Hero and the Terror

October 7, 2011

In Hero and the Terror, the Hero is a Los Angeles cop played by Chuck Norris, and the Terror is a hulking killer played by Jack O’Halloran. At least, that’s what The Terror is meant to refer to. Some might guess at another possibility: The Terror is what the viewer feels at realizing Chuck Norris has it in his mind he’s gonna do some acting in this one.

What this means is that, between the episodes of gunplay and head-crunching, Norris seeks to show his sensitive, emotional side. Now, Chuck Norris the man no doubt has a sensitive, emotional side, but please—can’t he keep it off the screen? The scenes in Hero and the Terror that detail the cop’s personal life are surely the drippiest that Norris has attempted.

His cop is haunted by nightmares of a major arrest he made three year earlier, of a serial killer called the Terror. Now the lunatic has escaped, hidden in a Los Angles theater, and Norris must collar him.

All of that is standard fare. Below standard is the drama of Chuck’s girlfriend, a therapist who is imminently expecting their child. They’re not married, which is one source of drama. Also, this woman is worried about the future of her career, and about the weight she’s gained during the pregnancy. “You’re pregnant,” says the new sensitive Chuck, “you’re supposed to be fat.” Thanks for caring, big guy.

Under the random direction of William Tannen, the relationship story and the murder story have absolutely zilch to do with each other. The script is a hodgepodge of cookie-cutter elements that don’t fit together. For instance, Norris is supposed to be undergoing this intense psychological torture over the old arrest and his undeserved “hero” label, but he’s the same wisecracking cool dude he has always been when he stiff-arms a petty thief on the street.

And, of course, the movie indulges in the old saw about the tough guy who goes to pieces in the delivery room. Chuck faints dead away at the hospital entrance desk. Nope, the split personality just won’t wash. Either Chuck Norris goes back to his old ways, or he turns into the next Alan Alda and spends the rest of this career dispensing warm ‘n fuzzies. He is not an actor who can manage both.

First published in the Herald, August 1988

This one has the marks of having been intended as a somewhat more ambitious vehicle for the Invasion U.S.A. star, but it ended up as just another Norris movie. The cast included 80s movie stalwart Steve James, Billy Drago, and (according to IMDb.com) Ron O’Neal as “The Mayor.”