Saturday, June 11, 2011

Breaker! Breaker! (1977)

Karate champion Chuck Norris took a baby step toward movie stardom by headlining this meagerly budgeted B-movie, which awkwardly meshes the martial arts, trucker, and vigilante genres. Given this slapdash approach and the movie’s crappy production values, it’s no surprise that Breaker! Breaker! has spent decades languishing in well-deserved obscurity. In fact, had Norris not subsequently achieved cinematic fame elsewhere, the picture probably would have fallen out of distribution entirely. Having said that, the movie has a promising hook—a redneck villain gets his backwater burg incorporated as a municipality called Texas City so he and his minions can use “official” traffic stops to rip off motorists and truckers. Norris plays a trucker whose little brother was last seen in Texas City, so he struts into town to find out the truth and, if necessary, issue swift-footed justice. There’s also a thread in the story about Norris calling in his brother truckers for help, resulting in a climactic scene of 18-wheelers literally mowing down the entire city. None of this hangs together well, so even though Breaker! Breaker! zips along (it’s barely 90 minutes), everything onscreen feels fake and meaningless. The fight scenes are absurd—Norris takes on what seems like the city’s entire male population at one point—and a crudely rendered subplot about a rural simpleton is especially pointless. Plus, while Norris fights impressively and exudes an easygoing likeability, he can’t act. The movie’s only interesting-ish performance is given by character actor George Murdock, as the city’s Shakespeare-spouting overlord, but his exertions are wasted because the movie as a whole is so forgettable.

Breaker! Breaker! LAME

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