Peter’s Retro Movie Review: Firewalker (1986)

April 10, 2012

Firewalker (1986) movie posterby Peter Nielsen

Firewalker starts with the two adventurers Max and Leo roaring over the desert-dunes in their jeep. They’re chased by, what appears to be drunken local pirates in dune buggies shooting wildly at them. When they also start throwing grenades, things get kind of frantic. Leo keeps telling Max to turn left, and Max in turn states that since they’re in the desert, what difference does it make if he turns either left or right?

As it turns out, it makes all the difference in the world! Max manages to crash the jeep into the only palm-tree and oasis for miles around. They’re caught and strapped to the ground and “the General” arrives. He mocks them and takes their pictures with a small camera and says with a stupid grin on his face: “A moment frozen in time”. To add further to the insult, he places a bottle of Perrier in Max’s hand and drives off. Since they’re tied spread-eagle between four stakes with no means of actually drinking the water, the General wants them to die with the life-saving liquid close at hand. Not a very nice man, huh?

He does, however, have a nice evil sense of humor, though. I’ll give him that! Max proceeds to break the bottle and use the shards to cut him and Leo loose from their bonds. As they walk off, Leo starts scolding him for spilling the water: “The only bottle of water for two hundred miles and YOU had to break it!” That’s gratitude for ya!

DAMMIT!! I ordered a BEER...

DAMMIT!! I ordered a BEER…

This opening sequence sets the tone for the rest of the movie. It’s a tongue-in-cheek adventure movie, one you can watch together with the whole family. Our two leads are played by Chuck Norris (The Octagon, Missing in Action) and Louis Gossett Jr. (Enemy Mine, An Officer and a Gentleman, Toy Soldiers) and are two out-off luck treasure-hunters who are about to get the break of their lives. This happens when they are approached by Patricia, played by Melody Anderson (Flash Gordon, Dead & Buried), who is in possession of a map showing the way to a large treasure of Aztec/Mayan/Apache origin and wants their help with finding it.

Working against them the whole time is a powerful priest-warrior-sorcerer-something called “El Coyote”. He’s played by the man with the booming voice, Sonny Landham, from 48 Hrs and Predator among others and they have a “huge” showdown with him at the end of the movie.

He SWORE the mall would be right around the corner!

He SWORE the mall would be right around the corner!

Aiding them along the way is the Indian shaman Tall Eagle who likes to watch I Love Lucy re-runs. He’s played by Will Sampson (The Outlaw Josey Wales, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) in his last film. He only had one more appearance (uncredited) in a made for TV movie called The Gunfighters, the year after.

Also helping them somewhat is one of Max’s old friends, Corky, played by the awesome John Rhys-Davies (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Living Daylights, The Lord of the Rings trilogy). It doesn’t really matter what kind of role he plays or what movie he’s in… It automatically gets a little bit better by his presence.

Firewalker is by no means a flawless movie. No, far from it! The acting is sometimes crappy and the editing seems choppy at times. It’s like a long string of scenes have just been stuck one after another without anything to tie them together, if you know what I mean? Sometimes there’s no fluidity between the different scenes.

The story itself is wafer-thin and brings nothing new to the plate. We’ve seen it all before! It’s kind of like a rip-off or mix of or in the same vein as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Romancing the Stone and King Solomon’s Mines.

Smile for the camera...

Smile for the camera…

But… despite all that, I still think this is a good movie and I actually like this one better than the two latter ones mentioned above. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s got something that just pulls me in every time I watch it. Granted it’s not as good now as it was the first time me and my dad rented it on VHS, but still… I think it’s got something to do with the three leads. There’s good chemistry between them and it actually looks like they all had fun with this and enjoyed making Firewalker.

It’s also interesting to note that director, J. Lee Thompson, is also the man responsible for classics like The Guns of Navarone and MacKenna’s Gold as well as Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. He’s also done a BUNCH of movies starring Mr. bad-ass action-hero himself, Charles Bronson, but I’ll just mention a couple here. St. Ives, 10 to Midnight, The White Buffalo and Messenger of Death.

But for Firewalker, he went more for the comedic action-adventure style and I think he succeeded in doing that very well. Because that’s the way it should be enjoyed, as the Sunday-matinee, popcorn-munching, mini-rollercoaster-ride that it is! Don’t take it too seriously and you’ll do just fine!

Until next time my friends, please tell me what YOU think of Firewalker in the comments below. And don’t forget the popcorn!

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