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To kick nin-jas in the head or not to kick nin-jas in the head - that is Chuck's question...
on 28 June 2014
Chuck Norris vs. an army of ninjas – no wonder many regard The Octagon as the Gone with the Wind of Chuck Norris movies. It’s not, of course: it’s really the Hamlet of Chuck Norris movies with our hero and his often indecipherable echoplex interior monologue prevaricating when asked by Lee Van Cleef’s anti-terrorist agent to help him stop Chuck’s Japanese brother who is now training international terrorists and mercenaries in the nin-ja (as people keep on pronouncing it) way in his octagonal arena, prevaricating when Karen Carlson’s heiress asks for his protection from nin-ja trained mercenaries, prevaricating when repentant would-be terrorist Carol Bagdasarian asks his help to get away from the nin-jas who not only kill their failures but their entire families as well… In fact he spends so much time prevaricating before he learns that inaction is also an action that he doesn’t get to kick much ass until the last twenty minutes. And just in case you don’t get that Chuck’s just like the Prince of Denmark, Carlson even takes his best dead meat buddy Art Hindle to see Hamlet so he can make a quip about the hero not making his mind up (though not, curiously, commenting on the fact that just like Hamlet he’s absolutely crap at saving anyone’s life).
The kind of action film that nobody goes to see on the big screen anymore, the plot makes very little sense unless you’re very, very drunk and even then you might find yourself asking just why all the terrorist recruits turn on their nin-ja tutors at the end (answer: to up the body count). Being an exploitation film, there’s a lot of shorthand at work: Ernie Hudson turns up in one scene just to give us some back story on why Chuck doesn’t want to fight anymore, Chuck’s brother became evil because he lost a obstacle course race as a kid while we know one of the recruits is an IRA terrorist because he has red hair and another is PLO because he wears a tea towel on his head (wrong pattern, but who’ll notice?). But it does end up with Chuck Norris taking on an army of nin-jas, and that’s all its target audience could ask for.
The Blu-ray offers a respectable widescreen transfer with making of documentary, audio commentary by director Eric Karson, trailer and TV spot and the same documentary about the rise and fall of exploitation outfit American Cinema Productions that's included on the A Force of one Bluray and DVD..