Sunday, May 6, 2012


Forest Warrior
93 min
United States (English)

Directed by Aaron Norris
Written by Ron Swanson and Galen Thompson

This straight-to-video action vehicle for Chuck Norris is terrifically terrible. Well, maybe it is not even that...

Is there a fine line between so bad it's good and just plain bad? Only Chuck Norris' "Forest Warrior" could make me ask this question. A group of campfire kids that shouldn't act learn the legend of Tanglewood forest, a sacred place in the mountains near their cozy Oregon town. In the late 1800s John McKenna (Norris) was trying to return to his Native American wife and was ambushed his way. (Imagine this as a sequel to "Dances with Wolves"...) He died in the forest and was preserved to serve as its protector. McKenna is now the Spirit of Tanglewood, an unstoppable shapeshifter (the power to change into a bear, wolf, or eagle) that will kick (yes, primarily kick) the crap out of any evildoers. When a logging company sets their greedy sights on Tanglewood a girl of the town prays that the forest will be safe. McKenna appears and says, "Amen." Seriously.

This premise could make for a ridiculously entertaining video game and could have done the same for this movie. However, the truly imbecilic fun moments are too few to recommend watching this entire affair. The problem is that you will appreciate the highlights the most only after slogging through the irritating and painfully sappy stretches of time with these kids. Children can ruin the potential for a B-movie if you let them control the plot. Chuck Norris is only in 18% of "Forest Warrior" and that is the film's primary offense. You'd think director Aaron Norris would give his brother more time in the  limelight. With many more scenes like the beat down he delivers at the 51:00 mark (the film's shining moment), this could have achieved cult status. Can "Forest Warrior" do anything right? This film cannot even keep its place in the IMDb Bottom 100 where it once dwelt.

The evil loggers did not even stand a chance, which also makes the film less interesting. Travis Thorne (Terry Kiser) is their cigarette-chomping boss (what, couldn't afford cigars?). He gets his comeuppance with the rest of them. McKenna is virtually invincible (yes, I know he's Chuck Norris) and even when a kid dies he simply summons the spirits of the forest to resurrect her. The film is available for free on Hulu because nobody would see it otherwise. I was surprised to find favorable reviews, someone even recommending it "for the kids." Sit back and think upon what this film teaches: It's okay to go camp in the bear-filled mountains without adult supervision. Oh, and beat the hell out of any who opposes you! McKenna even dazes one logger so his pint-sized friend can deliver the final blow. Fatality!

To tell you the truth, I'm still unsure where I stand on this film. I am brought back to the question I posed at the onset. The awful performances, over-bearing "bad guy" music, lousy choreography, over-used slo-mo, and propagandistic themes... There is no way I would recommend this if it weren't for the transforming powers of Chuck Norris. I had a hearty laugh when he showed up, but even then, it is decidedly awful. Ultimately, the kids spoiled the fun. Here's hoping for something a little better from Mr. Norris in "The Expendables 2" later this year.

CONTENT: crappy violence

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