Octagon is Chuck's Best! Began the Ninja-Mania of the 1980s.
Isaiah Stewart | Salt Lake City, Utah United States | 11/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
Ever wonder where all the ninja movies of the 1980s came from?
They all came about as a result of The Octagon. It was the first ninja movie made in the U.S. It was a huge hit and it single-handedly created the ninja-mania of the '80s.
I am a huge Chuck Norris fan and I rank The Octagon as the VEYR BEST movie he has made to date. Not only did the movie make a ton of money at the box office (his most profitable film to date) but it demonstrates Chuck's best karate skills.
Watching this movie, you can really see Chuck's skilled martial arts technique and see what he is capable of doing. YOU SEE WHY THIS GUY WAS UNDEFEATED WORLD KARATE CHAMPION SIX TIMES IN A ROW. This movie doesn't require a bunch of cheesy MTV jump-cut edits to deliver good martial arts action like today's cheesy martial arts movies.
Here's an FYI: the more camera edits you have during kicks and punches, the less skilled the actor is at doing them. The Octagon shows that Norris doesn't need camera edits to execute triple spinning-back-kicks. He does them one right after another, all right in front of your eyes, from one camera angle (!!!)
This movie also features the great Richard Norton in a hidden role as the main masked ninja heavy that Chuck takes on in the final scene.
I am so glad to see that this movie is now out on DVD and with some excellent behind the scenes back-features. Two well-produced over 30-minute long documentaries on The Octagon and American Cinema, as well as trailers and 5.1 and surround sound (!!!)
After The Octagon, Chuck went on to make An Eye for an Eye, another great Chuck flick. But, to me, The Octagon will always be No. 1. If you want to see what Chuck Norris is capagle of doing in peak form. What him kick some serious ninja butt in this one - the ORIGINAL NINJA MOVIE!"
"Expect the unexpected and trust no one."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 03/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The actual title for this film is `The' Octagon (1980)...Amazon seems to have left off the `The' part, and it's a minor distinction, but that's how I've always known this film, as The Octagon, rather than just Octagon (the DVD case has it correctly)...for some reason it annoyed me, but I've since gotten over it...it's just that I can't help get the feeling that in terms of Chuck Norris and these DVD releases of his earlier films, there seems to be something of a lack of respect...mislabeled titles on seller sites, and often, the DVDs themselves are rarely presented in the original aspect ratio...perhaps there is a conspiracy...anyway, The Octagon was co-written by Leigh Chapman, who was not only responsible for the atrocious Octaman (1971)...(is there an `Octa' theme here?), but also wrote the classic exploitation film Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974), which I've been patiently waiting for release to DVD. Directing the film is Eric Karson, whose credits also include Dirt (1979) and Opposing Force (1986) and starring is Chuck Norris (A Force of One) in a role we would become accustom to seeing him in as the reluctant hero (I won't fight unless I have to!). Also appearing is Karen Carlson (The Candidate), Art Hindle (Black Christmas, Porky's), Richard Norton (The Blood of Heroes), Jack Carter (Alligator), Ernie Hudson (The Crow), Tracey Walter (Repo Man, Conan the Destroyer), and Lee Van Cleef (Escape from New York).
Norris plays Scott James, an ex-martial artist who gets drawn into the world of international terrorism after the death of his would be girlfriend and her family at the hands of a ninja death squad, trained by someone who James has familial ties with...sounds pretty simple, doesn't it? Well, that's the short and skinny of it...the plot is actually much more involved and convoluted (i.e. confusing) as the story is swimming with all kinds of extraneous characters and plot threads including, but not limited to, a publishing heiress threatened by the same death squad, opposing mercenary groups, one lead by Van Cleef (his acts more in the capacity of bodyguards/anti-terrorists, while the other is involved in terrorism), a ninja training camp, and a girl who was once a trainee in the aforementioned camp, but now wants out. Sounds kinda messy, doesn't it? Well it is...
Okay, first of all, let me start with the story...it is too long and drawn out, featuring way too many characters and subplots (and let's not forget the numerous flashbacks). All these unnecessary complications only served to drag the pace of the film down, and this is highlighted by the fact there's only one fight scene in the first 50 minutes of the film. Sometimes I gripe about the lack of character development in a film, but here, there was way too much as the writer tries to tie so many characters together with often the loosest of circumstances. When I see a Chuck Norris film, I wanna see some action, and there is some here, but not until much later. Had they cut the number of characters by half (and subsequently the useless plot threads), they could have shaved about 20 to 30 minutes off the bloated run time of 103 minutes, and had a much better film. What was the point of Van Cleef's character? His group was presented as an elite team of bodyguards, but they seemed hardly worth their price, as their clientele would usually end up dead. Hardly good for business, I must say... Something else that annoyed me about this film was Norris' character would regularly have this creepy, whispery, echoic, inner monologue that was often hard to discern, and offered nothing of use, only the fact that he liked to continually state the obvious to himself in his own mind. And the concept of a ninja training camp is cool, but it lost a bit of credibility once I saw the trainees as many of them were hardly what I would deem `ninja' quality, many being overweight, out of shape, and lacking the necessary discipline to even be admitted...I guess secret terrorist organizations have to take what they can get. The real action begins about 15 or 20 minutes before the film ends, as Norris infiltrates the ninja training camp, which is supposedly located somewhere in South America. Chuck takes on a whole load of enemies, using hand to hand combat as well as various weapons. The fight scenes here are excellent, and almost make up for the rest of the film. As far as the acting goes, I think a few did alright, but they were obviously hampered by a lame script, and were probably as confused as I was about what the hell was going on in the film. As I stated before, had they excised about half the characters, gotten rid of a lot of the `touchy feely' junk, spread some more action around, and removed any number of pointless plot threads, I think this could have been an outstanding action flick, rather than a overly long drudge with nearly all the action stacked at the end. To be fair, I'm pretty sure this film did very well when it came out, and a lot of people enjoyed it, but I would hardly call this Chuck's best film.
The film is presented in full screen format on this DVD, which is what I was expecting after seeing Trinity Home Entertainment's release of A Force of One (1979), which is also only in full screen format. Why they didn't have access to an original wide screen print I'll never known. I will say the print on this DVD does look very good, and the audio comes through clear available in 5.1 Dolby Digital along with English and Spanish 2.0. There are some extras including The Making of the Octagon (39 minutes). How American Cinema Changed Hollywood Forever (28 minutes), trailers for the film, and an extensive cast and crew biography section.
An Action Film Before its Time
Mr. Michael R. Morris | 01/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"People scoff these days because Chuck Norris had a ridiculous 70's mustache. But keep in mind The Octagon was the film that introduced the Ninja to the American public. This was before James Clavelle's Shogun, this was before all the American Ninja movies, Franco Nero (who?) and all that. If it wasn't for this movie, little kids' ninja dolls would have come a little or a lot later.
When I first saw this movie when I was a kid, the Ninja-thing took me by storm. Now that I've recently purchased the re-release DVD, the film still holds up not only as an action flick, but also as a document to a very exciting time in martial arts movies.
Also keep in mind that American Cinema was at the time a cutting-edge independent movie company that set the standard for releasing and marketing niche movies. But you can see all that in the "How American Cinema Changed Hollywood" documentary in the special features."
Hit and miss, but has a place in Ninja film history.
Ratspit | California, United States | 03/05/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I like The Octagon. I remember watching it back in the 80's and I had been waiting for it to come out on dvd. The dvd is great, and the extra's are interesting. However, the production values in this movie are hit and miss, some scenes drag on way long, and the directing could have been better in places. I do like that we can hear Chuck with is thoughts in echoing voice-over and think his performance in the film (in some places anyway) is better than in some other films of his. As a reviewer at IMDB said "The fight scene inside the Octagon between Scott James (Norris) and Kyo the Enforcer (Norton) is one of the most impressive and best choreographed fight scenes I have ever seen in any martial arts flick. No wire works, nor special camera shots...just one fluid scene of swift exchanges of blows combining Katana sword play and hand to hand combat between two badasses."
Keeping in mind when it was made though, The Octagon (1980, released 8-14-1980) is an important film in that as far as I can tell it was the first American film to popularize the Ninja. Revenge Of The Ninja came out a couple of years later (1983, 9-16-1983) and along with other Sho Kosugi films and other Ninja flicks they seem to have done more for the Ninja craze of the 1980's than The Octagon did, but The Octagon was the first. It is an interesting take on the Ninja's in modern times setting, and its interesting to see how it was done before others tried their hand at similar formulas and storylines.
Personally though, my favorite Ninja flick at this point is The Hunted (1995, 2-24-1995) with Christopher Lambert (Not to be confused with another fine film of the same name, The Hunted 2003 with Tommy Lee Jones). Granted, The Hunted (1995) is really a modern Ninja vs. Samurai flick, but I think it stands as the best American made Ninja movie so far. Check it out if you haven't seen it.
For me, The Octagon gets something like two and a half stars out of five."
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 09/17/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A typical Chuck Norris vehicle that relies on its karate scenes to salvage it. Norris in an early role demonstrates his limited acting range, but makes up for it with some effective fight scenes. While the plot is convoluted and never makes total sense, it takes the back seat to Norris' attempts to get revenge on his "brother" who has gone bad. The supporting cast goes from mediocre (Art Hindle, Lee van Cleef, Carol Bagdasarian) to worse (Karen Carlson, Larry D. Mann, Kurt Grayson). There are annoying narrative voice overs of Norris' conscience that are more annoying with the use of some kind of reverberatory effect. THE OCTAGON is not the best of the Norris library, but you could do worse."