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If you've got trouble, call T and leave a message...service
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 01/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's interesting another should mention his/her disappointment over the music included for the DVD release of Trouble Man (1972), composed by the legendary Marvin Gaye. The way I understand it Gaye wasn't pleased with how the music came out for the movie when originally released back in the day, and went back and re-recorded it for the soundtrack album (I got this information from another website)...I'm unsure if this is true or not, but it might explain why the music for the film is different than the actual music on the soundtrack album. Written by John D.F. Black, who worked on a slew of television series ("The Fugitive", "Hawaii Five-O", "Mary Tyler Moore"), along with a film or two, most notably Shaft (1971), and directed by Ivan Dixon, who also worked on a great many television series like The Rockford Files" (1974), "Starsky and Hutch" (1975), and "Wonder Woman" (1976), to name a few, Trouble Man stars Robert Hooks (Airport '77, Fast-Walking). Also appearing is silky voiced actor Paul Winfield (Damnation Alley, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, The Terminator), William Smithers (Deathsport), Paula Kelly (Soylent Green, Uptown Saturday Night), blaxploitation veteran and one time Bond villain Julius Harris (Superfly, Black Caesar, Live and Let Die), Bill Henderson (Cornbread, Earl and Me), and Ralph Waite, whom many 1970s television viewers may recognize as patriarch John Walton Sr., from the series "The Waltons".
Hooks plays T (Mr. T if you're nasty), a licensed private investigator (which means he can carry a gun), among other things, who dresses sharply, maintains an office in a pool hall, drives a big, fancy car, and whom people turn to when they have no other recourse and need fast action. An example of this is seen early on when someone comes to T relating how a baby got hurt because of a negligent building owner, and T pays a visit to landlord, played by Gordon Jump (the hapless station manager from the TV show "WKRP in Cincinnati"), and lays it on the line. After their little talk, the hospital bills are taken care of, an apology is made, along with a promise to fix the problems with the building...street law in action...anyway, T is approached by two mid-level hustlers, Chalky Price (Winfield) and Pete Cockrell (Waite), who run various illegal gambling operations, with a problem. Seems some masked men are hitting their games, and they want T to find out whom. T's price is steep (he seems to have little love for the men, but is willing to take a whole lot of their money), but the men agree, as they know he'll get the job done. Turns out the hustlers have set up a somewhat elaborate scam, one where they're going to try and pull a fast hustle on their main rival Big (Harris), setting up T as the fall guy which turns out to be one of those things that sounded good at the time, but now seems like a really bad idea as T is out to settle the score, his way (his way involves some serious beat downs and a whole lot of shooting).
A strong, proud, African American lead character, who is a private investigator type people turn to when they got nowhere else to go, plays both sides of the law, feared and respected by the criminal element, loved by the ladies, consistently hassled by The Man, dresses sharp, plays it cool, and sees things to the end...if this sounds familiar it is because we saw the same thing a year earlier in the film Shaft (1971) which writer John D.F. Black co-wrote with Ernest Tidyman, the latter being the actual author of the novel. In essence, Trouble Man is Shaft in California, substituting Robert Hooks for Richard Roundtree...not that that's bad, but just not entirely original. While Trouble Man does exhibit many of the qualities of movies within the blaxploitation genre at the time, funky music, dated fashions, sleazy characters, a whole lot of violence, etc., it is missing one, common element in that of female nekidness, but that didn't bother me as it made up for it in action, copious usage of profanity, and a whole lot of attitude. Actually, while watching the movie, I got the impression the absence of nudity may have been deliberate, a conscious, respectful choice by the filmmakers not to mire themselves in the sleazier aspects of the genre, but rather focus on the strengths, those being strong characters, a solid story, and a good deal of action. Hooks, not really a regular for these types of films, does very well, providing a tough, smart, infinitely cool no nonsense lead, one who uses his head, but isn't afraid to mix it up when he has to...I thought one scene particularly interesting when T set up a meeting between Big, Chalky, and Pete in the pool hall (neutral ground), and Big's men show up first to check things out. Big's main thug, a large man named Preston, seemed fairly antagonistic on arrival, itching for a fight, but T manages to diffuse the situation, allowing for both men to save face, displaying a calm, cool, intelligent demeanor as T shows the other the lack of value in their getting into a brawl, which helped elevate Hooks' character beyond that of what one would normally expect from a movie like this...I'd credit this to solid writing, but probably more so to Hooks himself, who seemed like a exceptionally good actor, and one with a strong screen presence. All in all I've seen better, more memorable blaxploitation films, but not a lot, as this is definitely above the average, and worthy of owning, especially if you're a fan of the genre.
The film, presented in both fullscreen (1.33:1) and widescreen anamorphic (1.85:1), looks beautiful, blowing away whatever bootleg or copied from TV version you may own (I'm unsure the film has ever seen an official home video release up until now). The audio, presented in Dolby Digital stereo, comes through strong and clear. There aren't really any extras except for an original theatrical trailer, and a few previews for other films including Man on Fire (2004), The French Connection (1971), and Sugar Hill (1994).
If you're lookin' for Trouble, look out, cause Trouble is he
Marcus Chapman | Chicago, IL United States | 07/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie may not grab you at first, but it's definitely a 5 star film for this genre. The confusion about the theme song from a previous review comes from the fact that a different mix of the song was used in the movie. There is no one else singing over Marvin Gaye, that's him singing in his lower register. The version released on the soundtrack features his higher register throughout the song. Check out TrueKnowledgeNation.com for more info on this and other films from that era."
Blaxploitation in it's finest form !!!
Corey Brooks | Houston,Tx USA | 03/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anyone that is a serious fan of this genre, or is as fasinated with the 70's as I am should jump on purchasing this film without hesitation. I had seen Robert Hooks in smaller roles such as his part in Passenger 57. This man in my opinion stepped into the skin of this character. I read where someone posted that they where disappointed with the score because it wasn't the original, but it sounded great to me. I've never heard the first soundtrack but im hard to satisfy; and I liked it. A must have !!! ..... Mr.T: Where you want it at mutha?!"
Lester L. Carter | PHILA , PA | 01/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Known mainly for the soundtrack done by the great Marvin Gaye, 'Trouble Man' is a really good movie. After watching Robert Hooks in this movie it is a shame nobody gave him more roles to fit his talent. The man is every bit as smooth as Richard Roundtree's 'Shaft' but wait, Richard Roundtree didn't get too many starring roles either. Somebody slept on some exceptional talent in the '70's"
Perfect Blaxploitation. A Introduction to the Genre for Newb
E. Drake | 04/03/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have been dying to see this film for years and finally decided to buy it here on Amazon.com for its reasonably cheap price ($9.99) and also because it is a part of Amazon's promotional 4 for 3 discount. I am happy I bought it.
Sure, like many out there, my interest in this movie was based on the fact that Marvin Gaye scored it. In this regard, you will not be too pleased by the way the film handles it. I suggest by the album Trouble Man, as it is quite cheap and very good. Like much of Gaye's music, it is much better if you listen to the music in its entirety.
As for the movie, I have to admit, like Shaft, there is a "it's so bad it's good" quality to this film. I thought that the storyline was extremely simple and I did not feel close to any of the characters, simply because everything we learned about them was only surface deep. But so is the nature of many Blaxploitation films, therefore in this case I will have to agree with another reviewer and say that this film is very good for its genre. While woman are basically nonexistent, you'll enjoy the shoot-outs, blood and scenes (which lover's of 70's colors and style will love). Robert Hook's character is also just great. He is so cool (in 70's terminology), casually aware of everything going on. His overall persona is big enough to match the best of stars from the Blaxploitation era. He walks around and talks as though he owns the world...and in this film, he does.