Long before chopping a pizza into eight slices with his bare hands, parachuting out of a sky shooting hot dogs out of a hot dog gun, or saving a damsel in distress from a bear using a hoagie in a Quicktrip snackle commercial, Chuck Norris was a top box office action hero.
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A kung fu superstar. At one time, some considered him as the "baddest man on the planet." Yes, the man who has some of the most popular memes on the internet is known as a martial arts legend.
Here are the ten best Chuck Norris movies, ranked according to their IMDb ratings.
Chuck Norris and his partner, Calvin Levels, are two Chicago detectiveswho, while investigating the murder of a rabbi, realize that they have to stop the supernatural being, Prostanos.
AB-movie at its finest, Hellboundwas produced by, at the time, struggling-to-survive film studio Cannon. It serves as a one-time action superhero trying to save or restore his career by fighting a super demon played by film and television bad man, Christopher Neame.
It was not that long after that his television series, Walker, Texas Ranger, gained popularity and revitalize Norris's career.
Coming off the heels of Romancing the Stone, The Cannon Group, wanting its own comedy action/adventure, producedFirewalkerstarring Norris and Louis Gossett Jr. as an unlikely comedy duo. They play soldiers of fortune trying to track down an ancient trove of gold in Central America with the help of a mysterious woman played by Melody Anderson.
Firewalkergained popularity due to a notable bar fight scene that allowed Norris to display his exemplary fighting skills afterhe was insulted in Spanish by an overtly sizable human being. Norris takes out the gum in his mouth and puts it in Gossett's hand, telling him to hold this as he destroys everyone in the bar, even finding the time to take a sip of beer.
In vintage action movie style, Norris plays a cop trying to stop the serial killer Simon Moon (Jack O'Halloran), also known as "The Terror" due to the gruesome way he kills women and takes them to his liar.
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Norris adds more dimensions to his character other than the stereotypical hot-tempered fighting machine of his past films. His role has many layers, especially the scenes involving his relationship with his girlfriend (Brynn Thayer).
Although Hero and the Terror was not well received, it put cracks in the stereotype of Norris as a kung fu guy doing martial arts films. It helped legitimizes his acting credibility.
Chuck Norris plays a Vietnam veteran who goes back to Vietnam to rescue those who are missing in action.
Critics panned the film stating it was "riding on the coattails" of the Rambo franchise, but this was a commercial hit for Cannon films and Norris's most popular movie. Cannon released Missing in Action before Rambo First Blood II,andthe movie went on tospawn two sequels with Missing in Action 2: The Beginning and Braddock: Missing in Action III.
Norris dedicated the films in this franchise to his brother who was killed in the Vietnam war.
Norris and his partner (Terry Kiser) are trying to uncover a drug ringleader, portrayed byChristopher Lee. When they meet someone who can help them solve the case, Norris's partner ends up dead.Norris decides to leave the force and take matters into his own hands.
Because the audience grew accustomed to Norris's films being full of nonstop action and hardcore violence, some were disappointed with An Eye for an Eye'stameness. Some questioned if Norris was trying to break away from being pigeonholed as just a martial artist to a legitimate actor.
The hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985,where hijackers held dozens of hostages for several weeks, inspiredThe Delta Force. The film stars Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin (Dirty Dozen and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) as leaders of an elite group of Special Operations Forces who are sent to resolve a catastrophe after terrorists seize a plane.
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Two interesting facts about the film franchise (Delta Force 2 was released four years later, while the third installment went straight to video) is that Charles Bronson was the initial choice to co-star alongside Norris, but he declined. And the theme music by Alan Silverstri was later used by ABC Sportsduring the opening of the Indy 500 between 1988 and 1998.
Although relatively low on this list, Forced Vengeance has one of the most recognizable intros in Kung Fu cinema history.
The silhouettes of Chuck Norris with two ladies and an attacker along with a Hong Kong neon sign serve as the backdrop as a heavy synthesized ballad plays. The man approaches Norris, who gives his hat to one of the ladies, and the twomen proceed to fight in slow motion until finally, Norris kicks the adversary over the stair railing.
Trying to improve from the film he released the previous year, AnEye for an Eye, Norris made sure that Forced Vengeancehada ton of action and violence. While the body count is high, the acting and storyline are low.
This filmis a departure from Norris's traditional martial arts movies. Although it has plenty of action, Code of Silence focuses more on guns, car chases, and explosions rather than the hand-to-hand combat that audiences had grown accustomed to.
Norris plays a Chicago cop caught between a rock and a hard place when he has to stop a gang warwhilehaving to take down a careless cop who caused a divide in the department.
Lone Wolf McQuade stars Chuck Norris and Kung Fu's David Carradinealongside an all-star line-up including Barbara Carrera and Leon Isaac Kennedy. Norris plays a Texas Ranger who must stop a drug lord who has the same martial arts skillset as him, while they also compete for the same woman.
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The final fight scene between Norris and Carradine, although very good andavoided usingstunt doubles, is not as historical as his1973 epic battle scenewithBruce Lee in The Way of the Dragon. But it is very intriguing to see Norris fight the man who beat out Lee for the role of Kwai Chang Caine in the television series, Kung Fu.
Lone Wolf McQuade elevated Norristo a bonafide action star and also served as the inspiration for his television show ten years later, Walker, Texas Ranger.
If Lone Wolf McQuade brought Chuck Norris (the first westerner ever to hold the rank of an 8th degree black belt in Taekwondo) into the mainstream as a certified action star, then The Way of the Dragon put him on the map as America's answer or equivalent to Bruce Lee.
The Way of the Dragon is about Tang Yung (Bruce Lee), who visits his relatives in Italy and has to defend them against neighborhood gangsters. After he beats all the local mobsters, the crime boss hires henchmen from abroad, including Colt, depicted by Chuck Norris.
Making his film debut, the sight of Norrisstepping outside of the airport with long sideburns, large shades with gold rims, a long collard colorful shirt with a beautiful big bronze belt buckle, and a briefcaseis pretty iconic.
Norris and Lee'sepic fight scene is considered by many to be the greatest move fight ever.
NEXT:10 Best Bruce Lees Movies/TV Shows, Ranked (According To IMDB)
Next10 Best Val Kilmer Movies Ever, Ranked (According To IMDb)
Sean K. Mitchell is a graduate from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. Since an early age, he has enjoyed the escapism of both movies and television, allowing one to lose themselves in entertainment euphoria. Sean has written entertainment reviews for several websites. Currently, he is a List Writer for Screen Rant.
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