A Bloody, Ebony Fist!
TNT Jackson (Jeannie Bell) has travelled to Hong Kong to look for her brother, who has stopped answering her calls and disappeared. The only address she has for him is in the seedy part of town, where danger lurks around every corner. There she meets Joe (Chiquito), a local man who knows everyone and tries to help. He warns her to go away, that her brother is dead and there is nothing she can do about it. TNT doesn’t listen, of course. She wants revenge. Treading this path of vengeance, she gets into a dozen kung-fu battles, meets a beautiful female undercover agent of the United States, and falls for a man who is mixed up in the heroin trade that helped to take her brother’s life. In the end, a betrayed TNT must fight to preserve her own honor and dignity. She only has her fists and feet, but they’re more than enough, as she wages a bloody battle against the Hong Kong underworld.
TNT Jackson is another in a long line of exploitation films that Philippine director Cirio H. Santiago unleashed upon the world in the 70s and 80s (primarily), stretching a bit into the 90s and beyond. He was the director of the last three films I reviewed and once I found that out, I kept going on a mini-marathon of his movies. Just like the others, TNT is full of raw action, short plot, and plenty of steamy, decadent scenes. There’s nudity, there’s flying fists and feet, and there’s blood, along with some gunfire and other sordid nastiness. Just like any good exploitation flick, this one isn’t long on character development and intricate plot twists; it’s too busy reveling in the action. And while TNT isn’t as great as some of the other films in Santiago’s cannon, it certainly remains in the top-tier. You can see here the seeds being planted for his eventual masterwork, Firecracker. The plot is practically the same. The major difference is this one is rooted more in the Blaxploitation world while the other features a white woman as the main character. But the bones of the story are identical. And speaking of story, this one was written by the amazing Dick Miller, believe it or not.
If you’re in the mood for a groovy good time, where slinky cats fight each other using their fists and feet, where not too many people can afford a knife much less a gun, where justice is found on the streets, not the courts, TNT Jackson is just the flick for you. Quick, violent, and nasty when it needs to be, this is a really good movie from a bygone-era of independent filmmaking. You see movies like this now being made by the Big Studios that are virtually the same stories just prettied-up and with major stars (look at the John Wick movies, for example). But it is only here, in the underbelly of cheap budgets and poor acting, that you get to the true, pure heart of this kind of cinema.