portugese, and Dutch.  The film sounds as good as it looks, since my kids were trying to sleep I kept the film at a fairly low volume throughout, and had no problem discerning dialogue which came through crisp and clear. The explosions, and sound effects came through incredibly well, as did the soundtrack.

 

Extras (1/5)

   MGM has supplied the films theatrical trailer on this release.

 

Overall

   Lone Wolf McQuade is quite possibly the finest achievement of Chuck Norris' 80's oeuvre.  It is fun blend of spaghetti western atmosphere, 80's action, and some awesome Kung Fu stylings courtesy of leads Chuck Norris and David Carradine.  The A/V restoration absolutely rocks, and though the extras are slim this Blu comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.