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Overall Rating
1.78

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad44.44%
Total Crap44.44%

2 reviews, 6 user ratings


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Hero and the Terror
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by Jack Sommersby

"Hit-and-Miss 'Hero'"
2 stars

Well, it's definitely better than some of Chuck Norris's Golan-Globus/Cannon Pictures fare that he did in the '80s ("Invasion U.S.A."; "Firewalker"), but the winsome writing keeps undermining some otherwise-decent efforts.

Hero and the Terror doesn't have enough valid material to fill out its ninety-minute running time, what with bare-bones plotting and scant characterizations. And normally this wouldn't be too detrimental in a Chuck Norris action picture, only there isn't too much in the way of action this time around. That's okay for a while, though, because Norris, again playing a heroic cop, has genuine screen presence and fine acting ability -- he�s able to maintain audience interest even while the lackadaisical story keeps hitting rough patches and stalling out. He plays Los Angeles detective Danny O'Brien, who three years prior apprehended a mute, mentally-handicapped, hulking psychopath by the colorful name of Simon Moon, who'd claimed twenty-two female victims to his credit. As we see during the opening-credits sequence, with O'Brien in bed having a nightmare of that fateful day, O'Brien tracked Moon down to his dilapidated shack on the ocean boardwalk, got into an grueling one-on-one confrontation with him below a pier, and by sheer luck Moon fell down a ladder a badly-beaten O'Brien had ascended to escape, and on the way down got knocked unconscious. Though he claimed to have done nothing spectacular, the press has labeled him Hero ever since; and after a year hiatus, the nightmares are now back, which come at a bad time in that his pregnant girlfriend, who was the psychiatrist treating him after the attack, is about to deliver any day. The Terror is back, too, after (implausibly) escaping from a mental facility: using a fertilizer-laced piece of dental floss, he sawed his way through the bars in his cell, commandeered a laundry van, crashed through the security gate, and then veered out of control over a cliff and crashed four-hundred-feet below in the ocean. The body hasn't been recovered, and Moon is presumed dead; but when a newly-remodeled movie theatre, which has been built over what used to be Moon's hideaway, is on the verge of its highly-publicized reopening, an unseen someone snaps the neck of a new employee in the ladies room. On opening night, a famous actress attending the premiere of her new movie is also killed in the ladies room. Her body is found discarded the next day in a nearby park, the forensic evidence matches that of Moon's former victims, the public is in a panic, and it's up to O'Brien, in between dealing with his girlfriend and a concerned mayor, to stop the Terror once and for all.

While Hero and the Terror lacks the excellence of Norris's career-best Code of Silence and the trashy exuberance of his Braddock: Missing in Action III, it's been professionally fashioned by director William Tennant, who gives the proceedings the kind of visual texture and quirky eye for detail you don't see much of in this genre. He apparently loves actors and gives each of the supporting players a chance to shine (especially noteworthy is Murphy Dunne as the finicky, ready-to-please theatre manager); and the lighting he's ordered up is a cut or two above routine (like an eerily-foreboding shot of a merry-go-round in O'Brien's nightmare). But he can only do so much with the patchwork of a screenplay, co-written by Michael Blodgett based on his same-title novel. For the story to progress, the police have been made monumentally dense: after knowing where the latest two victims were last seen, and even after a cop has been slain while keeping an eye on the theatre at night, Moon still manages to elude capture after the place has been searched top to bottom; and right when we think the villain's elusion is to be revealed as something nifty, it's simply ludicrous, in the form of a secret room that O'Brien has to kick the bricks in to enter but which Moon has somehow managed to come and go with these very bricks in place. To pad things out, we get two action sequences unrelated to the skimpy plot, and tired domestic scenes of O'Brien and his girlfriend that are chock-full of familiar soap-opera dialogue. When the movie isn't busy blatantly telegraphing its surprises, it's serving up an overbearing, repetitious music score and giving us one too many of the graphic murders that just don't sit well after a while -- this must be a cinematic record for snapped necks in a single feature, one of which is rather distastefully juxtaposed with the birth of O'Brien's daughter. What's ultimately frustrating about the picture is its put-on airs that it's something superior to just another genre exercise, and its low contextual value simply can't support this -- while not wall-to-wall action, it's not chock-full of substance, either. (An early Norris effort, A Force of One, while crude, contained some genuine social commentary.) But thanks to its star's unflappable solidity and the aforementioned attributes, Hero and the Terror isn't worthless, just much less the sum of its sometimes-admirable parts.

If you haven't seen it, give "Code of Silence" a look-see.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=9532&reviewer=327
originally posted: 05/10/12 08:14:54
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User Comments

7/21/12 Sean Harrison Terrible, but one of the few bareable Chuck Norris movies. 2 stars
12/28/08 Sugarfoot The only terror here is in how terrible it is. 1 stars
1/19/06 VMANIC1 I remember watching this film, in STUNNED BOREDOM, when it first played at the theater 2 stars
8/23/05 ES Thank you Chuck Norris 4 stars
8/03/05 tatum I miss Cannon Studios like a miss an ingrown toenail 1 stars
5/02/04 Jack Sommersby Unusually understated Norris vehicle. Scary and fun. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  02-Aug-1988 (R)
  DVD: 04-Jun-2002

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Nov-1988




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