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Before Chuck Norris became a human meme generator and one of the internet's favorite indicators of toughness, he was roundhouse kicking dudes every week on Walker, Texas Ranger. The action series, which has become a meme generator in and of itself thanks in part to Late Night with Conan O'Brien, hit Peacock recently, inviting longtime fans to rewatch Norris' wild adventures again and again, and inviting new fans to see what all the fuss is about.
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But of course, Walker is not the only major action project in Norris' strange and storied career. He also occasionally embarked on a sci-fi adventure or two, or at least a sci-fi-adjacent action adventure, and his filmography is full of odd little journeys into genre cinema. So, in celebration of Walker hitting Peacock, let's take a look a back through five of Norris' most memorable (and memorably weird) genre movie moments.
The Way of the Dragon (1972)
Norris made his big-screen debut in this martial arts classic, alongside no less a legend than the great Bruce Lee, who also directed the film and therefore choreographed his legendary climactic fight with Norris himself. A martial arts champion just beginning to transition to movie roles, Norris is not yet the steely-eyed action star we'd later come to know, but his fight with Lee really is the stuff of legend, and it's a hell of a way to launch a career. While not strictly genre in the sci-fi sense of the word, Bruce Lee movies are almost superhero adventures in their own way, and this showdown is a clash of Titans.
Silent Rage (1982)
Norris has never leaned that far into the horror side of things, but Silent Rage definitely scratches that particular itch if you're looking for it, with an added sci-fi twist. In this odd little action film, Norris stars as a sheriff who learns that a man he gunned down has been reborn as a mute, indestructible brute thanks to a rogue scientist with a secret formula to help cell regeneration. Of course, the only man who can stop such a killer is a guy with a mean kick, so it's Chuck Norris to the rescue. Plus, this movie features one of the best taglines of Norris' career: "Science created him. Now Chuck Norris must destroy him."
Code of Silence (1985)
In this crime film, Norris often picks up a gun instead of launching a kick or a fist, so you might think there's not as much to be excited about this time around. And indeed, quite a bit of Code of Silence does play like your typical "Badass cop tries to take down a drug kingpin" '80s movie fare. But then there's the third act, when Norris launches an assault on the kingpin and his gang with help from a highly advanced police robot. That's right, it's Chuck Norris and a robot versus a veritable army of goons, what more do you need to know?
This supernatural action film is a very particular piece of pop culture history, as it was the final movie released by the legendary Cannon Films, purveyors of fine exploitation cinema throughout the 1980s. Sadly, it's not one of Cannon's best efforts, or one of Norris' best efforts, but it is about Chuck Norris fighting against a literal demon from Hell, and it does feature Norris fighting Satanic cultists in the bowels of the Earth with nothing but the power of his punches and kicks. So that's fun.
The Expendables 2 (2012)
The idea behind The Expendables franchise is gloriously simple and fun: Get as many action stars as possible together for one movie, let them try to out-tough-guy each other, and everyone wins. In their own way, they're a bit science fictional in just how over-the-top they are, and of course the premise meant that Norris was bound to show up eventually. So, watch him hang out with Stallone, Lundgren, Statham, and the rest, and get exactly what you're expecting, including a reference to memes about Chuck Norris!
Want more Chuck Norris? Stream Walker, Texas Ranger on Peacock now.