Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 9th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1980
Director: Eric Karson
Cast: Chuck Norris, Lee Van Cleef, Karen Carlson, Carol Bagdasarian, Art Hindle
DVD released: November 15th, 2005
Approximate running time: 104 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 & Stereo
DVD Release: Trinity Home Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.99
Scott James (Chuck Norris) is hired by a mysterious woman to infiltrate an international terrorist training faculty for ninjas. He soon learns that his brother is one of the masterminds behind the training of the ninja arts to terrorists. Scott must now make the ultimate choice join his brother or put and end to his reign of terror.
If you are a fan of marital arts or actions films chances are that you have at one time in your life you have seen a Chuck Norris film. Norris had only made a handful of films including Way of the Dragon with Bruce Lee before he embarked on the film The Octagon. By the late 1970’s marital arts was already on the declined so enter the next bug thing Ninja’s. The Octagon is one of the first films to exploit the ancient art of Ninja and many imitators would spawn in its wake and none of them would even come close (May be Enter the Ninja) to capturing the essence of Ninja like The Octagon.
The Octagon is adequately directed and filled with many great action sequences with my favorite being when a group of Ninja’s attack Norris while he sleeps. Then without warning he leaps into action from a deep sleep and kicks their ninja asses without even breaking a sweat. Also let’s not overlook Norris in the films finale as he tears his enemies a new one as he works his way through the Octagon for a final showdown with his brother. Sure the plot may be predicable but then when you watch a Chuck Norris film you come to expect certain things to always happen.
One very cool thing about Norris’s character Scott James is that we get to hear his inner most thoughts as he thinks them and this is done through an odd echo like effect that make nauseate some viewers. When one talks about action you can not over look Norris’s co-star the legendary Lee Van Cleef who is fascinating in his way to brief screen time. The film also comes with a bizarre sounding score that perfectly complements this odd ball film about ninjas. The Octagon is a solid action film that is filled with all the standard action film clichés and wall to wall action.
The Octagon is presented in a full frame aspect ratio which looks like it is an open matte transfer which gives more information at the top and bottom of the frame then what was seen during its original theatrical run in 1980. The colors look nicely saturated and details look sharp through out. Outside of a few minor specs of dirt this transfer looks exceptional.
This release comes with three audio options Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo in English and Dolby Digital Stereo in Spanish. There is not that drastic of a difference between the mixes with the English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounding the most robust of the three. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any others sound defects and dialog is clear and easy to understand.
Extras include a T.V. spot & theatrical trailer for The Octagon and brief bios for most of the cast & crew. Other extras include a twenty eight minute documentary titled “How American Cinema Changed Hollywood Forever”. This documentary is pretty much your standard look at a movie studio that gives a detailed overview about American Cinema and the films they made. The main extra for this release is a forty minute making documentary about the making of “The Octagon” which includes interviews with Alan Belkin (President American Cinema), Eric Karson (director), Jean Higgins (Head of Production), Joel Freeman (Producer), Dann Cahn (Editor), Richard Halligan (Composer), James Schoppe (Production Designer) and Richard Norton (Actor). The only thing missing in this thorough documentary is comments from Chuck Norris and while there is plenty of ground covered by those who are interviewed the piece falls short of perfection with Chuck Norris Missing in Action. A trailer for “A Force of One” plays before the main menu loads and this is the only way to watch this trailer.
There is no denying that The Octagon is one of Chuck Norris best films and now fans can finally enjoy this classic tale about ninja’s via Trinity Home Entertainment’s fully loaded DVD, highly recommended.