Thursday, August 21, 2008

Breaker! Breaker!

The Action Mutant…
asks what’s your 10-4, 1040, WD40, SR-71, U-571, UB 40, 7-11 there, good buddy?

Breaker! Breaker!

review by Joe Burrows

This has been a long time coming here at TAM. The first appearance of the man who has enjoyed a career resurgence in the past few years…despite the fact he hasn’t been in a film in three years and a starring theatrical release in thirteen years! A man that has a website named after him that displays many little known “facts” that are attributed to him in some way. A man who likes to solve disputes with words but usually solves them with a well placed spin kick to the jaw. You know who I’m referring to (note: If you said Bob Saget...get help. You have a problem). And no, I will not attempt to create one of those “facts” to make this review more acceptable to the masses. Besides, Chuck Norris doesn’t go for much comedy. In fact, Chuck Norris doesn’t heckle comedians…he throttles their souls with his eyes until they piss themselves and cry. What? It’s true!

The Plot, as it was:
Norris is J.D. Dawes, a trucker that would rather teach Zen karate techniques and rassle with kid bro Billy (Michael Augenstein) than participate in an impromptu arm wrestling match (though he does both). When Billy goes on a trip out of town, he gets detoured into the corrupt town of Texas City, California (huh?). Ol’ TC was founded by the tyrannical Judge Trimmings (George Murdock), as he has brainwashed the townspeople with good, old fashioned town pride in order to soak passer-bys for money. When Billy disappears, J.D. goes snooping for answers and ends up pressing his feet in rage against more than one set of redneck asscheeks.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
This was The Chuckster’s first starring vehicle and it started the tradition of 99% of his following vehicles being exactly like this one. You know the type…someone does Chuck wrong, Chuck tries to be reasonable but the baddies go one step too far and Chuck lays down the ass beatings. It’s simplistic to the extreme and the only things that discern it from your typical Walker, Texas Ranger episode is some decidedly 70s goofiness & some bizarre supporting work. Murdock, who portrayed Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on stage, acts like he’s reading from an entirely different script half the time as he waxes drunken poetic and hams it up with pleasure. Of course, it’s especially prevalent with Norris coming from the Cigar Store Indian School of acting, where Norris is so stoic he makes Bronson seem like Bobcat Goldthwait. At least Murdock holds interest in the typically crazed, country judge role, since all of the other townspeople are so stereotypical & one dimensional that they generate very little interest by comparison. The sound you hear after John Di Fusco’s Arney debuts on screen is the collective smack of flesh on skull after realizing you’re about to be treated to another garden variety “village idiot” and it doesn’t get much better afterwards (the grease monkey mechanic, the slave driver restaurant owner, corrupt policemen and one too many “sons of the soil” populate this area). The film’s lack of budget stifles things as well, with Texas City delightfully resembling one of those Western resort towns with cheap sets & shootouts scheduled every day at noon. Only here, the budget’s so low that there isn’t much in the way of gunplay and the finale only seems to be an excuse to tear the “town” down without springing for what would be the requisite explosive climax (hey, they had to work in that CB lingo in somehow, right?). Other than that, Chuck does what he does best and that’s kick, kick & kick some more. Sadly, the main villain isn’t even given the designated final beating, as the audience is treated to Chuck kicking a drunken Deputy’s ass for way too long (and some Quaalude induced symbolism involving a horse riding free into the sunset) to send everyone home happy. The thing is that final battle seems to encapsulate everything about Breaker! Breaker! into one fell swoop. The execution of the film seems so lazy that if the filmmakers can’t be bothered to put forth a satisfying conclusion, then I can’t see why you should be bothered to see it multiple times.

Body Count/Violence: 2. Of course, if you work in the amount of people Chuck spinkicks into mush, its more like 40-50. There’s plenty a beating thrown in, as well as neck breaking, some shooting, vehicular destruction (including car compacting in a junkyard), window and fence crashing, etc. And kicking. It’s Chuck Norris, so there’s plenty of kicking.

Sexuality/Nudity: Chuck’s shown in bed with the town’s lone dame (Terry O’Connor) but nothing is shown.

Language/Dialogue: Its 1970s era PG, so every mild expletive except for the big F is used. The film would be a mild PG-13 at best today.

How bad was it?:
In a career riddled with maligned star vehicles, fan feedback and critics mark this amongst Chuckles’ worst (worst than Top Dog?). Most state that it’s more forgettable than it is bad (though a lot of them state it’s bad, too), though it’s expected since this was released to capitalize on America’s CB craze in the late 70s and those films weren’t exactly torchbearers of five star cinema.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
No money figures are known for Breaker! Breaker! but it was released in the States in 5/6/77 through American International, so it was most likely a box office success due to its ultra-low budget.

Film: *1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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