After appearing as the villain in two productions for Golden Harvest, Chuck Norris gets his first lead role in this cult classic that capitalizes on the major trend of truckers.
J.D. Dawes is a trucker who loves both riding and fighting, thanks to his skills in martial arts. He returns home from his latest run and is shocked to learn that an old friend of his has been seriously hurt He learns that his friend had gone to Texas City, an independent town whose laws are their own. He learns that the local policemen trap truckers and put them on trial on bogus charges for Judge Trimmings, the self-proclaimed leader of Texas City.
When J.D.’s younger Billy gets his first job as a trucker, J.D. warns him about Texas City. During his run, Billy finds himself trapped by the policemen of Texas City and disappears. J.D. learns of Billy disappearing and heads to Texas City. There, he discovers that the whole town is corrupt with the exception of Arlene, Trimming’s ex-wife who knows of J.D.’s intentions. When J.D. accidentally kills the brother of the wrecking yard owner, he is sentenced to death. This forces Arlene to rally up J.D.’s friends and put an end to Texas City once and for all. When J.D. escapes, he is ready for a showdown and get his brother back.
In the 70’s, the trucker genre of action films began to pick up some speed. With Smokey and the Bandit, this film, and Convoy to name a few, the truckers become the heroes in a good ol’ heartland country setting. For this film, instead of the action-comedies of the other two films, this one is a story about corruption and a hero in the form of a trucker who must save his brother and put an end to the corruption.
And who better than Chuck Norris to lead the way in this film? After appearing as villains in Way of the Dragon aka Return of the Dragon and Yellow-Faced Tiger aka Slaughter in San Francisco, after taking acting classes, Norris scores his first lead role in this film. Here, he is J.D. Dawes, a trucker who finds himself into fights from time to time. There’s a scene where he is challenged by some bigger guys and Norris lets his punches and kicks fly. This was also his first foray as a fight choreographer, a job he would do in his next three films until 1980’s The Octagon, whereas his brother Aaron would end up becoming his choreographer for all of his films afterwards.
The film has something in similar to the classic Walking Tall, escape replace a sheriff and a 2×4 with trucker and his martial arts against corruption. In the case here, the villains are led by George Murdoch’s Judge Trimmings, who purposely puts up speed traps to trick truckers to rolling in his town and keep their power intact. The two henchmen Sgt. Strode and Deputy Boles are well played with such sliminess by Don Gentry and Ron Cedillos. Terry O’Connoe plays the only righteous member of the community, who happens to be connected to the big bad Judge. She clearly has grown tired of the Judge’s power and dirty tactics and in her case, revenge is sweet in the finale, which is insane and perhaps an inspiration for a particular scene in the 1980 sequel Smokey and the Bandit II.
Breaker! Breaker! Is an underrated Chuck Norris vehicle that capitalizes on the trucker action picture along with Norris showcasing his martial arts skills.
WFG RATING: B-
American International Pictures presents a Paragon Films production in association with Worldwide Distributing. Director: Don Hulette. Producer: Don Hulette. Writer: Terry Chambers. Cinematography: Marco DiLeo. Editing: Steven Zaillian.
Cast: Chuck Norris, George Murdock, Terry O’Connor, Don Gentry, John DiFusco, Ron Cedillos, Amichael Augenstein, Don Vandegrift, Doug Stevenson, Paul Kawecki, Larry Feder, Jack Nance.