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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot, One Ranger

July 5, 2021 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Walker, Texas Ranger

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #594: Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot, One Ranger

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been thrown up against a wall and then kicked in the face, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and ninety four, I take a look at the Walker, Texas Ranger pilot movie One Riot, One Ranger, which made its debut on CBS in mid-April, 1993.

Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot, One Ranger


Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot, One Ranger, or simply One Riot, One Ranger, is the pilot movie for the long running Chuck Norris TV show Walker, Texas Ranger, a show that managed to last nine seasons and is still in rerun syndication as we speak (is it streaming somewhere, too? Probably, but I’m way too lazy to go search for it). Directed by TV veteran Virgil W. Vogel (he directed a few movies, too, including The Mole People, but most of his directing credits on imdb are for TV shows), One Riot, One Ranger does a nice job establishing the Chuck Norris Cordell Walker persona and the eventual tenor of the show. As a movie, One Riot, One Ranger is pretty good. It doesn’t try to be anything more than a TV pilot movie. Would it have been better as a full on, real deal movie? Probably. It definitely would have had a more straightforward, focused plot. The action also would have likely been more spectacular. But, as a TV movie, One Riot, One Ranger is, again, pretty good. It isn’t great, but it’s not bad.

One Riot, One Ranger stars Chuck Norris as Cordell Walker, a badass Texas Ranger who has a reputation for doing whatever it takes to get his man, even if it means driving across the Texas/Mexico border in clear violation of the law (it’s okay, though, because Walker is friends with the governor of the Mexican state of Sonora, which is weird because I don’t think Sonora actually borders Texas at all). After his partner Bob Mobley (Steve Ruge) is gunned down by a team of bank robbers, Walker pledges to find Bob’s killers and bring them to justice. That isn’t all, though. Walker is also charged with taking down a gang of rapists who attacked female circus performer Lisa Edwards (Deborah Slaboda) after the local District Attorney and Walker’s eventual love interest Alex Cahill (Sheree J. Wilson) asks him to, and he has to establish a partnership with new Texas Ranger James Trivette (Clarence Gilyard). Will Walker be able to accomplish all of this in the allotted ninety minutes of the movie?

Well, yeah. Of course he will. He is Cordell Walker, after all.

Now, the bank robbers that killed Bob Mobley are led by Orson Wade (Marshall Teague), a rogue CIA agent who has decided to become a big deal criminal by concocting a daring “I plan on robbing four banks at once” scheme so he can score enough money to settle down/retire or something. Wade, as you would expect, is a ruthless piece of shit who has absolutely no problem killing his own henchmen when they screw up and has a penchant for dramatic job interviews (he interviews potential gang members in a hotel room and flashes a bright light in their faces as he asks them questions, never letting the interviewee see his face). Wade eventually recruits an old, disgruntled/disillusioned CIA colleague J.J. (Woody Watson) and a professional bomb maker that makes ash trays out of C-4 (I believe this is Elroy Boggs, played by John Cadenhead). And when Wade finds out that the Texas Rangers and Walker are hot on his trail he concocts a big hooha scheme to blow up Walker’s office with one of Boggs’s ash tray bombs. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that you have to have big balls to send a bomb to Texas Rangers HQ. It’s too bad for Wade and his gang that the scheme doesn’t work and Walker becomes even more pissed off.

One Riot, One Ranger moves along at a steady clip, giving adequate time for each plot to work itself out. I would have preferred more emphasis on the bank robbing plot as that likely would have led to more action set pieces, but the stuff we do get in terms of action is good enough. Walker engages in a few hand to hand brawls with various bad guys (be on the lookout for the great Thomas Rosales Jr., noted bit part actor and stunt performer, as one of the bad guys that Walker deals with in Mexico). There’s a pretty nifty car chase in the middle of the movie, and there are several shootouts (there’s a shootout that’s part of the car chase that’s freaking insane because, if the shootout happened in real life, it would be one of the most unsafe things a cop could ever do). There’s also a decent/funny sequence at the end of the movie involving a rodeo where, yeah, the whole scenario is total bullshit (when did Chuck Norris become an expert bull rider?) but it still works. And I can’t decide if the final shot of the movie is meant to be taken seriously or if it’s meant to be a parody.

Now, I am going to complain about the final fight between Walker and Wade. Why? One, it’s way too short. I don’t expect to see a ten minute knockdown, drag out brawl in a TV movie, but I do expect to see some back and forth between the hero and the villain. Even if it is Chuck Norris we’re talking about here and Cordell Walker is meant to be the ultimate badass I still expect him to take a few shots and the bad guy, for a few seconds at least, have the upper hand. Two, it’s a wasted opportunity when you consider who the good guy is and who the bad guy is. It’s Chuck Norris going up against Marshall Teague, the badass motherfucker that took Patrick Swayze to the limit in Road House. Why wouldn’t you have Norris and Teague throw down big time so the audience can see what both guys can do against one another? And three, the area they fight in is lame as hell (the fight takes place just off to the side of a public fountain. Wade gets kicked into the fountain at the end, but that’s the only way the fountain figures into the fight. Not using the fountain to walk in and run around in is such a missed opportunity). It would have been more interesting to see them fight in the middle of a busy downtown street or in one of the robbed banks or, fuck, in a café or diner Walked chases Wade into. Anything likely would have been better than the small green space next to the public fountain.

And I can’t stress this enough. Chuck Norris vs. Marshall Teague four years after Road House should be a bigger deal. A much, much bigger deal. Even in a TV pilot movie it should be a fight that the audience remembers for being cool, not lame. Teague would eventually appear on the Walker, Texas Ranger show multiple times during its nine season run. Since I haven’t seen every episode of the show I have no idea if Teague ever did get that big deal fight with Norris. Any Walker, Texas Ranger super fans out there know if that ever happened?

Chuck Norris does a fine job as Cordell Walker. You can tell from the very beginning that Norris knows who and what he wants Walker to be and he nails every scene he’s in. I do think it’s odd that there’s no sense of menace in his performance, something you experience in most of his theatrical efforts. You know that Walker is dangerous and a guy you don’t want to mess with, but that killer instinct isn’t there like in Invasion U.S.A. or the first Missing in Action movie or Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection. It’s a different demeanor, a different man. If you watch Norris in this and then in the action/horror flick Hellbound, which came out in 1994, you can see what I’m talking about. Norris seems to do most of the martial arts fights that Walker engages in. He isn’t doing any of the high kicks (his “from behind” stunt double is doing that shit), but the up close fights where you have to see Walker in the frame are all Norris. I also want to point out the absolutely insane four minute monologue that Norris does when Walker tries to get rape victim Lisa Edwards to trust him. The monologue is all about Walker’s parents and how they were murdered at a carnival. When I type out what it’s about it sounds ridiculous, but the monologue is actually quite endearing, touching, and sad and gives you a look at who Cordell Walker is. It’s an amazing moment. I’m also a fan of the bit where Walker always throws criminals in the back of his pickup truck. Did that happen during the TV show, too? I don’t remember.

Clarence Gilyard, Jr. does a good job as James “Jimmy” Trivette, Walker’s new Texas Ranger partner. Trivette’s introduction is a little bit overdone, with Trivette walking around in a speedo (Walker first meets him at a swimming pool while Trivette is working out) while drinking some sort of carrot juice health drink. This “Trivette is modern and different from Walker” thing could have been achieved with just the health drink and Trivette’s talk of using computers in his investigation (Walker doesn’t believe in computers) but director Vogel wanted to go with the full on speedo showcase. I’m surprised that the pilot movie didn’t do more with the “Trivette played for the Dallas Cowboys football team before becoming a cop” thing. I mean, it’s mentioned, Trivette gives a quick speech about his life story and what happened with his football career and why he became a cop, but where’s the scene where he throws something like a football at a bad guy and knocks the guy out? Where’s the big hooha “tackle the bad guy” scene? He does get to run after a bad guy and there’s a whole thing where Trivette is winded after running after that bad guy, but that’s it. I do remember the actual TV series gets into Trivette’s football career more.

Gailard “Officer Bimbeau” Sartain does a terrific job as C.D. Parker, Walker’s old Texas Ranger colleague who is sort of retired now and runs a famous bar and grill. Sartain provides the movie with some levity, as his C.D. is laid back and kind of a goofball (he spends most of the movie trying to figure out how to be a newspaper advice columnist, which is actually funnier in the movie than I can describe). The C.D. role would be taken over by Noble Willingham for the series, and Willingham always played C.D. as more of a wily grandfather than a somewhat older partially retired cop, which is what Sartain does with C.D. I’d love to know why Sartain was recast as C.D. because I bet he would have kicked ass in the show. That isn’t to say that Willingham didn’t do a great job as C.D. during the show’s run, but, after seeing Sartain in the part, I would have loved to see Sartain do the character for more than a TV pilot movie.

Sheree J. Wilson does an okay job as District Attorney Alex Cahill. You can tell immediately that she has an easy chemistry with Norris and that there’s definitely something there between them. The movie, though, doesn’t give her much to do. Wilson doesn’t get her own big scene where she screams at a suspect or reads Walker the riot act for doing something. The closest we get to something like that is when she questions Walker after his excursion into Mexico. I think I would have liked to see her be more adversarial in that moment.

Marshall Teague does an excellent job as Orson Wade, the rogue CIA bad guy. Teague gives Wade the exact right amount of menace and douchebaggery to make you absolutely despise him. I wish he had more to do in the action and fighting department, but he does get a nice scene where he removes two henchmen from his bank robbing gang. Wade is also one of the assholes that likes to be driven around like he’s some big shot motherfucker when he isn’t. If only Walker got to rip Wade’s throat out like Dalton did with Jimmy in Road House.

Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman does a nice job in his appearance as Walker’s uncle and surrogate father Ray Firewalker. Ray took Walker in after his parents were killed and raised him, teaching him various Cherokee traditions and what have you (Uncle Ray always calls Walker by his Cherokee name “Washoe”). I do believe this aspect of Walker’s backstory is expanded upon in the series. And be on the lookout for Rhonda Gemignani as Yelena, one of the circus performers that tries to help Lisa (Gemignani was the woman that sold the Ghostbusters the old firehouse in the original Ghostbusters) and the great Elya Baskin as the Russian circus performer that tries to help Lisa (Elya’s Misha tries to attack one of Lisa’s rapists with a juggling pin). And James Drury, the Virginian hisself, appears as Walker’s Texas Ranger captain Tom Price. I’ll just say this: I think Captain Price should pay more attention to Walker’s hunches.

One Riot, One Ranger appears as one of eight TV movies in the Walker, Texas Ranger TV Movie Collection, which is how I watched One Riot, One Ranger. The other seven movies are, as I understand it, just two part episodes, so I guess the other seven are not “technically” TV movies. I still plan on reviewing them at some point. So, you know, be on the lookout for whatever the hell The Reunion and Whitewater are as those titles are a part of the set.

Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot, One Ranger is a pretty good TV pilot movie. It isn’t as spectacular as some of star Chuck Norris’ theatrical efforts, but it’s reasonably entertaining, has some nice moments (weird moment, soot. That goddamn Chuck Norris monologue), and sets up the eventual Walker, Texas Ranger TV series quite well. If you’re a Chuck Norris fan or a TV pilot movie fan, give it a shot. You’ll enjoy it.

See Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot, One Ranger. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 4

Explosions: Multiple, both big and small.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: Armored car robbing, total failure to kill the armored car drivers, the Mexico border, dirty boots, a bar fight, beer bottle breaking, attempted knife attack, mild fat phobia, typewriter hooey, a bank robbery, surveillance camera shooting, silent alarm hooey, cop killing, station wagon hooey, henchmen killing, dead body dragging, multiple rapists, hot tea drinking, speedo hooey, a job interview, talk of C-4, gun shop owner hooey, a foot chase, multiple spare pairs of glasses, coffee drinking, exploding shed, a mercenary magazine ad, an intense police interrogation, attempted undercover investigation, a car chase, a very public shootout, a second job interview, rapist beating, serious arm breaking, a spider hand tattoo, a bank teller that has the hots for Chuck Norris, exploding police desk, a Cherokee ceremony of some sort in a graveyard, a diversion, shotgun hooey, bank vault hooey, exploding tanker truck, glasses breaking, a big fight that isn’t that big of a fight, rodeo hooey, bull riding, and the ultimate freeze frame.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: “Chuck Norris is Walker, Texas Ranger,” Chuck Norris, Chuck Norris driving a pickup truck on the U.S./Mexico border, Chuck Norris in a bar fight, Thomas Rosales, Jr., Chuck Norris putting the bad guys he arrests in the back of his pickup truck, Chuck Norris talking to the governor of Sonora on the phone, Gailard Sartain, gold plated jewelry, cement making, Marshall Teague, multiple slow zooms into the face of Chuck Norris, Elya Baskin, Rhoda Gemignani, James Drury, a horse named Cookie, Chuck Norris doing a four minute monologue, Clarence Gilyard, Jr., Clarence Gilyard, Jr. wearing a speedo, a guy named Cobalt, an insect shaped ash tray that’s made out of C-4, the I Come in Peace alien gun, Clarence Gilyard, Jr. talking about how he loves The Lone Ranger, Chuck Norris destroying three rapists, Marshall Teague watching boxing for some reason, a bank teller that has the hots for Chuck Norris, Mildred the secretary, Chuck Norris doing a Cherokee ceremony in a graveyard, Chuck Norris with a shotgun, Chuck Norris loading his shotgun with shells from his pocket and not from the shell carrier attached to his shotgun, exploding tanker truck, a big fight that isn’t that big of a fight, Clarence Gilyard, Jr. dressed as a rodeo clown, Chuck Norris riding a bull for eight seconds, and the ultimate freeze frame.

Best lines: “Beer. You boys are under arrest,” “This is Mexico, ranger. You ain’t got no right. Ain’t got no right? I think that’s a pretty good right,” “Walker, do you have anything to declare? Just some dirty laundry in the back,” “See, what did I tell ya? Everyone wants advice,” “What are you doing, Uncle Ray?,” “Washoe, you forgot to say good morning to the sun,” “Let’s go! We’re late!,” “Walker, I need your help,” “Walker, there’s a special place in heaven for people like you. And I can’t wait to get there,” “Oh, man, this is getting too spooky for me,” “Why is it so hard to find good help these days?,” “What’s the matter with you guys? Chalk it up to hormones,” “I don’t know what you’re cooking, ma’am, but it sure smells good,” “Just give him a chance, Cordell,” “You guys made him a ranger? He’s nuts!,” “Well done, Mr. Boggs. Welcome to the team,” “Let’s go buy some mercenary magazines,” “You’re going to be the death of me yet, C.D.,” “At least I got the license number,” “Why do you slosh that around in your mouth like that?,” “Can’t you idiots handle a couple of women?,” “You broke my nose! I’ll fix it. Nah, it looks better the other way,” “One riot, one ranger? Well, guess what? I’m changing it to one horsefly, one ranger,” “Is this quiet enough for you, C.D.?,” “Payback time,” “How do you play professional football wearing glasses?,” “You’re Walker, huh? Good guess,” “This is definitely not a recreational sport,” and “If I make it through this, C.D., you’re a dead man.”

Rating: 8.0/10.0




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Walker, Texas Ranger: One Riot, One Ranger

Chuck Norris– Cordell Walker
Clarence Gilyard, Jr.– James Trivette
Gailard Sartain– C.D. Parker
Sheree J. Wilson– Alex Cahill
Marshall Teague– Orson Wade
Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman– Uncle Ray Firewalker
Deborah Slaboda– Lisa Edwards
Elya Baskin– Misha
Rhoda Gemignani– Yelena
Woody Watson– J.J.
James Drury– Captain Tom Price
Steven Ruge– Bob Mobley

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Virgil W. Vogel
Screenplay by Leigh Chapman (as Louise McCarn), based on characters created by Albert S. Ruddy, Leslie Greif, Paul Haggis, and Christopher Canaan

Distributed by CBS and Cannon Home Video

Not Rated
Runtime– 94 minutes

Buy it here