T.N.T. Jackson

Synopsis: TNT Jackson…She’ll put you in traction! Jeanne Bell stars in this 1974 Roger Corman black-themed action classic about a female cop who goes undercover as a hooker in Hong Kong in order to track down her missing brother. TNT is featured in many signature Kung Fu battles versus the Chinese mob, including a classic “topless” fight scene. Like 1971’s The Big Doll House starring Pam Grier, TNT Jackson is a true Corman classic!
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T.N.T. Jackson 5.5

This movie is bad bad bad and, from a purely technical merit, it deserves a 3.0 – maybe even less. I mean, it has a story, actors, it’s been edited together and there are indications of effort being put into the production – but it’s all done so badly it’s beyond belief.

I give a higher rating anyway because I derived some sense of enjoyment in watching it. Evidently, I was laughing at it the whole way – but, that’s something isn’t? In a way it makes it one of those “so bad it’s good” type of films.

Still, I wouldn’t recommend it to just about everyone. Maybe not even anyone, come to think of it.

For starters, the story is nothing that hasn’t been reused in many an action film, from A-list Hollywood productions all the way down to the crappiest films ever made: it’s a simple story of revenge interwoven with a criminal world drama. As a short or vignette, ‘T.N.T. Jackson’ might be quite alright, but it wasn’t developed in any interesting or intelligent way: it looks more like a vehicle for actions sequences. And painfully terrible ones, at that!

Case-in-point: the actors evidently aren’t martial artists (they might not even have been trained, based on how lame their postures and moves were!). They sometimes try but they all fail at convincing the viewer of their ability. And, even with professional martial artists, sound effects are used to enhance the scenes and make them more dynamic. Amusingly enough, in ‘T.N.T. Jackson’, the sound effects sound like slaps instead of punches or “karate chops” – ironically enough, it kind of matched the weak combat moves of the performers.

To make matters worse, stunt doubles were used liberally and they hardly ever matched their counterparts. In one perfect example, the double didn’t even wear the same colour of clothing – it was light beige instead of dark brown. Especially funny were the times when a man would be used to fight in lieu of the actresses. I don’t know who thought that this was a good idea, but you simply can’t mistake the two.

Speaking of the women’s fight scenes, they were ghastly (the guys also sucked, but not as dramatically!). The female leads were supposed to be tough as nails, sometimes acting all bitchy and talking trash. And yet their moves would be limp and they’d hold weak stances in all their combats. They were so ill-cast that the lead, Jeannie Bell, couldn’t even run after the bad guys without looking like an old aunt, flailing her arms about like a rubber chicken.

Bell, it must be noted, isn’t an actress and it shows here. Truth be told, she was once a Playboy model, and she was probably chosen for her other… um… “talents”. In fact, the character finds herself fighting in her underwear and can be found in various stages of undress for no real reason other than for the viewers’ titillation. It’s pretty pathetic, but I’ve seen much worse. Still, they should have called her T’n’A Jackson, all things considered.

Anyway, the character is rather unlikeable, so it doesn’t matter if the actress isn’t any good; TNT Jackson has a serious chip on her shoulder and her attitude problem pepper-sprays many a scene. You have to wonder if the writers thought that being an @$$hole is the same things as being tough, but that’s what’s going on here. Let’s just say that she’s hard to relate to or empathize with.

Unlike Shaft and Superfly, T.N.T. Jackson would never return for further adventures but, inexplicably, Jeannie Bell would grace the screen in a few more films during that decade before finally giving it a rest. Based on this one example, I’d have to say this was a good choice; there are more interesting ways to pass the time than to try to act yourself out of a bag.

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