Forrest Tucker, Bowd Beal, Lester Bundy, Patrick Burns
Ah, the action icons of the 1980's... Sylvester Stallone, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson, Forrest Tucker....
Yes, Cannon does it again! After pretty much cornering the market on martial arts superstars during the 1980s (Chuck Norris, the American Ninja series) they set out to corner the market on the "elder statesmen" of action, first by signing Charles Bronson to an exclusive contract, then by signing veteran action icon (and former "F Troop" star) Forrest Tucker to star in the "Mad Max" inspired "Thunder Run".
Tucker plays Charlie Morrison, a retired trucker and former Korean War vet, who is trying (and pretty much failing) to make a go of a cobalt mine in his retirement. Desperate for money, he is approached by his old war friend George, now a successful independent contractor, to help lure a terrorist group (led by Alan Rachins, later of "Dharma and Greg") out of hiding by acting as "bait".
Charlie will be paid $250,000 to transport a shipment of plutonium through 200 miles of desert to a military base, with the terrorists waiting in ambush. But they soon find out the old man has a few tricks up his sleeve, including molatov cocktails, oversized stacks, a rig that can jump over trains (!) and, as Charlie explains after one head-scratching escape, "Spage Age Plastic, Son!".
Suffice to say, if watching one of Cannon's typical multi-racial terrorist groups (their makeup is similar to that of the "inner-city gang" in DEATH WISH 3) led by Dharma's dad (almost unrecognizable with the facial scar used to easily identify him as a "bad guy") and utilizing an arsenal of weapons including Volkswagen buggies with mounted heat-seeking missiles to attack Sergeant O'Rourke of "F Troop", "Thunder Run" is right up your alley!
Easily identifiable as a classic piece of 1980's cheese with its "twist" ending (think DEATH WISH 4 for a similar one), its synth-heavy soundtrack and its youthful sidekick, and with the added appeal of being Forrest Tucker's final theatrical release, "Thunder Run" developed a cult following with repeated cable showings on Showtime and The Movie Channel in the late 1980s.
Tucker is his usual solid self, some 45 years (!) after his debut as an action hero (1941's EMERGENCY LANDING) and he has an old pro to work with in John Ireland (later of Bronson's MESSENGER OF DEATH, also from Cannon). The stunt with a truck jumping a train is truly exciting, and the aforementioned VW's account for one of the truly memorable sights in 1980's action.
On the minus side, there are some lousy performances among the obviously inexperienced supporting cast, and it takes about half the film to get to the real action. Also, the low budget hurts at times.
But on the whole, another fond mid-1980s memory, courtesy of Cannon.
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