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When Chuck Norris was offered the lead role of the film, he was in the process of establishing a new kick-boxing league in Los Angeles with Benny Urquidez. Norris cites his decision to pursue the movie over the league as a defining point in his transition from martial arts competition to acting. See more »
When Booker is jogging and his friend in the brown car pulls up, a Toyota Celica is shown passing the brown car. When the camera angle changes to the driver of the brown car, the Celica never appears outside his window as it should have. In the next scene, the same Toyota Celica is shown passing his friend's car as he pulls over. See more »
Everything went wrong by the numbers. And that takes planning.
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It might not have been Norris' breakout film, but he was on its way and a good stepping stone for things to come. Well he had appeared in a few films before hand, but not so much as a leading role and this was an attempt to create a new Bruce Lee for the American market. It's quite a routine vehicle for Norris, which while captivating it never truly capitalizes on the martial art skills that he bestows. Sure he gets time to hand out a beating or two, but in the end there's just not enough to go around. Most of the time Norris as ex-commando John T. Booker is racing around the clock trying to figure out a political conspiracy involving the extermination of his special-op team the "Black Tigers", and then maybe that's when angry or tested he decides to beat the pulp out of someone. Sadly when that happens the sock 'em activity doesn't last all that long by building up a punishing rhythm to only be over in a matter of seconds. Might be impressive to watch when in action (although the camera at times gets a little too close not allowing the space), but you feel short-changed hoping for more or at least some competition. The material could've seen any actor take the lead role, as it seems to ask more from as an establish actor, but then we probably wouldn't have seen the trademark stunt of Norris' stirring jump-kick through car windshield. This one sequence alone (along with a three on one car park showdown) shows what he could bring to the table.
So far I guess it sounds like I didn't get much from it, but that's not particularly true. What surprised more than anything was that his earlier features had somewhat heavily written plots, despite the forced dialogues. "Good Guys Wear Black" had quite a pessimistically knotty narrative; where it builds upon the mystery and strangely it's devious plotting of political corruption and lingering suspicion of things are not quite what they seem was compellingly fleshed out. Also the ending has nice touch of irony to it. Norris continuing to hand out justice Norris justice.
Ted Post (who helm Eastwood in "Hang 'Em High" and "Magnum Force") has a competent steadiness to his serviceable direction, but does lack the flair and excitement in the favour of grinding out the tough dramatics and lean action caught behind raw, but scenic locations. This is obvious, and it does seem to hold Norris back. He tries his best, but while his delivery might not always be the greatest (acting that is) he does have likability and certain charisma (not just the golden-blonde hair and moustache) that eventually shines through. The rest of performances do fair up a lot better. Anne Archer is bitingly good across Norris and James Franciscus likewise with his smarmy portrayal. Lloyd Haynes and Dana Andrews chime in with solid offerings. Jim Backus has a neat cameo too. Craig Safan's distinguishable jazz score crackles along.
Simply middle ground, as Norris would go onto better things.
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