Home > Movie and Anime Reviews > Movie Review Chuck Norris Silent Rage (1982)

Movie Review Chuck Norris Silent Rage (1982)

“Science created him. Now Chuck Norris must destroy him.”

Movie Review Chuck Norris Silent Rage (1982)

Silent Rage Movie Poster

The Hero and the ‘Silent’ Terror

I remember the older kids arguing who would win in a fight, Chuck Norris or Bruce Lee. The debate would slide back and forth between movie fantasy and real life confrontations. See, Lee movies had some crazy sequences and choreography while Chuck’s were rougher, stiffer but appeared more realistic. And that, to me, is what sets Silent Rage apart from all the other Chuck Norris movies. He’s played a Navy Seal [The Delta Force], a super cop [An Eye for an Eye], a Vietnam P.O.W. [Missing in Action] and a few other tough guys that kick much ass.

He has channeled his Lone Wolf McQuade [1983] into the highly successful television series Walker Texas Ranger that ran from 1993-all the way to 2001 with 196 episodes. I like to think that some of Chuck Norris’ success is based on his persona of bigness while playing regular Joes placed in extraordinary circumstances. It makes sense to follow then -that my favorite Chuck Norris movie is one where he portrays a small town sheriff going up against a chemically-altered, invincible bad guy.

Raging in Silence

 

Michael Miller directs a modern-day [1982] Frankenstein story with a Martial Arts foundation. Several scientists have created a wonder drug that speeds up the healing process and may lead us to the ultimate cure for all sickness and disease. The only problem, beyond the ethical and moral, is that their test subject is the mentally deranged John Kirby [nicely played by Brian Libby]. This movie is what happens when you pit an unstoppable psycho up against, well…Chuck Norris.

Although this movie contains many clichés, tropes and stereo-types, it works for me because the action formula is done well and the fighting sequences are somewhat believable. Silent Rage is a repeating theme throughout this movie, the most obvious reference is the fact that the main villain John Kirby can’t speak. Chuck Norris also plays the ‘silent type’ and says very little throughout the movie. It’s a nice move to have a primarily action-orientated actor, ahem, have few lines while the supporting cast carries the acting load and moves the plot forward or establishes the emotional context. [Remember Conan the Barbarian with Arnold Schwarzenegger for a prime example of this system at work]. We also have long stretches of suspense-building silence while some of our favorite characters are being stalked and hunted. The atmosphere of dread is real and the knot in your stomach is earned from solid writing that builds a scary atmosphere.

Action Scripts

Silent Rage was written by Joseph Fraley and he does a wonderful job in creating a script with some intelligence. Each character is given a chance to define themselves and add a layer of interest. And it’s pretty solid work for an action flick. We have Ron Silver as Dr. Tom Halman (for once- not playing a bad guy) as a scientist with a conscience, Steven Keats as Dr. Phillip “Frankenstein” Spires, the lovely Toni Kalem as the love interest and Stephen Furst as the bumbling sidekick Deputy Charlie. I mention them because they are the glue that holds this movie together. So often with martial arts movies, you have a hard time sitting through the non-fighting scenes. I’m not saying we have GREAT acting moments, but I am saying that each exchange serves a purpose, develops relationships and sets up the next turn.

Silent Rage is taking a tried and true formula and executing it well. The [less fluid and more realistic] Martial Arts style of Chuck Norris is on display in a few different action stages, the directing has a few creative moments where the camera work becomes an additional character…and the small moments of humor are actually funny. What else do you want in an action flick? In an awesome change, the great theme song “Silent Rage” by Peter Bernstein and Mark Goldenberg cues up during the Columbia Logo at the very start of the film and drops in at some key moments to great effect. I love that touch. Norris doesn’t make martial arts movies; he makes action flicks and plays characters that know martial arts. This one has a sci-horror bend and I think it works. Overall, Silent Rage is my favorite Chuck Norris movie. I’m not a movie critic; I’m just critiquing a movie.

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