Scientists have worked tirelessly since the invention of Blu-ray looking for a way to capture the essence of Chuck Norris onto a high-definition disc. No matter how hard they tried though his fists, jaw and body hair refused to be contained long enough for the transfer to take. But finally, in the year of our Lord 2012, six years after the format’s debut… they’ve succeeded.
Seven of Chuck Norris’ classics are now available in HD.
Code of Silence (1985) was Chuck Norris‘ bid at legitimacy as more than just an action star. It may not have been thought of as such at the time, but in retrospect the movie stands out as two thirds of a well written cop drama. It may not sound like much, but most of Norris’ output is of the far more cartoonish variety in both action and plot. That doesn’t lessen their entertainment value, but it makes this effort all the more impressive. Of course, the addition of an honest to god film director in Andrew Davis (The Fugitive) can’t hurt.
Det. Eddie Cusack (Norris) heads up a cop squad in charge of drug busts and organized crime activity, but when his latest operation goes bad he finds himself smack dab in the middle of a bloody turf war. Complicating things further one of his squad members kills a boy in the shootout and plants a gun on him to make it look like self defense. Cusack isn’t shy about letting his feelings be known, and soon every cop in the city sees him as someone who’s betrayed his brothers. Not a good place to be when calling for back-up.
The Comacho gang has a tight hold on Chicago’s drug trade, or at least they did until the Luna gang takes several of them out with automatic weapons. Cusack is taken to task by his superiors for the failure of his latest operation, and he’s shown the future of law enforcement rests away from men like him. That future lay in the Prowler remote control police tank, or so he’s told, but the idea of one more loose cannon on the streets holds no appeal for him.
It’s an eye for an eye world though so Luis Comacho (Henry Silva) comes to town looking for revenge, and that vengeance includes killing most of the remaining Lunas and kidnapping a teenage girl. Cusack and his men are playing clean-up on the murderous back and forth, but his efforts to protect the girl result in the death of someone close to him. That’s all the incentive he needs to take the fight directly to Comacho, but when Det. Cragie (Ralph Foodie) shoots a boy and plants a gun on the corpse Cusack finds he’s an island of integrity amidst a sea of blindly loyal blue.
He heads to a known hangout of the Comacho gang, but when his calls for backup go unheeded he enters anyway and has his ass handed to him. Outnumbered and alone, Cusack is forced to think outside the box if he wants to kill the bad guys and save the girl. And he does just that by thinking towards the future.
Code of Silence is one of Norris’ best, but it’s also a fun little cop thriller on its own merits. The subplot of Cusack’s men turning their back on him provides a dramatic boost his other films traditionally lack, and it gives Norris a chance to act stoic. You could argue his range only allows for stoic, but at least it fits here.
Davis peaked in 1993 with The Fugitive, but before then he delivered Steven Seagal’s fantastic debut (Above the Law) as well as the pony-tailed one’s biggest hit (Under Siege). They’re simple but effective action films, and Davis excelled at balancing reality with the personas of his leads. That balance leans heavily towards Norris’ one man army in the film’s third act, but it never diminishes the earned drama that came before.
The film has character outside of Norris as well with the presence of Silva and Dennis Farina as a Cusack’s single friend on the force. You can never go wrong with Silva playing the bad guy, and as always he’s an extremely effective villain with his particular blend of suave cruelty. The movie also takes time to devote several minutes entirely to a gag about two dumb crooks trying to stick up a cop bar. It has no bearing on anything, but the scene earns a laugh or two.
And now, the only stats that matter:
- Chuck beats up – 19 bad guys!
- Chuck kills – 27 bad guys (13 with RC robot help)!
- Chuck gets shirtless at the – 24:10 mark!
As is the case with all five of MGM/Fox’s new Chuck Norris Blu-rays the image is good, and the extras are not. You only get a trailer.
Code of Silence is two-thirds solid police thriller and one third Chuck Norris ass kickathon, and that’s my kind of math.
Buy Code of Silence on Blu-ray from Amazon