Thursday, August 23, 2012

Even Chuck Norris grows old....

The President's Man (2000)
Starring: Chuck Norris, Dylan Neal, Soon-Tek Oh, Jennifer Tung, Ralph Waite, and Marla Adams
Director: Eric Norris and Michael Preece
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

Joshua McCord (Norris), the latest man to fill the position of the most secret of secret service agents--an operative who is at the President's personal disposal to carry out missions that are so sensitive that no one else can ever know about them--finds that he is growing too old for the job. He hand-picks his successor (Neal), but he has barely started to train him before his apprentice must rescue the First Lady (Adams) from a group of shadowy terrorists with ties to McCord's past.

"The President's Man" was a successful attempt at making a made-for-TV movie in the vein of a James Bond film before they went COMPLETELY gadget happy... but on a fraction of the budget a Bond movie gets. It's a fun romp, featuring decent performances by the entire cast and a script that doesn't embarrass anyone too badly with clunky lines. Chuck Norris fans in will find plenty to cheer about, as, although he plays an agent who is on the verge of retirement and in theory isn't the main character, he has a couple of over-the-top action scenes of the kind that gave rise to the never-ending stream of Chuck Norris jokes.

You probably noted that I said above that Norris in theory isn't the main character in the film. That should be Sgt. Deke Slater, the apprentice President's Man. Unfortunately, Dylan Neal's main talent seems to be striking poses and mugging at the camera rather than playing a role with any sort of charisma. He has had a long and busy career, but he remains an unimpressive pretty boy in my opinion... especially when he's surrounded by charismatic performers like Norris, Jennifer Tung, and, last but far from least, one of television's most talented Asian character actors Soon Tek-Oh, in one of his last major roles as he career started to wind down. Neal simply can't measure up and as such, actors who should be supporting him--like Norris and Soon--end up outshining him whenever they share scenes. (The role of Slater got recast for the sequel.)

All-in-all, though, this is an enjoyable flick, especially if you like Chuck Norris and Soon Tek-Oh. It's also a demonstration of how Norris managed his career better than poor Steven Seagal. If Seagal had acknowledged the passage of time and tried to phase himself out as an action star, maybe he could have retired with grace instead of as an object of mockery.

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