From The Deuce
- Mr. T is cold hard steel! He'll give you peace of mind...piece by piece!
- One cat ... who plays like an army!
- His friends call him Mr. T. His enemies call for mercy!
- Released in 1972
- Running Time: 99 Min.
- Production Co: JDFB Productions
- Distribution Co: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation (1972) (USA) (theatrical) | Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (1973) (Finland) (theatrical) | La Compagnie Parisienne de Films (CPF) (1975) (France) (theatrical)
Cast and Crew
- Directed by Ivan Dixon
- Written by John D.F. Black
- Starring: Robert Hooks, Paul Winfield, Ralph Waite, Julius Harris
- Produced by John D.F. Black, Joel Freeman
- Original Music by Marvin Gaye, J.J. Johnson, Robert O. Ragland
- Cinematography by Michel Hugo
- Film Editing by Michael Kahn
Troubleman is the story of Mr. T (no, not the Mr. T we have all come to love as the star of….DC Cab). Mr. T is, quite simply, the man. He is the guy you go to when you are a brother with a problem. He rights the wrong but is not ambitious. He knows too well that running a gang or a mob comes with too many headaches and he’d rather just hustle pool to buy his $500 suits. But when two actual gangs are at each other’s throats, one gang hires T to guard their crap game. The game gets robbed and one of the bandits gets iced by Chalky (the leader of the gang that hired T). Turns out the whole thing was a set up and T is set up to take the fall. Chalky wants to start shit between T and the other gang (run by Mr. Big). Yeah, I could go further into motivations and plot but who fucking cares….it’s blaxploitation.
All you need to know is that the character of Mr. T is super badass. All I am really looking for in a blaxploitation film are great characters and no nonsense action sequences. Well, this film delivered both in a long white Cadillac. Sure there are a few moments that drag, making it not quite as tight as Slaughter, but the end result was that I was entirely satiated. Mr. T is among the coolest blaxploitation characters ever. I love the whole Godfather aspect of it wherein people are seeking him out for favors and he makes good on his promise to grant them. I also thought it was awesome that he made people wait behind a line painted on the floor at his pool hall until he deigned give them audience. Fucking badass!
When Mr. T is going after vengeance, he does so in a very organized way. I mean his plan was so intricate and well executed that it seemed like something from the A-Team (two references now to the other Mr. T). There was scaling old dumbwaiter shafts and misdirection to neutralize guards capped off with him shooting the place into oblivion. So much fun to watch. The last bad guy that he offs is sitting on a rotating bed surrounded by mirrors. How classy is that?
I also enjoyed that Mr. Big is played buy Julius Harris (better known to most as Tee Hee from Live and Let Die). I always thought Tee Hee was a really cool henchman; one of the better from the James Bond universe. In this film, he’s pretty poised and holds his own nicely against Mr. T who chews up the scenery. The movie also features a soundtrack by the one and only Marvin Gaye. As much as I dig on Marvin Gaye, I have to say the soundtrack is nowhere near as good as those in such classics as Shaft or Truck Turner. Not that it’s bad, it’s just not as memorable.
That’s actually part of the big problem with Trouble Man is that Robert Hook’s character is more interesting than the movie itself. I made a joke out of outlining the rest of the plot, but the truth is that I really didn’t understand it. The one side of the gang war wanted to pin a murder on Mr. T to make the other side go after him? Not only did that frame up provide the police with no real evidence to keep Mr. T in jail longer than an hour, but even if it had succeeded it would only have gotten rid of one man. True it would have gotten rid of the baddest motherfucker in town, but would that automatically have given them the city to run? It’s not like Mr. T was affiliated with the other gang so….. I don’t get it. The strange thing is that the writer wasn’t lazy, he weaved a complex plot that made no fucking sense whatsoever. Just give us a simple revenge theme and we would have been satisfied. Or at least I would have.
Review by Casper Von Sidecar - 05/18/09