Blu-ray Review: Code of Silence | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Code of Silence: Special Edition

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Dec 20, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Eddie Cusack is a good cop caught in a bad situation. When two Chicago mob families go to war, he’s the only one who can protect the godfather’s teenage daughter from an endless stream of bloodthirsty hitmen. Unfortunately for Cusack, his brothers in blue aren’t willing to lend a hand after he made a stand against corruption in the force. It’s up to him to take down the mafia on his own.

This 1985 actioner is one of Chuck Norris’ best-regarded works, and maybe his most atypical. Noticeably short on roundhouse kicks and one-liners, if Code of Silence doesn’t feel like your run of the mill Chuck Norris movie, there’s good reason for it. The screenplay was initially commissioned by Warner Brothers to be the fourth Dirty Harry movie. When Clint Eastwood rejected the script, it was briefly repurposed for Kris Kristofferson, but eventually landed in the hands of producer Raymond Wagner, who sold it to Orion Pictures as a vehicale for Norris. The film was shot right at the height of his box office power, while he was still early into a multi-picture deal with The Cannon Group which resulted in minor hits such as Missing in Action, Invasion USA, and The Delta Force.

Because it was written for a very different sort of actor, this is probably one of Chuck’s most straight-forward action films. Save for an obligatory bar brawl, the screenwriters don’t shoehorn in any scenes to show off his character’s karate moves. (Those who enjoy Chuck’s usual fantasy weaponry – rocket-launching motorcycles, machine guns with rounds that explode like grenades, and what have you – will be pleased to know that he does team up with a robot police tank in the movie’s finale.) Weirdly, although it’s outside his wheelhouse, the script does work in Chuck’s favor – it’s one of the few films where he actually blends into his role, and you don’t feel as if you’re just watching Chuck Norris read lines as Chuck Norris.

Code of Silence was the first action film by director Andrew Davis, who’d go on to helm bigger movies like The Fugitive, Collateral Damage, and Under Siege. He brings lots of great action and stunt work to the movie: an opening surveillance job goes south and turns into a riveting shootout, and there’s a memorable chase scene that plays out on top of a real, moving subway train. The movie has a lot of great, gritty, mid-‘80s Chicago locations, and a nice, Tangerine Dream-inspired score by Michael Frank. The movie’s also assisted well by its good supporting cast, which includes Dennis Farina (who was a real Chicago cop at this point of his career), Ron Dean, Henry Silva, and Bert Remsen. You should watch out, too, for Frasier’s dad, John Mahoney, as a robo-tank salesman.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics were quite generous with this Blu-ray’s bonus features, which include a full-length audio commentary by Davis and on-camera interviews with the composer and screenwriter as well as actors Molly Hagan and Ron Dean.


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