Aug 3, 2014

Breaker, Breaker: Truckers. Kung Fu, and Men Who Hug

When I was in high school, there were two major fads going on.

1. Martial arts.  Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (1973), the song "Kung Fu Fighting" (1974), the tv series Kung Fu (1972-75).

2. Truckers.  The song "Convoy" (1976), CB radios, trucker lingo ("10-4, good buddy."), Smoky and the Bandits (1977), The Dukes of Hazzard (1979-85, although they actually drove a race car).

Inevitably they were combined in Breaker, Breaker (1977), starring 37-year old martial artist Chuck Norris, who played Bruce Lee's opponent in Way of the Dragon (1972), and would go on to a successful career as a man-mountain.

He plays J.D. Dawes, a trucker/martial arts expert who lets his younger brother Billy (Michael Augenstein) take over one of his loads.  J.D. warns Billy to stay away from Texas City, where a speed trap allows the police to haul truckers to a corrupt trucker-hating judge.  But the Billy is fooled by a CB radio broadcast from a evil police officer pretending to be a trucker in trouble.  He goes to Texas City and vanishes.

J.D. goes off in search of his brother, meets The Girl, gets into fights, and is thrown in jail.  He reunites with Billy, who has been brutalized and probably raped by the evil cops.  Both are sentenced to die (for speeding and fighting, respectively).

But fortunately, The Girl gets on her CB radio and notifies the other truckers, who rush to the rescue and tear the town apart.  That's Trucker Justice.

I loved this movie when I first saw it, during my junior year in high school.  I don't anymore.  It's very, very bad.  But it has lots of gay subtexts.

1. The object of the man-mountain's rescue is a man, not a woman.
2. J.D. and Billy have an effusively physical relationship.
3. Billy doesn't express any interest in women.
4. There are lots of shirtless scenes.

But don't tell Chuck Norris: today he's a vocal homophobe and all-around right-wing nutjob.

I haven't been able to find out much about Michael Augenstein, who was apparently cast because he looked like a younger, prettier version of Chuck Norris -- his only other movie role is a walk-on in Macbeth (1981).  

On stage, he starred in A Christmas Carol, Hairspray, and The Weir in Colorado Springs.

According to his Facebook page, he likes Bill Maher, Ram Dass, Democrats, and Move, and Chuck Norris is not on his "friend" list.  I'm going to guess a gay ally.

See also: Sidekicks: Gay Kid Meets His Crush.

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