Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky I survived on a heavy diet of horror, science fiction, and action films growing up. Trips to the video store in the mid eighties were always exciting even though I watched the death of Betamax firsthand. Imagine, if you will, walls of boxes with beautiful and intriguing images offering passages to other worlds, but you could only select something from the decaying two shelves in the back, because my house backed the wrong horse in that format war. We didn’t cross over to VHS until roughly 1990, which meant many rentals were used on the same film…a classic in my young eyes…Invasion U.S.A.
Sadly, renowned author Thomas Wolfe was right when he coined the phrase “You can’t go home again.”
The Movie Itself (2/5)
The film is about the most ethnically diverse group of terrorists ever assembled putting together an army and storming the beaches of Florida like it’s D Day to cause havoc and anarchy. The endgame being that the United States will feed off this chaos, and eventually destroy itself so that the terrorists can rule. Matt Hunter (Chuck Norris) is brought out of retirement by ‘The Agency’ to bring down the terrorist’s leader, Rostov, under the conditions that they remember he works alone, and he gets to ram into things with his pickup truck.
Invasion U.S.A. offers up almost every action film cliche in the book; Huge Explosions? Check. Guns that never need reloading? Check. Forced one liners? Check. Villain with only a thin veil of motivation? Check. There are so many more, and if you can imagine it, this film’s probably got it.
Removing the nostalgia blinders and watching Invasion U.S.A. as an adult I can almost look at this film as an allegory for the excess of the 1980s; everything is over the top, and I’m embarrassed to admit I liked it at one point in my life.
Visuals/Picture Quality (3/5)
Invasion U.S.A. comes to us from Shout! Factory and while the picture looks good for what it is, it’s still obviously a product of the times. Grain is present throughout, but the picture is probably the best we’ll ever see it. Minimal work could be done to really clean the image up, and I’m surprised that wasn’t done. Colors are good, black levels are good, it’s just not a Blu-ray you’re going to pop in your player to show off that new TV of yours.
Score/Audio Quality (3/5)
The audio was serviceable. It’s a stereo mix so it won’t be crushing any home theater systems, but it was blended well enough that what little dialogue there was in the action scenes weren’t overpowered, and vice versa. The score wasn’t anything to write home about, typical generic action movie muzak.
Special Features (4/5)
Even though it’s not a Collector’s Edition, Shout! Factory offers up a nice platter of bonus material.
Director Joseph Zito offers up a commentary track. If I were to watch the film again, it would be accompanied by this track. I found it more entertaining than the film itself.
We’ve also got two sets of interviews, first with writer James Bruner clocking in at 29 minutes. He discusses his start in Hollywood and his experience writing the film. It’s a nice fluff piece I’d be more interested in if I hadn’t just been underwhelmed by my childhood expectations with the actual film.
Second set of interviews are from makeup effects artists Tom Savini, Howard Berger, and Greg Nicotero coming in just shy of 18 minutes. Best special feature on the disc! It gives the typical production insight, but also an anecdote about a baby that I found far funnier than I should. If you get this disc, don’t skip this feature.
Rounding us out are a trailer and TV spot for Invasion U.S.A. and a trailer for Braddock: Missing In Action 3.
- Standard Keepcase.
Since the disc isn’t a Collector’s Edition, it lacks the reversible insert. However, there is a nice shot of Chuck Norris’ mug on the interior.
- Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
- DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo
Runtime 110 Mins
Invasion U.S.A. is a film that managed to defy expectations at the time of its release, but doesn’t hold up compared to the better, more thought out action fare that came after it. Too bad to be a good film, too good to be a ‘so bad its good film,’ this is definitely the movie your dad watches on a Sunday afternoon when he’s longing for what he considers ‘The Good Ol’ Days.’