Invasion USA (1985) — Chuck Norris’ weird Die Hard outing

“Eighteen hours from now, America will be a different place.”

Justin’s rating: It’s a reverse Bay of Pigs? Good plan, fellas.

Justin’s review: We all know of the legend and the memes of Chuck Norris, but I’m curious about how many people today have actually seen the man’s action flicks. I am not that super well-versed in his filmography, so I figured that Invasion USA would be a good sample platter. Norris fighting off an invading Soviet army on American soil while showing us as much manly chest as possible? Who wouldn’t want to show up for that?

Chuck Norris is Hunter, a semi-retired special forces operative who’s enjoying some air boat tourism outside of Miami. As per action movie protocol, it takes an act of violence to get him to come out of retirement — in this case, an attempted assassination by his old foe Mikhail Rostov (Richard Lynch). See, Hunter had tracked down Rostov years ago and put the fear of God in him (but didn’t kill him for some reason), so now this Soviet terrorist is obsessed with getting even.

But Hunter is only his side project, as Rostov orchestrates a full-fledged country invasion with — let me count — about 200 dudes who show up on amphibian landing craft off of Miami Beach. Supply chain? Armored vehicles? Air support? Nah, this should do the trick for a country as small as America.

So it’s here that I gradually realize that the title of this movie is quite misleading. It’s not, as first impressions might suggest, any sort of invasion so much as “a whole bunch of terrorist attacks.” That’s really the whole plan here. These guys just randomly run around Miami shooting people, posing as police and THEN shooting people, blowing up homes with rocket launchers, and trying to explode a mall during the Christmas shopping season. It triggers riots, panic, and fear, but the movie kind of goes overboard to suggest that this ripples across the entire country to the point where America itself may collapse.

Not on Chuck Norris’ watch. Never on his watch.

Since I’m coming at this from a 2021 perspective, the acts of terrorism, “police” shootings, and race riots all spark a level of cringe that makes it harder to enjoy Invasion USA as I wanted. I mean, it should be a mindless movie with bullets and explosions, but they got to go stick all this stuff into it that touches on a whole bunch of sore spots that history has left our culture over the past few decades. It doesn’t make it unwatchable — it’s cathartic to see Norris be the judge, jury, and executioner of any and all terrorists he finds — but it did rob this experience of some of the fun.

In any case, Hunter goes by the official Chuck Norris playbook, which includes:

  • Fighting all of the bad guys single-handedly
  • Adopting a stoic expression that is reinforced by his amazing beard
  • Dual uzis
  • A few laconic one-liners
  • Unbuttoning his denim shirt so that you are never deprived a look at his belly button, should you wish to see it

If you showed this or any other Chuck Norris movie to someone who was unfamiliar with the actor, I feel that you’d be making a whole lot of unconvincing explanations as to why this guy is worth seeing and not just the winner of a poker face contest. He’s likable and he gets the job done, but he’s quite stingy with the charisma.

As a result, there’s something old fashioned and stodgy about Invasion USA that immediately makes you think of the many, much better options that came from this time period. It’s got its moments, but you need more than “moments” to establish a legacy.

Didja notice?

  • Sailboat, put up your SAIL if you want to move!
  • How much would you pay for an airboat ride with Chuck Norris?
  • Yeah, you wrestle that alligator, Chuck!
  • Wait, did he just shoot that guy in the crotch? That seems excessive.
  • Why would you be rowing a boat in the Everglades while wearing a suit?
  • Airboat terrorists!
  • Extreme act of violence against a shack
  • Even bad guys love a Golden Girls break now and then
  • This head villain loves his high-horse posturing
  • Extreme act of violence against suburban homes!
  • Chuck Norris’ 4×4 is impervious to machine gun bullets and structural damage from driving through a mall
  • Nobody blows up a church on Norris’ watch

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