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Breaker! Breaker! (Blu-ray Review)

Breaker-BreakerBreaker! Breaker! features Chuck Norris (Firewalker) at his butt-kicking best as a trucker on a mission to locate his kidnapped brother.  Chuck Norris does double-duty as both star and fight choreographer in the action-packed Breaker! Breaker!  It’s a combustible combination in the high-octane action drama Breaker! Breaker!, directed by Don Hulette (A Great Ride), written by Terry Chambers (13 Nuns) and co-starring George Murdock (The Mack), Jack Nance (Eraserhead), Michael Augenstein (Macbeth), Don Gentry (Born Again) and Terry O’Connor.

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J.D. Dawes finds himself run afoul of the corrupt and unscrupulous Judge Joshua Trimmings and his henchmen, when he ventures into a small desert town in search of his missing brother.  Judge Trimmings doesn’t much like truckers … and Dawes doesn’t much like anyone who messes with his family.

1977…it gave us Star Wars.  We met Annie Hall.  John Travolta took us through the fever-ous disco Saturday Night life.  Steven Spielberg gave us a Close Encounter of the Third Kind.  And Chuck Norris gave us his first lead role in an action film in Breaker! Breaker!  A film about some small hick-town drama, fleeting furious feet and semi-truck driving.  Its also early enough that Chuck Norris had not earned its beard yet.

While the go-to might be Smokey and the Bandit for the film’s feel, I’d say its actually more like an overly long too serious episode of The Dukes of Hazzard.  The film sits and lingers when it feels like it could be moving along much faster but has to hold on for that feature film length.  And its not interesting, just hillbilly infuriating.  The film is also way way way overly male populated to a point that its pretty static and boring in regards to its casting.  There is one main female in the film and she doesn’t really have much to do than provide Chuck Norris with someone to hook up with.

Norris here is okay.  I don’t feel he’s really radiating too much charm or charisma.  He’s got his moves and does choreograph all the fighting, but it all seems rather slow and timed.  While not many a critic will think Norris improved much, he did and found a niche of his own they’d not much appreciate anyway.  Its interesting to see him here early on and take off.  The movie gets stale pretty fast and feels less cinematic and more like television, but as a Norris time capsule its somewhat intriguing.

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Encoding: MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  For what it is, Breaker! Breaker! looks pretty good on Blu-ray.  I may be getting a bit generous with my score based on expectations. The print they used for the transfer appears to be in very good shape.  Its clean and there is a pretty impressive amount of detail in an image that is reminiscent of television during that time period.

Depth:  Nothing really too impressive.  Spacing is solid and movements are for the most part smooth and fluid.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty deep and do consume some detail in darker areas and objects.  No crushing present, though.

Color Reproduction:  This is a super 70s looking thing, and colors aren’t necessarily its strong suit with different shades of brown dominating, but blues come through rather well.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are a bit on the warmer side with a consistent look throughout the run time of the film.  Details are good in close-ups but any further out and not much to write home about.

Noise/Artifacts:  Grain and specs/dirt at various intervals.

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Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  I would say that the 2.0 mono mix for Breaker! Breaker! comes in at a strong decent.  The action is missing a bit of a low frequency boost, but it still comes off feeling a piece of its era.  Sounds a hair muffled and not quite as well rounded as you’d like.  For what it is though, all the vehicles and weapon sounds are done good enough.

Low Frequency Extension:  N/A

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue sounds pretty analog and of its time. At that though, its pretty clean and sounds good an audible enough.

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Trailer (HD, 2:11)

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Chuck Norris would immediately start improving his filmography with his next venture Good Guys Wear Black and then again continue to get better after that.  This first one is a neat little capsule to see him in his lone venture debut outside of his breakout in Way of the Dragon.  Olive Films gives it a good enough presentation, alas with no extras (As to be expected).  For Norris collectors, its here and at a great price.  For those not so sure, you may want to test the waters before owning it.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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