Blu-ray Review: Breaker! Breaker!

Before all the jokes about his toughness, Chuck Norris was best known for getting his hairy chest waxed by Bruce Lee at the Coliseum in Way of the Dragon. While he was a world class martial artist, he was struggling to make a name in film. His only starring film Yellow Faced Tiger hadn’t caused a ripple in America. What’s a tough guy with questionable emoting skills to do? Luckily in the mid-70s, the trucker craze was hitting America hard. These men of the road were becoming the new cowboys as they drove their massive loads across the highways of the formally wild west. They had a whole way of life and language thanks to the C.B. radio. Most importantly they had a toughness to them as they tackled the open road and questionable cooking at truck stops. This was the perfect place for Norris to finally get known for something besides his ass kicked. Breaker! Breaker! plays like a Western on 18 wheels and Norris is the Gary Cooper with karate chop.

The middle of nowhere is finally granted a charter to become Texas City, California. The town’s leader Judge Joshua Trimmings (Barney Miller‘s George Murdock) is excited although a few locals are skeptical. Why? Turns out the town’s a scam to rip off truckers with the Judge the mastermind. Sergeant Strode (Don Gentry) and Deputy Boles (Ron Cedillos) pretend to be friendly truckers on the CB radio and give bad advice to naive haulers. They get busted on fake charges and pay a nasty price. Into this scheme falls Billy Dawes (Michael Augenstein) who disappears. Turns out the law in Texas City has gone too far since Billy’s brother is J.D. (Chuck Norris). When he comes looking for his brother, Texas City suffers an earthquake of pain. J.D. knows how to use his fists and feet. He won’t take any of the Judge’s punishment to hit the road. He wants the truth about his brother.

Breaker! Breaker! is a fine example of how the trucker genre took over from the biker flicks. The difference between these outsider groups is that the truckers were always seen as essential to the American way of life. They worked for a living. Norris is able to handle the role which requires more scenes of him beating up goons and dirty lawmen than hitting emotional moments. The biggest thing learned from Chuck is how his acting improved when he grew facial hair. The clean shaven Chuck looks a little bit too clean cut to dish out chop socky action. But once he assumes the pose, his true talent shines. His next film would have him sporting a mustache. The real star of the film is Jack Nance. He plays a fellow trucker who won’t take off his cowboy hat. Why? Because he was probably still had his Eraserhead haircut. He gives a lot to Chuck during their scenes where they talk about life on the road. Murdock is equally hilarious and chilling as the judge who makes the law his way to control the world. You’ll forget that Chuck Norris died in Rome as he rises in California. Make plenty of popcorn before hitting play so you can enjoy the long haul.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer brings out the details in the dusty life of a trucker in California. The audio is DTS-HD mono. The mix allows you to hear Chuck’s kicks and the country soundtrack equally well.

Trailer (2:11) promises the first C.B. picture full of action.

Olive Films presents Breaker! Breaker!. Directed by: Don Hulette. Screenplay by: Terry Chambers. Starring: Chuck Norris, George Murdock, Terry O’Connor, Michael Augenstein and Jack Nance. Rated: PG. Running Time: 85 minutes. Released: March 22, 2016.

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