Title: T.N.T. Jackson (1975)
Rating: 4 out of 5
Tagline: “She’s a One Mama Massacre Squad!”
My Taglines: “The Battle of the ‘Fros!” & “A Bellbottomed, Black-Skinned Battleacolypse of Berating Badassyness!”
Favorite Quote: “You want it black? You got it black!” & “‘I’m a government agent. ‘Yeah, and I’m Snow White suffering from a sunburn.’”
Plot Synopsis: I’ll admit that the sound and lighting was so bad that at least once I was pretty confused (though it was probably the script) but as near as I can tell it’s a pretty straightforward story. Jackson, “That’s TNT to you!” is in Hong Kong looking for her lost brother. Little does she know he had gotten involved with heroin dealers and has been murdered by her soon to be lover. (If you are confused during the opening scene what you are watching is the brother’s murder.) It’s pretty clear it would take a meteorite strike for TNT not to be lead to her brother’s murderer as within an hour of entering the city, and constantly throughout the film, she encounters and interacts with members of the gang who gone and done her brother in. For reasons beyond my understanding the gang has an interest in Jackson and is often worried about her. She is later blamed for somehow orchestrating heists against them. How? She is new in town and as far as they know just looking for work with Asian Joe. How in the world do you make the connection between someone who has spent all of two days in your town and someone who is extensively knowledgeable of your gang’s inner workings as well as the inner workings of the entire city’s underworld? It would be like if I, a chubby white suburbanite, were to visit Japan for a few days and the Yakuza blaming me for setting them up on a deal that went sour. But anyway, it’s a standard martial arts movie plot with espionage, betrayal, gangsters, revenge, cannon fodder, fighting and a little lovin’.
Review: If I were to learn my history from 1970s martial arts movies I’d say there was a mass migration of African Americans to Hong Kong and China during those years. All of whom wore bellbottoms, had afros, and were inexplicably skilled in martial arts. One fun thing about this movie that separates it from the others is that or hero is not a hero but a heroine, a black heroine with an afro and bellbottoms who is slightly skilled in waving her arms around and flipping. Which by the way, if any of you fellas out there like strong women and have a touch of the jungle fever then this movie is a must see because it takes one tough mama to kick that much booty topless. Plus Miss Bell is a former playmate who filmed this during the peak of her physical prowess so…yeah. And there’s some Asian boobage as well as some American side-boob so it’s the movie that has something for everyone. Well, except straight women and gay guys of course.
Well anyway, as I was saying this movie is very similar yet very different from the other films in its genre which naturally makes it stand out. The uniqueness, poor production, lame acting, silly dialogue, and memorable moments really help catapult this movie into potential cult film status. There really is a scene where TNT fights topless. There were some scenes so dark that it made me say, “Now I’m sure something is going on, I’m just not sure what.” The dialogue made me chuckle out loud and the acting alternates from dull reading to disappearing/reappearing accents with actual inflection. The fight sequences are a bit repetitive but fun in there own ways. One of them almost looked like they filmed using a higher frame rate then the standard sixty-frames-per-second and figured they could speed up and slow down as needed and make little edits. Well much of the fights looked like they acted it out slowly and then later just sped the footage up, and the fact that I’m mentioning it is a testament to how well this technique worked out. And the editing is far from smooth and seamless. I was surprised to not see thumbprints and pieces of scotch tape go flying by. It was so jerky and damaged it was like watching a 1920s film reel at times.
Overall T.N.T. Jackson was an attempt at a gritty and realistic movie (as evidenced by its use of nudity, strong themes, and fowl language) that simply never had a chance at being legitimately good given the over-the-top protagonist and pretty clear budget/time constraints. It may not touch us in some deep and meaningful way but its still fun to watch if you like bad movies. I for one will almost always like a movie that has people sending their fists through people’s torsos.