Truck Turner

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 10/15/08 11:41:47

"Gleefully and entertainingly trashy."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

I want to make this very clear: When I, at some future time, tell people that they've gotta see "Truck Turner", I will be doing it because I really like "Truck Turner". Not because I particularly like blaxploitation (most of what I've seen is pretty awful), but because this is a fun action movie. Granted, some of its exuberance is inappropriate at best coming out of my very white mouth, but I can dig the energy even if I can't duplicate it.

Mac "Truck" Turner (Isaac Hayes) was a pro football player until he blew out his knee; now he's a skip tracer; he and partner Jerry (Alan Weeks) mostly work for bail bondsman Nate Dinwiddle (Sam Laws). His girlfriend Annie (Annazette Chase) has just spent thirty days behind bars for shoplifting. It ain't a great life, but it's not a bad one, until Truck and Jerry go after pimp Gator Johnson (Paul Harris), and wid up taking him down rather than bringing him in. His woman Dorrinda (Nichelle Nichols) is furious, and puts a price on Truck's head. Most who would collect are no match for Truck, but king pimp Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto) might have what it takes.

Isaac Hayes was about as cool as a man could be, and Truck Turner frequently takes on his personality. Truck is no-nonsense when it comes to his work, but personable and always ready to crack a joke. Most of the time he's a big teddy bear, but he's quite capable of summoning a ton of power, so that there's no question of who's the baddest man in the room. He doesn't cry, but he's got a big heart. Truck is fun to watch because he doesn't vary too far from Hayes's own persona. And just in case you weren't sure this was Hayes's movie, he contributes a great, funky score, at least as good as his more famous work on Shaft.

Hayes alone would be a lot of fun, but the rest of the cast certainly manages to pull their own weight. Alan Weeks and Sam Laws are at their best when cutting it up with Hayes, and Anazette Chase is pretty good as Annie. She's the girlfriend, not there for much more, but Chase makes her seem like Annie's got a reason for existing outside of being threatened by the men after Truck. Scatman Crothers shows up. And Yaphet Kotto is fantastic as usual, making both a grand entrance and exit, giving Truck one heck of a worthy adversary.

And then there's Nichelle Nichols. I've seen her character of Dorrinda described as a "madam", but let's not be sexist about it: She's a full-on pimp. Those who only know Nichols from Star Trek (that is to say, everybody) will probably get a big kick out of her sleazing it up as the movie's villain. She goes as far over the top as anybody, and it's a gas. The funeral scene is a garish riot, although it's not long after that the movie starts displaying a real mean streak. Director Jonathan Kaplan handle that well - when it's time to get nasty, he lets you know playtime is over without making it seem like we've stumbled into another movie.

What's not to like? You've got Isaac Hayes being Isaac Hayes, Yaphet Kotto larger than life, and Lt. Uhura as a nasty mack. Even if it weren't a pretty darn enjoyable action movie, it's definite "you gotta see it" stuff.

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