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With: Chuck Norris, Henry Silva, Bert Remsen, Molly Hagan, Dennis Farina, Mike Genovese, Nathan Davis, Ralph Foody, Allen Hamilton, Ron Henriquez, Joe Guzaldo, Ron Dean, Joseph Kosala, Wilbert Bradley, Gene Barge, Mario Nieves, Bill Walters, Sally Anne Waranch, John Mahoney
Written by: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack, Mike Gray, based on a story by Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack
Directed by: Andrew Davis
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 101
Date: 05/03/1985

Code of Silence (1985)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Telling the Truth

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In the 1980s, there were action movies aplenty, and even though Chuck Norris was one of the five biggest punching-and-kicking stars, no one really took his movies very seriously. That is, until Code of Silence came along, and Siskel & Ebert surprisingly gave it "two thumbs up" on their review show. It's still a Chuck Norris movie, of course, but it focuses on strong characters, interesting situations, and an appealingly gritty, urban realism.

Chuck plays an incorruptible cop, Sgt. Eddie Cusack. The movie begins with a sting operation that quickly goes awry and eventually leads to a fairly complex, all-out gang war in Chicago. I can't explain it all here, but suffice to say, Eddie must protect a mobster's daughter, Diana Luna (Molly Hagan), from a rival mobster (Henry Silva). This requires Eddie to kick a lot of behind, chase a guy from the top of the train into the Chicago River, and call in some help from a space-age police robot. The "code of silence" of the title occurs when an older cop accidentally shoots a kid during the sting and plants a small gun on him to save his job.

Director Andrew Davis was amazingly good at this kind of thing, and early in his career, he made Norris's best film (this one), Steven Seagal's two best films (Above the Law and Under Siege) and then The Fugitive. Unfortunately, at that point, he attracted too much attention, the films grew bigger, and he did not thrive. But in Code of Silence he hired many cast and crew members that he would work with again, and also hired Dennis Farina, a real Chicago cop who eventually became a beloved character actor; he plays Eddie's partner, injured in the sting, who keeps coming up with new ideas for jobs ("alligator farming!").

The screenplay by Michael Butler and Dennis Shryack was originally intended to be another Dirty Harry film, but Clint Eastwood turned it down, which was good news for Chuck Norris.

Kino Lorber released this film on a good-looking Blu-ray that made it feel as if I were watching a gritty 1970s cop movie. It comes with an excellent commentary track by director Davis, interviews with actors Ron Dean and Molly Hagan, and an interview with composer David Michael Frank, all interesting and fun. The disc also includes trailers for other action-type movies.

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