"When Shaft is too highbrow, this is the next step down."
At the height of the Blaxploitation craze of the 70’s, Isaac Hayes was the man behind some of the themes that became synonymous with the genre. Considered a sex symbol at the time and a draw to both men and women, it was probably pretty predictable that eventually Hayes would be turned into an action star himself. Thus we have Truck Turner, the story of a former pro footballer (Hayes) turned ‘skip tracer’, busting bad guys with his faithful buddy Jerry (Alan Weeks) by his side.Turner and his bud are enjoying life, getting laid and making money, when a desperate bail bondsman comes to them with a contract that needs some urgent attention. Our heroes need to track down a pimp or the bail bondsman in question is going to lose his business, but when they shoot and kill the tough guy in question, his right-hand-skank plots a revenge hit and brings in every bad guy in town to make it so.
As an actor, Isaac Hayes makes a good singer. He struggles over just about every line and never looks convincing as a tough guy but his cohort in crime (or crime-solving) makes Hayes look like Action Jackson in comparison. While these two get 85% of the screen time available, it’s Yaphet Kotto that turns in a distinctly nasty performance as one of the bad guys recruited to off Turner and manages to totally steal the film in the process. Kotto is a true bad mofo and would have been the kind of guy that could have pulled this film out of the mire, but unfortunately for him he didn’t have any hit records out so he has to be satisfied with supporting bad guy status.Worth watching for a laugh, especially when Right-Hand-Skank parades her ho’s by the pool and describes what each of them do (“Her name is Turnpike… you pay to get on and you pay to get off”), Truck Turner is hokey, silly and ham-fisted, but it’d be a really impatient type that can’t find something about it to enjoy.