Monday, 1 December 2008

T.N.T. Jackson (1975)

The premise of T.N.T. Jackson is simple. If blaxploitation movies are fun, and king fu movies are fun, then a blaxploitation king fu movie has to be a sure-fire winner. And, in its own trashy way, this is a highly entertaining little flick.

Diana “T. N. T.” Jackson is a young black female king fu fighter who arrives in Hong Kong looking for her missing brother. She quickly finds herself embroiled with sundry gangsters involved in heroin trafficking. And it seems that a major gangland war is about to erupt, with heroin shipments being hijacked to the accompaniment of much bloodshed. T. N. T. befriends a Chinese guy named Joe who is not quite a gangster but not quite a law-abiding citizen either, and she makes the acquaintance of a white American woman named Elaine who is the girlfriend of one of the criminal kingpins. T. N. T. and Elaine dislike each other on sight, so you know they’re going to come to blows at some stage, which becomes even more certain when it turns out that Elaine is a king fu expert as well, and that she is not at all what she appears to be.

More significant in plot term is Charlie, an ambitious black guy (and the numero uno king fu expert in the Hong Kong crime scene) functioning as right-hand man to a major crime lord. You just know he and T. N. T. will end up in bed together, and that they will also have to have a major fight scene together.

There’s lots of mayhem, some moderately graphic violence, and some sex and nudity. It’s a pretty standard 70s exploitation formula, but it’s executed with energy and a certain amount of style, and at only 72 action-packed minutes there’s little chance of boredom setting in. This is another of the Roger Corman-produced movies of the 70s (along with films like The Big Doll House) made partly in the Philippines, although there seems to have been some location shooting in Hong Kong as well.

Former Playboy playmate of the month Jeannie Bell stars as T. N. T. She’s at least moderately convincing in the action sequences, and she has a certain presence. She’s no Pam Grier, but she’s adequate. This movie belongs very much at the cheap and trashy end of the blaxploitation spectrum but it doesn’t pretend to be anything more than that, and it delivers solid entertainment. If you’re a fan of blaxploitation, king fu movies or 70 exploitation fare in general then you’re unlikely to have any real complaints.

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