[box cover]

J.D.'s Revenge

The Blaxploitation era offered black actors a series of roles that were previously unavailable to them, turning people like Pam Grier and Fred Williamson into high-profile stars. Glynn Turman — who was brilliant in Cooley High, an oft-overlooked classic of coming-of-age picture — should have been a breakout performer, given his range and charisma (he auditioned and even came close to landing the role of Han Solo in Star Wars), but the genre kept him from being more than just an occasional player. Yet even in a film like J.D.'s Revenge (1976), Turman manages to keep his dignity intact. Playing Ike, a college student/cab driver who is put under hypnosis during a nightclub show and comes out of it with the spirit of the 30-year-dead hustler J.D. inside him, he manages a credible character — even when cackling like a pimp, twitching, and saying lines like "I'll cut you every which way but loose!" Unfortunately, the film is a mess, with an interesting premise lost in its middle section, but this should be no surprise as — according to magazine Badazz Mofo (the Blaxploitation authority) — the film originally was meant to be a Jekyll and Hyde story, but got convoluted along the way to become a tale of possession. Turman does a good job with both roles, keeping the movie from ever becoming campy, as he slowly transforms into a killer pimp with a good motive for coming back from the dead. But even Turman's talents can't keep the film afloat, as directed by the frequently uninteresting Arthur Marks (Bucktown, Detroit 9000). MGM's DVD of J.D.'s Revenge presentes the film in both anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and pan-and-scan. Trailer, keep-case.
—DSH


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