Lone Wolf McQuade Blu-ray offers solid video and audio, but overall it's a mediocre Blu-ray release
Legendary renegade Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade is fierce with his gun - but lethal with his black belt! When his teenage daughter's life is threatened by hijackers attempting to steal a truck full of weapons and ammunition, the job becomes personal for McQuade. Uncovering a colossal arms-struggling outfit that is selling guns and ammo to terrorists all over the world, McQuade come face to face with its kingpin, Rawley Wilkes a world-renowned martial arts expert who has never lost a battle! Does the Ranger have what it takes to save his daughter and his honor - or has he finally met his match, and ultimately his demise?
For more about Lone Wolf McQuade and the Lone Wolf McQuade Blu-ray release, see Lone Wolf McQuade Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on August 21, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Ten years before Chuck Norris donned a duster, black hat, and silver star badge for TV's Walker, Texas Ranger, he played a similar north-of-
the-border lawman in Lone Wolf McQuade, a thick slice of '80s action movie cheese. I say that with all possible fondness. In terms of over-the-
top, so-dated-it's-hilarious enjoyment, the film is actually one of Norris' best, rife with campy dialogue, martial arts absurdity, and more glistening
sweat than a Finnish sauna. If you're anything like me, this is the sort of mindless action fun you'd watch with your dad as a kid on a Sunday
afternoon. You'd be channel surfing on the couch, flipping through, and when Norris would appear—hair limp, face grimy, busting some serious
chops—you'd put down the remote and settle in, maybe slinging a few Mystery Science Theater-style comments at the television during the
more ridiculous scenes. Nowadays—and I realize I'm sounding like a grumpy old man here—low-budget action movies are so ironic and winking and
self-aware. In comparison, there's something guileless and loveably pure about Lone Wolf McQuade. It's hokey and laughable, but it's
Sleeveless Vest vs. Argyle Sweater. Round One. Fight!
Norris plays J.J. McQuade, a renegade Texas Ranger who—as you might gather from his lupine nickname—prefers to work and live alone. On friendly
terms with his divorced wife and teenaged daughter, he squats by himself in a ramshackle house decorated with guns and American flags and mounds
of trash. When the film opens, he's using the scope of his rifle to spy on a Mexican gang that's just rustled up a herd of mustangs and disarmed a
group of local police in a canyon below. McQuade saunters up over the ridge like a boss, silhouetted against the sun, and basically intimidates the ever-
loving crap out of the bandit underlings. Approaching unarmed, he quickly cracks some skulls, grabs an uzi, and spins around in a circle while spitting
hot lead, mowing down the criminals and straight-up awing the rescued cops.
Badass doesn't come close to cutting it, but McQuade's by-the-book supervisor takes issue with his kill-em-all tactics and assigns him a partner
—the comparatively clean-cut Kayo Ramos (Robert Beltran)—in hopes of keeping our bearded warrior in line. Yeah, good luck with that. McQuade has
none of it—"Forget it kid, I work alone," he says—but obviously J.J. and Kayo are going to be best buds by the end of this thing. Also in play are FBI
Special Agent Jackson (Leon Isaac Kennedy), a "candy-ass fed" McQuade initially despises, and the old coot Dakota (L.Q. Jones), a retired Ranger who
hasn't quite finished kicking ass.
Scripted by H. Kaye Dyal and B.J. Nelson, Lone Wolf McQuade has the kind of meaningless action movie plot that exists to keep the excitement
level ramped up. Which, under Steve Carver's direction, it generally does, mixing spaghetti western conventions, karate-chop theatrics, and buddy cop
shoot-outs. At a party thrown by the sultry widow Lola Richardson (Barbara Carrera)—cue our hero's love interest—McQuade makes the tense
acquaintance of her new boyfriend, Rawley Wilkes (David Carradine), a secret arms dealer and showboat martial arts expert. (The license plate on his
Cadillac reads "CARATE," because, you know, it's his karate car.) Wilkes has been knocking off Army convoys in the desert and selling the stolen
weaponry to the "Mexican mafia" honcho Emilio Falcon (Daniel Frishman)—a dwarf who tools around in an electric wheelchair, cackles maniacally at
every opportunity—and McQuade is determined to crack the case and at least a few dozen ribs. For added impetus, Wilkes' cronies kidnap McQuade's
daughter and hold her hostage at the derelict military base where Falcon keeps his armory. Will J.J. discover the location of the hidden base? Will he
have a mano-a-mano showdown with the nefarious Wilkes? Will scores of nameless henchmen be dispatched with extreme prejudice along the way?
Yes, yes, and hell yes.
In the grand tradition of Chuck Norris' entire B-movie filmography, this is unintentionally hilarious stuff, with stunted acting, kooky villains, and guns-
a'blazin', fists-a'flyin' action set pieces. If you've seen one, you've bloody well seen them all, but let's run through a few of Lone Wolf
McQuade's ridiculous particulars:
Sweat: Just everywhere. Norris spends each scene looking like he's just been spritzed with olive oil.
Fight Fashion: Norris rocks the shirtless-under-a-sleeveless-vest look, which is appropriate, but during the final fight—in what has to be
100+ degree weather—David Carradine wears an argyle sweater, like a duffer out on the links in the Scottish highlands. At least he has the
decency to push the sleeves up.
Exaggerated Pyrotechnics: Apparently, when oil drums are shot they launch into the air like rockets. Oh, and if you shoot a windshield
out of a truck, the whole vehicle erupts in a ball of fire.
Oddly Specific One-Liners: When the sexy Lola first appears, Dakota points her out and remarks to McQuade, "How'd you like to bite that
in the butt, develop lock-jaw, and be dragged to death?" I don't even know what that means. And then there's Agent Jackson's remark to a
fellow fed that McQuade "knows this country better than you know the warts on your wife's backside."
Unintentional Innuendo: As when McQuade threatens the dwarf Falcon with "I'll have your little ass." Easy there, cowboy.
Souped-Up Vehicle Hijinks: Since it has "super-chargers," McQuade's Bronco can rev up and burst out of the sand after being entirely
buried. Later, J.J. and Wilkes play a game of chicken, respectively driving a bulldozer and an armored truck.
Brothers from a Different Mother: Seriously, Norris and Carradine look so much alike here that they could probably pass for twins. You
can only tell them apart because Carradine actually has some acting chops.
Cumulative Hilarity: Altogether, Lone Wolf McQuade makes for a good time, providing you can see the film for what it is—a B-
level western/martial arts mashup that can't be taken seriously but goes well with alcohol and a handful of like-minded friends.
Looking better than it ever has on home video, Lone Wolf McQuade lopes onto Blu-ray with a faithful 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that's framed
in the proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Shot on a grainy 35mm stock with soft spherical lenses, the film ain't exactly eye candy, but the high definition
upgrade definitely bring out the best in the picture. MGM's print is practically spotless, with no white specks or scratches, and the image is untouched by
digital noise reduction, excessive edge enhancement, or other unnecessary additions. No blatant compression issues either, though the movie sits on a
single-layer disc. While the film is far from razor-sharp, there's quite a bit of newfound detail to be noticed, especially if you've only ever seen
McQuade on VHS or DVD. Closeups are especially improved, with finer textures and as clean of lines as the film's chunky grain structure allows.
Color seems natural—there's been no egregious oversaturation here—and the picture has a good density, with punchy reds and oranges, rich neutrals,
and balanced skin tones. Black levels are a bit hazy at times—and crush a bit during others—but in general the contrast seems strong. Not bad at all.
Like the other films in MGM's recent spate of Chuck Norris releases, Lone Wolf McQuade arrives on Blu-ray with a true-to-source DTS-HD Master
Audio Mono track. Given the sheer amount of sonic badassery that goes on in the film—explosions, machine gun bursts, body blows—it's unfortunate
that we couldn't have also been given an upgraded 5.1 mix. That said, when you think "B-level '80s action move," you also tend to think "single channel
audio," so I'm fine with this mono track. Dynamics are obviously limited, and the effects seem a bit canned at times, but everything sounds as it should.
The most notable element of the mix is the Morricone-inspired score by Francesco De Masi, which mixes western orchestral motifs with wobbly
synthesizers. Dialogue throughout is clear and easy to understand, and the disc includes a number of dub and subtitle options.
Though it isn't saying much, Lone Wolf McQuade is one of Chuck Norris' best beat-em-up/shoot-em-ups, a hybrid western/martial arts action
movie that's over-the-top in all the right ways. No one's gonna mistake this one for No Country for Old Men, but it's goofy fun and it hits the
spot if you're nostalgic for '80s cheese. MGM's Blu-ray release is bare-boned, with only a trailer in the "extras" tab, but the film certainly looks better
here than it ever has on home video. Is it worth the cost of the upgrade for Chuck Norris fans? Probably. All others would best be served adding Lone
Wolf McQuade to their Netflix queues.
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