One of the wonderful things about video is that eventually everything shows up, whether it needs to or not. Take the recently released Truck Turner, a dispensable but enjoyable 1974 action movie starring Isaac Hayes. Though the combination of its title and star would suggest otherwise, Truck Turner is not the lost link between the blaxploitation films of the early '70s and the truxploitation films of that decade's middle years. Instead, it falls squarely within the confines of the first genre, with Hayes' character's name—"Mack Truck" Turner—referring not to his profession but to some less tangible quality. Hayes plays a bounty hunter charged with bringing to justice an evil pimp (Paul Harris). When Hayes kills Harris in self-defense, he stirs up the wrath of evil, trash-talkin' madam Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's Uhura). Nichols subsequently hires rival Yaphet Kotto (playing the unthreateningly named villain "Harvard Blue") to teach Hayes a lesson. Made to cash in on Hayes' newfound popularity following the success of his 1971 score and Oscar-winning theme song to Shaft, this American International release (directed by Jonathan Kaplan, who would later helm The Accused, Unlawful Entry, and Project X) is pretty standard blaxploitation fare, distinguished primarily by the always-striking presence of Hayes as the hero. This, admittedly, is a big plus, as is the somewhat perverse spectacle of Nichols discussing at length the virtues of her ass and the finer points of her prostitutes' skills. It does grow tedious after a while, and Hayes' score is virtually indistinguishable from the inferior Shaft rip-offs that dominated soundtracks at the time. But if you're in the mood for this sort of thing, Truck Turner will do nicely.

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