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Invasion U.S.A.

Review by: 
Head Cheeze
Release Date: 
Shout! Factory
Aspect Ratio: 
Directed by: 
Joseph Zito
Chuck Norris
Richard Lynch
Bottom Line: 

In the halcyon days of the late 1980s, when the idea of enemy troops stepping foot onto American soil was something most people would laugh at, Hollywood treated us to a couple of sobering (and not so sobering) “what if” scenarios where America was taken by surprise and thrown into chaos by invading scoundrels from all corners of the globe. While Red Dawn is probably the best-known flick from the period, there were a few others that, like the dreaded red menace, snuck in under the radar. One of my favorites, the Chuck Norris shoot-em-up, Invasion U.S.A., comes to Blu-ray this week courtesy of Shout! Factory.

One look at the poster for Invasion USA would suggest an all-out action epic, with a burning capitol building in the background and a double-Uzi-wielding Chuck Norris decked out head-to-toe in resplendent denim in the foreground. While we do get the denim, Chuck and company go nowhere near our nation’s capital, as the action takes place mainly in Florida. Of course Invasion: Florida doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?

Anyway, the film revolves around Norris’ character, Matt Hunter, a C.I.A. agent residing in southern Florida who finds himself in the middle of an all-out mercenary attack orchestrated by his one-time nemesis, Rostov (the era’s B-movie villain of choice, Richard Lynch). Rostov decides that America has grown complacent and doesn’t appreciate the freedoms its government affords its citizens, and recruits an army of assorted mercenary types to wreak havoc in the Sunshine State through blowing up houses, shooting up Cuban dance halls, and tormenting his old foe Hunter’s pet armadillo. Hunter, of course, doesn’t take kindly to any of this, and dons his best sleeveless denim shirt and goes into action.

Invasion U.S.A. is very cut and dry stuff. There’s really not much plot to speak of other than the small amount of backstory between Rostov and Hunter, leaving the rest of the film dedicated to random attacks and retaliations, culminating in a downtown bloodbath in which Norris single-handedly takes on most of Rostov’s cannon fodder army. We do get a few strangely out-of-place character bits, including a confrontation between Rostov and a drug smuggler played by Billy Drago, but it seems that whatever ties to the film proper any of these scenes had were snipped and left on the cutting room floor, making the film just a series of action set pieces loosely tied together by a paper-thin and outlandish premise. And that’s just fine. That’s how I like my brainless action movies. And Invasion U.S.A. is one of my favorite brainless action movies of all time! Only God knows how many times I’ve actually seen this flick, but I’ll venture to guess that it’s in well into double digit territory thanks to myriad versions I’ve owned in every form of media it’s been release on. Now, thanks to Shout! Factory, I have it on Blu-ray, and I couldn’t be happier.

The film is presented in a very clean 1.85:1 1080p transfer that, while a touch on the grainy side, is in remarkable condition overall. The level of fine detail on display is impressive, and colors are rich and vibrant while blacks are inky and true. Paired with a boffo 2.0 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, the film has never looked or sounded better!

What really put this release over the top for me, however, is the amazing bonus features Shout! rounded up for the release, including a feature-length commentary track with Zito and Shout’s Mike Felsher that offers up a ton of excellent info regarding not only the making of the film, but the apparent butchery it underwent in the editing room where, as Zito puts it, much of the character-centric stuff was excised in favor of focusing purely on the action. I’d love to see Zito’s cut of the film, but given how Cannon treated their properties, I’m sure all of that cut footage is rotting in a landfill somewhere.

Other bonus goodies include a nifty short featurette entitled Cannon Carnage: The Makeup Effects of Invasion U.S.A. (HD), which features interviews with Tom Savini, Howard Berger, and Greg Nicotero.

Rounding out the extras are a stills gallery (HD), a television spot (HD), and a trailer for this film as well as Norris’ Braddock: Missing in Action III which, ironically, ISN’T included on Shout’s Blu-ray of that film.

Invasion U.S.A. is a gory, fast-paced, and absolutely off-the-rails action shoot-em-up that fans of Norris have long held dear. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray presentation is superb, as are the included extras, and fans should consider this one highly recommended!


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