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T.N.T. Jackson
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by Brett Gallman

"Not so dy-no-mite."
2 stars

The seedy Hong Kong underworld might be "no man's land," but that doesn't mean it's no place for a woman, especially when that woman is ferocious badass TNT Jackson (Jeannie Bell), who shows up to track down her missing brother. When it turns out that he's actually been murdered (and because this is the 70s, where revenge was more in vogue than bell bottoms), she vows to return to favor and topple the cocaine empire of everyone responsible.

Hailing from Roger Corman's New World Pictures, TNT Jackson is a typical roughshod Blaxploitation flick, complete with outrageous styles and a thin budget (at this point, Corman had been trained at pinching pennies for well over a decade). Frequent Corman collaborator Dick Miller helped to pen the script, and it was his third and last of his brief writing career. This is probably because "TNT Jackson" features a shootout or a fistfight about every four and a half minutes, and the only thing more abundant than the action are all of the afros.

I wouldn't be surprised if the script started life as a collection of cool scenes, such as one where our topless heroine fends off some rapists in a dark room ("you wanted black, you got it!"). Other highlights include a slow-motion battle in a cemetery and a bunch of other crudely choreographed (the stunt doubles are obvious) fight scenes. You know the sort--where the villains all surround the hero, ready to pounce, only they never do until it's their turn to get punched in the face (or get their arm broken in gory fashion).

Somewhere along the way, someone realized a story needed to loosely tie everything together, so we've got some intermittent scenes involving drug trafficking and hijacked cocaine shipments. The villains are convinced it's TNT (aka "the black chick"), particularly Charlie (Stan Shaw), who just uses his suspicions to get into her pants. Convinced that she's "too fine for all that fighting," he tries to suavely seduce her into forgetting her vengeance. Remarkably, it doesn't work, even though he wears some of the loudest, garish outfits you'll see (most of which seemingly don't contain buttons). The other standout among the cast is Pat Anderson, who has big boobs and an even bigger secret; she initially bails TNT out, but their interaction goes from zero-to-catty in about 4 seconds, at which point Anderson delivers the funniest line reading of "bitch" I've heard in a while.

Director Cirio Santiago made a living doing this type of stuff; in fact, despite passing away five years ago, his final film is still stuck in post-production. Most of his output resembles the lo-fi, cheap, sleazy thrills found here. Definitely an also-ran from the 70s exploitation scene, "TNT Jackson" is one of many films of the era to find a home on public domain budget DVD releases over the years. As Shout Factory continues to raid the Corman back catalogue, they've arrived here and have thrown it onto the "Lethal Ladies" collection along with "Firecracker" (also directed by Santiago) and "Too Hot too Handle." Three hot ladies, one fine package; despite the relative lack of extra features (you get a trailer for each movie), "TNT Jackson" probably hasn't looked and sounded this good since it played the drive-in circuit over 30 years ago.

In spite of Shout Factory's fine efforts to polish it, however, "TNT Jackson" is a bit of a dud that misfires when compared to the similarly-themed Jack Hill classics of the era.

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originally posted: 11/03/11 08:53:40
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  17-Jan-1975 (R)
  DVD: 25-Oct-2011



Directed by
  Cirio H. Santiago

Written by
  Leonard Hermes
  Ken Metcalfe
  Dick Miller

  Jeannie Bell
  Stan Shaw
  Max Alvarado
  Pat Anderson

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