A boat full of Cuban refugees is floating somewhere in the ocean. These refugees have fled their own country in order to escape from Fidel Castro's iron grip. Their hope: to somehow reach America, the land of opportunity. These individuals are willing to risk their lives in order to land in America. They are illegal immigrants, and if they are caught, the consequences are dire. But to them, freedom is worth any price...
Their boat is spotted by members of the United States Coast Guard. Much to the refugees' excitement, the Captain aboard the Coast Guard ship proudly welcomes them to the United States. The Captain and the members of the Coast Guard decide to roll out the red carpet by killing all the refugees and taking all the cocaine hidden in the boat. At first, the Captain seems more interested in taking over the South Florida drug trade. But he has much grander plans than that. It turns out that the Captain and the Coast Guard on the ship are anything but the good guys...and the slaughter of Cuban refugees is the first step in a planned all-out invasion of the United States.
Leading the invasion is Mikhail Rostov (Richard Lynch), a ruthless communist hellbent on spreading his ideology by turning America into a land of chaos. His number one assistant is Nikko (Alexander Zale) and both of them have amassed a large following of terrorists, guerillas, and mercenaries who share Rostov's ideals. Interestingly, these collective invaders are a racially diverse bunch. The invaders land on the shores of Miami beaches, armed with trucks and endless firepower, ready to terrorize anyone and everyone who gets in the way.
America is under attack, and the government must call upon their best man to stop this invasion. His name is Matt Hunter (Chuck Norris) and he is a one-man army. He can do more damage than twenty man put together. Simply put, he's the best. But Matt Hunter is currently enjoying life in retirement in the Everglades. He spends his days riding his airboat on the swamplands, wrestling and roping alligators, taking care of his pet armadillo, and hanging out with his Native American companion John Eagle (Dehl Berti). But Hunter is called out of retirement by a representative of "The Company" in order to thwart Rostov's mission to invade the United States.
Rostov and the bad guys launch a brazen attack where Hunter is living on the Everglades swamplands, killing his Native American friend. Hunter himself barely escapes with his life. So this mission has become personal for Matt Hunter as he must avenge the death of his best friend on top of saving the country.
The terrorists do have some nasty predilections as they kill American civilians left and right without second thought. They plant bombs near churches and on school buses. They attack shopping centers. They blow up suburban neighborhood homes with bazookas. These guys will do whatever it takes to destroy the American way of life. And to show how callous they are, they have launched their attacks during Christmas season! But Matt Hunter -- equipped with Uzi submachine guns, which he carries around in a shoulder rig -- will stand ready and defend his proud country and will make the terrorists pay with their lives.
Meanwhile, nosy news reporter McGuire (Melissa Prophet) is constantly following Hunter around, to the point of harassing him. She always wants the first scoop. She has a very abrasive, wiseass attitude that gets her in trouble with the authorities.
Invasion U.S.A. is very much of a product of its time. The movie is unapologetically jingoistic. The message is clear: anybody who bleeds red, white, and blue is an American. And they are the good guys. Anybody who has a foreign accent is not to be trusted. The foreigners are invading our country and taking over society. They go against everything we stand for. We fight for freedom and justice and must not allow these foreigners to destroy our values. This movie would do -- and probably did -- Ronald Reagan proud. Invasion U.S.A. attempted to exploit our fears of the communist threat in the era of the Cold War.
Invasion U.S.A. throws in everything you can imagine for an action movie. We have explosions, shootouts, automatic weapons, fistfights, and lots of firepower. Lots of stuff blows up real good in this movie. One of my favorite action sequences takes place in a shopping mall. It starts out as a shootout between Hunter and the bad guys, with Hunter eventually clinging onto the side of vehicle the bad guys are driving, resulting in the mall becoming a demolition derby as the vehicle plows through various stores causing major damage. This leads to a spectacular car chase where McGuire gets in on the action and must help Hunter save a hostage who was kidnapped. This sequence contained some well-choreographed action and impressive stunt-work. There are also a couple of other great action set-pieces including the attack at the Everglades and another car chase where Hunter must race against time to prevent a school bus full of children from being blown away by a bomb planted by terrorists.
The finale is insane, and it includes Chuck Norris taking out Rostov's minions one by one while he's backed up by the National Guard who are themselves armed with tanks and locked in their own furious battle with the foreign invaders. The action is actually a lot of fun and moves very fast. Joseph Zito directs the action scenes with a certain amount of flair. Although there are times when he tries too hard to emulate the likes of Sam Peckinpah, Zito makes sure he keeps the momentum going. He is more well known for directing horror movies like The Prowler and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, but he does an acceptable job here.
Invasion U.S.A. is unashamedly excessive in delivering hardcore action and violence. This film is full of bloodshed as bad guys and civilians alike are gunned down in the epic fight for our country. I was surprised to read that Tom Savini was involved in this movie, doing the make-up effects. I could see some of his magic at work as Invasion U.S.A. is a bit on the bloody side, including some fairly realistic gunshot wounds, but it's nothing like Savini's repertoire of effects seen in horror movies.
Invasion U.S.A. obviously reaches levels of absurdity one can only expect from an 80s action picture. The script itself is almost gleefully childish. There are no major plot revelations to speak of and the good guys and bad guys are refreshingly one-dimensional. Put it this way, you won't be confused as to who you are supposed to be rooting for. I would like to say that the premise itself is ludicrously implausible, but in the wake of the September 11 attacks (God Bless our real heroes, the countless men and women who went beyond the call of duty to save as many lives as they could during that horrific catastrophe) you can never know. But the script tackles the country in crisis theme in an unsophisticated fashion. For example, Matt Hunter somehow has the ability to show up in the nick of time whenever the terrorists are about to commit a dastardly deed. And just how the heck were the bad guys able to locate Matt Hunter's home in the Everglades and simply show up?
The acting is generally below par, even by silly action movie standards. For example, the actors playing the villains were very one-note. And the villains themselves can't escape being simplistic stereotypes. They lack imagination, period. About the only thing that distinguishes them are their foreign accents. Attempting to speak with foreign accents does not equate effective villainy. The minions have little personality and they are just there to be Hunter's bait.
The main villain Rostov is not particularly impressive. He does get to do some vile things though. At one point, Rostov slams a female drug user's face onto a table, thus shoving a straw right up her nose while she was still snorting cocaine! He then shoots the male drug dealer in the crotch! But there are times when Rostov comes across as utterly pathetic. He's such a weakling that at one point, he has nightmares about Chuck Norris thwarting his attack. Of course, some may say that it's not necessarily Rostov being pathetic rather it shows just how much of a badass Chuck Norris is. Which I can't really argue. Overall, I didn't really like Rostov and I felt that Matt Hunter deserved a more worthy adversary. I don't blame Richard Lynch for this as he did his best to make his villain terrifying, but the script doesn't do much to develop him into such. He has mastered the bulging evil-eye stare though.
Chuck Norris is good at being Chuck Norris. That is, he is good at kicking ass and taking names, and killing tons of bad guys too. He doesn't do as much martial arts as usual here, but whether he's beating the crap out of bad guys or blowing them away with his Uzi submachine guns, he means business. Don't mess with the Chuck-ster. Norris doesn't emote a lot, or really at all, but he has that unique ability of making the bad guys wet their pants by virtue of his imposing stature. Chuck Norris is stoic as usual, but he has an undeniable screen presence.
Melissa Prophet is absolutely annoying and a pain in the arse. I appreciate that she tried to make her character not be the usual damsel-in-distress, but she really got on my nerves and I simply couldn't stand her. One of her irritating characteristics is that she constantly calls Hunter a "Cowboy" in a sarcastic fashion.
I'm surprised by all the negative reviews this movie received. I know it's no action masterpiece, but the movie serves its purpose and is definitely entertaining. Sometimes, professional film critics need to get over themselves. I will readily admit that there are certainly better action films out there. 80s action movies like Commando and the Rambo series are overall better made and more competently directed. But Invasion U.S.A. is midnight junk food at its most delicious. You know it's not good for you, but you cannot resist the cravings. I wouldn't necessarily consider this to be Chuck Norris's best work, but it is satisfying to the undemanding viewer. For sheer entertainment (and lunacy) value, Invasion U.S.A. is hard to beat.