If you're into movies like this you'll have a great time with it like I did. Isaac Hayes stars as Mack "Truck" Turner, a former college football star who with his partner Jerry (Alan Weeks) now makes a living as a skip tracer for bail bondsmen. The pair accepts a big payday for bringing in a vicious pimp named Gator (Paul Harris) but catching him turns out to be very tough, and the pimp ends up dead. Gator's business partner Dorinda (Nichelle Nichols) is enraged at the death of her man and offers her stable of high-priced hookers to the Mack Daddy who kills Truck. After a few try but fail to take down the formidable Mr. Turner, well-to-do pimp Harvard Blue (Live And Let Die's Yaphet Kotto) strikes a deal for control of the call girls and hires professional assassins for the job. But when the killers hit the wrong man, Truck goes on the offensive to keep the people he cares for safe and his own behind out of the grave.
This movie stands tall next to more famous blaxploitation flicks. Fast, funny and exciting, "Truck Turner" is an unpretentious action movie uninterested in social statements or damning The Man... It simply tells a straightforward story quite well. In doesn't break any new ground but is instead an example of how to do the genre right. It helps considerably that the excellent cast knows how to play the material for maximum effect. The weakest actor is Hayes but he's far from bad in the central role, even if he gets by more on his cool charisma than his thespian skills. He's never less than convincing whether he's smacking around a rapist or sweet-talking his petty thief girlfriend -- it's a good thing the script doesn't call for more than he can give. Luckily the legendary Kotto and a dream list of character actors of the time support Hayes nicely. Dick Miller plays the bail bondsman that hires Truck to bring in Gator; Scatman Crothers is a retired pimp who supplies information; Charles Cyphers plays a drunk in one scene, etc. But the real revelation for me was the spectacle of a foul-mouthed, jive talkin', tight-satin-pants-wearing Lt. Uhura! Yes, Nichelle Nichols sheds every ounce of Star Trek reserve and Shatners her bad self across the screen spitting fire at everyone in sight. She's a joy to watch and her profane, racial slur-slinging performance demonstrates one of my favorite elements of the whole film: its casually un-PC nature. I don't think there's a single character here (black or white) who doesn't use the dreaded "N" word a least once -- and often more than once per sentence. Modern films only permit racial slurs to be used by Nazis, gangsters or other designated bad guys, so it's a shock to hear this stuff thrown around so offhandedly. I'm sure it will cause some politically correct viewers to have seizure-like fits but I found it refreshing to see this often whitewashed part of our culture presented in such a colorful way reflecting the look of 1970s.
Isaac Hayes composed and performs the music and it's one of his best works for film. It's a muscular, funky set of songs with a big horn section and plenty of wacca-cha-wacca electric guitar that's so cool it could make a corpse get out on the dance floor. Hayes will always be remembered for his Oscar winning Shaft score but I like this one equally.