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Friday, March 11, 2016

BREAKER! BREAKER! -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

I wouldn't have been caught dead going to a redneck trucker flick in 1977.  Or even renting it or watching it on HBO in 1988.  Especially if it had anything to do with CB radios, which I regarded with utter disdain.  Not only did I not see movies like CONVOY back in the day, but the C.W. McCall song itself made my soul hurt.

But that was then.  Now, in retrospect, I can enjoy a low-rent indy truck opera like Chuck Norris' BREAKER! BREAKER! (1977) as I bask in its retro-retro charm.  In fact, this simple little tale of good guys vs. bad guys and righteousness against injustice is such utterly unassuming and straightforward fun that its purity is practically bracing.

In only his first starring role, Chuck is hardly the fabled Superman he would later become although he can already spin-kick his share of butt.  Here, with his youth and lack of facial hair making him look a bit unformed, he's an easygoing truck driver who'd rather mind his own business than have to prove how tough he is.

But prove it he must when his younger brother, Billy, gets detoured through the small town of Texas City, California during his very first trucker run and finds out its one of those places where everyone is dishonest, especially the scummy police and the man who runs everything as mayor, judge, and whatever else he wants to be at any particular time--namely, the loathesome Judge Joshua Trimmings. 

The Judge is played by familiar character actor George Murdock (EARTHQUAKE, ANY WHICH WAY YOU CAN), who was born to play a smalltown tyrant in a baggy off-white suit.  (Not to mention God in STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER.)  He convicts our hapless Billy of various cooked up crimes and sentences him to pay up or go to jail. 

Billy balks, gets beaten up, and disappears.  Cue big brother Chuck coming to town to rescue him and you've pretty much got the rest of the plot figured out.

The big rig angle actually comes into play only at the very beginning of the film and again for its finale, with most of the running time consisting of Chuck dealing with the local yokels (this is one of those Southern-like towns that seems to have been plunked right down in the middle of California) who are all either shining him on or trying to kill him.

Chuck, needless to say, handles himself capably but does so with a minimum of fancy fight choreography, making do with a well-placed spin-kick here and there in addition to some good old-fashioned fisticuffs.

Even the big fight at the end is kept fairly simple, save for lots of slow-motion a la "The Six Million Dollar Man." The mayhem tends to be on the lighter side, too, with nary a fractured limb or geyser of blood spewing from someone's mouth after a crushing blow.

Murdock, naturally, takes home the acting honors, while ERASERHEAD's Jack Nance gets to overact as a manic redneck trucker.  As for Chuck, his skills are pretty basic here--in one scene, it looks as though director Don Hulette filmed closeups of him expressing various emotions so that he could simply insert them wherever needed.  Of course, it's not like we really watch Chuck Norris movies for the acting.

As Arlene, a local woman and single mother who sides with Chuck against the town's corruption and becomes his romantic interest, Terry O'Connor is an appealing presence.  Their romance is quick and virtually without dialogue, with a brief, sappy ballad and a montage of them strolling around in the woods for a minute sufficing to encapsulate their courtship. 

The Blu-ray from Olive Films is in widescreen with Dolby 2.0 sound.  No subtitles.  The sole extra is the film's trailer.

With all of Chuck's trucker friends converging on the town for what might be called a "smashing" finale, BREAKER! BREAKER! finally breaks a sweat after pleasantly coasting along like a big rig on a downward grade for an hour-and-a-half.  It's hardly a blockbuster action thriller, but if you love the 70s, then movies like this are probably one of the reasons why.

Buy it at
Twitter: @OliveFilms
Release date: March 22, 2016

Pictures shown are not taken from the Blu-ray


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