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  Slaughter Trouble Man
Year: 1972
Director: Jack Starrett
Stars: Jim Brown, Stella Stevens, Rip Torn, Don Gordon, Marlene Clark, Cameron Mitchell, Robert Phillips, Marion Brash, Norman Alfe
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Slaughter (Jim Brown), an ex-Green Beret, is stunned when his father and mother are killed in a car bomb explosion. His father had had dealings with the Mob, and Slaughter knows he must avenge the deaths of his parents, so heads over to the house of his father's mistress to see if he can get any information out of her. She refuses until suddenly a gunman appears and sprays her with bullets, missing Slaughter by inches; with her dying breath, the mistress gives him name that will help him, but he doesn't know how far afield he will have to go to secure his vengeance....

Written by Mark Hanna and Don Williams, this blaxploitation thriller was one of the first to star football player turned actor Brown after a bunch of supporting roles in the late sixties. Already there was a formula for these things, and this one sticks pretty closely to the revenge theme, adding in the fast paced action, violence, and gratuitous nudity that were staples of the genre. The trouble is, Slaughter sticks a little too faithfully to the formula, with the result it stands out from the crowd in too few scenes, despite its powerful and charismatic leading man.

Another type of film this effort owes a debt to is the James Bond movie, with its cool, calm and collected hero as much at home in the bedroom as he is in a gun fight, all carried out in an exotic location. When Slaughter shows up at an airport to confront the crime figure who the mistress gave him the name of, he ends up shooting one of the gangsters and furiously driving after their departing plane, causing it to crash. This angers the powers that be in the Treasury Department, leading to a meeting with Mr Price (Cameron Mitchell, hardly in it), who is frustrated by the interference and makes Slaughter an offer - be charged with murder, or help out the government.

Yes, our hero is working for the Man, but not to worry, he has his own agenda when he is sent down to South America to track down the gangster responsible, who turns out to be Hoffo (a rather wild-looking Rip Torn). But Hoffo is not the main man, not yet, anyway, he is ordered about by gang lord Felice (Norman Alfe). Felice is a gentleman villain of the Bond variety, but Hoffo is absolutely vile (even doing the old "killing your reluctant henchman" trick, but forcing someone else to do it for him), and when Felice tells Hoffo's girlfriend Ann (Stella Stevens) to get friendly with Slaughter, he's apopleptic with rage, what with being a rabid racist and all.

So how cheering it is that Ann falls for Slaughter, a real slap in the face for Hoffo, and, of course, proof of the ex-soldier's sexual prowess. This puts him in more danger, and it gets so that he can't walk down the street without someone trying to kill him - he even gets into a car chase when he's not in a car. It should be noted that many of the action sequences employ "stretch-o-vision" (it's probably not called that, but never mind), which makes everyone look short and fat instead of dynamic, and was doubtless a projectionist's nightmare. Slaughter does what it sets out to do, but no more, with hip talk ("Don't jive me, baby!") and the odd touch of humour merely a light seasoning. Brown is good enough, but you might wish for a more satisfying set up for him to strut his stuff in. Music by Luchi De Jesus, with a great theme song by Billy Preston.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Jack Starrett  (1936 - 1989)

American director of pulpy thrillers like The Losers, Slaughter, Cleopatra Jones and Race with the Devil; he also worked in TV, directing episodes of Starsky and Hutch and The Dukes of Hazzard. Acting roles included parts in Hell's Angels on Wheels, The Born Losers, Blazing Saddles and First Blood.

 
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