Great times with the good ol' boy! Burt Reynolds takes the wheel in Stroker Ace (Disc 1/Side A), a roaring stock-car-racing comedy co-starring Loni Anderson and featuring real-life Daytona International footage. Sally Fiel... more »d teams with Reynolds in Hooper (Disc 1/Side B), the affectionate and much-admired salute to movie stunt people. When the boss says jump...Hooper says how far down?! And Atlanta nights have never been hotter than when vice cop Reynolds (who also directs) puts the heat on big-time criminals in the volatile thriller Sharky's Machine (Disc 2). It's a lean, mean, powerful machine, fueled by an enduringly popular star in peak form.« less
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 09/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"3.5 stars for this one. Since this is a big deal to me, I'll first mention that none of these three films are presented in widescreen format.
Before Schwarzenegger and Stallone, my go-to cinematic action dudes were Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds. Now, there's no doubting that Eastwood is the more celebrated actor and director, while Reynolds's flicks are more often dismissed as lightweight and mindless material. There's truth to that. Yet I find plenty of Burt's stuff entertaining. And several of his movies do have some measures of depth (The Longest Yard (Lockdown Edition), Starting Over, etc.). This particular triple feature dvd set focuses on two of his better films, the atmospheric crime thriller SHARKY'S MACHINE and the very good HOOPER. Rounding the set out is STROKER ACE, which isn't as good.
Before the baby, let's get to the bathwater. 1983's STROKER ACE is harmless and vacuous. If you're into auto racing or just into cars running amuck and slamming into each other, then you might enjoy this one. Plenty of dumb jock shenanigans here, and whirls around the motor speedway. Burt, firmly entrenched in his good-old-boy persona, plays Stroker Ace, one of the top stock-car racers around, and, boy, he knows it. But the flamboyant Stroker learns a lesson in humility when he agrees to be sponsored by a fried chicken franchise, as he signs without first reading the contract. It's not too long before he's parading around in a chicken outfit and having "fastest chicken in the South" painted on his race car. And, in between one-upping his main rival (Hardy Boys' Parker Stevenson, cast against type) and his various schemes to get out of his sponsor's contract, Stroker is trying his bestest to bed the buxom but very chaste Sunday school teacher (Loni Anderson).
It all ends well, of course, with Burt zooming over the finish line upside down in his race car and winning the girl. Cooperation from NASCAR and cameos by NASCAR drivers lend a certain authenticity, for whatever that's worth in a film so bogged down by insipid comedy and a forgettable story. Two things going STROKER ACE, though: the theme song sung by the marvelous Charlie Daniels Band and the outtakes shown during the closing credits.
"You can hit him, kick him, generally abuse him. Set him on fire...will amuse him. Heaven knows, he won't hold a grudge." As HOOPER's theme song will let you know, the Hollywood stunt man tends to live life rough and rugged. Sonny Hooper (Reynolds) is the world's greatest stunt man. But he's getting old and really starting to feel his aches and pains. Nowadays, he stays on top by virtue of sheer guts and lots and lots of pain pills. On the set of the spy epic The Spy Who Laughed at Danger, Hooper begins to second guess his longevity in the business, what with his body breaking down and the arrival of a younger stunt man who's being touted as a "young Sonny Hooper." But, before Hooper rides into the sunset, there's one more stunt to do, this undoubtedly his greatest and most dangerous...
HOOPER is a fond cinematic salute to those wild movie stuntmen and women. There's an elegiac flavor to the story as the aging Hooper contemplates hanging it all up, even as machismo wars against good sense. The cast is very good, with Burt, Sally Fields, Jan-Michael Vincent, and James Best (The Dukes of Hazzard's Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane) investing depth into their characters. Oh, and Adam West plays himself. HOOPER was shot in 1978, when special effects were still predominantly achieved with blood, sweat, and tears, instead of CG. Two particular stunts to watch out for are when Hooper drives backwards on the road going 55 miles per hour and, of course, the showpiece sequence near the end, as Hooper and Ski brave that daunting chasm in their rocket-charged car. HOOPER is also noteworthy for reportedly having inspired THE FALL GUY, one of my childhood television staples.
Changing it up now is Burt's taut and sexy crime thriller SHARKY'S MACHINE. This film is supposedly Burt's response to his buddy Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry series. And, truly, SHARKY'S MACHINE stands up very well to Harry Callahan's exploits. Burt directs and stars as a narcotics sergeant in Atlanta PD who gets busted down to the cesspool-like vice squad. As the film goes on, he develops an obsession for a hauntingly beautiful prostitute who had just been murdered. This happens to tie in with his ongoing attempt to take down a shadowy underworld boss who's got his fingers deep in political corruption.
Borrowing from LAURA's key premise, SHARKY'S MACHINE is still very much its own picture, in its grit and moodiness and exciting action pieces. The jazz score sets the melancholy tone, and the love story is surprisingly well developed. The supporting cast is superb, with particular nods to Brian Keith as Papa, Richard Libertini as Nosh, and Bernie Casey as Arch. Burt himself turns in a layered and sensitive performance. And I must say that Rachel Ward is a straight-up stunner as Dominoe. Everything is right with SHARKY'S MACHINE. It's Burt's most perfect film and, hands down, my favorite Burt Reynolds flick (with THE LONGEST YARD a not-that-distant second).
In his heyday, Burt Reynolds was a walking sex symbol and lovable rogue, his box-office reign spanning the mid-70s and early '80s. These three featured films were made during the height of his popularity, with STROKER ACE and HOOPER exemplifying his brand of raucous, good-old-boy comedy. For the asking price, this triple feature isn't a bad get, although, as mentioned, one beef I do have is that all three films aren't in widescreen format. There are two discs, with STROKER ACE and HOOPER on opposide sides of disc 1 and SHARKY'S MACHINE hogging disc 2 to itself. Admittedly pretty barebones stuff, with no bonus features. Still, if you already don't have these films, this collection is worth a look."
Burt always awesome!!!
R. Jeffes | Hatboro, Pa | 07/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here is an icon in his prime. Stroker Ace may be very silly, but Hooper and Sharkey's Machine are genuine works of art for the era. They set up the framework for action comedy/melodrama for now. I love these movies. I wish Burt could still do what he did. He will always be awesome in my book. One note, I wish these movies were in widescreen."
Another Sharky Ripoff
Marvin Lee Jr. | Glendale, CA United States | 02/20/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"If you want average TV quality, these three movies-in-one are okay. But some reviewers claimed that the "Sharky" supplied is widescreen. IT IS NOT. It also suffers from excessive compression, just like the older single disc Sharky DVD. They compressed it deeply to fit onto a single-layer cheapo DVD media. The ONLY ORIGINAL uncensored version of Sharky's Machine is still - sadly - only available (to the best of my knowledge) on LASERDISC."
3 of Burt's best
E. David Niessner | New Jersey | 05/12/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
Great movies for fans of Burt when he was king of Hollywoood"
Burt Reynolds triple feature
Debra D. Laflen | Anchorage, AK | 01/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not the best of all movies, but OK. My husband loved it."