Chuck Norris may be famous for spending a few years playing Walker, Texas Ranger on CBS, but that wasn't his first, or best, role as one of the Lone Star State's revered lawmen. No, Norris played a Texas Ranger years earlier, way back in 1983, when he starred in Lone Wolf McQuade -- one of the venerable action stars' best films.

McQuade was an interesting evolutionary moment in Norris' career -- the film where he went from a clean-cut good guy to the beard-sporting badass he's been ever since. You know all those stupid Chuck Norris jokes the Internet loves so much? Lone Wolf McQuade is the literal embodiment of every one of them. Yet, when you get right down to it, this is a genuinely good action film. Norris plays Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade, a lone wolf cop out to avenge his partner's death and stop a gun smuggler (David Carradine). When he's not busy with that, he's dealing with his rookie partner, making sexytime with Carradine's woman (Barbara Carrera), or kicking someone in the face. Life for McQuade is pretty good.

Kidding aside, Lone Wolf McQuade plays out like a spaghetti western -- from the very cool opening sequence through to the classic score from Francesco De Masi -- everything in the film feels like it's paying homage to Sergio Leone. This is taken to its logical conclusion in the epic final showdown between Norris and Carradine. It seems unlikely that Carradine would last two minutes with Chuck in real life, but the battle between the two is fun thanks to Steve Carver's direction. There's lots of slow-motion fighting and the really awesome main theme of the film plays over it -- which makes it way cooler than it really should be. Is it totally implausible? You bet. Do I care? Not at all.

Lone Wolf McQuade is filled with silly moments (the best is undoubtedly Norris being buried alive in his turbo-charged Blazer, waking up, dumping beer over his head, then flooring it until the truck literally explodes from its underground tomb ... ), but somehow, Norris makes it all work. Chuck Norris made a lot of films after Lone Wolf McQuade, but none of the characters he played were as good as this one.

If you've somehow never seen this cult classic, action flick, you're in luck. You can catch Lone Wolf McQuade for free courtesy of our good friends over at Slashcontrol.