Karate kicking cowboy Josh Randall (Chuck Norris) handles security at a Hong Kong based casino run by Sam Paschal (David Opatoshu) who treats him like a son. Meanwhile Sam's actual son, David (Frank Michael Liu) is in debt. He unwisely brokers a business deal with the crooked Osiris group fronted by mobster Raimondi (Michael Cavanaugh). When Sam spurns their offer to buy out the family business, he and David are shot dead. Seeking vengeance, Josh brings girlfriend Clare (Mary Louise Weller) along as he sets out to save Sam's daughter Joy (Camilla Griggs) from hitmen working for the mob.
At the start of his film career hairy karate kicker Chuck Norris played evil gwailos in Hong Kong movies like Way of the Dragon (1972) and Slaughter in San Francisco (1974). By the time the MGM-United Artists production Forced Vengeance brought him back to Hong Kong he was firmly established as America's number one martial arts hero via such vehicles as Good Guys Wear Black (1978) and A Force of One (1979). This time it would be Chinese villains on the receiving end of Chuck's lethal spin-kicks and somewhat less impressive face slaps, plus one gag wherein Josh scares off a nunchaku wielding thug with his gun in what seems like a faint dig at Bruce Lee. Although Chuck had some moves in his repertoire the action sequences are pretty sloppy here and pale by comparison with the groundbreaking work done in actual Hong Kong movies at the time. Coupled with flat performances, disjointed editing and soap opera sub-strands distracting from the cheesy pulp plot, Forced Vengeance would be entirely unremarkable were it not for a few notable eccentricities. Chief among these a bizarre racial set-up with Chuck cast as a cowboy raised by the proud Jewish family that somehow control the Hong Kong gambling and have a Chinese son who uses Yiddish slang! There is also a weird twist revealing that the distinctly non-mixed race-looking Italian-American villain was sired by a Chinese triad boss.
The screenplay co-authored by Franklin Thompson along with director James Fargo, who made The Enforcer (1976) and Every Which Way But Loose (1978) with Clint Eastwood as well as ambitious desert epic Caravans (1978) and the bizarre Pia Zadora sci-fi musical comedy Voyage of the Rock Aliens (1984) goes out of its way to blast anti-Semitism. A corrupt French cop (what's he doing in Hong Kong?) who takes against Josh instantly and an anti-Semitic small time crook come in for some righteous beating. Yet the film carries faintly racist undertones stressing Josh's moral superiority as “good white son” over weaselly, weak-willed David. Sam proves similarly disapproving of the pampered party girl lifestyle led by daughter Joy. She is amusingly introduced dating a camp Chuck Norris look-alike in a speedo who gets short-shrift from the real deal. Some topless dancing (not from Chuck, thank god) and goofy gags will keep viewers awake as the plot plods along. Foxy co-star Mary Louise Weller, of National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) fame, does little except pant after Chuck while Camilla Griggs does less than that.
Inevitably Josh teams up with a buddy who served with him in Vietnam (Bob Minor) who, in one of the film's queasier asides, boasts he is shagging a seventeen year old girl. He's black, so naturally dies while girlfriend Clare endures an especially nasty and unnecessary rape sequence. Equally nasty is the scene where Josh pours gas over a young rent boy whom he threatens to set on fire: “Sweet cheeks, you could have been a toasted marshmallow.” As was the case with The Octagon (1980) the filmmaker's rely heavily upon voice-over as narrative glue and a window into Josh's troubled soul. Which would be fine were it not for Chuck's monotone delivery plus the fact Josh's private thoughts run to such less-than-profound epithets as “If I were a tree, I'd hide in a forest”, “Never let your girl handle your piece” and “Hong Kong is like a slap in the face that makes you feel good.” Wow, that's deep, man.