Isaac Hayes forever left his stamp on Blaxploitation – and film as a whole – with the theme song for Shaft (1971) and the 2000 remake, starring Samuel L. Jackson. Even if you haven’t seen either of the movies, it’s inevitable that you’ve heard the song before; unless you’ve been living under a rock your entire life, that is. However, when Sir Isaac wasn’t writing theme songs for iconic bad asses of cinema, he was playing bad asses of his own. The Truck might not be as well known as John Shaft, but that doesn’t make him any less of a bad mother shut yo mouth. Trucker Turner is, without question, a stonewall classic of the Blaxploitation boom period that deserves a seat at the table alongside Coffy (1973), Black Caesar (1973) and Shaft (1971).
Isaac Hayes plays Mac ‘Truck’ Turner, a bounty hunter who is hired to track down Gator. When they find him, a chase ensues and Gator ends up dead; this doesn’t sit too well with his woman, Dorinda, owner of a prosperous street escort set-up, so she puts a hit out on Mac and his partner, by offering 50% of her whore profits to whoever succeeds. With the criminals unable to take down Mac, the big bad Blue brings in his own guys to do the job; and Mac and his partner must fight to survive.
Isaac Hayes was never trained to be an actor, nor did he possess an innate knack for the craft; but what he lacked in range and ability he made up for in charisma and cool factor. When he enters a room, grown women turn into horny school girls and men want to be him; much of the film is spent with Hayes running around shirtless, and there’s a comical scene where he chases a would-be assailant to a roof for interrupting his post-coitus nap with his lady friend, moobs jiggling and all. His belly might not be equipped to roll a coin down, but there’s no questioning his appeal as a bonafide stud.
Dorinda (played by Star Trek’s very own Uhara) commands her role as a psychopathic pimp out for vengeance. Her rage levels are through the roof as she barks obscenities at her whores and everybody who crosses her path. It’s a marvellously unhinged performance by her and even the cities high profile criminal kingpins are wary.
The beauty of Truck Turner lies in the execution of its simplicity. It has everything you expect from a Blaxploitation action flick: the body is high, the scenes are action packed, the soundtrack is funky and soulful, the talk is slicker than Rick. There’s an excessive amount of violence, car chases and gun fights. What’s not to love?
Truck Turner is a procedural actioner that doesn’t try to be anything else. The protagonist is a bad ass and he’s always on the go; fighting, fucking and killing. He’s a manly men of all men and deserves to be crowned as genre royalty.
Director Jonathan Kaplan would later go on to direct some of the most popular TV shows on network television, but the exploitation gems he made during the 70’s and 80’s remain his greatest contributions to his legacy. Trucker Turner is a raucous, rowdy romp through the mean streets of the ghetto and it’s barrels of fun. 8/10
Oscar Williams & Michael Allin
Isaac Hayes, Nichelle Nichols, Yaphet Kotto
Action, Crime, Blaxploitation