Invasion U.S.A. (1985) (part 1 of 2)

Note from the author: This is the third in my series of tributes to cheesy action movies of the ’80s and early ’90s, the first being Action Jackson, and the second being Stone Cold. Rather than in-depth recaps or straightforward reviews, these will contain a brief synopsis followed by a longer list of highlights, notes, and observations.


SUMMARY: Big Bad Chuck goes Rambo on some dastardly Russians in a Cold War fantasy that could only be shot out of Cannon Pictures.

Invasion USA (1985)

The ’80s were a golden age of big, dumb, mindless action movies. Unlike the vapid, soulless, glorified music videos that were the action movies of the ’90s, action movies of the ’80s were light on smarts, but heavy on fun, bloodshed, and things getting blown up real good. It was a time when top-tier stars like Schwarzenegger and Stallone ruled the box office. But today, my tour of duty takes me to the murky second tier. Yes folks, I’m about to examine what may be the ultimate Cannon film—to say nothing of the best Chuck Norris movie ever made: Invasion U.S.A.

One of the big movie trends of the ’80s was a sub-genre known as Cold War Exploitation, made up of cheesy, ultra-patriotic films that used the backdrop of US-Soviet relations as a staging point for exceedingly ridiculous action. And like most of the other action films of the era, they relied on a rather heavy amount of paranoia that made them even funnier.

But the best defense against a raving, paranoid concept is simple: point and laugh your ass off. I mean it—one of the best things about the ’80s is the hilarious way world issues were incorporated into action films of that period. Prime examples of this are Red Dawn, Rambo: First Blood Part II and of course, our current subject.

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Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Invasion U.S.A. (1985)

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  • luke strawwalker

    “Invasion USA” was actually pretty far ahead of its time…. it’s basically a story about infiltrators committing domestic terrorism, what we call today “sleeper cells”.  Only difference is that it was Rostov and his motley crew of various communist country thugs (if you notice, there were at least one token Asian and some Eastern European types as well as his “Cubans”).  They come ashore in old Higgins boats (landing craft) and take off in trucks, and then spread out causing havoc…  That’s the POINT.  Rostov makes it clear in an expository scene that wasn’t even part of the review, early in the film, where he and Nikko are sitting in some kind of club or something near the beach and clearly in a “drecrying Western decadence” moment, Rostov tells Nikko something to the effect that “they have no idea how their own freedom can be used against them”.  The whole point is to sew distrust of everything and everyone, via domestic terrorism among the general population… disrupt things SO badly that transportation, like say MEAT in the supermarket, can’t get through, and people are SO scared they run around with guns and put their kids on buses to go “up in the hills” to safety rather than keeping them in the cities… (sorta like what the British did evacuating their children to the countryside from London and their cities in WWII).  The “cops” stole a couple uniforms and cop car– (who knows where they got the car… could’ve been a fake, or maybe the bumped off a couple cops and took their uniforms and car for the attack) and then proceeded to shoot up a Latino youth dance club, for the purpose of instilling race rioting, which is EXACTLY what happens after they leave and the “real” cops show up at the end of that scene…

    The movie was basically poorly named… instead of “INVASION USA” it should have been “Terrorism USA” and we’d get it… because this is EXACTLY the sort of things that “sleeper cell” terrorists would do if we ended up in a situation with them being activated… No need to attack “military facilities” and all that if you can get higher body counts shooting up carnivals, blowing up churches, and blowing up schoolbuses and stuff like that…  Why shoot up a military base, when you’ll have guys shooting back at you, when you can drive a beat up Chevy pickup with three guys a couple rocket launchers into a peaceful, quiet suburban neighborhood and blow up 2 city blocks in less than three minutes, and then just drive off… (when I saw this movie with my Dad as a teenager, he said then, “you know, somebody’s gonna try that someday… look how much mayhem they create with just a rusty pickup and a rocket launcher!)  The idea is to spread general panic and mayhem and have everybody SO distrustful of everyone else and authorities that basically we’re forced into the imposition of martial law… the fabric and infrastructure of society, and the institutions that supports, is crippled by rampant terrorism…  taking potshots at well protected military installations isn’t the way to do that… shooting up the mall and the neighborhood and the community center is…  

    Look no further than all the mostly “kneejerk” reactions after 9/11 and you’ll see what I mean…

    If a movie like this were made today, it would be considered “TOO real, or too close to home” and probably be considered prophetic…

    Later!  OL JR :)