Firewalker (1986) – J. Lee Thompson


The goofy 80s adventure movies continue with this goofy, campy clunker starring Chuck Norris, Louis Gossett Jr. and Melody Anderson.

Stealing from the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark (right down th an appearance by John Rhys-Davies) and Romancing the Stone, the film pairs up Chuck as Max Donigan and Louis as Leo Porter, a pair of adventurers who are always looking for a good treasure hunt. They’re goofy, and Gossett actually does seem to be having a good time, it’s hard to tell with Norris’ performance cause it’s always the same. There are actually some fun little throwaway lines, but the set pieces are kind of lacking, and the action sequences could be a lot stronger.

The duo are offered a high-risk, high-paying treasure hunt by Patricia Goodwin, played by Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon), who is pretty, apparently partially psychic, and can hold her own against Norris’ acting, but rather out of her league against Gossett.

This time however, unlike the other Golan-Globus film, Invasion U.S.A., Norris does let loose with some fisticuffs, something he does excel at. He also has enough camp lines, delivered in that monotone of his to actually be kind of fun.

The trio is scouring Central America for  a massive treasure that seems to be part Astec, part Mayan, part Egyptian, and part Native American – I don’t think the screenwriters could even sort it out.

They are pursued by a giant of an eye-patch wearing killer known as El Coyote (Sonny Landham), armed with their wits, a sense of the absurd and mystical dagger.

There are goofy effects, double takes, shared looks… It’s camp and so low-budget when compared to the films it’s trying to pay homage (ripping off) to.

One of the most annoying things about the film, was the horrid synth-based score by Gary Chang. He’s been involved in some really good projects, including doing some additional music cues on one of my favorite 80s movie, The Breakfast Club. This time around, it just doesn’t work.

The film stumbles to a goofy climax, that sees Leo hanging over a pit of boiling water. Well, in the wide shots. In the medium and close-ups however, it’s very obvious to tell that Gossett is standing on something, as there is absolutely no strain on his arms. Escaping this trap they’re off to rescue Patricia, who has somehow fallen in love with Max, from being sacrificed to the gods by El Coyote so he can have the power of the Firewalker, which in itself is questionable, and is never really clarified to my liking.

There’s some fun camp, some actually enjoyable lines, but the rest of the film is decidedly uninspired.

It’s just a goofy film, that of course did fairly well in the home video market, when there was no internet to warn anyone, and honestly, when I was a kid, it may have appealed to me, and I may have enjoyed it.

But now, watching it, all I can do is smile, chuckle, and shake my head.


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