BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review

Truck Turner (1974) - Blu-ray Review

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Truck Turner - Blu-ray Review

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5 stars

I’m not going to mince words here. Truck Turner is one seriously badass flick. It is the type of B-movie that gets me so excited for the unlimited possibilities of low budget cinema. It is sooo much better than Shaft and the countless other Blaxploitation films offered up in the wake of 1971’s Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. Fans of the genre should bow down and kneel before the feet of Kino Lorber for putting Truck Turner back into the public sphere with this blu-ray release. It is a cinematic masterpiece straight out of the ghettofabulous gutter.

Starring Isaac Hayes and Yaphet Kotto, the 1974 film is as ruthless as it is engaging with its steely eyed gaze fixed on revenge and righteousness. Full of smartass dialogue designed to keep you on your toes and massively quotable one-liners, it is a movie as ruthless as it is funny and, for the record, its streetwise humor is as honest and as soulful as its leading man. It’s a shame that Hayes couldn’t springboard from this into a better leading man filmography.

Mack “Truck” Turner, a one-time football legend, is now a bounty hunter roaming from one bounty to the next with his partner Jerry (Alan Weeks) in tow. They work for Nate (Sam Laws), a bail bondsman who keeps them well-fed with plenty of bounties throughout Los Angeles, but sometimes they have to go where their collective skills take them. After being hired for $1000 each by another bail bondsman (Dick Miller), the two men go after a pimp named Gator (Paul Harris) and tangle with his brutally poisonous girlfriend/madam, Dorinda (Nichelle Nichols) and her den of prostitutes.

When the job doesn’t go cleanly, the two men suddenly have contracts out against them that all sorts of dangerous men are hell-bent to collect on, including Harvard Blue (Yaphet Kotto). Truck might be having the time of his life but his partner, who winds up in a hospital, and his thieving girlfriend (Annazette Chase) are not. Truck has to turn up the violence and his street smarts if he’s going to survive this one.

Directed by Jonathan Kaplan (White Line Fever, The Accused), Truck Turner displays the late Hayes’ talent for larger than life theatrics. He’s charming, hilarious, and ruthless in a role he seems born to play and a film he was definitely born to compose. Riding the popularity of his score for Shaft, it seemed only fitting that he get his own Blaxploitation flick to headline. America was ready, too, because both the film and the score earned high marks. And it’s little wonder, too. The cast – also featuring Scatman Crothers – is remarkable.

It is a film that was rewritten when its original all-white cast dropped out. As a result, it has never actually stood on its own. Which is a shame. Released to accompany Foxy Brown in theaters, Truck Turner cranks up the charm and blistering violence as bullets, bodies, and well-placed kicks fly out from the screen. There is one extended car chase that ends on foot and looks as if it was a hell of a lot of fun (and work) to orchestrate and an extremely memorable death scene, notable for its composition, and a whole lot of humorous domesticated stuff as Truck desperately struggles to care for his girlfriend’s free-peeing feline.

Simply put, Truck Turner is the Blaxploitation film that SHOULD be the standard ALL films from the genre are held to. Its action is solid. The humor is effortless. And, well hell, Lt. Uhura from Star Trek turns out an unhinged performance as she swears and slaps like a sailor throughout it. All kidding aside, the film is a slice of cinematic joy that just doesn’t give up. From the humble beginning to the ending ride out of LA, it’s a solid piece of raw and honest American filmmaking. It is probably the finest film American International ever released.

There is no trick to Truck Turner. THIS is badass cinema.

Truck Turner - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
91 mins
Director
: Jonathan Kaplan
Writer:
Oscar Williams, Michael Allin
Cast:
Isaac Hayes, Yaphet Kotto, Alan Weeks
Genre
: Action | Crime
Tagline:
Black, bold and bloody mean!.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Her clients call her Colonel Sanders because she's finger lickin' good."
Distributor:
American International Pictures (AIP)
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 26, 1974
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 7, 2015
Synopsis: 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.

Truck Turner - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 7, 2015
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Region Encoding: A

Kino Studio Classics offers Truck Turner on 1080p with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and solid DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound. The MPEG-4 AVC picture retains its grain as it crawls through the grimy streets of downtown L.A. circa 1974 and captures the essence of the city as seen through the eyes of its director of photography, Charles F. Wheeler. The smog and the sun are both present on this transfer. While colors don’t pop, there are enough textures in the fabrics and the faces of its cast for it to be worthy of your dime.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Jonathan Kaplan’s audio commentary is excellent. Fans will DEFINITELY want to check this out.

Special Features:

Kino Lorber provides Truck Turner’s fans with some notable extras. Beginning with a 7-minute excerpt from Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema screening of the movie, Kaplan and Stunt Man Bob Minor and Joe Dante talk about the movie. Director Ernest Dickerson, in another featurette, introduces the film’s original trailer.

  • Q&A at the New Beverly (7 min)
  • Trailers From Hell (3 min)
  • Radio Spot (1 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

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