“Firewalker” (citywide) is a breezy, big-scale comedy-adventure that takes scruffy soldiers-of-fortune Chuck Norris and Lou Gossett on a lively pursuit for Aztec treasure.
It also takes Norris out of his usual ultraviolent martial-arts fare and into “Raiders of the Lost Ark” territory. While “Firewalker” isn’t as elaborate or sophisticated as the Spielberg-Lucas hit, it is fun, and Norris is loosened up and laid back as never before; just like Garbo, he really can laugh. But never fear, he’s still the man to have on your side in a barroom brawl.
Norris and Gossett are knocking back a couple of drinks in a bar in the midst of the Arizona desert when pert, spunky legal secretary Melody Anderson snares them with a map to that treasure, which she believes is somewhere in a nearby mountain range. Local Indian Will Sampson, however, conjuring up the spirit of the ancient Firewalker, directs them considerably south of the border, all the way to a banana republic. (Be assured that current and serious unrest in Central America doesn’t intrude in this make-believe.)
“Firewalker” represents a happy teaming of brisk old pro director J. Lee Thompson, who knows his way around in the jungle (as well as practically any other locale you could think of) and writers Robert Gosnell, Jeffrey M. Rosenbaum and Norman Aladjem, making their feature debuts. We’ve seen all the Saturday matinee serial paraphernalia and shenanigans--e.g., our trio disguising themselves as priests and a nun--countless times before, but Norris and company really get into the light-hearted spirit of the occasion. “Firewalker” succeeds in its modest and disarming aims finally because its people, who include Sonny Latham’s lethal Neo-Aztec warrior and John Rhys-Davies’ megalomaniacal adventurer, seem real even when they’re caught up in the most shameless hokum.
Handsomely filmed in Mexico by Alex Phillips, “Firewalker” seems to have brought out the best in everyone on either side of the camera, and Gary Chang’s seductive, Latin-tinged score is especially helpful in getting you in the escapist mood. “Firewalker” (rated PG but suitable for entire family) has a framework that leaves Norris and Gossett stranded in the Sahara, presumably just in case the film is successful enough to warrant a sequel.
‘FIREWALKER’ A Cannon release of a Golan-Globus production. Exec. producers Norman Aladjem, Jeffrey M. Rosenbaum. Producers Menahem Golan, Yoram Globus. Screenplay Robert Gosnell; from a story by Gosnell, Aladjem, Rosenbaum. Camera Alex Phillips. Music Gary Chang. Production designer Jose Rodriguez Granada. Costumes Poppy Cannon. Film editor Richard Marx. With Chuck Norris, Lou Gossett, Melody Anderson, Will Sampson, Sonny Landham, John Rhys-Davies, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Lee-Sung, Zaide S. Gutierrez.
Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes.
MPAA rating: PG (Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.)