Movie Review: Chuck Norris vs Communism

Chuck Norris v/s Anything. Asking for the outcome is like shouting about our ignorance. What can survive against Chuck Norris? Incidentally, Chuck Norris v/s Communism is the name of the documentary. It is set in Romania in the eighties when Ceausescu was still in power. The documentary touches a nerve for anyone who grew in that era in a developing country. The themes of this film are the VHS tapes, VCRs, suppression through censorship, ambitions and dream. At first glance, these may seem unrelated, but this documentary brings them all together.

There was a time in India when Hollywood movies were rare on the big screen. You could still watch a movie if you were living in a metropolitan city which you could count on one hand. In case you are wondering about the number, it was four. I took a nostalgic drive to that era. We could still see the Hollywood ones mostly on VHS. Even though video rental stores were sprouting up everywhere, we were at the mercy of the store owner. If the store owner didn't possess a love for cinema like Alfredo in Cinema Paradiso, then there would be a collection of tasteless action movies.  Since there were many stores, it was not easy to find Alfredo. Sometimes, a whiff of Alfredo was enough. Then we would get a good collection of movies. Then there were video parlors which could seat at least three dozen people. They screened the latest Hollywood movies. These parlors were the only way to gorge on a Hollywood diet.

Romania in the eighties was no different from India. The country was communist. Everything from the west was abhorred. So the Hollywood movies were smuggled in and reproduced in high quantities for the black market. People made money in the whole process, the top of the pyramid by selling the copies while the bottom by screening the movies in their home for money. These subversive tactics gave a glimpse of life outside the iron curtain. The viewers equated invincibility and hope to heroes like Chuck Norris (Missing in Action, Lone Wolf McQuade) and Stallone(Rocky, Rambo).

After this point, it gets a bit far-fetched for belief. The makers equate this event to be one of the contributing factors for the people to come out of their houses to overthrow Ceausescu. Cinema is a powerful medium. The documentary conveys this message sincerely. In addition to the key message, the documentary also captures the anguish of suppressed people. There is a subtle message of censorship. We live in a free world. Imagine the world where information is controlled, analyzed before releasing for consumption. Hideous. Outrageous. It's hard to for us to imagine this scenario. Sadly there are such places in the modern world. I recommend this documentary as a reminder of how the world was and how the world is now. The documentary is also a warning to the present-day oppressors.

Language: English

Genre: Documentary

Rating: ***

Tags: Movies,Romania