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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Cutter

July 3, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
The Cutter Chuck Norris

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #561: The Cutter

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never engaged in a martial arts brawl inside a public bus, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and sixty-one, I take a look at the final full on Chuck Norris movie, at least so far, The Cutter, which was released in the middle of March 2006.

The Cutter


The Cutter, directed by William “Bill” Tannen, is the last Chuck Norris movie, at least so far (as I write this Chuck Norris is still alive, so there’s always a chance that he might decide to star in another action movie. It’s unlikely as he’s like 80 right now but, you know, again, he’s still alive and there’s always the chance someone might bring him back to star in something). I first saw it years ago, renting it from a Blockbuster video with a “free movie rental” coupon, jazzed as hell because it was a new Chuck Norris movie and I had no idea that there even was a new Chuck Norris movie until I saw it on the “New Releases” wall. It isn’t a Chuck classic by any stretch of the imagination. It plays like a very expensive low budget TV movie. The movie has more of a sheen on it than the TV movies Chuck did for CBS like The President’s Man and The President’s Man: A Line in the Sand, but The Cutter is not a big movie. In fact, it almost seems like it was supposed to be the first in a series of low budget, direct-to-video movies featuring Chuck playing the same character, but that obviously didn’t happen. It would have been cool as hell if it did happen, though.

The Cutter stars Chuck Norris as John Shepherd, an ex-badass cop turned badass private investigator who seems to specialize in missing person cases. When we first see Shepherd he’s tracking down a missing girl that was kidnapped by Russian criminals for some reason (the girl’s family is wealthyish but I don’t believe it’s stated that the girl is the daughter of a major industrialist or politician or anything like that). After beating up multiple bad guys, Shepherd finds the girl but he’s too late and she’s dead. Shepherd is both pissed and sad, but he knows that he did everything he could. He goes to the girl’s funeral but refuses payment (he didn’t bring the girl back alive so he doesn’t think he deserves a check. He’s like a personal injury attorney that only gets paid if he wins the case or gets a settlement). That’s just the kind of guy that Shepherd is.

As soon as the missing girl case is resolved, Shepherd is hired by a woman named Elizabeth Teller (Joanna Pacula) to look for her missing uncle Isaac Teller (Bernie Kopell, who played the doctor on The Love Boat). She has no idea where Isaac is. We, the audience, knows where Isaac is. Isaac was taken/kidnapped by Dirk (the great Daniel Bernhardt), a super dangerous international assassin/mercenary that’s wanted by the FBI (there’s an FBI task force looking for him. Dirk, not Isaac). Isaac is a retired diamond cutter, and Dirk needs him to cut two super precious stones that he stole from an archeological dig in the Sinai desert. The stones were part of an antique gold breastplate thing that archaeologists found on a mummy. Dirk killed all of the archaeologists, including the woman he used to find out about the dig, and stole the stones and the gold.

So why is Isaac so special? Couldn’t Dirk have just found any old diamond cutter? Maybe, but that isn’t why Dirk was hired to find the stones and the breastplate and kidnap Isaac. Back during World War II, Isaac was a prisoner in Auschwitz, and there was a Nazi rat bastard guard/commander there that abused Isaac and, when the war was over, escaped and became a “respectable” businessman in Austria. That rat bastard Nazi guard, Col. Speerman (Curt Lowens), is Dirk’s boss, he’s the one that hired Dirk to steal the stones and kidnap Isaac, and he knows that Isaac is the only one who can cut the special stones the way he wants them to be cut. Or something like that.

So after Shepherd is hired, he tries to track down where Isaac is and who took him. Shepherd gets his ass kicked a few times, both by Dirk and a henchman named Alex (Deron McBee) who shows up at his apartment disguised as a repairman. And while all of that is happening, Shepherd has to deal with the cops and the FBI. The great Marshall Teague is one of the cops, Moore, and Todd Jensen is Parks, an asshole FBI agent. Tracy Scoggins is also in the movie as Alena, an FBI agent that has a history with Shepherd. Will Shepherd find Isaac? Will the FBI find Dirk?

The Cutter plays out like you expect it to, which is weird when you consider that Shepherd fails at his job at the beginning of the movie. You actually kind of expect Shepherd to fuck up the Isaac Teller case. Dirk is clearly far more ruthless and motivated than the Russian mob henchmen that Shepherd dispatched at the beginning of the movie, and since Shepherd tends to work alone in the field (yes, he uses his old police contacts when he has to but it’s not like the cops are working in tandem with Shepherd, showing up to help him), you expect to see him try very hard but ultimately fail because there’s just so much going against him. That opening case is the only setback we actually see Shepherd suffer. Why is it in the movie? To throw us off? Yes, that may be Chuck Norris on your screen but this isn’t your “typical” Chuck Norris movie. At least at the beginning. The rest of the movie is a little more conventional. Could that case failure have been used as a jumping off point for a second John Shepherd adventure? I’d like to think so.

The Moore and Parks characters also make me suspect that there was hopes for a sequel/series of movies because they play like characters that we’re supposed to see in some form in each John Shepherd movie. The same goes for the Tracy Scoggins/Alena character. You can easily see Shepherd and Alena having to team up to take out a local criminal syndicate for some reason. And I’d suspect that Shepherd and Alena would end up having a romantic relationship of some sort in a sequel because of their history. That would make sense. And what’s the deal with Eddie (Dean Cochran), Shepherd’s lawyer? If there were sequels, you would no doubt see Eddie in different Hawaiian shirts because that would be his character gimmick.

Of course, I could be dead wrong about the whole “there were hopes for a series of Chuck Norris as John Shepherd movies” thing and The Cutter was always meant to be a one off. I have no idea. There’s no definitive information online regarding any of that as far as I know. Again, if a series of movies were planned, I would have watched them.

The Cutter moves along at a decent pace and doesn’t really waste time. The FBI task force probably should have done more beyond everyone sitting in a room, listening to a seemingly endless power point presentation on Dirk. I mean, if agents aren’t out tracking down leads and whatnot why have a task force? Shouldn’t there be a crackerjack FBI agent working leads and shit once the task force finds out that Dirk is in town? Isn’t that what the FBI usually does in movies like this? It sure seems awfully irresponsible on the FBI’s part not to be more proactive.

The fights are fairly well done. There’s nothing flashy about any of them, especially the fight scenes Chuck participates in. He doesn’t really do much kicking in this movie (I’m assuming that his stunt double did most of that stuff) but he punches quite a few guys into submission. And Daniel Bernhardt shows the world how nasty he can be, both in hand-to-hand combat and using knives (the guy will stab you in the heart without thinking twice about it). The big hooha bus brawl between Chuck and Bernhardt is the fight highlight of the movie and doesn’t end the way you expect it to.

The movie’s gun fights are adequate. There aren’t enough of them, but they do have the right sound, so that’s a plus (gun battles should be loud. I can’t stand it when gun battles sound small, especially in an action movie that takes place in the “real” world). There’s a very well done car chase involving a blue cargo van, a car chase vehicle you rarely see in any sort of movie. There’s also a terrific explosion at the end of the movie that looks like it was only enhanced with CGI. I could be wrong about that; there’s a chance the whole thing was done with CGI, but, to my eye, it looks like it was only enhanced with CGI. Real explosions are always better.

Chuck does a great job as John Shepherd. He’s a good guy but he obviously has some issues that he’s dealing with, both professionally and personally. Shepherd stopped being a cop when a serial killer investigation went badly, and he decided to get into the PI business because, I guess, he needed something to do with his life. I bet that serial killer story would have made for a great prequel movie to this one. Shepherd also has this weird quirk in that he seems to know a lot about old Jewish/Biblical archaeology, which seems like a weird hobby for a former cop. There’s nothing in his apartment or anything that suggests that he’s interested in that kind of thing. So what the hell is that all about, outside of the movie needing him to know that shit so the plot can advance? And I’m not entirely sure but it looks like this is when Chuck started wearing a hair piece. His hair looks a little too brown.

Daniel Bernhardt is a ruthless bastard as Dirk, which is exactly what you need for a character like Dirk. He’s a master of disguise, weapons, martial arts, and he’s also quite the pilot, as we see at the very beginning of the movie when Dirk flies an ultralight plane into the Sinai desert. And when he kills people he goddamn kills them, either with a gun or a knife. Why hasn’t Bernhardt had his own low budget action movie franchise? You would think that would have happened by now. I mean, yes, he got his start with the Bloodsport sequels, but I mean a completely original franchise.

Bernie Kopell does an outstanding job as Isaac Teller. Who the hell ever thought that the doctor from The Love Boat would appear in a low budget action flick with Chuck Norris? Kopell is perfect in the part. I think you’ll love his final big major scene? Joanna Pacula does a good job as Isaac’s niece Elizabeth. She has some nice scenes with Kopell (they have a real father/daughter dynamic going on, even though they’re uncle and niece).

Marshall Teague does a decent enough job in his small part as Moore. It’s a shame that he didn’t get to participate in any of the movie’s action scenes. Perhaps that was being saved for a sequel? The same goes for Tracy Scoggins. Why isn’t she in any of the action scenes? At least Deron McBee got to kick some ass, including taking down Chuck. What the heck is he doing now?

I enjoyed The Cutter. It’s a solid, unassuming low budget action flick. It ends up being kind of special, though, since it’s likely Chuck’s last starring role. I just wish, and I can’t say this enough, that this had been the first in a series of John Shepherd movies. That would have been oh so cool. The world could always use another low budget action movie franchise featuring a real deal action star. If you haven’t seen The Cutter it’s worth tracking down and checking out. You won’t be blown away by it or anything, but, again, it’s a solid low budget action flick. If you’re a Chuck Norris fan it’s a must see affair. Everyone else? Give it a shot.


See The Cutter. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: About 15.

Explosions: One big one.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: The Sinai Desert, ultralight plane hooey, people digging for stuff in a cave, a mummy, a gold plate filled with jewels, a slaughter, chest stabbing, mild bondage, .45 magnum hooey, a guy gets thrown out a window, attempted diamond cutter search, a funeral, a kidnapping, a car chase, a small bag full of diamonds, another kidnapping, fingerprint hooey, table kicking, attempted morning coffee, an impromptu brawl, glass vase to the head, a guy in the basement, off-screen stabbing, throat slitting, arm slicing, first aid hooey, a safe full of old books, stalling, glass dropping, wire destroying, diamond cutting equipment buying, cab driver hooey, yet another kidnapping, public transportation hooey, a martial arts brawl on a bus, a serious ass kicking, Nazi hooey, another stabbing, C-4 bomb hooey, neck snapping, multiple bullets to the chest, another ass kicking, exploding building, and a low key ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: The Sinai Desert, Daniel Bernhardt, Daniel Bernhardt piloting an ultralight aircraft, Spokane, Washington, a ransom DVD, Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris appearing out the back of a crappy blue van, Chuck Norris using a .45 magnum, Chuck Norris using a flip phone, Chuck Norris throwing a guy out a window, Marshall Teague, Chuck Norris likely wearing a hair piece, Daniel Bernhardt using the phone book, a rabbi, Bernie Kopell, Chuck Norris punching a heavy bag, tea, Chuck Norris driving a crappy blue van, guy in a Hawaiian shirt, Tracy Scoggins, Daniel Bernhardt destroying a table, Auschwitz flashbacks, Vienna, Austria, Chuck Norris trying to enjoy his morning coffee, Chuck Norris being a smart ass, Deron McBee, Chuck Norris revealing himself to be an expert on Biblical history for some reason, career threatening, Chuck Norris doing research in the public library, Chuck Norris thinking, a Bernie Kopell trying to figure out what to do next while still locked up montage, Daniel Bernhardt paying for stuff with cash, Chuck Norris knowing the number for the Yellow Cab company by heart, the Davenport Hotel, Daniel Bernhardt on an escalator, Chuck Norris on an escalator, Chuck Norris paying twenty bucks to ride the bus, Chuck Norris and Daniel Bernhardt having a martial arts brawl on a public bus, Chuck Norris getting thrown through a window, Chuck Norris using a pay phone, Chuck Norris’ stunt double running across a bridge because that’s clearly not Chuck Norris (the double doesn’t even have a beard), Daniel Bernhardt making a C-4 bomb, Chuck Norris kicking Daniel Bernhardt’s ass, and a low key ending.

Best lines: “With these the future can be told,” “You’ll never see your daughter alive again,” “Son of a bitch!,” “Where is she? Shit. You speak Russian?,” “Did you have to throw him out the window, Shepherd?,” “Don’t start talking about dying,” “It’s our lucky day,” “Relax. I’m the good guy,” “Now he was the bad guy,” “These are the most magnificent stones I’ve ever seen,” “You just came out of retirement, cutter!,” “Hey, where do you keep the batteries for that shirt, Eddie?,” “Gypsy Ukrainian? I can’t imagine who that would be,” “You’re a good buddy and a good lawyer. I know. I’m the best. Nah, I wouldn’t go that far,” “She’s dirty,” “Look, I survived four years in Auschwitz. You cannot threaten me!,” “Cut the stones, old man, or I’ll bring Elizabeth to you. One piece at a time,” “Did you touch these?,” “This table wasn’t broken when I was here. Well, I’m sure your uncle didn’t do that,” “Man, you look like a road map,” “Your friend Shepherd is ruining our investigation. Yeah, he does that,” “Mrs. Rosen, can you tell us about the diamond cutter at Auschwitz?,” “Calvin, I’m as serious as a heart attack,” “Patience, Liz,” “Where is Isaac Teller, or do I have to beat it out of you?,” “Speerman?,” “What do you think, old friend? Never again!,” “Looks like she didn’t like it,” and “Did you have to blow up the building?”

Rating: 7.5/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


Force of Nature: This new low budget action flick has been getting scathing reviews, mostly due to the presence of Mel Gibson and Emile Hirsch, but people are also upset over the setting (Puerto Rico during a hurricane, which comes off as insensitive since Puerto Rico is still going through hell as the result of a major hurricane not that long ago), the bad guys (they’re Hispanic), and there’s Nazi art involved in the plot or something. I’m still interested in seeing it, despite all of those issues/problems, mostly because I want to see if the movie actually deserves the drumming it’s been getting. I have a feeling that people may be reading too much into the movie and who is in it, but, again, I would like to see if the movie deserves its notoriety. I’m actually surprised that we don’t see more action/heist movies set in the middle of natural disasters since that kind of setting provides an extra set of obstacles for both the heroes and the villains in the story. It also adds to the budget but, still. Anyone out there see this?


Orca the Killer Whale: This comes to us from the fine folks at Shout! Factory and its Scream Factory imprint, so, as I say every time there’s a new Shout! Factory release, this will no doubt be an exceptional home video release, even if the movie itself isn’t that great. Orca, though, is a minor classic that came out in the wake of the mega success of Jaws and stars Richard Harrison as a guy on the hunt for a killer orca. I haven’t seen the movie in years, but I do remember it being kind of slow at times but delivering when it needed to. The Scream Factory Blu-ray has a commentary track on it from author and historian Lee Gambin, so I’m sure that will be interesting. Any Orca the Killer Whale fans out there?


The Immortalizer: The fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome are releasing this late 1980’s low budget horror flick, which some people seem to think Jordan Peele stole from to make Get Out. I haven’t seen The Immortalizer so I have no idea if that “theft” assertion is true, but the plot that I read on imdb for The Immortalizer sounds very similar. Apparently, The Immortalizer is about a wacked out mad scientist that kidnaps beautiful young people and removes their brains so he can then put the brains of rich people into those bodies. The trailer that I found for the movie comes off as pretty standard looking stuff for the late 1980’s, so who knows? The movie definitely looks interesting, and with Vinegar Syndrome putting together a Blu-ray you know that, much like Shout! Factory, even if the movie stinks the home video presentation is going to be terrific. Definitely worth picking up. Anyone out there see The Immortalizer?


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

The Cutter

Chuck Norris– John Shepherd
Daniel Bernhardt– Dirk
Joanna Pacula– Elizabeth Teller
Bernie Kopell– Isaac Teller
Tod Jensen– Parks
Marshall Teague– Moore
Tracy Scoggins– Alena
Curt Lowens– Col. Speerman
Deron McBee– Alex/Repairman
Dean Cochran– Eddie

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by William Tannen (as Bill Tannen)
Screenplay by Bruce Haskett

Distributed by Cutter Productions. Millennium Films, and Sony Pictures Entertainment

Rated R for violence and some language
Runtime– 92 minutes

Buy it here