Friday, June 1, 2007

Movie Review: Truck Turner

I don't have a real deep knowledge of blaxploitation films - I've seen a few of the Pam Grier films and a couple of the more well-known titles. I had at least heard that Truck Turner existed but not anything else about it. This one didn't seem to be of quite the same quality as, say, Coffy, but it was pretty entertaining - although some of the entertainment qualities were unintentional.

The movie seemed to start off as a fairly episodic story - more like a R-rated sitcom than a movie. (Dialog from very first white guy in the movie: "Looks like we got a couple of neee-gro bounty hunters here.") I did like that Truck Turner's first act of violence was against his cat - definitely in the plus column. (Oh, and don't bet on the cat making it out of the movie alive.) But just when I was beginning to despair, along comes one of the funniest car chase scenes this side of Mitchell. It's one of those scenes where everyone's wheeling a cart of some kind across the road just as the cars get there. My favorite was when the pimpmobile hit a flower cart - and the rear door just falls off for no reason. The pimp later runs over the obligatory fire hydrant, and then abandons his car as it runs over a ditch - exploding for no reason just before it crashes. Outstanding! And then just when you think the chase is over, it starts up again - the pimp eludes Turner, doubles back and steals his car - because he left the keys in the ignition!

It's pretty much downhill from there though, as the pimp's lead lady (disturbingly played by Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols!) puts a contract out on Turner and the movie descends into a series of assassination attempts, all of which Turner easily avoids. Yaphet Kotto is the "smart pimp" who ends up being the main bad guy, and is pretty much the only guy in the movie even close to acting. Certainly he has no competition from lead actor Isaac Hayes, who isn't too bad just bullshitting with his partner, but is just sort of there during the action scenes and (surprisingly) the love scenes. (Sample dialog: Turner is late to pick up his woman from jail (!). She asks: "Didn't you even bring flowers?" He replies: "I brought beer.")

So the plot of the movie wasn't much, but there were enough funny moments scattered through the film to keep things moving (another highlight - the pimp funeral featuring a procession of pimpmobiles!). Three stars.

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