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What's up Chuck?

THERE is something about Chuck Norris movies that makes them all look the same. At least Firewalker (Pearl, 9.30pm) differs from Missing in Action, Game of Death, Silent Rage, Slaughter in San Francisco and the rest in one respect; Norris tries to do a bit of comedy. But it is similar to all those others in that it is not very good. In fact it might well be Norris' worst movie ever, and it is up for that title against some pretty stiff competition.

Norris leaves his martial arts black belt on the bedroom floor for this one. There is only one karate scene in the whole film, so we should be thankful for small mercies.

''It takes place in a saloon with a bunch of drunken characters. It's the best karate scene I've ever done and it's full of laughs,'' says Norris. Not so.

Norris plays the affable Max Donigan, a soldier of fortune who is asked with sidekick Lou Gossett to search for some lost treasure which does not exist (they don't know it does not exist or they would not have gone looking for it).

Along with the treasure they go searching for laughs, but they do not exist either.

Comedy only works when it is funny. The best that can be said of Chuck Norris in Firewalker is that at least he tried.

WHAT they will be saying about Firewalker on Pearl Movie Watch (Pearl, 7.20pm) we do not know, but it will doubtless be different from what you have just read. Firewalker is a thrilling action movie, with really great stunts and lots of action-packed moments. Chuck Norris is brilliant. In fact he is really brilliant.

Hosts Gloria Wu and Oliver Tan will be casting their eyes over other forthcoming films on the channel, including The Taking Of Beverly Hills, Predator and Kickboxer II: The Road Back. In the Behind The Scenes segment they will be looking at creature articulation in horror films.

IF you vandalise cars and get caught you get punished. If you vandalise cars in Singapore and get caught you get strapped to a wooden frame and caned so hard and for so long that you mercifully pass out after the second or third stroke and therefore do not feel the rest.

East-West tensions are rising over the flogging sentence handed down on 18-year-old Michael Fay. The Asian Wall Street Journal Report (Pearl, midnight) examines the cultural differences at the heart of the issue and its impact on business and trade. The impact on Michael's Fay's backside is not discussed. He has been a silly boy, but does that mean he should be left scarred for life? The programme also looks at the nasty side of banking in Russia, anxiety among South Korean sneaker manufacturers and rising interest rates in the US. Will the Central Bank's third increase in less than three months finally put the brakes on the country's booming economy? DICK Van Dyke, he of the strange Cockney accent in Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, appears as special guest in The Golden Girls (World, 10.30pm).

He plays a lawyer who is dating Dorothy. When he calls to say he has something important to ask her everyone presumes he is going to propose.

Meanwhile, on the ecological front, Blanche and Rose return from a boating trip distraught at having seen a dolphin caught in a tuna net.

THERE is no better time to show a special New Year's edition of a well-known drama a series than the last week of April.

In thirtysomething (World, 12.50am) Hope and Michael are having a New Year's drinks party. It's a jolly old affair, if you believe the synopsis, with dancing, piano-playing, singing, greetings and general merriment. Parties like this are fun as long as you do not happen to be there.

PHILEUS Fogg and Passepartout are near the end of their journey in the final episode of Around the World in Eighty Days (STAR Plus, 8.30pm), based on the famous Jules Verne novel, not the famous Michael Palin television series.

Pierce Brosnan plays Fogg, who returns to London to the bad news that he may not have won his bet. But you and I know better.

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