Truck TurnerOverview -
Truck is a bounty hunter who gets a job to track down a guy named Gator. When he and his partner find him, a chase ensues and Gator is killed. This makes Gator's woman, Dorinda, very angry and she puts a hit on Truck. The man who agrees to kill Truck is named Blue. The question is whether Truck can survive with Blue and his gang on his trail.
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
The late 60s and early to mid 70s were the height of blaxploitation cinema. This sub-genre of movies usually included an almost all African American cast, where the lead character was after justice and or revenge. Besides the amazing Fred Williamson being the poster child for these films, oscar winner Isaac Hayes was right up there, standing with Williamson. With the amount of success that 'Shaft' had in 1972, the studios wanted Hayes for his own film. Just two years after 'Shaft', Hayes starred in 'Truck Turner', which is one of the best blaxploitation films you'll ever see.
It's highly entertaining, full of action and one liners, and even served as inspiration for future films and comedy sketches throughout the years. Even 41 years late, 'Truck Turner' still holds up with the rest of them. That being said, the acting by Hayes really isn't anything to commend here, as this was one of his first outings, but luckily director Jonathan Kaplan weaves is more action and chases than melodramatic monologues. It was a wise choice and made the film much better.
The film follows Mack Turner (Hayes), who goes by the name Truck, hence the title. Truck used to play pro-football, but had to retire after a bad injury. Now he is one of the best bail bondsman bounty hunters in the area, along with his partner Jerry (Alan Weeks). There is no criminal or bond jumper to difficult for Truck and Jerry to find and capture. They soon get a difficult criminal to capture by the name of Gator (Paul Harris), who is a violent pimp. Truck and Jerry have trouble locating him, since his madam girlfriend Dorinda (Nichelle Nichols) has him in hiding.
To make matters worse, Dorinda puts out a bounty to all the criminals and violent pimps for Truck's head on a stick (in so many words). Meanwhile, another rowdy pimp by the name of Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto) is playing both sides for his own secret reasons. It's a lot like 'Warriors' when you think about it. A couple of people are trying to not get killed by a bunch of people looking for them on the city streets.
Here though, you have the wit and seduction of Isaac Hayes front and center. I don't know who's idea it was, but it's hilarious to watch every single female in the film minus Dorinda, fall head over heels for Truck, no matter what he does. It's just hilariously fantastic from start to finish. The action never really lets up either, and has some great chase and fight sequences, including a surprising death scene.
Nichelle Nichols plays by far my favorite character. I was so used to seeing her as her great character on 'Star Trek', but here, she is rude, vicious, and just plain evil. What a fantastic performance. 'Truck Turner' is one of those rare gems of a film that people rarely discuss, but you know it's almost always on their minds, for just how much fun it really is. With energetic performances, a great cast, and one heck of an original music score, 'Truck Turner' still is joy.
'Truck Turner' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This new transfer looks great for being over 40 years old. The detail is quite sharp and vivid throughout, revealing great facial features and the incredible stitching and patterns in these this entertaining wardrobe. Needless to say, the closeups look wonderful. Equally pleasing is the wider shots, that showcase the big city with all of its natural and dirty beauty, without a hint of softness.
There is a very nice layer of consistent grain that never fluctuates either, keeping this iconic blaxploitation movie in it's good filmic state. Colors are bright and pop of screen. They are bold and well saturated from start to finish. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are always natural. There are some minor instances of print damage by the way of scratches and dirt, but it doesn't show up often, and if you blink, you'll miss it. There were no other compression issues to note, leaving this video presentation with top marks.
This release comes with a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo mix that sounds a little uneven at times. For some reason, the score and music portion of the film (created by Isaac Hayes) is at an all-time high. When the score and songs hit the screen, the rest of the sound is dialed down. Yes, the dialogue and sound effects are harder to hear in these instances, but go back to normal volumes when the music is over. It's a fair annoyance.
That being said, when the dialogue, score, and sound effects aren't coming at us at once, everything seems to sound pretty good. Dialogue is crystal clear and easy to understand in these sections and free of any hiss, pops, or cracks. Sound effects are unrealistic, but are deep and robust most of the time. The score is where the sound hits the full stride with a wide dynamic range. I wouldn't expect too much from this audio mix, but it gets the job done.
Audio Commentary - Director Jonathan Kaplan delivers a very engaging and informative commentary here as he discusses making the movie back in the 70s, his cast of actors, and how the film has lived on through the years. A great listen.
Q&A at the New Beverly (SD, 8 Mins.) - Directors Jonathan Kaplan, Joe Dante, and stuntman Bob Minor are all present at this Q&A from 2008. Kapland does most of the talking here as he discusses working with Isaac Hayes and developing the characters.
Trailers From Hell (HD, 3 Mins.) - Director Ernest Dickerson tries to talk about 'Truck Turner', but seems to not have really seen it before. Terrible.
Radio Spot (1 Min.) - An audio promo for 'Truck Turner' and 'Foxy Brown'.
Trailer (HD, 5 Mins.) - A long theatrical trailer for the film.
'Truck Turner' still holds up some 41 years later. The characters, fun dialogue, and action sequences remain highly entertaining, funny, and thrilling. This is a perfect example of a lost sub-genre of film. 'Truck Turner' is just a lot of fun with a fantastic performance by 'Star Trek' alum Nichelle Nichols. The video is quite wonderful, but the audio has a few issues. There are a couple of decent extras as well here. 'Truck Turner' is one of my favorite films, and whether or not you're a fan, this is one you should pick up. Highly recommended!
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