Bucktown (1975)
By: Stuart Giesel on September 5, 2012  | 
DVD
MGM (USA) | Region 1, NTSC | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 Mono | 94 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Arthur Marks
Starring: Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Thalmus Rasulala
Screenplay: Bob Ellison
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Bucktown starts with Fred Williamson showing up in front of a white cop beating the living piss out of a black guy, and sets the tone that this is going to be the sort of one-guy-against-small-town's-police revenge film that First Blood was, only with African Americans rather than a slurring Italian screen legend. You're just waiting to see Williamson get "pushed too far". He plays Duke Johnston, who comes to Bucktown to bury his brother and ends up claiming his brother's estate, which includes a long-defunct nightclub. Duke gets pressured to reopen the club by a local drunk and an annoying kid but soon experiences first-hand the wrath of the town's prejudicial police force when he refuses to pay the weekly shakedown fee.

Where Bucktown soon deviates from the standard formula is when Duke enlists a childhood friend played by Thalmus Rasulala and his goons to help him deal with the police. Duke soon realises that his so-called friend is worse than any police officer that he had disposed of. This about-face in the plot is a welcome change from the standard revenge formula, but unfortunately Bucktown is a little too prosaic to implement it effectively. Sure, all the elements for a good blaxploitation flick are here: Williamson, Grier as the ex-girlfriend of Johnston's brother, Thalmus Rasulala, Carl Weathers as one of Rasulala's goons, a torrent of racial hatred from the corrupt white police force to boil the blood (horrifying statements like "no coon looks good to a decent man" abound), bloody gunshot wounds, a smattering of sex and sleaze. Look past the absurd logic of it all - how a handful of guys can take over the entire town with no outside interference, how Williamson can break into an old military base and find the keys to an operational tank with no problem - and there's plenty to enjoy, but ultimately it lacks the cathartic revenge arc of something like Coffy. Maybe it's because Williamson, though a likeable lead, doesn't elicit the same sympathy as Grier does in Coffy or Foxy Brown - after all, he does participate in the slaughter of Bucktown's police force which might be a tad on the nose for some viewers. Or maybe it's because the story is so lightweight that you don't wind up as invested in the outcome as those other films. Whatever the reason, Buckdown doesn't soar past its low budget origins to produce something special.

Still, Bucktown has its moments. The old fat drunk who claims to have once been a football star has some choice lines. There's a kick to the groin to end all kicks to the groin. People die in bloody ways with the sort of bright-coloured blood that you see in Romero's Dawn of the Dead. Tony King plays the nastiest goon of the group with such sleaze and venom that you can't wait to see his grisly fate. And the final fight is a doozy - this isn't some elegantly choreographed Jackie Chan fight, but a messy, brutal free-for-all.

Though the fun for fans of the genre is pretty much relegated to the first half, Bucktown has enough of the elements we come to expect to make it worth your time, just so long as you don't expect Pam Grier to get her kit off much.
Video
The widescreen (enhanced) picture is good though some interior scenes tend to suffer from a high degree of grain. There are few artifacts, and overall this is a good-looking presentation from MGM.
Audio
The mono audio (English soundtrack only) is functional, though quality varies depending on the scene - witness the final fight which, though violent and decently staged, suffers from poor, echoey sound.
Extra Features
A trailer for Bucktown is the only feature on the disc. Interestingly, the trailer makes it look like Bucktown completely revolves around Williamson and the gang versus the racist white town cops.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Bucktown is a functional blaxploitation film but it isn't as involving as some others, and ultimately suffers for it. The elements are there, and there's enough bloodshed to go around, but it just lacks that certain something. Still, the final fight almost makes up for it. Suspend your logic, don't expect much Grier nudity, and you'll enjoy the pic for what it is.

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