The long shadow of Indiana Jones was still in vogue by the time this J. Lee Thompson effort hit the big screen. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus who fronted Cannon Films were perhaps the company that was riding the coattails of Spielberg and Lucas more than any other at the time. They had already released the Dick Chamberlain flick King Solomon’s Mines and the follow up Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold into theaters prior to this release.
Which brings us to this Chuck Norris – Lou Gossett tale of two treasure hunting buddies chasing gold and adventure. Might I dare say this just might be the most enjoyable Chuck Norris flick of all upon a revisit that’s been thirty plus years in the making?
Chuck and Lou play too bickering lovable rogues who when the film begins are attempting to outrun a ragtag group of toughs on dune buggies in the desert. All to no avail as the boys are left staked in the hot sun to die staring at a bottle of water to tease their thirst. No worries as Chuck gets them out of their predicament and with a fast edit the pair are enjoying a beer in the nearest bar laughing about their close call. Enter Miss Melody Anderson looking for a couple adventurers to assist her in following a treasure map to the motherlode of gold that is in her possession.
The pair don’t put much stock in her story until an attempt is made on her life giving credence to her story. And off we go. First up to a cave that wasn’t too hard to find in the Mexican countryside. A clue, a dagger and a couple of roundhouse kicks to some aggressive warriors and the trio are off to meet with Will Sampson for some deciphering help. Will knows of the old legends of the Firewalker and will provide them with some good medicine when they are to go up against the chief villain and man of magic, Sonny Landham.
A short time later Sonny fails to kill the Chuckster by sending a demonic woman after him but is far from giving up just yet. Carrying onward the trio of adventurers head into the next dive bar looking for more information concerning details on the map. Who should they run into? None other than Seinfeld’s Mr. Pitt (or Elaine’s one time boss if you prefer) as a down on his luck Englishman willing to sell anything for a price. Chuck being as gullible as a child buys everything Mr. Pitt’s selling. As this is a bar why not a barfight? This will give Chuck a chance to fight the behemoth Miguel Angel Fuentes. For the legions of Chuck fans out there I must say, when comparing Norris vs. Fuentes against Bronson vs. Fuentes, it’s ruled as a no contest. Charles wins by a nutcracking landslide.
“Leo’s the subtle one, I’m in charge of charm.”
Yes Chuck is the charmer and his skills with the ladies is paying off with Melody. The two are falling for each other as the treasure hunt sends them deeper and deeper into jungle terrain and the palm of John Rhys-Davies who intends to someday be a Marlon Brando like Col. Kurtz and king of the territory. Not to worry just yet as he’s still the friendly type.
With some help from Davies the gang is off and running once again in a camouflaged VW Beetle attempting to locate the lost temple where there is sure to be a fortune in gold. Of course Sonny is lurking in the jungles and when Lou goes missing did I see a tear in Chuck’s eye over the loss of his partner? Give it time as there’s still a good half hour to go to find Lou, save Melody from the evil clutches of Sonny, dispatch said villain and locate enough gold to live on for the remainder of their lives.
I have a feeling they’ll be looking for a whole new adventure instead. But then unlike the majority of Cannon releases and Chuck Norris films, this one never spawned a sequel. Seriously, Firewalker 2 could have been a whole lot more entertaining than Missing In Action III. Our director J. Lee Thompson of Cape Fear and Guns of Navarone fame was by this time working steadily for the Golan-Globus team having already done their King Solomon’s Mines and a steady diet of Bronson films.
I forgot to squeeze in here that you won’t be disappointed, Chuck delvers his patented roundhouse kick in multiples.
Don’t get caught up in the goofs on screen. Sonny’s eyepatch apparently switches eyes on occasions according to what I’ve read up on this one though I never noticed. I was too engrossed in the Chuck and Lou bickering and the Sonny vs. Will battle of spirits to notice. I did spot a shadow coming into camera at a CUT when Chuck and Lou are swinging over a pit of foggy boiling water to escape certain death. Anyone recall the show Relic Hunter with sexy Tia Carrere? That’s what this movie reminded me off minus the leading lady who “I am not worthy to ever meet.” To squeeze everything in to the 105 minute running time, the trio of fortune hunters have everything fall into place escaping death on numerous occasions and locate the you know what so easily I can’t fathom just how the treasures hadn’t been plundered centuries ago.
If you like Cannon films, it’s a must and I couldn’t help but think it would make a decent adventure to share with a grandkid of the right age bracket if you have one. I’ll add it to my list for when my time comes. If it ever does and the little tyke enjoys the film enough for multiple viewings as kids are prone to doing, maybe I’ll gift him/her my original one sheet I’ve had tucked away for quite a while.