I’ve seen this movie renamed in other markets as Convoy II, the highly-creative Truck Drivers and the simplistic Trucker. Other foreign market titles make it sound far more violent and serious than what it is.
The cop is just a background character and there is no dog. It would’ve been neat if that naked cowgirl statuette could’ve been part of the movie, like a trucker’s Maltese Falcon.
Trucking is not the same for ‘Iron Duke’ Boykin (Jerry Reed), not only is he older and has a family to take care of, there’s been a string of truck-and-trailer hijackings hitting close to home. He himself, his son Tanker (Christopher Langevin) and old friend Rane (Peter Fonda) was hit, only getting away because he scuttled the load on top of the bandits and had friend Pickup (Helen Shaver) on the CB to help them get away. Iron Duke was able to recover his damaged truck because the bandits couldn’t drive it on empty diesel tanks.
Rane, a retired stuntman who was just visiting, may no longer be into trucking like he used to be long ago, but he wasn’t going to let Duke quit being an independent driver. With a need for a load and the thought that the hijackings are inside jobs, Duke uses his mortgage to pay $6,000 for a load of liquor in hopes for a $10,000 profit, thus helping him get closer to pay off his farm and avoid doing what everyone else is: join King Carroll.
Harlan B. Hollis (Henry Blight ‘Toby’ Halicki) built his empire out of junk. Literally. From his humble beginnings as a junkyard owner, he delved into movie making and found success. Pretty much the picture of the American Dream. But despite being a great guy, someone’s gone through the trouble of hiring hitmen to make a highly publicized execution. Harlan is ambushed on his way to a James Dean festival. Thankfully, since he does his own stunts, Harlan knows how to drive, so he was able to give his assailants the slip, despite all the havoc they were causing. Harlan couldn’t flee them forever, particularly the two airplanes, so he had to take them all down.
At the tail-end of its Halloween specials –which I missed most of- Turner Classic Movies decided to give a batch of stuntmen movies. ‘It’d be nice if they gave Hooper’, I told myself. Lo and behold, they did!
Undoubtedly the best U.S. market poster of the movie. It was Ski who was doing the driving, though.
Sonny Hooper (Burt Reynolds) is a veteran stuntman, the best of his generation, and he knows it. Years of work have taken their toll on his body; yet he continues to work hard and play harder. When he’s not performing stunts –or gags, as they’re also called, despite the emasculating term- he comes up with them and sets them up as stunt coordinator. Then up-and-coming stuntman Delmore “Ski” Shidski (Jan-Michael Vincent, who starred in his own trucker movie, White Line Fever) appears and begins to push the envelope, even coming up with some amazing stunts himself. Sonny relishes in showing who’s top dog… until one successful but life-threatening stunt gives him a wake-up call: if he pushes too far, he could end up quadriplegic. No alcohol, pills or syringes can help there. No operation will fix that.
To compound matters, Sonny’s mentor and father-in-law-of-sorts Jocko Doyle (Brian Keith, who I recognized from Violent Road) suffered a stroke. Both have already talked before about how Sonny is going through with Ski what Jocko went through with Sonny, and talked about their life decisions and what comes after. Sonny promises his love and Jocko’s daughter Gwen Doyle (Sally Field) that after the final stunt in the movie, he’s retiring… except he didn’t say what stunt it was.
Breaker! Breaker!’s movie poster work may be good-looking, but ultimately misleading, perhaps one of those cases where the artist received little information on the movie and not even a reference photo. There is no Kenworth W900 in that color scheme wreaking havoc, not a single one of those character designs, and not even power poles being knocked down. Even the tagline The battle cry of the Great Trucker’s War is ridiculous (would’ve worked great on Convoy). There’s no war; the truckers are just one heck of an assist. The movie doesn’t even say “Breaker! Breaker!” often!
J.D. Dawes (Chuck Norris) comes home to visit friends and family after his recent stint of OTR trucking. His little brother Billy (Michael Augenstein) takes his load of frozen TV dinners while J.D. stays put. Billy gets diverted to a little town way off the main roads. He is soon stopped, arrested, charged and fined. Billy gets too hotheaded and fights his way out of the courtroom, but doesn’t get far. J.D. and the trucking community look out for him. J.D. hits the road in his van when he figures the town Billy very likely ended in: Texas City, California.
Carrol Jo Hummer (Jan-Michael Vincent) couldn’t be happier. After finishing in the military, he married his girlfriend Jerri (Kay Lenz), got a loan and was able to buy a truck with a custom paint job included. The truck was christened ‘Blue Mule’. With it he felt he was set to build the foundations for his future family. But things have changed in the industry his late father used to work in. Carrol Jo was aghast at how things were being run at the Red River shipping company, refusing to run contraband along with legitimate cargo, even at the behest of his late father’s friend Duane Haller (Slim Pickens). Comedic scuffle aside, Carrol Jo entered a world of pain when he was stopped by a former friend now corrupt officer, Deputy Bob (Ron Nix), who left him handcuffed to his truck and let the goons break his ribs.