30 March 2009

Breaker, Breaker!

United States – 1977
Director – Don Hulette
Embassy Home Entertainment, 1984, VHS
Run time - 1 hour, 26 min.

In this one, Chuck Norris plays John David Dawes, affectionately known as JD to his pals, and John David to the single mothers he picks up along his path, an 18 wheel truck driver - and known collectively the nation over as a "trucker". Although we only see Chuck, or JD rather, behind the wheel of his rig for something like a minute of total screen-time, his realistic lingo and friendly peaceful demeanor are sure indicators of his lengthy and well-established membership in that interstate cargo-transportation elite. Returning from a long cargo haul, JD catches up with his younger brother Billy, a promising upstart trucker himself, who also enjoys the hip new sport of riding his dirt bike around.

With little more character development that a boyish homoerotic grapple in the dirt, JD sends Billy off on his first solo-run, head full of lofty glory-filled dreams of driving a reefer full of TV-dinners from one place to another. Billy's fantasies are cut short however by some lawless drunken hillbillies, the crazy occupants of a rural old-time mining village movie set. The hillbillies steal Billy's truck, and throw him in jail. Meanwhile, JD arm-wrestles a fat guy in a cozy inviting trucker bar/diner, and his attractive friends fill his head with all sorts of wild rumors about the lawless and criminal hillbillies. JD gets in his van, a four wheeled patriotic Ford erection, emblazoned from top to bottom on both sides with a giant fierce eagle painting, and goes hillbilly hunting.

Upon arrival in hillbilly-ville, (known by the state of California, by charter, as Texas City,) JD befriends the retarded kid Arney, played with stunning eloquence in the "mentally disabled" equivalent to blackface and naïve after-school-special offensiveness by John Di Fusco, doing double duty on top of his steep responsibilities as casting director for Breaker! Breaker! If Di Fusco's own acting ability isn't enough of a testament to his ability to judge quality, and director Hulette's excellent judgment of the same, then Hulette's own original knee-slapping banjo-laden action music score for Breaker Breaker! surely drives the point home.

His big heart worn prominently on his fists, JD tries friendly reasoning with the drunk recalcitrant mayor, but his hand is forced and he spends the rest of the film beating up Texas City’s entire population (every one a stone dumb redneck.) Slipping out of town just as they all come to for a second go-around, JD finds time to hook up with the mayor's widowed daughter-in-law. After a quick reinvigorating romp between the sheets and a TV dinner, wait a second…

JD returns with a vengeance to resoundingly whoop every hollerin’, up-‘n’-down- inflatable jerk in the entire town. Don't let the parallels to G.I. Joe cartoons and episodes of the A-Team that end with a complete lack of dead bodies or grievous bodily injury put you off. Life lessons can also be taught through the age-old "well intentioned kick-in-the-teeth-with-your-own-medicine" approach - espoused eloquently by Arney, embodiment of helpful and innocent humility, dying in his reticent hillbilly brother's arms. Like a sort of vindicating roadway deliveryman, JD’s utterances are expectedly sparse and curt, and his mere presence exudes enough morally ambiguous brow-beating good-guy jingoism to smooth over any confused nonsensical ending; let that be a lesson to you.
A more dumbpelling crusade there never was.

Some other Breaker Breaker art, a poster and a british DVD and VHS cover. There's lots of other art for this movie, it is Chuck "monotonous asshole" Norris afterall, but I'm pretty much over it.

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