February 25, 2014

Movie Review: Truck Turner

There is nothing quite as motivational as movies getting set to expire on Netflix. It forces me to make time for movies I kept looking for the right time to watch. You know, some movies demand to have that special moment in time and expiration dates make that special moment now! The movie in question is one of those expiring and I made the time and I think I am a better person for it. It is a movie that comes highly recommended by a couple of friends and now, after watching it, I can see why. The movie is none other than Truck Turner.

Truck Turner stars Isaac Hayes (in his second film role) as Mac 'Truck' Turner, a skip tracer (bounty hunter). He and his partner, Jerry (Alan Weeks), are hired to track down a fellow named Gator. They set out looking for him, going through Gator's girlfriend, Dorinda (Nichelle Nichols, yes, Uhura), a Madam who operates out of a beauty salon. Well, the chase leads them on foot and by car all over town before ending in a shootout that sees Gator left dead.

Gator's death does not sit well with Dorinda and a meeting of pimps lead to big time bad guy Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto) stepping up to kill Truck Turner. What follows is a chase to the finish with Turner being the target of every pimp, hood, and thug around. Turner does all he can to protect his loved ones and stay alive to see the right thing done.

I am far from the right person to analyze blaxploitation films, but I am not above sharing some thoughts on one that sticks out, like this one does. Unlike a lot films of its type, Truck Turner has some really good pacing. It rarely lets up and does a great job of developing characters in a believable fashion with few words. Just watch and listen to Hayes as he opens the movie and gets ready to leave the apartment, it goes a long way to setting up what Truck is about, even if you don't realize it. There is also a good amount of action sequences, nicely staged fights and shootouts, and one heck of a car chase.

Isaac Hayes does a great job carrying the movie. He has a presence and way of delivering a line that cannot be described as anything other than cool. Seriously, just watch how he carries himself throughout the movie. On top of that, he did compose and perform the music. The rest of the cast is no slouch either. Yaphet Kotto is memorable as Harvard Blue. Still, I think the best supporting performance has to go to Nichelle Nichols, if only for how odd it is to see her like this after only knowing her as Uhura for so many years. She certainly shows another side! There is also a small role played by Dick Miller.

The movie was directed by Jonathan Kaplan, who cut his teeth on exploitation far like this, Night Call Nurses, and The Student Teachers, before moving onto more mainstream fare like Project X, Unlawful Entry, Brokedown Palace, and a number of television series. It is interesting to note that this was originally written for Robert Mitchum, but he passed, as did James Coburn before it was decided to adapt it as an “urban” picture.

It is a good thing the made the change, because they did we got a solid blaxploitation film that is consistently entertaining and well worth seeking out. Isaac Hayes is certainly memorable in the lead role.

Highly Recommended.

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Dell said...

Sad to say, I have actually owned a copy of the DVD for a couple years, but haven't gotten around to watching it yet. I need to get on the ball with this one. Good review.

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