• Octagon, The



    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: December 3rd, 2013.
    Director: Eric Karson
    Cast: Chuck Norris, Lee Van Cleef, Art Hindle, Karen Carlson, Tadashi Yamashita
    Year: 2013
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    The Movie:

    The Ninja, unholy masters of terror. Scott (Chuck Norris) knows they’re real but runs into a problem when he realizes that no one else does. Everyone thinks that the ninjas are long gone. When he escorts a lady friend home and the pair is attacked, Scott knows his fears are going to be realized, and this is further confirmed by the flashbacks he has where we learn of his ninja training alongside his brother – now an evil ninja himself.

    Soon, Scott meets a foxy lady with a mysterious motive. Through her he becomes intertwined in a secret ninja crime ring known only as The Octagon. Luckily he’s got his buddy’s anti-terrorist task force (headed up by none other than a pierced Lee Van Cleef of Day Of Anger!) to help him stop the evil ninjas from killing everyone and succeeding in their evil plan. The more Scott investigates things, the stranger the situation becomes and Scott realizes that some of these sinister ninjas may have ties to his past, specifically to the death of one of his best friends a few years back.

    The Octagon is the consummate Chuck Norris film. Aided immensely by the presence of countless ninjas (many of whom hide in trees) as well as the bizarre voice that he uses to talk to himself in his head-head-head-head-head, Norris finds time to not only kick a lot of people in the head but make it with a lady or two along the way. Another element, besides the ninjas and the gratuitous chest hair, that makes this film so special is a random Ernie Hudson (Penitentiary II) appearance. Throw God’s gift to tough guy actors, Lee Van Cleef, into a decent sized supporting role as a fringe militia type and you’ve got yourself an action movie for all tastes and a cast to die for.

    Sure, Norris is as wooden as wooden can be in his role, playing his typical ‘man who doesn’t want to fight but is forced to by bad buys’ character with about as much enthusiasm as a piece of plywood, but he makes up for it by kicking a lot of people in the head and doing it often enough that the film, delivers a pretty healthy dose of action. With this in mind, is it really any wonder that he inspired Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson to seek a career in the movies? The similarities in their styles are indisputable. There are a few slow spots here and there and the plot might not be the most earth shatteringly original, but The Octagon does what it does well, and that’s to let Chuck do his thing in his own imitable way. This won’t likely be a movie to convert the non-believers on there, but if you’re a Chuck Norris fan, this is him in his prime and therefore pretty much essential.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Scorpion gives The Octagon a nice looking 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that is clean, crisp and colorful while still grainy enough to look like film. Some minor specks are present throughout but there isn’t any serious print damage to note while detail and color reproduction look good. Detail is generally pretty strong, this movie was shot with a good eye and solid lighting and that pays off in the visuals department. All in all, the movie looks quite good here and the picture quality is better than the previous DVD release that came out some years ago from Trinity Entertainment.

    The original English language Dolby Digital Mono sounds fine. Dialogue is clean and clear and there aren’t any issues with hiss or distortion. The score sounds good as do the effects. The track shows its age in that it’s a little limited in range, but that’s not a flaw, just an observation. No complaints here. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided but a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track is provided that spreads the sound effects out a little bit while keeping most of the dialogue in the front and center of the mix.

    Extras kick off with a commentary track from Eric Karson that offers up some amusing stories about working with the various cast and crew members assembled for this particular project. There’s a good amount of discussion here regarding the stunts and the dangers involved in some of the fight scenes but he also covers some of the themes that the movie deals with, the way in which the plot deliberately unfolds in a manner atypical for an eighties action movies, and of course, how the movie deals with ninjas.

    Additionally we get a forty minute featurette on the making of The Octagon that includes interviews with director Eric Karson and quite a few other crew members that provide some information on the fight choreography, the score, the locations and more. Tadashi Yamashita also appears on camera for a really interesting and enjoyable twenty-three minute interview in which he talks about his work here and on a few other cult classics made around the same time.

    Outside of that we get a quick video introduction to the movie from Karson, a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. The featurette on the history of American Cinema that was on the previous DVD release has not been carried over.

    The Final Word:

    The Octagon is a solid slice of eighties action movies goodness and Scorpion’s DVD reissue offers a up a nice upgrade in the A/V departments and a solid helping of enjoyable supplemental material as well.