Exiting a train Duke Johnson (Fred Williamson) witnesses two crooked cops beating a fellow black man. He’s in town for his brother’s funeral who died under suspicious circumstances. Since it takes 60 days for the estate his brother left behind to be processed he stays in town and reopens his brother’s nightclub. But little did he know that the local redneck police department used to shook his brother down, and now want to do the same to him. To get rid of this problem he calls on his old pal Roy, not anticipating that after they have gotten rid of the corrupt police force Roy takes over and starts an even harder reign of terror.
Bucktown feels like a blaxploitation mashup of Get Carter and Walking Tall, both movies feature a tough guy returning to his old city and family only to find out there are some pretty bad apples that need to be taken care of. In true blaxploitation fashion the white police is shaking the black entrepreneurs down while using racially insensitive terms like “nigger” a lot. Something which, by the way, is counterbalanced by Duke who constantly uses “cracker” when referring to white people. The twist in this movie is that after Duke, Roy and the gang take out all the cops, Roy simply takes over and is even harder than the cops were. Like Aretha (Pam Grier, just one nude scene this time) says: Whether they’re white, black, green, yellow or purple, when they smell a few dollars, they all act alike. While the white cops were simply just racist in their words and just in it for the money, Roy’s black gang proves to be pure evil. In one discomforting scene his men, for no good reason, go crazy with knives on town drunk Harley (Bernie Hamilton) who’s always reminiscing about his glory days as a school football player.
The twist, which is all too realistic in terms of character, elevates this movie from what else would be just an angry movie about white people preying on black people. What isn’t so realistic is that a couple of black guys can kill all the cops in a small town and become the police themselves like that. Did nobody alert the authorities? Doesn’t the county or state find it weird that all of their police men in a little town die in one night and are replaced by the very same people responsible for those murders? People they did not put in charge
The final showdown between Duke and Roy’s gang features an anti assault vehicle which injects the movie with a sense of humor. Then again, when you’re going up against a gang of which one of the members is none other than Carl Weathers such a vehicle is required, either that or Sylvester Stallone.
Bucktown is an average action movie which boosts a nice cast. Blaxploitation legends Pam Grier and Fred Williamson star, though Pam’s role here is more of a supporting character. She doesn’t get to do much other than complain to and have sex with Duke. A nice surprise is Bernie Hamilton whom I know of his work on Starksy & Hutch. This is the first time I saw him pop up in a blaxploitation movie and it instantly made the movie more enjoyable. He’s a good supporting actor and though his role as an alcoholic is now a bit cliché it is an enjoyable performance.