The Octagon, 1980.
Directed by Erik Karson.
Starring Chuck Norris, Karen Carlson, Lee Van Cleef, Tadashi Yamashita, Richard Norton, Art Hindle, Kim Lankford and Yuki Shimoda.
A martial artist battles an international terrorist organisation of ninjas.
Cashing in on The Expendables 2 is a double release of old Chuck Norris classics on Blu-Ray. There’s A Force of One and The Octagon, two of Chuck’s early films during his period with American cinema. For those who grew up as fans of Chuck, or just became retrospective fans in recent years, then The Octagon is one that marked Norris’ shift from simply a Caucasian answer to Bruce Le, to All-American, all-action hero.
The Octagon’s premise is simple. Chuck Norris vs Ninjas. That’s really about it. Norris is Scott James, a man haunted by memories of his growing up and rivalry with his former martial art brother Seikura, who now heads a Ninja training camp and is teaching international terrorists the ways of the Ninja. James must stop the organisation and face off, once and for all, with his former brother.
There’s little in the way of story, and sadly the film takes it’s time in getting to the point where Norris finally takes out the Ninja trash. Like a lot of his movies, the lack of much plot means the film moves pretty slowly between the action. It’s why Norris’s films often couldn’t compete with the standard of Arnold or Sly. Not to say many of their films were literal masterpieces, but just to have even a simple plotline that progresses somewhere adds something. When the action does kick in, it’s quite impressive. The real standout though is Norris infiltrating the Ninja base in the film’s climax. It’s classic Norris.
The cast are okay. Lee Van Cleef pops up in a small role, but his character has no real place in the film, nor much point. That said he adds a bit of star power. The film also features an early role(s) for Richard Norton who became something of a reliable tough during the 80s and 90s, particularly when he began working in Hong Kong with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. There’s also bit parts for Chuck’s brother Aaron, and his son Mike (playing Norris’ younger self).
The Octagon has some iconic Norris moments, even if it’s a little too long and could do with a little more action. It shows Norris beginning to become the invincible powerhouse of his 80s action classics and just remember; the boogeyman checks under his bed for Chuck Norris!
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★