08 March 2009

The Octagon

The Octagon
United States – 1980
Director – Eric Karson
Media Home Entertainment, 1983, VHS

Chuck Norris is called Scott James in this one, and you know what they say about people with two first names. This is possibly the most overt plotline parallel of Norris’ life I’ve seen so far. It’s also the most emasculated I’ve ever seen him.

Head firmly ensconced in its turgid, golden helmet of hair, Scott does little else but change from one nasty, over-tight jean/collared shirt combo to another, and bicker with his buddy AJ (Canadian TV actor Art Hindle, Porky’s). Supposedly a semi-professional fighter, AJ’s revolting, floofy coiffure rivals his grating personality, and in tandem they disgorge the sort of cheesy, dumbass ladies man schtick one might expect from say, a Three’s Company or a Love Boat episode. During his excellent delivery of this brilliant dialogue, his mouth even begins to resemble a puckered purging, waste-crusted blowhole.

Begin with a bunch of runaways and rednecks dropped off together on a dirt road: together, they walk into a training compound, where they have apparently paid to undergo the world's most rigorous martial arts training. The guy in charge of the camp? Scott’s brother Seikura, (Tadashi Yamashita, Gymkata) a sore loser turned evil. The camp itself seems to be a vocational college for underprivileged aspiring terrorists, revolutionaries, and mercenaries, staffed by an army of pushover stocking-cap ninjas, and a big guy who I think is probably a leper.

But back in swinging LA, Scott hooks up with a doe-eyed airhead chick who is immediately killed by Seikura’s ninja. Lee Van Cleef, no stranger to such ridiculous and poorly conceptualized plot motivators, and with a fire that belies his withering face and career, tries to warn Scott away. Spooky. Scott hooks up with Justine, a rich European chick with a rigid dome of hair perched atop her bony, makeup-slathered head like a giant dried elephant poo. She tries to get him drunk and help her go after Seikura. Scott refuses because he's sworn off professional fighting, but since AJ’s about as smart as a turd, he storms off to take care of Seikura himself, essentially calling Scott and his golden mane a pussy.

Finally, though I wouldn’t say the 3rd time is the charm, Aura, a whimpering terrorist camp alumnus (class of Last Week), teams up with Scott’s “repetitive-bitch-slapping” technique, offering such useful tactical skills as the “stand-aside-and-watch”, and “topless-hog-immolation” fighting styles.

When AJ arrives at the training camp, he comes face to face with Seikura’s glimmering black cascade of evil hair, and quickly looses all his body and shine, finally lying limp and bloody on the wooden floor of a tiny cage. Scott and Aura show up just in time to get AJ killed. Like in Gymkata; a film which shares many of the cheap production values, secondary actors, and overtly laughable story concepts - the golden-haired boy kicks everyone's ass, but it’s too dark to see most of it, and this time Norris’ unintelligibly-reverb-laden, whispered narration is suddenly and enigmatically silent.

See this guy? He answered the above classified advertisement and two years later became a genetically enhanced serial killer in Silent Rage the only other Norris film with overt nudity. (Don't worry, Chuck prayed to Jesus for forgiveness on the boob thing and it's all cleared up.)

1 comment:

régis said...

What do they say about people with two first names?!?!?