Lone Wolf McQuade: Wow.
Everything that’s ridiculous about this movie can be gleaned, like nuggets panned from a river, in its first 10 minutes.
After a credit sequence that begins with a photo-negative montage of a wolf crossing sandy scrub, we cut to a convoy of Mexicans rustling horses. The local sheriff and some deputies stake them out from a hilltop. J.J. McQuade watches them. As the sheriff and his men ride down to arrest the horse thieves, McQuade shakes his head in disgust.
What should the sheriff’s men, who outnumber the rustlers, have done? I don’t know, but probably what J.J. McQuade did:
- Waited until the rustlers took several deputies hostage;
- Shot out the gas tank of their truck with a hunting rifle;
- Stood up where the head rustler can see you and get a good bead on you;
- Watched while the sheriff got shot;
- Came down and surrendered your rifle and sidearm;
- Kicked everyone in the head
To be fair, McQuade shot a lot of guys, too.
Lone Wolf McQuade takes the foreign stereotype of Americans – beer-swilling, gun-toting, violent, unwashed, antisocial louts – and turns it into a virtue. Drinking Pearl Beer (which he keeps in his glove compartment), hoisting an illegal sidearm confiscated from arms smugglers, kicking people’s teeth in and showing up to his boss’s office sweaty and gross is what makes McQuade a hero. His strength comes from his filth. It’s the prissy Rangers in the downtown offices, or the pansy sheriff’s men, or the leather-shoed FBI, who’ve traded in their masculinity for style. But McQuade’s such a man, he doesn’t even wear a shirt at home!
Contrast McQuade with his nemesis: the amulet-wearing, metrosexually-sweatered Rawley Wilkes (David Carradine).
When Wilkes shows up at a racetrack (in a foreign car with the license plate ‘CARATE’), a woman tells McQuade that Wilkes won the “European Karate championships” a few years back. What’s the matter, Rawley? American Karate championships not good enough for ya? Anyhow, Wilkes gets into a boxing ring and kicks a variety of martial arts practitioners in the head, because someone thought that would be a good time. Then he calls out McQuade! But McQuade doesn’t fight for sport. Frustrated, Wilkes later sends a few of his lackeys to pick a fight that McQuade will have to break up, in order to test him.
When Lola Richardson (Barbara Carrera, Never Say Never Again) falls in love with McQuade, she shows up at his house one afternoon and begins cleaning it up. Never mind that they’ve been on one date to this point. Never mind that a shack full of filth rarely makes a man more attractive to a woman. Richardson cheerily throws out his beer and makes with the vacuuming. McQuade tries to scare her off, but then regrets making her cry. He resolves to let her into his disgusting life, and soon the two of them are making out in a mud puddle. Seriously.
And yet, this is probably one of the saner Chuck Norris movies. Even with the Mexican midget mob boss. In a wheelchair.