Ah, Chuck Norris, you were once an interesting figure of the eighties, even before you were revealed as a homophobic uber-patriotic. Back in the eighties once Norris was allowed to become an action star with no actual competition in the kung fu arena, Norris was appealing to just about every medium of entertainment, including the animated medium. Enter “Karate Kommandos.” Why it has Commandos spelled with a K is beyond me, but it’s Chuck Norris, you just have to go with the flow whenever Walker is concerned.
Originally a five episode mini-series from 1986, “Karate Kommandos” is admittedly an eccentric and somewhat looney representation of Norris’ inexplicable popularity that features Chuck Norris laying the smack down on sinister forces of the Claw and the super ninja with his ethnically diverse league of young do gooders who help Norris in his quest to fight evil. It’s also synonymous with two comic book series, one of which was bafflingly drawn by the legendary Steve Ditko. Why Steve? Why? With his manstache and his bare chest, Norris fights most of the evil in the limited series with his mostly forgettable sidekicks, and they do so with as much homage to star Norris as is humanly possible.
Like most animated series spotlighting an action star of the eighties, this series is mainly meant as a way to fuel Norris’ popularity and PR. As well as his clout with his young fans. All of the episodes begin with an introduction by karate fighting Norris (much like Mr. T with his animated series) and is always about some kung fu principle about discipline or justice, while Norris ends every episode with a lecture to his audience (a la Mr. T). Norris also voices his character in his typical stilted delivery. Most of “Karate Kommandos” is based around the non-violent adventures of Norris and his young clan of crime fighters as they do battle with assorted menaces fueled by the Claw and Super Ninja.
Ruby and Spears mainly build this show around franchising opportunities, so much of what is handled along the short series run you can immediately picture being transformed in to a play set or action figure. Norris himself is built like an action figure throughout most of the show. “Karate Kommandos” mainly has an appeal to fans of animation who grew up during the eighties who remember what it was like to worship folks like Mr. T and Norris who built almost god-like presences and a massive fan base just for being cool in the decade. As a series itself the concepts it presents and the storylines it offers are just mediocre and humdrum for its time, but for its kitschy value its worth a purchase in spite of not offering any actual DVD features. It really offers a look back at a simpler time when Norris wasn’t an internet meme. Sue me but I still find those Chuck Norris facts to be a laugh riot.