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Dustin Putman

Invasion U.S.A.  (1985)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2 Stars
(Release Date: March 15, 2016) –1980s B-movie studio Cannon Films + gun-toting, gator-wrestling man's man Chuck Norris = a recipe for unapologetic action-movie cheese. Directed by Joseph Zito (1984's not-so-final "Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter"), "Invasion U.S.A" is preposterously over-the-top, moronic in the extreme, and makes about as much sense as wearing socks with sandals. It is also, in its own sleazy, goofy way, a frivolous diversion with a handful of inspired action scenes and enough explosions to satiate a pyromaniac's lust for a solid month. When the U.S. is overtaken by Soviet terrorists led by Mikhail Rostov (Richard Lynch), former CIA agent Matt Hunter (Chuck Norris) is tracked down in the Florida Everglades and called out of retirement to stop the bad guys. The story is as straightforward as that, and anyone searching for copious twists and turns won't be finding them here.

"Invasion U.S.A." was written by James Bruner and Chuck Norris, which is amusing in and of itself to imagine actual people sitting down to pen this particular script. Mostly, the picture consists of Rostov and his gang shooting and blowing up innocents—in suburban neighborhoods, at shopping malls, even outside a church—and Hunter somehow telepathically knowing where they are at any given time. Hunter is never seen investigating their whereabouts or getting tipped off to their location, but you better believe he will pop up nine times out of ten to try and avert death and destruction. Meanwhile, snarling news reporter McGuire (Melissa Prophet) runs around following the crises and snapping pictures, perpetually angry at the establishment. Her purpose in the film beyond the apparent need to shoehorn a female character into the goings-on is never revealed, as she does not affect the narrative in any way and disappears by the end with little fanfare.

"Invasion U.S.A." is very nearly as dumb as studio-produced action movies get, and yet director Joseph Zito does bring an anything-goes stamina to the proceedings and concocts a few memorable set-pieces, one involving the merciless attack on an unsuspecting neighborhood and another where Hunter and McGuire try to save a woman trapped outside the villains' speeding car. The climactic showdown between Hunter and Rostov provides a satisfying comeuppance just before the film cuts so abruptly to the end credits it is worthy of an uncontrollable guffaw. "Invasion U.S.A." has no interest in tying anything or anyone up just as long as the main baddie has been dispatched by the final frame. Would you expect anything more from a movie of this unpretentious ilk?

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"Invasion U.S.A." surpasses expectations with its nice-looking 1080p transfer. A light layer of grain is noticeable in several scenes, while age-related specks of dirt and debris are in much shorter supply than anticipated. By and large, this is a clean showcase of a film over thirty years old, boasting healthy colors, dark black levels, and a freshly detailed veneer. Some shots are softer than others, but this is to be expected and a result of the original film source. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is certainly loud when it comes to its bombastic pyrotechnics, bullet sprays and music score. The dialogue sounds a tad light within the mix, however, with some lines difficult to hear. It doesn't help that Richard Lynch's Mikhail Rostov mumbles and whispers most of his dialogue. Nevertheless, this is a passable audio treatment with plenty of surround-sound activity. A 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio option is also offered.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with director Joseph Zito
  • "Loose Cannons" - An Interview with screenwriter James Bruner (29:04, HD)
  • "Cannon Carnage: The Make-up Effects of Invasion U.S.A." - Interviews with special effects make-up artists Howard Berger, Greg Nicotero and Tom Savini (17:48, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:33, HD)
  • TV Spot (0:31, HD)
  • Still Gallery (2:35, HD)
Bottom Line
If you are a fan of gleefully dumb action movies from the 1980s and if the thought of Chuck Norris plowing down terrorist cretins sends your heart racing, "Invasion U.S.A." will be positively heaven-sent. Shout! Factory's Blu-ray release has an excellent assortment of new special features, looks fantastic, and sounds, well, loud. It would have been nice had Norris been involved in a new interview or retrospective, but that was clearly out of the studio's hands. Regardless, this is an attractive package and a welcome addition to the high-def home-video market. "Invasion U.S.A." is recommended for action buffs and a must-own for fans of the film.

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© 2016 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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