A lone wolf Texas Ranger finds himself at odds with a powerful drug lord. Lots of people get shot and beaten to bloody pulp.
The film would later serve as an inspiration for Walker, Texas Ranger.
This film has the examples of:
- Arms Dealer: Rawley Wilkes is an arms dealer who raids U.S. military convoys so he can sell them to insurgents and terrorists.
- Big Bad: Rawley.
- Buried Alive: Rawley orders his mooks to bury the badly beaten McQuade alive, using his own truck as his coffin. But he manages to escape his earthly prison by showering himself with beer and engaging the Nitro Boost in his car.
- Depraved Dwarf: Falcon is a wheelchair-bound dwarf, the head of an arms smuggling operation, and a rival to the main bad guy.
- Evil Laugh: Falcon isn't the Big Bad, but he lets out a laugh that puts anything out of Rawley's mouth to shame when taunting McQuade that Snow "won't live through the night."
- Heroes Love Dogs: And thus the bad guys decide to kill the poor thing for the sake of trying to make McQuade back off. Big mistake...
- Improbable Aiming Skills: As McQuade showers bandits with bullets from Mac-10, he somehow manages not to hit their horses and hostages.
- Kick the Dog: Rawley kills McQuade's dog to spite him.
- Leitmotif: Rawley has a particular, recurring synth motif that tends to crop up when he's onscreen, such as his murder of Dakota and, most prominently, in the final battle where it goes hand-in-hand with the Ominous Pipe Organ.
- Men Can't Keep House: After McQuade strikes up a romance with Lola, she shows up in his neglected house and proceeds to clean up after him and get him some decent food. He brushes her off at first, but when she takes it badly he apologizes for acting like a jerk.
- Mirrored Confrontation Shot: Used on the poster.
- New Old West: The soundtrack is pure Western goodness, the open horizon of the border is an important location, and McQuade is pretty much a man Born in the Wrong Century who enjoys racing around in his souped-up truck and cold beer as much as he does kicking criminal ass.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: "The Final Conflict", which plays in the final showdown between McQuade and Rawley Wilkes.
- Papa Wolf: You can beat him, shoot him, bury him alive, and shoot his dog and maybe survive, but if you hurt his daughter, you will open the whole can of Chuck Norris whoopass.
- Shoot the Fuel Tank: The fuel tank explosion is justified, as the opening scene has McQuade loading his sniper rifle from an ammunition case of 7.62mm Armor-Piercing Incendiary rounds.
- Tank Goodness: Downplayed, but still within the spirit of the trope: the final confrontation between McQuade and Rawley includes them charging at each other at one point, McQuade in a bulldozer and Rawley in a half-track.
- Villain of Another Story: McQuade briefly wrestles with Falcon, the crippled dwarf boss of an arms smuggling operation. He's not the main villain or the target of McQuade's revenge; that role belongs to Falcon's rival Rawley Wilkes (David Carradine's character), another Arms Dealer who both tried to murder McQuade's daughter after she was witness to a major arms deal and has a hold over Wilkes's Love Interest Lola. McQuade still leaves Falcon behind for the Mexican Federales.