I Saw A Film!
Starring the lovely Jeanne Bell.
The lobby card reads: She’s a One Momma Massacre Squad. Wait, not Mob? Not going for alliteration? OK.
Synopsis: Baddies in Hong Kong do in Karate master’s brother, she happens to be a lovely black lady. Written, at least in part (as if it needs writing), by Hollywood B-movie legend (who dabbled in everything movies) Dick Miller.
Here is a typical martial arts action adventure with a bit of blacksploitation spice for a topper. Diane “TNT” Jackson comes to Hong Kong in search of her brother and immediately finds herself having to dish out some chops and kicks. It’s truly the life of a martial artist, once you’re trained you’re simply faced with a life of fight choices. Use your powers for good, or use them for evil, but, you’re gonna be using them, all the time! It predates but is almost exactly 1981’s Firecracker (previously reviewed), but isn’t quite as good.
The film uses a lot of red filtration, boob-shots and black style and panache for “jive”. Like I’ve said elsewhere these are the film industry’s idea of what it means to be black, which usually simply entails a lot of great outfits, terrific hair, and a penchant for invulnerable, sneering attitude. TNT is tough to like at first. She is very cocksure (despite looking like she’s nineteen) and the film unfortunately confuses rudeness with warrior ethic and inner strength. Didn’t any of these people read Lao Tsu?
The outstanding problem here however is that our heroine is no martial artist, she does her moves like a coached dancer with jazz fingers, and has a clear wigged stand-in for the really good stuff (mainly acrobatics, which are not martial arts!). When speed is wanted the film is simply sped up like an old Benny Hill routine. Ouch! Yeah, I’m not sure even audiences in 1975 were much awed by that. Even with the Wacka-Wacka guitar music.
TNT’s story is that her mother dated a black belt and he taught her how to fight. End of story. I don’t know if you do martial arts my friends, but this is not a martial arts conversation. A black belt in what? Style is everything! What martial art teaches those splayed finger strikes and those backwards toe-flick “kicks”? We would like to know!
Soon enough TNT proves her worth to a gang-leader working for a drug-dealer and forming up a posse to deal with some rough stuff in the industry. She fights the top guy, and clumsily survives, but wins on attitude. In other sequences she’s torn arms right off henchmen like she’s Grendel from Beowulf. I won’t go into physics of sports here, but use your imagination.
There are a lot of boobs on display. Always a positive in these old movies. Lovely dancing women and in a few fights as well. The topless female fighter seems to be something we’ve lost in Hollywood. It’s a shame. While its an obvious screaming exploitative technique it’s also beautiful and some something you don’t see every day. We’ve replaced glorious boobs with Jason Stathem and never looked back. I’m sorry but it’s true.
At one point, meeting the drug-dealers in her detective work, she’s hit on by the white buyer who admits that he finds her attractive as long as her blackness doesn’t rub off. She storms off offended. I hadn’t heard this race insult before. Happy to take advantage of her sexually because, after all, the color doesn’t rub off. We don’t worry too much about the heroine dealer.
How do we think of TNT Jackson. She clearly embodies a desire we all have to be able to punch our way to justice. So much of our world rests on this fantasy, from watching Trump argue on twitter, to every pro-wrestling event, to nearly every school yard kid interaction. Hell, I’ve seldom been around a kid who within a few minutes of getting to know me wasn’t physically trying to dominate me. When you deny them that domination the physicality amps up until the child breaks-down emotionally with the frustration. The fantasy we always employ is that beating people up somehow is actual problem solving. It never is. A wonderful cartoon representation of the fact is embodied by the incredible Bruno Bozzetto film Grasshoppers which you can see on Youtubes. I highly recommend it.
TNT Jackson is Free On PRIME
and it’s only 71 minutes long!